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Biggest Change in Your Cooking?


rich
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What has been the biggest change in the way you cook over the last 10 - 15 years? For me it has been salt, both the amount and type I use in cooking. When I started serious cooking at home about 25 years ago, I rarely used salt and when I did it was just plain table salt (mostly on potatoes).

Today, I use salt more liberally to bring out the flavor in food and have about five different types from kosher to sea to gray etc. In fact, the only time I use table salt is to assist in removing red wine stains from the carpet. My every day salt of choice is Morton's Coarse Kosher - the best everyday salt I ever came across.

(edited by Malawry with author's permission to open topic beyond amateurs)

Edited by Malawry (log)

Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

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It's all about the stocks. Chicken, duck, veal, lamb, beef, turkey, veggie - good stocks make good dishes and good sauces. Years ago we were buying canned stocks and by comparison they are complete crap.

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I agree with both the previous posts, sounds familiar.

The biggest change for me has been a gradual shift of focus from technique to ingredients. After many years, I convinced myself that I could do about anything I wanted to set my mind to that didn't require restaurant sized equipment. I did complicated French things and stuff with lots of labor required and enjoyed it all.

I find that now I enjoy the hunt for the best, freshest raw materials I can find and prepare them somewhat simply to enjoy the flavors. I believe this comes from a bit of laziness in my middle age and also from the fact that in middle age, I have the funds to expend on high quality ingredients. I'm also much more seasonal as this makes ingredient searching easier, and I tend to decide what I'm going to cook as I shop. I used to get in my head that I was going to have a certain thing and then do it. Now, I like to hit the store du jour and examine the goods. Whatever looks the best, that's what I'll plan the menu around.

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I'm much more of a "from scratch" cook, using very little canned or packaged food.

I am also far more adventurous in what I fix, and have made it a point over the last few years to fix something I've never fixed before once a week. Some are hits, some are misses, but my repertoire is greatly expanded.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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Biggest change over the last 2 years is that I have completely sworn off processed foods, especially those with corn syrup in them (like Coke and most everything else!).

Second biggest change over the last 1 1/2 years was purchasing Professional Chef and Professional Cooking and attempting to hone my existing cooking skills and techniques!

Biggest change over the last 5 years was buying an indoor greenhouse and growing my own fresh herbs so that I could cook with fresh herbs as much as I could.

Biggest change over the last 12 years was remodeling my kitchen with semi-professional cooking equipment.

Biggest change over the last 30 years (whoops, went past the original post limit of 1-15 years) was getting Escoffier's translated cookbook, and Craig Claiborne's Best of NY TImes cookbook at the same time for $1 each!!!!

doc

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- the marked absence now of ramen noodles and Noodle-roni

- willingness to handle raw meat, which used to give me the willies

- knife skills

- switch from inherited RevereWare to Calphalon Professional

- curiosity to make, and sometimes create, recipes stemming from other cultures

- staples that used to include Bisquick and cream-of-blech soups now involve Panko, artichoke hearts, balsamic vinegar, and premium olive oil.

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I had already started cooking for myself with some interest - mostly stir fries and frittata-type things - but there was one event that marked a turning point:

4 years ago, I bought my Wusthof chef's knife.

Andrea

http://tenacity.net

"You can't taste the beauty and energy of the Earth in a Twinkie." - Astrid Alauda

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Food Lovers' Guide to Santa Fe, Albuquerque & Taos: OMG I wrote a book. Woo!

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I think the biggest change has been in the last 5 years, and that's that I am cooking.

My husband and I will soon celebrate our 7 year anniversary. The first couple of years, we ate a lot of Hamburger Helper. And even when asked, he was loathe to comment on whether he liked anything I made; it was probably his way of staying out of the doghouse. Slowly that's changed, and now he's free with the comments, but still very careful.

Before that, I was single and cooking for one was just too much trouble. And for most of that time, there was no Food Network. I continued to read cooking magazines, but I just couldn't bridge the gap between reading about it and doing it. Those years were useful, however, as appliance acquisition years. :biggrin:

But in the last 5 years, with help from Alton Brown, Shirley Corriher and others, I've learned enough science to know how to fix my mistakes. Then I found eGullet, and my whole outlook on food has been transformed. I'm nowhere near where I want to be, but this definitely one example of the journey being more important than the destination.

And it's a helluva lot of fun. I don't even mind cleaning up as much as I used to.

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Well, I only really started cooking for real a little over a year ago.

So, my biggest change was moving from just baking or frying up frozen dinners to actually creating real food from whole ingredients.

I have learned a ton in just one year, so, I have to imagine that anyone who has been a cooking enthusiast for 15 years would easily have skills that rival many professionals, no need to call yourselves amateur ;).

He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

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I cook more Asian food now.

And I'm cooking for my kids instead of adults only. Actually, not just cooking - I'm teaching two little people how to eat. That's been a huge change. I am more likely to seek out organic ingredients, buy milk w/out BGH or antibiotics, etc.

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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Um. I've learned not to scream like a girl when I burn myself. :raz:

And I've learned to love braisng and braised foods after years of distaining the Brown Foodgroup in favor of rare chops and steaks.

And, like a lot of folks, my intake of processed or convenience foods has declined dramatically.

A jumped-up pantry boy who never knew his place.

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I've switched to using mostly organic produce, dairy & meat.

Growing up in the late 60s/early 70's I learned that organic produce was "nasty". It had spots, it was wrinkly, etc, so I decided that chemicals were my friend and I didn't have to eat that icky stuff.

About 8 or so years ago I discovered (at a friends house?) that organic non-fat milk had a better "mouth-feel" than Darigold and from there I just started comparison tasting & slowly switching over my cream, eggs, meat etc as I found that the organic products just tasted better, and finally I put my fussy little nose in the produce aisle and discovered that not only wasn't organic produce "icky" anymore, it had switched roles, and was now the better quality stuff (Nobody told me!)

I'm not hard-core about it (that cheap mexican asparagus is making me very happy right now while I wait for the good local stuff to be available) but it has made a big difference in what I buy, especially with the mass produced foods getting more & more flavorless in favor of durability.

Well and of course the series of French cooking lessons around the same time didn't hurt anything. :laugh:

Eden

Do you suffer from Acute Culinary Syndrome? Maybe it's time to get help...

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Twelve or fifteen years ago, I got back into cooking after about a ten year hiatus. I started connecting my science with my cooking and then the fun began. I still remember the day I discovered Harold McGee! There hasn't been any particular epiphany, just slow and steady progress. And I am still having fun.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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No longer vegetarian. That's a pretty big change.

No longer vegan here, after 9 years... now I eat every damn thing i can get my hands on.

Also, I have been reading more and more "History of Food" type books, as well as classic and modern food writers.

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It's definitely more about the ingredients for me. Partly, I have more choices where I live now and it's much more feasible for me to cook based on what looks good in the store. When I lived in a remote area, it was all about making long shopping lists and a lot of ingredients had to be dried, frozen or canned. (There was also usually more of a time crunch.) Spur-of-the-moment cooking with fresh stuff happened the day of a shopping trip, and that was it.

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For me, it's hard to say what the biggest change over the last 10 years has been... but one of them has certainly been the fact that I now use way less garlic.

I have a theory about a lot of American foodies:

At some point, most of us who weren't lucky enough to grow up with a huge variety of intensely flavored foods "discover" garlic. And then for a while, it's "everything with a zillion cloves of garlic." Some people never leave this period, I guess. That's where all the "ooohs and aaahs" come from every time Emeril says "and then I throw in about a million cloves of garlic!" -- despite the fact that it is often a dish that doesn't require any garlic.

After that, there is a slow awakening to the fact that there are other flavors out there besides garlic, that a lot of things are better without it, and that not everything has to punch you in the mouth in order to be good. Why spend big bucks on a prime strip steak only to crust it with minced garlic? These says I don't even include garlic in most of my tomato sauces. Ironically, I began this movement away from garlic in Italy where, believe it or not, they don't cook with all that much garlic.

--

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For me it is an emphasis on local and organic and seasonal. Not a fanatic, since I live in Canada and not much is seasonal right now, but I still think the idea is worth pursuing as much as possible.

Another big change is simplification. I mean that in terms of meal structure particularly when entertaining. We used to have several courses and now we have 3 usually. When we are alone it is 1 course plus fruit as a rule.

But I cook much more divers food in terms of ethnicity than I did when I started (which was well over the 15 years ago guidline in the topic).

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I cook much less from recipes now than when I first started cooking.

We've generally eaten organic or minimally processed food but I try to buy more locally produced foodstuffs now.

Otherwise, my changes are much the same as the other posters.

If only Jack Nicholson could have narrated my dinner, it would have been perfect.

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a few things come to mind:

i use salt now(grew up in a household that when my mom turned 40 the salt shaker went out the window as her bp rose)and have at least 5 kinds in the kitchen right now

i use no prepackaged foods like hamburger helper but do keep a variety of canned beans, good tomatoes and pastas in the pantry

i am more inquisitive about various regional/national styles of cooking. i've gone through my new mexico, veracruz and floribbean periods and now am working through thai.

we have shifted more to organic, free range and local whenever possible.

john bought a new digital camera and wants to photograph our food :shock:

Nothing is better than frying in lard.

Nothing.  Do not quote me on this.

 

Linda Ellerbee

Take Big Bites

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10 years ago, I cooked alot, using inspiration from cookbooks (I'm a cookbook junkie, they outweigh my other books), mostly for my coworkers & predominantly baked goods (they traveled best)-now, I'm cooking for my family & my kids are so picky, they want PLAIN everything-chicken, rice, veg-& nothing touching! So I generally cook 2 level meals-plain for the kids & something that can be spiced up/ added to for me & my guy. I still love cookbooks, I still love to hear what other folks are cooking,thanks to a fascination with knives, I've improved my collection & my skills, I bless the day I found egullet, cooking is a lifelong adventure...ephemeral, but primal...

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i think the biggest change for me wasnt so much in how i cook but in learning that some of the things i was already doing actually had names associated with them that i never knew about....

when my finace and i first started dating...id already been cooking for a lot of years..not at the professional level but was really wanting to go in that direction someday...

my fiance is a wonderful cook/chef..even though at this time it isnt his normal profession...but we are both heading in that direction...he has taken many cooking classes and s far as im concerned he is a first class chef...

when we started dating he was and still is the perosn who lets me know what a thing means if i dont know it...

for instance i had no clue what braising was but i kept seeing it mentioned here on eg...so i asked him to tell me exactly what brasiing was as i wanted to know if it was something i already do...turns out i already do it...

my fiance is my best loving guide for me... we bounce ideas off one another...makes suggestions for recipes we may be working with.... i can count on him to give me constructive critisism which is something i really want to have ...i want to know if something ive made needs something more or if something in it isnt working right ..what can i do to make it better and i enjoy it....frankly i never really had anyone til him that i could bounce ideas off of so that too is something that has changed for me as well...up until he and i started dating i didnt know anyone who had the same high interest in cooking that ive got...not even my mother who used to create miracles.....lol...i am happy to say that my fiance truly is the best thing to ever happen to me in my life and id not trade him for anything

Edited by ladyyoung98 (log)

a recipe is merely a suggestion

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