I tell you, there’s just way too much to learn about food. ~Anonymous Home Ec 101 Reader
As humans we are constantly learning. Well, most of us, right?
Learning to cook isn’t like a college course, well except for culinary school and then it is exactly that, but for our intents and purposes that’s a different ball of wax. We’re talking about learning to cook in a very general sense.
Granted there are some definite concrete lessons along the way: if you cook food for too long, it dries out or burns; if you don’t cook it long enough, it may be a health hazard; some spice combinations should never see the light of day.
My question is, are you applying what you are learning? If you over-cook a beef roast: do you try again the next time repeating the exact same procedure; do you buy a meat thermometer to improve your outcome; or do you quit altogether? It’s a lot like weight loss or getting into shape. There’s no magic bullet, no overnight pill, it’s a journey of small successes and periodic setbacks.
We all have our own idiosyncrasies; some people need step-by-step instructions and precise measurements, which makes baking a natural choice. Personally, I like the fun of -usually- being able to change the direction of a dish with the last minute addition of herbs or salt. Writing for this site has taught me to be more careful, to write down the changes and tweaks to recipes, in order to pass them along.
Each technique you learn has the potential to open more possibilities. This is where I feel you may be hung up on “too much to learn” my friend. You don’t have to memorize: roast potatoes, roasted broccoli, roasted vegetables. It’s all the same concept with slightly different applications.
Learning to cook isn’t about memorizing recipes. It’s about observing outcomes and noting how your personal tastes feel about those outcomes. Have you read Notes on Cooking?
It is from this perspective, that I know I will always be learning to cook, as there will always be experiements to try.
Hang in there.