Saturday Aside

Heather says:

I have two things on my mind this fine Saturday morning. For years, I’ve tried to describe the funky, furry mouth-feel of overly processed foods. Last night, while doing research for the book, I came across this in Professional Cooking1 by Wayne Gisslen:

Solid shortening also has the disadvantage of having a high melting point, which gives it an unpleasant “fuzzy” feeling in the mouth. It is best reserved for the bakeshop and the fry kettle.

That feeling sends me racing for a toothbrush, but it was interesting to learn it wasn’t just a personal quirk. I just thought I’d put it out there as I found it interesting.

Secondly, I’d like to hear from the new cooks. What intimidates you the most about learning to cook? Is the concept overwhelming, the cost, etc?

1Yes, you’re right, this IS an affiliate link. I own the 3rd edition and love it, it’s a text book for culinary school, which I never attended, but I still find it provides a great resource.


  1. Cherry on May 26, 2010 at 6:16 am

    When I was a new cook the most difficult and intimidating thing was how to get EVERYTHING on the table by a certain time and have the potatoes cooked all the way through, the pot roast be tender, the jello salad set, etc. Especially nerve-wracking if there were guests – cooking more dishes in larger quantities AND being even more embarrassed if the potatoes were raw or the pie was runny or the rolls were burnt on the bottom.

  2. tinkerschnitzel on May 24, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    I'm not a new cook, but I wish I could find just one or two really good cookbooks to replace the ones I rarely use. I own the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, which is my favorite, but I know there's got to be others out there that teach you some of the basic recipes. I don't like having to marinate stuff, and I don't like making meals that require a lot of steps. I can deal with a list of ingredients, as long as it only has 2 or 3 steps. 🙂

  3. Stacy on May 24, 2010 at 4:20 am

    I agree with the comments about ingredients–too many, or too unusual. It seriously annoys me to find recipe after recipe in a cookbook that ask for unusual, expensive, or hard-to-find ingredients. The comment by @murphygracehome is just how I feel about that particular point too–I don't want to double or greatly increase the cost of the meal because I have to have this special jar of X to make it right. I'll do that if it's for a special occasion, like Christmas, but otherwise I usually won't make it or will substitute. Also, expensive ingredients or things I have to go to a special store to find, usually make me not make the recipe. I have a cookbook that I bought on clearance at Barnes and Noble that I thought was going to be great–it only requires about 3-5 ingredients to make each recipe. Well, what I should have checked out before buying it, is WHAT those ingredients are. Mostly they're special things I don't buy, or each recipe will have one special little jar of something I don't normally see or have.

    As for your recipes, Heather, they're great. No problems whatsoever, from my POV. I usually look at them online but print them without pictures to save space because I'm putting them in a binder that's pretty full already. Thanks!

  4. @murphygracehome on May 23, 2010 at 4:27 am

    All of the crazy long lists of ingredients turn me off. I don't like shelling out the $$ for a whole jar of XYZ that I only need a 1/2 teaspoon of and will probably never ever need again. I tend to make due and substitute a lot for ingredients that I do have. Most of the time, it works out…a few times, it hasn't.

  5. silver on May 23, 2010 at 3:35 am

    I'm not a new cook, but when I was, it was recipes with funky ingredients that intimidated me. And by funky ingredients, that meant pretty much anything that wasn't a pantry staple. Garlic was okay. Fresh basil, not so much. Since then, something have become a pantry staple that I would never have guessed I would ever buy–like ginger root.

  6. @MrsBYork on May 22, 2010 at 10:58 pm

    That nasty mouth-feel is known in my house as "pringle mouth," due to the fact that it follows consumption of that particular brand in quite a long-term way!

  7. ThatBobbieGirl on May 23, 2010 at 12:56 am

    Well, I'm not really *learning* to cook, but what intimidates me is any recipe that takes up a whole bunch of space in a cookbook (or a website) By this I mean, it has a long ingredients list (say, more than 10 items) or it has several paragraphs of instructions. Sometimes, the "length equals complicated" equation is not true, but it does make me less likely to give the recipe a second look.

    • Heather on May 22, 2010 at 9:05 pm

      I tend to give very wordy, but quite detailed instructions to walk a new cook through a technique. Do you think I should rethink my method and perhaps have a brief 1. 2. 3. instruction then a wordy tutorial or just leave good enough alone?

      If there are a lot of seasonings that make a recipe appear more complicated than it really is, I try to color code them or break the ingredients into groups to make it less intimidating.

      • ThatBobbieGirl on May 23, 2010 at 1:40 am

        No, I think your detailed instructions and photos are probably helpful to those who are learning, and you don't overdo it like some sites I've seen (I mean, do you really need a separate pic of each ingredient, and then of each as you measure it, then as you add it in, etc??)

        I was just going to suggest a brief recap of ingredients and instructions at the end of the post, all in one place without pictures, like I saw on a page for pulled pork that my cousin pointed me to this evening, but then I realized something — the print option that you have set up is SO MUCH MORE AMAZING than that, because you can delete the parts you don't want or need. If you don't need a particular photo, CLICK, it's gone. If you're insane and want to delete Heather's witty comments at the beginning, CLICK, it's gone.

      • ThatBobbieGirl on May 23, 2010 at 1:41 am

        So, no, I think you should just stick with the method you're doing for sharing recipes and tutorials.

        Oh, and I appreciate it when ingredients are divided by their use in the recipe, either by separating them with a subtitle (sauce, rub, brine, etc) or by the color coding you have used. It does help keep my eyes from rolling back in my head when I see the recipe 🙂

        (sorry I had to break this into 2 comments — Intense Debate thought I was a bit wordy!!)

  8. Dr Alice on May 22, 2010 at 11:49 pm

    What really got me when I first started cooking were directions like "while the water is boiling for the pasta, wash and peel/chop your vegetables." I realize it takes pasta water a while to boil, but you have no idea how long it took (and still can take) for me to prep ingredients. I still prep most of my ingredients before boiling the water, preheating the oven or turning on the heat under the skillet. It takes me longer but at least I avoid that crazy deadline feeling.

  9. Stacy on May 22, 2010 at 11:24 pm

    My husband says he's not picky, but he seems picky to me. That is intimidating. I'm learning to get over it and just say (to myself), "Well, if he wants to cook, he can go ahead. Otherwise, tough luck!" I'm also learning to just take is critiques less personally and learn to make improvements. For years, I was so frustrated at his need to analyze my cooking. He really isn't rude or mean about it, just frank about stating what he thinks. I wanted him to love it or pretend to love it no matter what. Now I'm trying to have a more detached feeling about it, which has helped us a lot. I agree with the comments by "asyhre" above too, for the most part–too many ingredients, too many steps, and too much required time all put me off. I'm becoming more tolerant of these things though, to a degree.

  10. asyhre on May 22, 2010 at 10:55 pm

    1) the work that goes into it
    2) number of ingredient… it scares me when there are more then about 5-7 of them
    3) kid disliking what I work hard to make
    4) me disliking what I made (rarely happens as I happily eat almost anything, but still has happened)
    5) starting something on fire (I have 2 ovens, a toast , a blender and a immersion blender)

    There might be a few more things, but this is all I can think of now.

  11. Jean on May 22, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    I love baking because it's almost universally appreciated and many, if not most, people will eat a home-baked item handed to them happily. I find there's less pickiness with people eating baked sweets. With cooking I'm always nervous people won't like what I'm making since tastes are so individual. I really dislike cooking for others because of this.

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