I don't know about you, but for me, cooking tasty food has been a long journey.
When I was younger, I tried to defy all rules. I'd make wacky things like vegetable health food desserts. I'd cook out of old hippy cook books from the 70's that I'd find at thrift stores. And I would concoct lots of wild whole grain, whole seed unleavened and salt-free crackers for some reason. Call it being a free spirit, ha! I was really just a back-to-the-land kind of child growing up in Los Angeles with little direction.
Obviously, these cooking practices did not set me up to make good tasting food. I'm guessing this is not exactly your experience, but I believe these simple tips can help anyone improve their home cooking overnight with no extra effort.
It's a very worthwhile endeavor to cook a lot of different good foods at home. Why? Because you will never get good quality ingredients when you dine at restaurants or buy prepared food. Maybe you will find a local ingredient here, or an organic ingredient there, but restaurant and prepared food is riddled with undesirable ingredients that do not belong in the body. 99.99999% of the oils used at restaurants and packaged food is toxic industrial seed oil (corn, soy, cottonseed, etc.). Cooking with these types of oils alone thwarts health in so many ways by creating gut/digestion issues, inflammation in the body (unexplained pains, heart issues, acne)... it goes on and on.
By cooking at home you get to eat foods that make you healthier and healthier, rather than increasing your toxic load with GMO's, foods laced with pesticides and herbicides, empty calories, high amounts of sugar, and other food-like ingredients.
Plus, when you finally start cooking good food, it's so, so, so much better than just about anything you can eat "out there." Once you start cooking one yummy dish, you expand and keep going. It's a beautiful and functional art to keep striving for better results. And in doing so, you support land restoration, happy animals, local farmers, and improved health and well being for you and those around you.
...but I totally understand that cooking at home can be kind of "meh". Maybe you're not out making alfalfa sprouts and mashed yeast like I was, but maybe the food you're cooking is still pretty dull and boring, or maybe you can only cook one ore two things. Time to get cracking!
Here are some tips to help your cooking game skyrocket!
1. Cook Recipes with Lots of Good Reviews
Like I said, I would cook out of old cook books and this really led me down an unfruitful path. Even Martha Stewart's recipes were found largely to be bunk. Anyone can put things down on paper, but will they taste good? Often not, and it's no fault of your own.
Instead, look to the internet for recipes that have reviews. Google any recipe you're in the mood for and look for recipes with lots of good reviews. Use AllRecipes.com, it's a site totally dedicated to recipes of all types with such a huge community of reviews! For instance, years ago, I wanted to start making really good guacamole. I found this recipe on Allrecipes, and have never looked back. It always gives great results and I've gotten so many compliments on the dish again and again.
Starting with a good recipe sets you up for success. You can tweak it and make it even better as time goes on.
2. Use Good Quality Ingredients
This is often said, but what does it really mean? I mean use high-quality ingredients, get great results (utilizing good recipes). For instance, when you use mobile Pasture-Raised eggs, fresh from the farm, with golden, bouncy yolks, and tight whites, it makes breakfast taste good off-the-bat.
I have lots of family eating over for breakfast these days. Eggs are pretty menial to most folks. So they eat them and not really think twice. Even for folks who don't care about how the egg on their plate got there, they can still taste a difference in eating high quality eggs, enough to be wowed. Having great eggs as my base makes cooking breakfast simple. I just add some fresh basil, or fresh salsa, whatever's in season and voila!
Use high quality every ingredient and your game will soar. Some people think high quality foods are to be laughed at because of their expense. Really, the joke is on them! Last time we checked, we were doing a study for The Rodale Institute, the pioneers of organic agriculture. We found that pound for pound, Snickers bars were more expensive than pastured eggs and meat. Food is medicine, life-giving, or life destroying. Food is not the place to economize your wallet. Spend on ingredients and save at the hospital... and enjoy the best food of your life!
3. Salt Your Meat
Salt chicken in advance to make it taste flavorful and juicy. Salt both sides of your steak in advance. Salt roasts in advance, salt just about everything you can, meat-wise, in advance to skyrocket the flavor of your meat-based dishes.
This means, grab high quality salt, like Celtic Gray Salt or Redmonds, or some good sea salt with no added iodine.
Grab your defrosted meat,
Grab huge pinches of salt and generously sprinkle on all sides of the meat.
Wait between 3-24 hrs
Cook (don't remove the salt)
4. Balance Salt, Fat, Acid, and Heat
This is author Samin Nosrat's famous take on cooking. It's the easiest and most approachable way to cook. Let's say that you follow a good recipe and it came out decent, but it's still not spectacular? Use this concept to tweak any dish and make it better.
For optimum flavor, you want to make sure salt, fat, acid, and heat are all in balance with every dish you cook.
Salt - Use salt at home, people! Use more than you think you should. Salt brings out the flavors of your ingredients. Once you have enough salt, everything sings.
Fat - Match the fat or oil to what dish you're cooking. Use butter or bacon grease to cook eggs, coconut oil to cook Thai, olive oil to cook Italian, etc. Don't use olive oil to cook Thai.
Heat - Add enough heat in various ways. For example, char on steaks to bring out flavor, toasted seeds for crunch, cooked foods to bring texture to the dish.
Ask yourself, what's missing? Does my dish have enough salt? Is my dish too lean? Add cheese or butter if appropriate; adding some kind of fat may bring everything together. Does my dish have heat in any way? Is it cooked enough? Does it have crunch?
May we all cook well at home! May we support land healing by using regenerative ingredients. May we support our health and the health of our family and friends. Cheers!