How to Cook & Eat With the Seasons

It’s interesting to me how many people regard cooking as drudgery. I don’t get it. To me, cooking is a deeply sensual and highly personal act: the sights, smells, tastes, and tactile touch of it all can almost move me to tears.Learning how to cook is a great adventure and a good investment of your time. For those of you only interested in assembling healthy meals for yourself, I think it’s still important to understand basic flavor pairings, have good knife skills or know the proper way to boil an egg.In winter, you have more serious, more involved cooking. There are more steps, more technique, more ingredients and more hardware – pots, pans, tools and the like. In summer, because the fresh ingredients are so perfect and at the height of their lusciousness, it takes a minimum of effort to create culinary greatness. For the most part, I use a cutting board, a knife, a peeler and my grill. Oh, and let’s not forget the ice cream maker.But we are currently in between seasons and I’m frustrated and finding it harder to find the satisfaction that I crave. I’m done with winter and its deep, braised, earthy flavors. I want fresh, bright, crisp and light. I want to be sanctified with the season’s first spinach and anointed in its apricots. (Did I mention that I’m a complete geek?) Spring is symbolic of being reborn and that’s exactly what I’m looking for right about now.Spring is a perfect and exciting time for you to be exploring the world of real foods. I want you to experience food at its finest and freshest. If you let it, this experience is going to change your life. The spring/summer seasons are also a great time to ease into the pleasures of cooking and outdoor entertaining because they are so simple and satisfying.Here’s some food for thought: As a child, I don’t remember seeing strawberries in the grocery store after summer. Now, unless they’re certified organic, or grown by an independent local farm, they’re genetically modified to be shipped long distances in all kinds of weather. To me, they’re not real. Each fruit or vegetable has its own season and taking advantage of locally grown foods at their peak of flavor is, dare I say, the most life-giving gift you can give yourself.I believe eating with the seasons is a beautiful way to get back in touch with your own true nature. We evolved to eat with the seasons. It’s hard-wired in us somewhere. Starting in May (for us northerners, at least) begins a cycle of pleasures that is colorful, fragrant, seductive, healthy and delicious. I’m going to make it easy, I’m going to make it simple and I’m going to make it accessible for you to find and enjoy the best the season has to offer. The thing you need to know is that I am on this journey with you. There is still so much I want to know about food, about flavor, about technique. There are still so many fresh ingredients I’ve never used and I’m committed to pushing myself, to break from my biases and self-imposed limitations and grow a little, dammit. So, won’t you join me?The first of the spring produce is starting to arrive. Here’s what to look for: lettuces, morel mushrooms, asparagus, spinach and all kinds of tender greens, cabbage, leeks, broccoli and spring onions. I’ve been eating the lettuces out of the bag in my car on the way home from the farmer’s market! Speaking of farmer’s markets, they’re the topic of my next article. Below, I’m throwing in some practical inspiration to help get you started cooking. Start small. Pick one ingredient that moves you and run with it.o Find a cooking buddy you can go shopping with, try out new recipes with and eat with.o Check out cooking blogs with simple recipes that are searchable by ingredient. Here’s a comprehensive site that lists a ton of them: http://www.foodblogblog.com/.o Take a hands-on cooking class, offer to assist at a cooking school or retail culinary program (such as Sur La Table) for free, or, if you can afford it, hire a personal chef to give you lessons in your home.o Rent classic cooking show videos on Netflix or from your public library, such as the complete French Chef series with Julia Child.o Search YouTube and Gourmet.com for videos on learning almost any cooking technique. A few weeks ago I learned how to make ricotta cheese from scratch on Gourmet.com. I cannot tell you how easy, satisfying and delicious it was.

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Culinary Diploma – For Skills Required in World Class Restaurants

Not many people consider the benefits of a culinary diploma when looking into careers after graduating from high school. With hundreds of thousands of restaurants around the world requiring a broad range of different chefs and culinary talents, these arts never go out of style and there is always a need for them. Cooking schools can teach the basic techniques to new chefs, as well as allow for the advanced skills required in world class restaurants.The first merits of a culinary diploma lie in something so simple most people overlook it. If you know how to cook for professional purposes, you will always be able to enjoy good food whenever you want it. This is one of the few skills that do you well at home and at work. However, this has the disadvantage of little chance to separate work from play. As there is virtually no separation from work and home in this profession, you should make certain that you are willing to work around this.A culinary diploma does not have to just be for someone who wants to cook. If you want to be a restaurant critic or teacher, this sort of education will be of benefit to you. For critics, this diploma can give you the background needed to understand what entails good presentation, have a knowledgeable background in wines, as well as know why something does not meet standards than simply trusting your taste buds.Acquiring a diploma, either to be a professional critic or to become a chef, is just like attending any other full time school. You will learn the chemistry of foods, practice the basic and advanced techniques used to create exquisite dinners, learn to taste the difference between a well aged glass of wine and lesser vintages, as well as become a judge for when fruits, vegetables and meats are suitable for use in food. Presentation is a course of its own, where you will learn how to impress your visitors before the food is even tasted.Many chefs will also learn how to become a proper waiter, as high end establishments often have the chef being a visible part of the dinning experience. The more renown the chef, the more vital that these skills are to learn.Language is another skill that you will learn. Many food techniques, wines, cheeses and ingredients use terminology that is based in foreign languages. In addition, the more renown the restaurant, the more the need for bilingualism, as you may have visitors from around the world.If becoming a chef or critic is something that you want to do, earning a culinary diploma is a crucial part of developing your career.

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