A few days after deciding that I wanted to learn how to cook, I announced to my husband: “I’m headed to the bookstore to look at cookbooks.”
“You know, everything is online now. If I feel like using a recipe, I just type in some ingredients and a ton of recipes come up and they’re all rated. Plus, we have NomNomPaleo on the iPad.”
I looked at him blankly, “But… the bookstore.”
He shook his head and sighed, so I happily picked up my keys, gave him a kiss, and practically skipped out the door. The first step to truly enjoying your bookstore experience is of course caffeine, so I swung by my favorite tea shop and ordered a Texas-sized Pacific-Coast-black iced tea. Yes, my cute little tea shop uses “Texas-sized” as an actual measure. Y’all and your venti trenta foolishness can just take a step back.
I walked slowly and let my eyes run down the shelves, before admitting that I had no idea what I was looking at (Betty Crocker? She makes good cakes. Does that parlay into chicken picatta? What is chicken picatta?), so I plopped down in the middle of the aisle and started googling “best cookbooks for beginners.” The first hit was an article which listed How to Cook Everything as the first suggestion. “That seems… ambitious,” I thought uneasily. The second book was called The World Atlas of Wine. “Now we’re talking!” I started looking for the book on the shelf before realizing that there probably wasn’t anything in it to cook, but then again at least I would have great direction on something to do WHILE I cooked. I’m pretty sure what’s good enough for Julia Childs is good enough for me. The third suggestion was the Cake Bible. First, I can already bake, second… I wonder what flavor Cheesecake Factory cupcakes they have today at the in-store Starbucks?
I decided this site wasn’t helping and tried the next one in the search criteria. They, too, wanted me to know How to Cook Everything, and then suggested the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, whose red checkered pattern I recognized immediately. I’m pretty sure someone gave me that book for a wedding present. I’m equally certain that I butchered (no pun intended) any of the recipes I tried from it. It’s a pretty fair bet, since I once ruined beans… from a can.
At that point I decided that the internet was unhelpful and there were too unknown variables in this section, so I went to a more reasonable part of the bookstore and flipped through Hidden Figures until I ran out of tea.
As with so many things in life, I do better if I don’t over think things, and just kind of fall into them. So while my planned trip to the bookstore for resources didn’t bear much (okay, ANY) fruit, going to Costco to take advantage of a sale on a TheraPure HEPA filter fan that was on sale, yielded a brand new cookbook, whose main draw was that the picture on the front was of the tall and thin authoress, and I’d love to be a foot taller and look that fantastic in the red dress she’s wearing, so we’re PRACTICALLY bosom friends already! It also had words like FIT! and CLEAN! and promised things within a limited number of days (28!), and we all know how great those work out!
Later, when taking a weekly wander through Half Priced Books, I decided again to peruse the cookbook section. After flipping through several books, at least one of which smelled strongly of smoke, which I decided meant very bad ju-ju on the cooking skills front, I found a huge book from Williams-Sonoma called Cooking at Home. Williams-Sonoma?! I LOVE Williams-Sonoma! They have the greatest aprons and that really lovely smelling lemon soap! Surely this will have good recipes. Besides, it was full color, and my Instagram addicted brain reasoned that if pretty pictures can be taken, the food must be delicious! Right?
Finally, while blowing dust off the cookbooks that are stacked in the darkest corner of our pantry, I found Tim Ferriss’s The Four Hour Chef. I have a strong affinity for Tim Ferriss. His whole brand is built around “life hacks” and learning new things as quickly as possible before moving on to conquer the next mountain. This jack-of-all-trades, learn-all-the-things mentality is basically my life’s blood, so I pulled his book down. The introductory title in big bold letters read: “6 Reasons to Read This Book, Even If You Hate Cooking (As I Did).” Oh, Tim, I always knew deep down that we were soul sisters! I used a paper towel to wipe the rest of the dust from the cover and added it to my stack.
Now I suppose the only thing left to do is wash all my cute aprons. If I have learned nothing else from that first book I picked out (and I really haven’t learned anything else, because I haven’t opened it yet), one of the keys to good cooking is looking fabulous!