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  • What's Sr Gregor Eating Now? - cooking basics

    Over time, I'll probably/hopefully create more articles on cooking and need to start referring to some form of shorthand. I think I should probably also state from the outset that I do not intend to present myself as any sort of professional chef. My cooking experience amounts to having cooked for myself since I was around 14, some food prep work in my uncle's Indonesian restaurant around the same time, some short-order cooking when I worked in a deli when I was 18, and self taught since then. So, you know, take it for what it's worth.

    Good pans - In my opinion, the best pans are all metal ordeals. Sometimes it's ideal to take a pan straight off the stovetop and put it into the oven. I own a set of Infinite Circulon, which I think is decently priced mid-range, and highly durable.
    A good pan makes cooking enjoyable and easier.

    Seasoning your pan - something I've been doing more is seasoning the pan before I start cooking meat in it. I used to just toss in some oil and/or water and call it good, but I am coming to appreciate a properly-seasoned pan. Basically, it involves warming the pan a bit first, toss in a tablespoon of olive oil (or whatever kind you cook with), a dash of salt, and a bit of pepper and let the pan heat up to your cooking temperature. The goal is to get more of the savory flavors out of your meat. Throwing the meat on a preheated pan will cook the outside a bit faster, which will seal in the juices of the meat better. Overall, it makes for much more satisfying food.

    Fresh herbs and spices - whenever possible (not just whenever convenient), I have started over the past couple years to use fresh herbs and seasoning. Fresh ground salt doesn't seem particularly necessary, but fresh ground pepper will include the actual peppercorn oils into your food, making for a more infused flavor. At the same time, I've all but completely done away with using dried herbs in mini jars. If you can, buy, or better yet grow, your own herbs. The difference in flavor is pretty immense. 30 seconds spent chopping fresh basil, rosemary, parsley, or what have you turns into an hour of tastebud happiness. At home, we have a few herb plants on our patio, and a nifty AeroGarden hydroponic garden. Our basil grew so much last summer that we had to get pretty aggressive on trimming it back... which meant lots of yummy basil dishes! The fresh veg section at your grocery store will also probably have a section for fresh herbs if you don't want to grow your own for any reason.Fresh herbs make a world of difference.  Even if you don't have space on a patio or porch, you can grow them on your countertop!

    Good knives - As I work more and more with raw ingredients, a good set of carving knives is a must. Keep them sharp, and don't wash them in the dishwasher - they're more likely to dull and blunt while getting tossed about. Some soap and water on a sponge, and dry them immediately. Sharpen every two or three weeks to keep a keen edge.

    Finishing steaks - Something I've picked up in the past year is cooking steaks on a stove and oven. Previously, I either grilled them (yum) or cooked them entirely on the stove (blech). The best way to do a steak, imo now, is to set your oven to about 220-240F, then searing the meat on the stove in a seasoned pan, and placing in the oven. This will give you plenty of time to prep up the rest of your foods (side dishes, sauces, etc.), let the meat cook slowly and evenly, keep the juices contained inside, and come out tender and juicy.

    I think that's all I have for now. There's tons of things that I'm not sure how to express. Good flavors to mix, etc. Anywho... yay, first article!