The WFL Step 4: Get in the Cooking Ring

Step 4: Get in the Cooking Ring

The Takeaway: Accept cooking as the best way to empower your health

Actions start shifting your time and priorities to enjoy time in the kitchen

Sauteed Apples, Chestnuts & Coconut Flakes

I. Cooking is not about being perfect, infallible, or even knowing what you’re doing all the time. Blogs allow some of us to show off our best, but we all learned by making tons of mistakes and soldiering on, as evidenced from my post When You Are Afraid to Make Mistakes aka Kate vs. the Pan of Half-Roasted Beets:

Beet juice was dripping down from the stovetop onto the floor like blood running from a murdered corpse. Indeed, I had murdered that poor pan…

…And do you know what experience is in the kitchen? Screwing up. A lot. All the time. And coming back to the table, literally and figuratively, after each mistake.

Like learning a foreign language, mistakes are opportunities for the greatest lessons in cooking. The only real mistake is to give up after making a mistake or failing to admit you made one in the first place. I don’t always like to say I’ve shattered glass pans (twice now!), messed up something as easy as banana bread three times in a row, or made terrible, unattractive, soggy casseroles.

You’ve got to keep coming back for second helpings  of wisdom, even after the first taste may have made you bitter about a certain mistake. Don’t let a fear of doing the wrong thing, ruining food, not living up to the expectations of others, or whatever other anxiety you have about cooking stop you from trying. Failure is growth. You’ll become a better cook each time you make a mistake.

To get the full story on my beet debacle as well as how you can remedy different cooking mistakes – check out the full post here!


II. Kitchen wisdom is experiential, so the best way to learn is to just get in there and do it. It helps to tackle more complicated things with a partner, but most of the time it is not skill holding people back in the kitchen, but fear. And believe me, you can operate a crock pot. I promise.

Kitchen Failures & How to Fix 17 Basic Cooking Mistakes ~ there are some gems here, definitely worth a read!

All you’ve got to do is take the initiative. Choose to be in control, intend to create great food, and share with others.

If you invest in yourself and choose lifelong health & happiness with real food, you need to realize that cooking is an essential part of health and connecting with yourself.  You can make good food fast, but we need to move away from the idea that cooking is an onerous chore that can be hacked out of our life in favor of “more important” things. What is more important than nourishing yourself, creating a family atmosphere, and eating great food?! If you think you are saving time and money by making something out of a box, think of the price you’ll pay later when you have to pay for medical treatments for chronic diseases (sadly diabetes & cancer is not a completely absurd suggestion) and the time stolen from your family if you aren’t healthy enough to be with them!

This is NOT to say that it is an all or nothing affair – there are plenty of kitchen cheats, easy preparations, and time-saving tips that focus on real food and a quality eating experience. Remember in Step 2 when we focused on slowing down and creating a great atmosphere for resting & digesting? Going slower & doing less makes things more worthwhile. In all of my experiences, travels, and the places I’ve lived, I’ve derived the most pleasure and enjoyment from enjoying family meals.

Chef J

What I lack in skill, I make up for in enthusiasm and the desire to try new things.

Everybody makes a mediocre meal once in a while. Everybody Googles “How to chop onions…” or something to that effect – that is what the internet is for!  Everybody fails at some point or another. The difference is you can either go back to eating in such a way that sucks all your energy and resources (convenience food, fast food, etc), and the planet’s resources, or you can take your mistakes/flops/failures and turn them into what I like to call “learning experiences.”

The kitchen should be a fun place, a place of laughter and openness and creativity. Successes are memorable, but flops are funny too and they make for great memories.

My grandma had high standards in the kitchen, and so do I, but sometimes you can’t take yourself too seriously. I believe in holistic health, nourishing body and soul, and if you are stressed about your food or cooking or think your reputation as a cook is dependent on one meal or dinner party, STOP WORRYING (I’m guilty of the latter). One meal is not a make or break situation. Getting back to the cutting board, no matter what, defines your character as a cook. And everyone can cook something!

From Kitchen Failures

Messing around, having fun

The Two Steps To Get Started in Cooking:

I. If you don’t know how to do something? Google it. I guarantee there will be a recipe, blog, or video to get you started. If you don’t know what a food is, how to cut it, where to buy it, or if it is sustainable – Google it.

II. Buy a crock pot. I wax lyrical about the wonders of a crock pot, a brand name for a device known as a slow cooker, here. I have so few crock pot recipes because I make everything crock pot from Civilized Caveman, but you can start with Coconut Chicken & Bison Stew!

* I have recipes that are labeled as “Simple Cooks” for people just starting out in the kitchen.
- I recommend great cooking video tutorials in my Resources section (I just came across a great one this weekend on knife skills)