Tuesday, July 17 , 2018, 12:05 pm | Partly Cloudy 69º

 
 
 

Paul Burri: Learning to Cook, Part II (If You’re Allowed In the Kitchen)

Group classes serve as a great way to beef up skills in the kitchen

[Noozhawk’s note: This is the second in a two-part series. Click here for the first part.]

When I found myself living the life of a single man after my divorce, I resolved to learn how to cook.

I have a good friend who says, “If you can read, you can cook.” That’s not quite true because every cookbook and many recipes use all sorts of arcane terms that can cause even the bravest man to hesitate. Yes, I know how to separate an egg, but what is ghee, what does it mean to clarify butter, what are soft peaks and how do you bake blind?

So at that same friend’s suggestion, I joined her in attending several cooking classes at a local junior college. This turned out not to be a demonstration class where you sit in class and watch the cook/instructor do everything. No, this was a class of about 20 students in a classroom divided into five kitchens — four students to a kitchen. Each kitchen had its own sink, range, utensils and oven. There was a common refrigerator that we shared.

Each week the instructor would bring a set of recipes for that night’s dinner along with all the ingredients. She would then review the recipes and demonstrate any unusual or difficult procedures required. Each kitchen group would choose a menu item — the entrée, vegetable, appetizer or dessert — and we would go to our individual kitchens to prepare it.

Then we would all sit down to eat our group-prepared dinner.

It was a great way to learn to cook, and I still use many of the recipes I learned in those classes. That is, when I’m allowed in the kitchen. Read on.

As I continued to increase my cooking skills, I also started to expand my social network. Yes, I started dating again.

I soon learned that I had become a much better cook than many of the women I was dating. There were a few who shared my interest in good food and in cooking, and several of them were as good or slightly better than I was. But in all modesty, I was a better cook than most of them. Hey! Most of the greatest chefs of the world are men.

Then I met the woman who was to become my wife. She had grown up on a farm in North Dakota, had raised three boys on her own and she was a helluva cook — still is. And, yes, she was a far better cook than I. When I cook, I have to follow the recipe. She can cook without a recipe, and she can make a complete meal when “there is nothing in the house” (some of you will know what I mean by that).

And now I’m not allowed in her kitchen.

— Paul Burri is an entrepreneur, inventor, columnist, engineer and iconoclast. He is not in the advertising business, but he is a small-business counselor with the Santa Barbara chapter of Counselors to America’s Small Business-SCORE. The opinions and comments in this column are his alone and do not represent the opinions or policies of any outside organization. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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