Why You Should Learn To Cook

From the Kitchens of Cheesecake Farms
Karla Jones Seidita, Home Economist

Why You Should Learn To Cook

With so many convenience foods and takeout, you might wonder why you should toil in the kitchen when you're already short on time.

Cooking does not have to be a chore and you don't have to make everything from scratch.  Cooking can be as simple as tossing together great big salads and arranging beautiful fruit platters. 

The point is that cooking, in whatever form it takes, gives you control over what you eat and that's important.      

There's lots of reasons that you should be cooking.  
Here's a few......   

1.   Better Health 
The number one reason you should be cooking.
  • Nutrients are lost during the mega processing of packaged food.
  • You can control the amount of fat, sugar, salt and calories in your recipes and eliminate all the things you don't want to eat...... artificial color and flavorings also MSG, flavor enhancers, and hidden starch. 
2.  Cost
Prepared and convenience foods are much more expensive than food made from scratch even if they don't seem to be.  

Here's what I mean........
That packaged macaroni and cheese mix seems a lot cheaper than if you made mac and cheese yourself but consider its food quality and taste. 

There's very little really good cheese in those mixes and, since you still have to cook the pasta, it's not really quicker than homemade.  In the end, that cheap macaroni and cheese mix is actually more expensive. 

For a quick, more nutritious, better tasting, homemade version of mac and cheese:
  • Cook some whole wheat pasta and drain saving some of the cooking liquid
  • Return the cooked pasta to the pot 
  • Toss in your favorite smooth melting cheese to taste
  • Add a little of the reserved cooking liquid and heat the pasta mixture on low till the cheese melts
  • Add additional cheese or cooking liquid, if  needed, (or milk or broth if you don't have enough liquid) for a cheese sauce that's the consistency you like 
  • Fancy things up, if desired, with some tomatoes, a little fresh basil, cooked ground beef or whatever else tickles your taste buds

3.  Art
Food should feed the eyes and the soul in addition to feeding the body. 

We all spend way too much time gobbling down hasty lunches in the car and that often can't be helped but a steady diet of take out containers and mindless eating from a paper bag cheats us out of a very fundamental part of existence - beauty.   

Simple food, properly prepared does more than just provide nutrients.  It provides a depth of culture, grace and style.  Fresh, real food is as beautiful on the vine and it is on the plate. 

4.  Satisfaction
There nothing as satisfying as preparing something wonderful to eat.  It looks good, smells good, tastes good and you feel good for having been able to get it all together. 

Cooking provides a sense of accomplishment whether your skills are basic or haute.  
To bake a loaf of crusty bread, decorate a festive cake or arrange a salad on a plate gives us
a sense of  "I can do it-ness".  

5.  Self Reliance
You should know the basics of cooking even if you don't use them every day.  I like to think these are the things you should have learned from your grandmother.  
  • How to turn limp greens into a crisp salad.  
  • How to transform fruit that's too ripe to eat into a fabulous home made pie.  
  • When to take a cake out of the oven.  
  • What makes a steak juicy and what makes it shoe leather dry.  
  • Why some cheeses are going to taste better than others.  
The more you know, the more you'll realize that you can depend on yourself to take care of yourself  and your family.


Any One Can Cook - Quick and Easy 
Home Made Chocolate Cake

There's nothing better than the taste of a real cake made from real ingredients (and that's reason enough to learn to cook) but you'll also get a hefty serving of satisfaction and self reliance each time you make this yummy little recipe.

You should have at least one scratch cake recipe in your repertoire and this one is so easy that you'll make it often.

Makes one (9 X 13 inch) cake

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup natural cocoa (Dutch process not recommended)
1  1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1  1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup canola or plain vegetable oil (not grape seed or olive oil)
1  1/2 cups cold coffee
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 tablespoons white vinegar

Position oven rack so cake will bake in center.  Preheat to 375 degrees.  
Grease a 9 X 13 pan or coat with baking spray.

Into a large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.  Add sugar.  Stir.

Whisk in oil, coffee and vanilla.  

Add vinegar and briefly whisk to lightly blend.  
Batter will be foamy and take on a two tone color.  Do not over mix.  Quickly pour evenly into pan.

Bake in the preheated oven until cake pulls away from the sides of the pan - 35 to 40 minutes.  

Cool in the pan.  

Frost cooled cake with your favorite icing or dust with powdered sugar, top with whipped cream or serve with ice cream!  YUM!!


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