Have you ever heard the story "The Little Red Hen?" Remember when the hen asked the other animals to help her with the bread-making process and they all declined? In the end, she ate the whole loaf by herself. In real life, my mother was the little red hen and I was one of the runaway animals (as she likes to put it). Only difference is that my mother would still give me food in the end anyway, but it still would've been considerate to help her in the kitchen.
Even though I still get out of helping my mom cook at times, I am getting better at becoming more active in the kitchen. Over the past year, I've been cooking some dishes of my own with recipes from Instagram and different websites.
Speaking of Instagram, I was inspired to start cooking after viewing food content over there. I remember wanting to bake after watching baking channels like HidaMari Cooking and Cooking Tree, but then I started watching different food clips and influencers and thinking, "I want to cook this! I want to cook that!" Thus, I would ask my mother to pick up some items from the grocery store in preparation for my cooking session.
My mother cooks good food, but she doesn't always want to cook. And she would tell me that I should cook things on my own if I want something other than what's already prepared. I would take the coward's way out and refuse to do all that work. However, cooking has satisfied my cravings for when I don't want to wait until the weekend to have something.
My first attempt at really cooking on my own was when I tried making empanadas more than a year ago in April 2020. I didn't want to wait until the weekend to do it with my mama, so I chose to do it on my own. The outcome was tasty, but it tasted too bread in comparison to restaurant empanadas. I have a photo, and it's… something. Beware of the dirty plate.
My (somewhat tragic) empanadas
After going through that process, I realized why some people consider cooking therapy for them. It took me around two and a half hours to make (read my full process here), but it was 2.5 hours well spent. One of these days, I'm going to attempt making empanadas again and doing it better than before.
Since that time, I've cooked various dishes of my interest, ranging from Pork Wonton Tacos to Taco Casserole. They all made for a nice dinner, and below are photos of the dishes I made on my own with a caption of what the dish is.
Pork Wonton Tacos
Korean Beef Rice Bowl
Firecracker Chicken and Steak with Rangoons
Taco Casserole (weird looking, I know)
Indian Chili Chicken with Naan
Every time I've made something, I end up feeling accomplished and proud of myself! I'm still a cooking novice, but I've gone from being super dependent on my mom's cooking to being able to independently cook when I want to. Since cooking, I don't have to be as dependent on my mom. It has given me something to do when I crave going on a kitchen adventure. I'll make dinner, and my mother will often eat with me (unless it involves a food she doesn't like, such as shrimp).
I've cooked foods from other cultures at my own discretion as a way to take a small trip from the comfort of my home. While my dishes don't always come out beautiful, just having the food taste good tells me that I did something. I like thinking about what I'll cook in the future, because I know it'll be an experience from start to finish.
Some people are proud to express that they can't cook/never cook, but it is a skill that people should have. As much as I enjoy going out to eat, cooking at home allows you to churn out what you want, how you want it, and when you want it. You can't always buy a funnel cake, as the fair isn't always in town. In that case, what do you do? Make you own! Whether homemade or bought is better is subjective, but let me tell you that it'll be more economical in the long-run.
You don't always know what's going into your food either. If you don't like the thought of digesting preservatives or you can't eat certain foods due to allergies or disease, home-cooking allows you to control that. Sometimes you may want a healthier option, and home-cooking allows you to have control of that too. I might be thinking out loud at this point, but you know it's true, isn't it? Isn't it?
Anyways, cooking can make a person more self-sufficient and more resourceful with money and resources (leftovers, anyone?). I know that when I live in my own apartment away from family, I don't have to freak out about my inability to cook. That's not to say there aren't hard parts about it. It can take a while to finish a dish and some steps are confusing. Even so, I know that I have the power to adapt the recipe as necessary, make it to my own liking, and use the Internet as guidance. Although, tips you learn from family members and from personal experience are highly valuable.
You don't always have to follow the recipe 100%. You should always read recipe reviews for valid pointers on what could improve it. Sometimes things are quicker or slower to cook based on the type of stove you have. Pointers like that are super helpful in the kitchen and may even save you some heartache. Not just anyone can create a good recipe, even if they tout themselves as a real cook. But regardless of what you make, if you dedicate yourself to it, rest assured that you will like much what you make.
If you don't know how to cook, it's not too late. Shape it based on your circumstances and your tastes. You'll find a groove overtime.
Having a hectic schedule can get in the way of cooking time. Even so, if I crave something that I won't have the opportunity to eat otherwise, I may resort to the kitchen to satisfy myself for the time being. Thanks to gaining the life skill that is cooking, I feel more like an adult and someone who can live on their own.