Just got a lovely note from reader Carolyn Soderberg in Glastonbury, Ct. about what she's learned about cooking, and thought I'd share. There's wisdom here to pass on to new cooks, and to kids who are starting out in the kitchen:
My experience as a cook extends back to my teen years when I was responsible for getting dinner started because my mother worked, and she depended on me to help out.
Frequently I chose the menu, and prepared the whole meal. I had grand ideas, but lacked experience. I poured through magazines and cookbooks selecting elaborate recipes, and I used many pots and pans. Thus I had a lot of cleanup to do. Over the years with practice my kitchen skills became more refined as I became more organized and "in the groove". Meal planning, food preparation, and feeding the people I love is one of my greatest pleasures. I truly enjoy my time in the kitchen, because the process requires my full attention, and no matter how the meal turns out, if love goes into a meal, then love comes out, and the folks who eat it know that!
Your reference to Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire [in my April editorial] struck a special note with me, because I am an amateur ballroom dancer/competitor, and there are many comparisons that can be made between cooking and dancing. What takes years of practice, concentration, precision, rhythm, and creativity, all come together, and produce something that is so beautiful, yet looks effortless, but of course it is not. This is what I know about cooking.