I have a lot of love for Jamie Oliver. I really love his work with Food Revolution and his grassroots approach to teaching people how to cook.
Michael was at a work-catered lunch last week and they were passing around little bags of Famous Amos cookies. He passed without taking any and someone said, “What? Don’t you like cookies?” In a nice way, he told them that yes, he likes cookies, he just likes the real cookies he gets to eat at home. Some of the co-workers were flabbergasted: “your wife COOKS? Wow, no one does that anymore. It’s like a dying art.” The discussion then centered on how little many of these families eat a home-cooked meal.
Michael came home from work that day with a really sorry feeling for people who don’t eat home-cooked meals on a regular basis and with one knee-buckling kiss for me in gratitude.
I’ve been thinking about the idea that people don’t know how to feed themselves anymore for ages. It’s one of the reasons I started blogging about food. The difference in how your body and mind feel when you are eating real, whole (meaning not processed), fresh foods is unbelievable. When I eat packaged or processed foods, I tend to feel weighed down, tired, restless, and not quite myself. Understanding this has given me a direction in my cooking that I try to maintain in experimenting with different recipes.
When I worked as a lifestyle counselor, I had clients who, when they started meeting with me, ate a home-cooked meal only once or twice a week, and usually that meal came from a can, box, or package. The idea of using whole, real foods was really foreign and people felt incredibly intimidated by it.
The truth about cooking is, there is a certain set of skills involved. The truth is also, that these skills don’t take loads of practice to get down, and usually (with the exception of advanced skills like boning a duck) aren’t difficult. Once you’ve mastered a few techniques, you have dozens of meal ideas available to you. For instance, once you’ve learned how to make a few different sauces, you can use them to serve on pastas, rices, or potatoes. Once you’ve learned how to blanch and roast vegetables, you have endless side dish options available to you as well as a few great bases for main dishes.
Jaime Oliver, on top of EVERYTHING else he’s been doing over the past few years, has just launched a new website with basic cooking skills and techniques explained. They’re great for the beginner, or for anyone hoping to branch out into more fresh, whole foods.
The techniques range from salad basics, to knife sharpening, to browning sausages, to preparing a fresh pineapple. There is also a good database of healthy, homemade recipes using mostly whole foods. I definitely encourage you to check out the site. As all of Jamie’s work is, it’s fantastic.