The day I stopped clicking them, I had wanted to throw my phone across the room. The click bait had me again.
But I had enough.
It was not the doubting that I was the problem and did it all wrong.
It was not that they only give you tiny tips, not life changing insights (although they claim they do).
It was not that I don’t like to be told I’m doing something wrong by an internet stranger. Well, okay, that was part of it. And I often wasn’t even wrong.
It was all me: it was my weakness not being able to resist clicking the You did this wrong your entire life kinda headline itself.
So quitting wouldn’t be hard, huh? Well, to prove I got serious Stockholm Syndrome symptoms, here’s how I almost smashed my phone.
It was about vinaigrettes.
I might have told you how vinaigrettes were the very first thing I learned to master. Maybe you have heard about the 1 to 3 ratio when it comes to making your own vinaigrette. As a beginning cook, I put that to practice.
Use 1 part vinegar, mix in salt and pepper and then slowly whisk in 3 times as much oil. Voila!That’s how you make a vinaigrette
First I measured the amounts with spoon. After a while I dared to pour in the vinegar and oil by eyeballing the amounts.
Then I started to use other vinegars or fruit juices like lemon juice, or orange juice if I wanted a mild flavor. My stack of oils grew with a few (!) fancy olive oils and I went overboard when I came across nut and seed oils (tip: try roasted hazelnut oil!).
Each time I dipped in a leaf of my greens and tasted my concoction. A different acid, a different oil, they all made my vinaigrette taste differently. Some were more acidic than others (think lime compared to orange juice). On some days that was perfect, on others I wanted a sweeter dressing. Over time, I learned to adjust and taste it again, just until I got it right for that day and the dish I was making it for.
It’s always a great example to explain what I do in my cooking classes: we break down a dish to it’s bare minimum description (1 part vinegar, 3 parts oil), then I help students understand how they can play with it to make the dish work for them. In the way they cook it (technique), what tools to use (whisk or shaking bottle) and what ingredients will bring the taste they will like best.
That is learning to cook.
Learning to cook is a journey
Learning to cook should be all about figuring out what works for you. What techniques and tools do you (want to) use. What ingredients. How do you treat them, and what are you combining them with.
The aim for my cooking classes is to guide and help you on this journey. It took me years to become the creative cook I am, and I am still learning every day. I often wondered why some recipes would tell me this, whereas others prescribed something else to make a similar looking dish. I learned by just trying them all out, but I have wished many times I could take a class that would explain it all to me.
A class that ..
… would explain and teach me how 1:3 is a starting point, not a strict rule.
… would tell me there are different ways to make braised chicken. Not only when it comes to ingredients (almost every culinary culture makes braised chicken), but also when it comes to tools and cuts of the chicken.
Do you need a Dutch oven or a cast iron skillet, or can you make the dish without them (of course!)? Oh, and what is braising exactly? Do you really need to use that particular cut of meat that the recipe says, or can you use another instead?
… would teach me the main cooking techniques not just by giving me a few recipes, but by diving a bit deeper. What ingredients can you sauté and fry, and what is the difference between them? What is searing? What pans to use , and do they really make a difference? How much fat should you use? And how all the answers to these questions are related.
Now I teach these classes.
So I guess I should have known better when the click bait wanted to GRRRRR me about vinaigrettes. I already know how I could make them work for me. Luckily I could hold on to my phone timely when the content factory member told me to throw 1:3 overboard and use 1:2 instead when making my vinaigrette.
I will continue to teach my students to understand that the ratio is not fixed. That it depends on your ingredients and need for that day, the dish you’re making, how you like your vinaigrette. Understanding how to get there, how you can adjust a basic recipe so it works for you, that will make you a better cook. Not whether you start with 1:3 or 1:2.