Sunday, February 15, 2015

Cooking Lessons at Home - by Lily

After catching up with old friends, the holidays, and a ski trip,  winter break at home for five weeks had become boring toward the end for Justin. So he decided to learn how to cook. He was especially motivated in anticipation of moving out of the dorm to an off campus apartment after the summer. He already knew how to boil instant noodles and frozen dumplings. I explained to him the concept of a balanced meal, with vegetables and proteins. He told me that he’d take care of his lunch on his own. The first day I received a picture from him while working in my office. It was a bowl of noodle topped with an egg, bacon, chicken, carrots, and Chinese cabbage. Job well done!

After simple dishes like this, he learned how to cook fried rice and then asked for lessons on cooking “real” dishes. I showed him how to cut different vegetables to desired shapes, how to cook the meat, how much oil to use, how to check the taste, etc.

In those couple of weeks, Allan would come home early after work to guide him to put what he observed and instructions he got from Mom to action. He taught Justin some techniques again.  First thing first, how to wash veggies and meat, and cutting veggies. Cutting vegetable or bean curds is easy, to cut them in proper size and shape while not cutting his fingers under any circumstance needs some techniques – bent the finger in such a way so that the side of a knife would touch the sides of fingers while making finger nails bent away from the knife. How to use spatula during stirring vegetables or meat was bit problematic at the beginning. During demonstration his dad could move the spatula in the cooking pan with ease, when its Justin’s turn, he would have difficulties to move the spatula and pushed veggie or meat out of the pan. After observing his actions carefully, his dad found out that each time Justin tried to move the full content in the pan at once, bending spatula … after a few tries, he could use spatula properly.  Once he could do the cooking, the important thing became how to cook tasty dishes. He learnt a few techniques  - the main one was not to put too much salt at the beginning, taste the cooked dish to see if additional condiment or salt was needed ….he also learnt how to marinate salmon and how to set the oven for the grill.

During the first week, he learned to cook and cooked bean curd with chives and pork, Chinese cabbage, broccoli, seafood tofu and grilled salmon!  During those cooking lessons, no arguing, no refusing to take instructions, no pouting when being criticized,  he learnt fast. The second week, Allan would only give some verbal advice from the comfort of a sofa, while watching evening world news, and Justin was fully independent at the stove to cook dinner for the whole family – he cooked some of the same dishes again and they were delicious!

For two weeks, I enjoyed dinner prepared and cooked by Justin and didn't need to worry about preparing dinner for next day. I was so proud of Justin.Yum! 

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