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First, secure pot. A pan will also do. Colanders are impractical for this purpose.
With pot (or pan) held firmly in left hand, turn on water faucet at sink with the right hand. Insert pot (or pan) under faucet and permit water to enter to the desired depth or until the thing becomes too heavy to hold.
Transport utensil containing the liquid to stove, and place on nearest burner. Turn lever of the stove in whatever direction it will turn. If stove has pilot light, one of the burners will ignite. If utensil happens to be over that burner, leave it there. Otherwise, move it over the one with the flame.
If stove has no pilot light, strike match and hold it as close as you dare to one of the burners, but be prepared to leap for your life. (If stove is electric, striking match has little effect.)
Do nothing more! In time, the liquid will become agitated. This means you have accomplished your purpose...IT IS BOILING.
This excerpt is from my personal cooking notebook, a compilation from the time I was in my 20s to the present, when I am in my 80s. I had to teach myself to cook, because my mother was one of those women who could not boil water without burning it! God bless Betty Crocker, and her 1950s Picture Cook Book!
Last Edited on: 3/19/12 11:13 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
This isn't really from my big old notebook, but it has to do with kids and 'new' foods, and neither of my kids has ever forgotten it. And they won't let me forget it either. They came home from grade school for lunch every day, partly because we didn't want to listen to their deprecating comments about "school food", and partly because we wanted them to get the fresh air and mild exercise of the few blocks' walk. Okay......one day I gave them bowls of soup, and of course they asked what kind it was. But you know how kids are----if the name of the food sounds 'funny' to them, they don't want any part of it. So I said I would tell them after they had eaten it, and what kind of crackers would they like?
They ate it, and asked again about it, so I told them it was genuine turtle soup. Those two twerps sat there for a moment, with odd looks on their faces (they were trying to decide whether to rush for the bathroom and throw up, I suppose). And then went back to school for the afternoon. I have no idea how they talked about me to their friends (if they did), but I imagine they were convinced they had a "crazy lady" for a mom.
My real motive in giving them some of the things I did was that I have always felt culinarily 'deprived', sort of, because of growing up in a place where "sea food" was unknown. It's kind of a social deficiency in a way not to be able to enjoy the shrimp at a party. To make up for my limited palate, I made a point of eating gumbo when in Louisiana, and on Florida's Atlantic coast, at an authentic Greek restaurant, I ordered kalamari (squid) and found it quite edible. If anyone would know how to cook octopus, it would be the Greeks!
One of these days, I am going to post the cooking instructions for green eels (Anguilles au vert)
Last Edited on: 3/19/12 3:05 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
I'm self taught as well and understand completely what you are talking about. My latest bout was with the ubiquidous pie crust. Who knew I wanted a puff pastry. I made my fist home-made one this week and I have to say I'm pretty proud of myself for not being run off. One of the interesting things I've learned is that people go on and on about not over handling dough so much that I wasn't getting mine entirely mixed. Fear always messes up my recipes.
How did you finally find out how to buy meat? This was a real challenge for me. There are lots of cookbooks but not a lot of books to tell you what to look for when you go to the grocery store. The mistakes I have made.
Tammy: In the 30s, when I was a little girl and would be sent to the neighborhood grocery by my grandma, to get a bit of meat for supper, what mattered was how much money she had to get something with. So, as you can imagine, we didn't have oven roasts, and only the occasional pot roast. Mostly it was "fry meat". When we drove out on a Sunday (and not all that often) to see the 'other' grandma, the kids had to chase and catch one of her chickens, and Daddy or one of the uncles would wring its neck, Grandma would scald and pluck its feathers, cut it up, and cook it on her coal oil stove. The only experience with fish that I remember was the once-in-a-while canned salmon or tuna (mama was fond of tuna salad).
I ate "at home' until I finally went off to state university as a junior. There, I ate whatever my domiciliary put on the table, and wasn't 'choosy, because I was so happy to be able to attend college!
When I left home after college, I started learning to feed myself. Tammy, some things you can do: (1) When you find someone knowledgeable, ask questions and listen to the replies; (2) get a Picture Cookbook (I used the Betty Crocker one); (3) find some diagrams of meat carcasses put out by a Meat Producer's organization, showing how they are usually cut up for the retail market, and what names are given to the cuts'. A good cookbook will tell you which cuts are best for roasting, which for broiling, which for frying, which for stewing, etc.
Ever since I married (57 years ago!), I have kept a boning knife on hand, and use it to trim off the fat on the meat before cooking. I do that in the interests of health, in the belief that LEAN meat is a good idea. I like to find a store where one can buy ONE individual steak or ONE pork chop, etc., instead of a package (generally TOO BIG) sealed up in plastic wrap. And I have learned a lot by talking with butchers or meat-cutters (usually older ones). Reading about food prep helps, too, but nowadays, a lot of it does seem pretty "La-Di-Dah" to me.
I salute you for putting some time and attention into learning about this part of Life. The feeling of accomplishment (just like you felt about your puff pastry) is wonderful, and the appreciation of your efforts that you will get from other people is nice to receive, too.
Last Edited on: 11/16/12 12:54 PM ET - Total times edited: 2