Friday, November 09, 2007

New Adventures

In my experience, it seems that things in life do not happen in isolated instances... but instead, most often in groups. I would assume (though I claim to have done no research on this) that this is the genesis of the phrase "when it rains, it pours"; yet, this time, it's not quite pouring, but just a steady rain.

In the past few weeks, my job has taken some new turns, headed into waters yet undiscovered... which is both exciting but also a bit unnerving. I have a new Managing Director who is excited about making an impact on our organization which is fantastic, but as part of her team, I'm expected to be up to speed on everything she's attempting to implement. And well, I'm just not. Management Development Curriculum... Goal-Setting Courses (especially in a culture where goals generally aren't set)?! For good or bad, the new boss-woman is the type who subscribes to every professional association related to her field and is very well-read... but this means that recently, my inbox has taken on a new look as I can't possibly read (let alone grasp) everything she sends in a timely manner. I promise, I do like learning, it's just at a slightly slower speed...

Along those same lines, when I should be reading articles related to my job, I sometimes find myself reading things related more to my personal interests... not surprisingly, these are often about cooking, baking, and chef-ing (I think I just made that word up), and you'd be smart to assume part of that time is spent gazing at others' amazingly gorgeous pictures of their food. Most of the time, I'm not really one for reading poetic muses about cooking but this article discussing a new book (specifically the section on Recipes), The Elements of Cooking, by Michael Ruhlman, most recently seen as one of the judges on "The Next Iron Chef", really caught my attention.

The entire (short) article was worth a read (try this one too), but this was my favorite part quoted from the book...

How to use a good recipe: First read it and think about it. Cook it in your mind. Envision what it will look like when you serve it. Try to know the outcome before you begin. Read a recipe all the way through not only to understand it generally, but to make your work more efficient and to avoid making errors or taking unnecessary steps. Perhaps a dough needs to chill for an hour in the middle of a preparation, perhaps meat needs to be salted for twenty-four hours, or a liquid must be simmered, then cooled. The recipe suggests adding the flour, baking powder, and salt one at a time, but perhaps you can combine all the dry ingredients ahead of time while you’re waiting for the butter to get to room temperature so you can cream it with the eggs. Taking a few minutes to read a recipe, acting out each step in your mind as you do, will save you time and prevent errors.

In my own adventure with cooking, I have gone from one extreme to the other in terms of my use of recipes - my first bouts of cooking absolutely required a recipe and now, while I still use them with some frequency, I definitely alter some part of almost each one I find. His comment about "cook[ing] the recipe in your mind" just hit home... I definitely do that, and to be honest, if it doesn't "come out" in my head, then I usually find a new recipe.

1 comment:

  1. I see that article is making its rounds in the blogosphere. I guess I'm going to have to break down and read it! I've hardly had time to breathe this week - and now I've got more on my to-read list!

    I like what you posted about reading through recipes. I think that's the best advice I was ever given when it comes to cooking: Before you pull a bowl from the cabinet or a spoon from the drawer you should read the recipe through, beginning to end.

    It has really saved me from some screw-ups, that's for sure!


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