I write from home full time now, and Shawn, after a lifetime of homemaking, loves her three-day-a-week job across town. She has imparted some basic cooking skills to me such as the miracle of crock potting. Add crocked chicken to a couple of baked potatoes and a can of green beans (doctored with herbs and spices to taste like green beans), and I can have a meal ready to go when she arrives, especially important on Monday when she has her Bible study class.
We’re moving forward in our culinary knowledge transfer, and recently, after evaluating several recipe management apps, I selected Paprika as our platform. The software is available for many operating systems (Android and Windows for us) and with a few steps I ported her recipe collection. I purchased a license for both of our phones and the laptop. The price is reasonable and someone worked hard to design this easy-to-use tool so I am happy to contribute a few shekels to their PayPal account.
Paprika has a cloud sync option which allows Shawn to modify the database (add, delete or modify recipes, create new folders as desired and so on) from any platform. By syncing my phone to her database in the cloud I now access the same recipe collection, an advantage that may become more valuable as the cooking education continues.
In my latest hands-on lesson Shawn picked a meatloaf recipe so simple that any idiot can fix it, well, as long as that idiot knows the difference between tbs and tps. I did not, but the master chef’s watchful eye stopped me before I added too much salt to the mix. She helped gather the ingredients since I have no clue where stuff is archived in her kitchen. As I measured and dumped Shawn verbally edited the recipe to reflect the way she makes it.
Get that. The cook gets to customize and season to taste. Oh, feel the power. Wonder what butterscotch chips would do to the meatloaf recipe?
What changes did Shawn make to a recipe that originated from Allrecipes.com with the title “Mom’s Best Meatloaf”?
- We don’t need the sugar.
- Cut the salt by ½.
- Substitute BBQ sauce for the catsup.
- Use apple cider vinegar instead of white vinegar. (Good, because I use the white vinegar as fabric softener in the wash, but that’s another story.)
- Break the final mixture into four equal parts and flatten them in four small oven-safe bowls. This will reduce cooking time and yield meatloaf for four meals. Three can go in the freezer for us to pop out and heat one day when the need arises.
Is this woman smart or what? As she machine-gunned the changes I thought about the wood shop. (OK, sometimes, I can multi-task but on two channels only). The cutting list for a project in the woodworking magazine is a starting point. Much acquired skill goes into turning that raw collection of precisely cut wood into a piece of furniture. And Shawn, through her years of cooking, has the acquired skills to improvise on any recipe or to use no recipe at all.
I hit a big snag with this nebulous recipe instruction, “Bake at 350 for approximately one hour.” Well, in the shop I can cut a little extra off a board or sand a bit to make something fit but I don’t think I can un-cook something once I pass the charcoal state. Is there a better way to know when to pull those meatloaves from the oven before they morph into meteorites? Shawn explained that our dividing of the meat reduced the cooking time to about 45 minutes. Then she showed me how to use the thermometer to check the temperature of the inside of the loaf as the timer expired. Sweet! Let’s eat!
As I worked on the meatloaf I gained new insight:
- I learned why Shawn needs 2 complete sets of measuring cups and measuring spoons.
- I saw firsthand that stuff splatters all on its own all over the just-mopped floor.
- I realized how the available counter space and the unending need for extra square footage figures into meal preparation.
In any organization, the one who has not done a particular job might not understand why another person classifies a tool or a procedure or a resource as a “must have.” By putting our hands to the task, by listening with a teachable spirit, and by our willingness to try something new we might make new connections that benefit the entire team. Our decision making will certainly be improved as we understand the effort a task requires.
I will never replace Shawn in the kitchen or come close to her level of culinary expertise. But hopefully, once in a while, I can feed her a decent meal that she never had to cook.