Cooking Without Looking: Week Three

Things Are Heating Up!

I’m sure you all have heard the phrase, “If you can’t handle the heat, stay out of the kitchen.” This statement rang true for me this past week of my HelloFresh cooking experience. I experienced the meaning of this statement firsthand. After my first two weeks of being back in the kitchen, I was really starting to love and appreciate cooking. In last week's post I talked about how I was eager and hungry for more in terms of getting better in the kitchen. My first two weeks of recipes went quite well and with each passing week I slowly grew increasingly excited for cooking again. I thought this week was going to be one of those weeks filled with much learning and great tasting food. Well, I certainly got both of those things, just not in the way I intended. But then again, if you want to get better at something, the road ahead isn’t always smooth, there’s bound to be roadblocks and a bumpy path to overcome on the way. I think I ran into one of those bumpy paths this week, and what a ride it was!

It’s a Crazy, Crazy, Kitchen

I was ready for yet another awesome week of cooking. My first recipe of the week was Pork Sausage Rigatoni. At first glance, this recipe did look a tad complex, but I wasn't worried. I went all in and went to town with this recipe. However, the tables were turned on me in a hurry; let me explain.  Previous meals had gone step by step. In other words, I could compete one step fully then move on to the next. But with this sausage rigatoni dish, I needed to bring out my multitasking skills. For instance, I had to cook my meat while sautéing my veggies, then move on to making the sauce. To be completely honest, I was all over the place with this recipe. I not only was overwhelmed by the many different steps I needed to perform simultaneously, but I was also not as organized, and I demonstrated poor time management skills. This recipe definitely was more difficult than recipes I’ve made over the past three weeks of receiving these meal kits.

I Can Handle the Heat

This week's experience was hot! But so was I! And YOU can be too! Here are a few takeaways from this week's heated cooking adventure. Some of these might seem like no brainers, but everyone makes mistakes from time to time.

  • Prepare 

Before beginning a recipe, the natural thing to do is prepare. Whether it be washing your produce or busting out any pans and utensils you may need. But the key point I want to bring across is to not just prepare, but to prepare well. What does that entail? Doing everything you already expect, such as the examples listed above, but also have a game plan. Don’t just go into it blindly (no pun intended:)).  Take some time to read through the recipe carefully and make sure you fully understand what you are supposed to do. What I recommend is picture the steps in your head as you read though the recipe so you can have a better idea of what you are getting yourself into. Every good sports team has a game plan and strategy when it comes to taking on tough opponents. The same can be said in this situation. Every good cook has a game plan on how they can tackle tough dishes. 

  • Time Management 

Time management is super important in the kitchen. There are many tools you can use to make sure you are managing your time effectively while cooking. For example, setting a timer. Setting timers can help tremendously in the kitchen. Not just for keeping time for something in the oven, maybe you are also frying something, then you need to mince some vegetables. To sum it all up, set as many timers as you need. Not too many where it overwhelms you, but as many as you need to make sure you don’t accidentally undercook or overcook something. Timers can also make things run smoothly in the kitchen so you can continue on with your next task and not waste too much time on one specific task in the recipe.

  • Organization

Being organized while cooking can either make you like cooking or hate it. If your kitchen is unorganized and all your ingredients are all over the place, your cooking experience won’t be a fun one. You’ll be too busy trying to find an ingredient instead of actually cooking. Verses if your cooking space is tidy and organized, you will be able to run though recipes quicker and more prepared. An idea that was brought up to me by a friend and fellow blogger Hannah, is laying out your ingredients on a counter in the order you intend to use them in. Then you can go down the line. Your kitchen is your domain to create mouthwatering, tantalizing, delicious creations for you and your loved ones. Take care of this awesome place where delicious foods are made in your house. Take pride in your organized kitchen because this is where the magic happens!

-Casey

Third Week

Hello Fresh is not easy all of the time. Sometimes it can be frustrating to cook hello Fresh, or anything with a vision impairment. Here are some ways to make cooking Hello Fresh or cooking, in general, a little bit easier.

  1. Put all of the ingredients in the order that the recipe goes. For example, if the recipe says to cut peppers first, I put the peppers at the end of the line. If it says next to cut up onions, I put the onions next to the peppers in the line. 
  2. If you cannot see the meat, get a talking meat thermometer. Then you can have it tell you if the meat is done or not Amazon has a large print meat thermometer. Do things at your rate. Don’t go too fast. Then things might be rushed, and you might miss something. If that happens while you are cooking meat or something on the stove, just turn off the burner you are using, and move the pan to a different burner. 
  3. It's ok to take longer than the length that the recipe says it takes. Most of us that read this are visually impaired. We don't do things as fast as sighted people. It's ok to use accommodations. Sighted people can just see where to cut the onion in half. We have to feel where the half onion is. Sighted people can see when water is boiling, we have to hear the water boiling.

-Hannah

Practice Makes Perfect!

How is it already our third week of cooking?? I feel like I have already learned so much and I hope you all have too! My biggest take away at this point in our adventure is that cooking doesn’t have to be a scary experience! Before trying Dinnerly, I would only stick with cooking what I knew how to cook safely. I was scared to experiment or try something new because I didn’t know what would happen. But now I am realizing that experimenting and improvising in the kitchen is one of the best parts about cooking! I feel confident looking into various recipes even if it requires a skill that I may not have practiced. I also know that even if it doesn’t turn out quite like I wanted it to the first time, I can always try again and improvise the recipe a little and see what happens!

What’s Cooking?

This week, I decided to take a little bit of a different approach when picking recipes. For my first two weeks, I focused more on recipes that required me to work on very specific cooking techniques- I worked on cooking one part of the meal at a time so I could really focus on what I was doing and think about better ways to adapt. This time, I decided to pick meals that would allow me to put all of my skills in to practice! The three meals I chose all combined the skills I have been working on in the previous two weeks and put them to the test at the same time! I chose to make ricotta meatballs with garlic bread, pan-roasted chicken with mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli, and finally Asian peanut noodles with sautéed broccoli and scallions! I was extremely happy with my progress this week. Though it was difficult at times, I felt like they all turned out pretty well and I would love to make them again!

Tips and Thoughts from Week Three

  1. Make a Plan! Before tackling my three recipes this week, I knew I would have to plan ahead especially if I was going to be focusing on timing and safety! So I decided that before I would even begin to cook, I would take some time to prepare and make a game plan. I started out by reading through each recipe again. From there I looked at all of the varying parts of the meal and thought about how long each would take. I then was able to make a plan of what order I would begin cooking what parts. For example, with my pan-roasted chicken meal I knew I could start by boiling my potatoes. While they were boiling I knew I could start cutting the chicken and getting that going on the stove top as well. And once the chicken was cooking, I could move on to the broccoli. All three parts would be cooking at once, but I had each timed out so that it hopefully wouldn’t be too overwhelming. This was definitely helpful. I still felt a little nervous, but I was way more confident in my skills! Going in with a plan helped me when things started to get messy… for example, with my meatball dish I thought I was burning the sauce, but luckily I was able to stay calm and just turned the heat down while I waited for the meatballs to be done baking. Everything was fine! I highly recommend taking the time to re-read your recipe and think about your plan before jumping into cooking!
  2. Just Breathe! Even the most experienced cooks run into struggles in the kitchen. The most important thing I found this week was to keep breathing and stay calm even when it seemed like things were not going well. When you start to panic or let yourself get overwhelmed, things will only continue to get worse. If you find yourself feeling that way just stop for a second, take a breath, and solve the problem. Usually the answer is right in front of you. You may have to start a part of the process over or improvise… that may be a little frustrating, but it’s not the end of the world! The important thing is that you tried and learned from your experience!
  3. Trust Your Skills! Though I had my moments of anxiety, I chose to cook this way this week becasue I knew I could do it! I have been working hard for the past two weeks and believed I could do take on more. It can be easy to shy away from trying new things especially when those new things can be scary. But how do you get better if you never try? It's important to trust in yourself and your abilities. A part of that means accepting when you need to use assistive technology or adapt your method. There is no shame in trying a different method. After all, if at first you don't succeed, try and try again!

I can't believe that next week is my last week of Dinnerly! This has truly been a wonderful expereince that I hope to continue with even after our project is over! Thanks for reading and Happy Cooking!

-Frankie

Hey everyone, this is my third week of cooking!

I learned a lot in the past weeks. It's a fun experience. This week I really want to talk about how to short your cooking time. Cooking usually takes longtime, even for those people who had vision. I cooked hello fresh for 3-weeks, it usually takes me 2-3 hours to make. It makes me wonder how can I make my cooking time shorter? It takes me a while, but finally I figured out few tips that helped me a lot.

  1. Don't cook rice first. It tell you to do that on recipe but is not a great idea, because if you do that, go do other stuff, forget to watch it, your rice will burned, wait until your food is almost done. That helps you that you can use the extra rice cooking time to get your food ready.
  2. Before you started cook a meal, get all your stuff that you need together. I remember in this week, I cooked an American Chinese dish, it's hamburger meat, with peanut sauce, green beans and rice. I didn't get butter, salt and butter those stuff together, so I am running around the kitchen trying to find them. That is a pain and add a lot cooking time.
  3. Using extra waiting time smart. When I am waiting the meat to cook, I checked the next step, grabbed all stuff for next step, don't just stand there. You can do something else, like get all the sauce for next step, or cut your vegetables, ready for them to go in. 
  4. Be smart with your time on cooking is really important, because not always we have that much time to cook! Planning ahead, think before about how much time you think that meal will take you, plan ahead, that will short a lot of our cooking time. Thanks for reading my post, sadly, next week may be my last week of writing, hope those tips help!

-Conner 

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