Pan-fried steak, roast vegetables, and tomato sauce

Another long day of cooking, courtesy of my Rouxbe course. I was going to do a long write-up of the stuff I did today (sweating practice using garlic cloves, tomato sauce, roasted brussels sprouts, roasted cauliflower, and pan-fried steak), but I’m tired and don’t really think I have anything deep and meaningful to contribute. It’s all techniques I’ve done before, for the most part, and just a matter of refining and practicing. I only have a few notes:

– As an exercise to demonstrate why sweating ingredients is important and distinct from browning, the course has us sweat a single minced garlic clove on low heat until softened, add a half-cup of water, simmer for 30 seconds, and then pour into a container. Repeat, but instead of sweating, brown the garlic. I will say this: pushing around a single minced clove of garlic on low heat for 15-20 minutes is probably someone’s textbook definition of hell. It might even be mine. So… boring…

– I have a very hard time figuring out when the beef is done properly. I aimed at 6-7 minutes a side, which seems to have lead to about medium-well, but I honestly have no idea how I’d know the done-ness before I cut into it and eat. Any suggestions?

– I still have not achieved “flow.” I’m calmer in the kitchen now, which is good, but things still take a very long time. All the food I mentioned above — which really isn’t all that much, in the end — took about four and a half hours. I don’t mind the long time, as I was home and not doing anything else anyway, but I’m really hoping it starts getting shorter as I gain more experience and know what I can multitask on and what requires singular focus. I’m still looking at my cooking practice the way I would a university class in which I get to eat my homework. And a 4-hour class a week is quite reasonable.

– I’m finding more and more that cooking is very holistic. Whereas I used to be very focused on timing (“It says cook for 5 minutes and it’s been 7! Oh, no!”), the Rouxbe course is helping me identify cues in the cooking process so that I don’t need to focus on the precise time. I’m now focusing more on the look of the food, how it sounds in the pan, what it smells like (admittedly difficult for me with my hyposmia, but I’m trying), etc. It’s very multi-sensory and immersive, and I now understand how people with more experience can get into a zen-like state while cooking.

– Dishes. Oh, my god, the dishes. I’m so glad I clean as I go, because I used a lot of dishes today.

– I was quite tired from my four-and-a-half-hour sojourn into the world of cooking. So what did I do? Made cream biscuits. Yes, in Julie’s brain, the way you relax after a long day of cooking is to do some baking. Sigh.


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