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No one is born with the ability to cook. Unless you had a parent or grandparent or good friend who taught you how (squeezing cookie dough out of a tube doesn't count), or took an interest in it yourself, you likely have become skilled at opening packages and reheating things in the microwave. Or perhaps most of your meals are prepared by the good folks at McDonald's. If this sounds familiar, sooner or later you should probably learn how to cook. Let's face it, you have to eat. Learning a few cooking skills will make life easier. It will also save you money, benefit your health, and come in handy if you're ever asked to bring something to a party. You may even become responsible for feeding someone else properly. Besides, man cannot live on toast and cereal alone, although many have made a valiant effort.
It took me a while to understand the saying "you are what you eat"it applies not solely in terms of health, as in if you eat junk you'll feel like junkbut culturally, emotionally, and socially. We eat for so many reasons other than to satisfy ourselves nutritionallyfood is a source of great comfort, to ourselves and each other, and is an inextricable element of any celebration or social event, whether it be a special gathering of friends or just your family (or even yourself) at the dinner table on a regular night. Few and far between are those who solely eat to live.
You don't have to be a cook to be able to cook. Most people who are convinced of their ineptitude in the kitchen are held back largely by intimidation. The best way to get past this is by doing itfixing yourself something to eat ona regular basis is really the only way to become comfortable in the kitchen. Try something new, trust your instincts, even if you think you don't have any-and don't be afraid to experiment. Competence leads to confidence, and vice versa. And remember, even the best chefs have kitchen disasters.
The recipes that follow are meant to act more as guides, to encourage culinary independence rather than instruct how to follow a recipe. Start with the best ingredients you can find or afford, and you're halfway there. If you're not sure of something, look it up, call someone who knows, or taste your way through it. Food is one of life's greatest pleasurescooking it can be, too. Just Do It.