Chef Ryan

Cajun Chef Ryan

Feeling & sharing a world of cooking ~ more than your average Cajun


Cooking, eating, learning

March 1st, 2010 · 11 Comments

Typing out recipes for the documentation project is an ongoing process while converting them from hardcopy to digital format, and while the endeavor has been fruitful, it has been time consuming. If the resources were available, I would pay someone to manually transfer the manuals, binders, and scribbled recipes on stacks of notepaper into scanned files or typed documents; and it would most likely take a month or so of full time work, or about 160 labor hours to complete.

Lately we have been putting up recipes that are new and found from various cookbooks in our collection, primarily ones that Monique selected from the stacks of Weight Watchers volumes, and we have enjoyed them incredibly so.  Tasty, light, easy to prepare, and modified to fit our particular style and taste, these are great indeed.

Last night in fact we put together a Shepard’s Pie and a Minestrone Soup, the later from a WW cookbook, and the other one we just put together with mashed potatoes, peas, carrots, shredded cheddar, and browned ground turkey meat. We are now set for most of the week with meals for lunch and dinner, until Thursday, when I make some bean and corn enchiladas. This has been a good routine for us, cooking on the weekends, and then saving more time for other pursuits during the busy work a day week.

Since giving up red meat and coffee for Lent we have saved an average of about $15.00 per week or more on the grocery bill, we are please with this and hope to shave more off the expense line as we continue our search for frugal recipes, without sacrificing variety and flavors of our meals. Beans are so inexpensive and so good too; they really stretch your dollars, as well as provide variety and complementary protein when combined with other high fiber foods such as brown rice.

The primary benefit from cooking your own meals at home is sitting down to eat your creation, the edible delights, and fruits of your labor. Another great benefit from cooking is learning, we never stop learning something new when we cook. Focus on always trying to improve on taste, flavor, preparations, and quality of ingredients, garnish, and presentation.

One of the best ways to learn is by doing, and the only way to do something is hands on. This is why apprenticeship programs are so much better for aspiring chefs, classroom lessons and book learning is one thing, but applying techniques with hands on experience in the kitchen is the only way to grasp the concepts. For example, a chef instructor can lecture to a class on all the various sauces and their derivatives, how their made, the ingredients that make them specifically different, changes in preparations that alter their complexity, and the various uses for them in cuisines. Nevertheless, the apprentice or culinary student will never really understand the sauces unless they practice each of them and apply them in various dishes and preparations. The same can be said for all the recipes found in cookbooks, and on the Internet, they might look good on paper and on screen, but they are only as good as the person who touches them and creates them, bringing them to life in the kitchens of homes and restaurants.

Another great way to learn is by watching others who have mastered the techniques you are aspiring to accomplish. One of the teaching techniques we utilized in the kitchens follows a tried and true Army way of teaching, first, watch the instructor as they demonstrate the procedure, second, the student tells the instructor how it is done, and third, the student demonstrates the procedure to display a working knowledge of the task under review of the instructor.

While these hands on learning techniques would be difficult with online learning, it is not impossible. Anyone with Internet access, a web cam attached to a computer, and a Skype account, giving the ability to make video conferencing, a student could demonstrate with some regularity the required techniques in any kitchen with online access.

Cooking demonstrations are always a fun task, I have prepared many in my career, and typically these are a one-way learning experience, in that the student typically just watches, and then gets to taste the results, if done on site. Some cooking demonstrations I have done on live television broadcast with early morning news shows and some televised telethon fundraiser’s as well. Similar to food shows on Food Network and such, these are a one-way instruction technique and more like infotainment more than learning or teaching technique. Have you ever prepared a recipe that was first demonstrated on a television show? How did you transfer the recipe from the show to your kitchen?

Have you ever prepared a recipe that was first demonstrated on a television show? How did you transfer the recipe from the show to your kitchen?

Online Cooking Learning Videos …better seen than read.

Here are some online cooking videos, including some highlighted from a recent issue of Bottom Line Secrets and found from various sources, better seen than read. In some cases, you may notice that there is more than one way to complete a procedure.

How to peel and dice an onion: two techniques for basic peeling and dicing an onion:

Quick-peel an egg: A unique procedure for removing the shell from hard-boiled eggs though it might not pass for the most sanitary method:–AgLM

Quick-peel a banana: Taking a tip from monkeys, they have been eating bananas for a long time:

Carving a Thanksgiving Turkey: The New York Times shows Ray Venezia, manager of the meat department at Fairway Market as he demonstrates his procedure for carving a whole roasted turkey:

How to cut and seed a pomegranate: Food Wishes demonstrates his under water technique for removing the seeds in the first video:

How to make Muesli: A four step method for making your own Muesli on Howcast:

Making Crepes for a Blintz dessert:

How To Make a Banh Mi Sandwich: All the steps you need in this procedure to add this Vietnamese sandwich to your deli repertoire:

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Tags: Commentary · Videos

11 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Dawn@CocinaSavant // Mar 1, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    this is a great post. very thoughtful and well written. i can’t imagine how much works is involved in uploading that information, i’m in an electronic textual editing class for school now and we’re only doing one small journal, and its taking 10 weeks to turn a written document into a digital (XML) file, so I feel your pain! thanks for sharing all of your resources with us 🙂

  • 2 pegasuslegend // Mar 1, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    Very informative love the monkey tip!

  • 3 HoneyB // Mar 1, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    Great post Ryan and thank you for all the informative links!

  • 4 Promotional Printing // Mar 1, 2010 at 8:35 pm

    Thanks for sharing your resources with us and I really do appreciate the links you’ve posted. The link you gave about peeling the onion was really useful for me, because for some reason I always have a hard time peeling them. Also I agree with what you said that the reward of cooking your own meal is when it’s time for you to eat them.

  • 5 Drick // Mar 1, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    great read Ryan … as for cooking shows, yep, when Food Network started I though I had died and gone to heaven, new foods to eat, new techniques, etc … and when I was able to print out the recipes from their site, oh wow….it was a great time, to actually cook what I was watching … until I noticed that many weren’t really as good as promised …that’s when I learned what many already knew – recipes are not written in stone….

  • 6 sweetlife // Mar 1, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    wow great much info!!


  • 7 Jessie // Mar 2, 2010 at 9:44 am

    awesome read and very informative! I do find that some recipes shown on TV aren’t as good as they look.

  • 8 Ryan Boudreaux // Mar 2, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    Taped television shows have the benefit of editing, and delayed timing. In addition, they have what is called a “hero”, or finished food item that is done ahead of time. You never see them prep much, because culinary teams behind the scenes do all the prep and production. A 30 minute show actually has only about 20 minutes or less of air time, and in that time typically you will see up to three preparations or more.

  • 9 5 Star Foodie // Mar 2, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    Excellent, informative post! I find the best way to learn is by doing cooking projects hands on for sure.

  • 10 Gera @ SweetsFoodsBlog // Mar 2, 2010 at 5:35 pm

    Excellent and informative post. Lot of materials to read for improve my cooking!

    Have a great week,

  • 11 Gera @ SweetsFoodsBlog // Mar 2, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    I tend to remember the last comments in my mind before writing… I need to improve this point too, before commenting and not beginning like Natasha 😉