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Introduction, How to Boil Water ✨

Introduction, How to Boil Water ✨

This lesson is 502 words, a 2 min 0 second reading time. It is the first lesson of Cooking Without Recipes and the introduction to How to Boil Water.

“There is a prevailing theory that we need to know much more than we do in order to feed ourselves well. 

It isn’t true. Most of us already have water, a pot to put it in, and a way to light a fire. This gives us boiling water, in which we can do more good cooking than we know.”

- Tamara Adler, An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace 

Like a writer, an aspiring home chef may at times become “blocked.” She stares into her cupboards and fridge and thinks to herself, "I have nothing to eat! What will I do?!" 

Tamara Adler addresses this moment in The Everlasting Meal. She writes, "instead of trying to figure out what to do about dinner, you put a big pot of water on the stove, light a burner under it, and only when it's on its way to getting good and hot start looking for things to put in it! In that act, you will have plopped yourself smack in the middle of cooking a meal.”

Since reading that sentence in Tamara’s book, my approach to cooking has changed. When I can't think of what to make, I put a pot of water on the stove to boil. I then look around my cupboards, freezer, and fridge for things that might go well in it. Pasta, rice, sweet potatoes, broccoli -- the list goes on of ingredients commonly on hand, that transform beautifully inside a pot of boiling water. 

Boiling, while perhaps not the most glamorous cooking method, is reliable, practical, and provides workhorse-style leverage. While a few things *don’t* boil very well (e.g., meat, dairy), a tremendous number of food items turn out deliciously. 

In this course, “How to Boil Water,” you will learn the three main types of moist-heat cooking -- boiling, simmering & steaming. These cooking techniques can produce a wide array of foods - from mashed sweet potatoes to soft boiled eggs. 

In terms of ingredients to get started with, you’ll need tea loose or a bag, ground coffee, kosher salt, olive oil, a head each of cauliflower & broccoli, two sweet potatoes, pasta, and some eggs. 

For gear, you’ll most importantly need a large stockpot (wide enough to hold two sweet potatoes comfortably). You’ll also need a sharp knife, a slotted spoon, some tongs, a colander/strainer, a large bowl, and a tea/coffee brewer. 

We all have moments where we think we can’t do something. The task at hand is too great, our knowledge too sparse, our energy (or pantry) reserves too low.  In those moments what we need is something practical, reliable and easy to manage. A pot of boiling water is just that. 

I hope that this course helps you feel more comfortable and confident in the kitchen. Even better, I hope it becomes like that pot of water -- something handy and useful that opens up a new world of delight in the kitchen.

Best of luck & bon appétit! 

~ Michelle 

Chief Researcher, Life School


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