My Journey into the Kitchen: Playing with Fire (Part 1 - The Beginning)

By Christina Kim - May 04, 2020

It was not love at first sight, at least it was definitely not, for me.
In fact, I was repulsive towards you and it took a very long time until I finally got to know you and little did I know, it was the beginning of a budding romance.
I was shy at first, afraid if things would go wrong yet hoping that everything would go right. I stayed on the conservative path and took each step with caution but slowly and surely, you showed me that there was really nothing to be afraid of.
As time goes by, I start to find myself drawn to you more and more, interested to learn more and everything about you and what you have to offer and you have been nothing but astonishing, for with every step, you continue to intrigue me.
You filled my mind, keeping my interest all the time for everything about you is just so new to me. I wanted to know more and more.
Stolen time and sneaking off to spend time with you, to bolder and bigger moves as I got to know you soon ignited more than just a spark...

That was the beginning of my love story and affair, that first taste of COOKING, which began, let's see, five years ago?

Now, where do I start?
From the very beginning, I suppose...

The journey of the pickeater and her food diary was my beginning, when I first started my blog. I remembered sharing photos of my mother's cooking and the food that she would serve us back then, along with other stuffs from my daily life such as my mum's blooming flowers and plants and also things that happen to me every day. I played around with my camera back then (really proud of my little digital camera) which was with me everywhere I went, and even at home, I would be taking photos of all the food and even my mum's preparation process (I started with just the end product, then I just started telling my mum I wanted to snap more photos). My mum was quite a sport then too, she joined in my enthusiasm by plating her food, and even halting everyone from touching their food until I had taken my shots. 
Then I took that habit to my workplace as well and everyone around me was just as cool as they all waited for me to take photos (though they were initially bewildered and even laughed at me). Everyone slowly got accustomed to my "quirky" habits by then and I even had a bunch of really cool friends who would basically help to remind each other and others, to not touch the food until I take that photo. I had really great friends and they even went as far as to rearrange so that they will turn out aesthetically pleasing.
Oh, the good old times and how I have missed them as well.

I only took photos of the food I ate, but I never made any of them.
You see, I do not cook, I was not really interested in cooking back then and I have to admit, I don't even step into the kitchen often (yes, call me a brat).
If you told me back then that I would someday cook and perhaps form some sort of a culinary fascination/enthusiasm/attachment, I would probably laugh at your so-called premonition or defiantly tell you it ain't so.
Little did I know that laugh and defiance is going to hit me right back in my face more than a decade later.

That leads me back to the beginning, five years ago when hubby was based in another country and whenever I visited him on my trips, he would prepare our meals. It was fun watching him prepare our meals and then doing our grocery shopping together. Then when I got back home, I was alone and I slowly got sick of going out to buy my food. Furthermore, I even started missing eating at our usual/regular joints and their food (I am one of those who really do not enjoy eating alone when I am outside, especially in a restaurant which is usually filled with either couples or families. It just feels rather depressing, or at least, that was what I thought then)
Yes, I do know there are a lot of people out there who are alone and doing fine sitting by themselves and eating, not giving a care about the world but there are also some people who just don't enjoy it, that is all, like me, and not because there is something wrong with it.
That was before though, today I have also changed my opinion on that and I really do not mind eating alone sometimes (to be frank, I prefer and enjoy doing that too sometimes), so really, I am not criticising nor treading on a sore point when I mentioned that I do not like to eat alone. 
Anyway, back to my story, and as I started to miss some of my favourite foods and also getting sick of take outs (one can only do so much take outs), and of course, most importantly, it was for the sake of my health as well. 
So, I started making my own meals and going grocery shopping was definitely the precedent to that. After all, where do I get my raw ingredients right?
It was not that hard, besides I had learnt while shopping with my hubby as well (I rarely go to the market when I was a kid) and that was when I learnt about choosing the veggies.
(Of course, it is a no-brainer that you do not pick those wilted ones) but differentiating the juicier/tender ones were initially quite perplexing to me and I just went with my intuition.
Guess what, thankfully, my gut feeling has really never ever failed me (and I really mean never) and somehow, I just got them all right each time though there are times, I guess I just either got lucky or unlucky (when I did not listen to my instinct and just went with the visuals, *slaps self on the forehead). Learning to cook (nope, I did not refer to Youtube for unknown reason, perhaps it did not cross my mind then) and the timing to get the right taste was a fun continuous experiment as I was clearly a novice in the kitchen, with the little pan and spatula in my hand. I was a little afraid of fire and even the knife to be frank, you should have seen the way I cut my stuffs. It seemed like I was avoiding the knife rather than holding onto it, and the stove, I almost contemplated wearing a fireproof suit (just kidding).
I cooked with bare ingredients because frankly, I am a person with very simple and plain tastes and I do not like strong tastes so when I cooked for myself, I just kept it almost bare so that I can enjoy the natural taste of everything.
However, as I slowly learn more and got more interested in the different types of dishes (somehow cravings do come in and I started learning and doing my research on cooking recipes), I learn more about the different types of ingredients, the herbs, the spices, the tastes and flavours and even the role each and every one of them play, even to the level of the balancing effects on the human body. It is just like science, well, it IS science and I make my choices carefully, to avoid wreaking havoc on my hypersensitive digestive and overall immune system.

It became more and more fun, though I just made simple dishes and most of my cooking styles are steaming, stir frying, boiling, or poaching (my preferred styles anyway even when I dine outside) and to be honest, they were the simplest and most importantly, there is no major mess. Also, at the same time, I did not have a lot of kitchen tools to play with either, a trusty mix of regular pan and pot, my rice cooker and also a slow cooker. Yes, that was all I had and I remembered using the rice cooker to steam my stuffs and basically just prepared all that one pot meals before moving on to cooking on the stove.
Soups, stir fry vegetables, salads were probably on rotation most of the time and I think I still basically stuck to the same formula until now, though there are now braising, broiling, grilling, roasting and even baking these days too (yeah, I got myself an oven now, yeayyy, I will talk about that later).
I still make very simple dishes though I think now there are more variety to the dishes I make, such as curry (I do not take spicy food as I cannot, but now, I can since I tweak my own recipes and also for the hubs who love spicy food), herbal soups (from research and sometimes developed my own recipe after understanding the herbs), mixes and pastes, sauces and gravy, etc. Still nothing really complicated as of now, I am really no masterchef, far, far, far away from it, but I am really enjoying and proud of my own journey and evolution.
It was a really fun learning journey and I am still learning.
I look at others' cooking and I get inspired, then find out how they do it. I try to tweak it to my preferences and adjusted or just simply do enough research to develop a simple recipe for myself as honestly, I am really, really, really picky with my food and the tastes.
There is no one like me, well, I think everyone is just different, so no judgment needed.

My food is not totally tasteless either, as it evolves and I still do put salt (had an experience with low sodium issue before and salt/sodium is important in keeping the body at optimum level). The same goes for fat/oil, without which will cause severe damage to our nervous system which is central to everything in our body system.

So, here, a few photos of my food ( I am not going to share that many either, because well, I am still shy and not confident enough).

They are no Michelin-level, like I said, I am no masterchef but so far, no one has gotten ill nor poisoned from trying out my food so I think I am fine.

This is just the beginning as more food posts will make its way back into my blog, only difference is at least now I can tag some as food that I have made with my very own hands, with my spatula, pot and pan.

I am sure most of you are better chefs than me, so this is from a novice and the story of how her journey begins, from someone who has never stepped into the kitchen to someone who can at least make some basic dishes now. To me, it is quite an interesting journey which I continue and my story?
It is not the end yet as there is more to come after stay tune for the Part 2...

*Author's Note: 
This is not a sponsored/promotional post, and solely based on author's personal opinions and do not represent the general public. 
Experiences vary from one individual to another.
You do not have to agree with me.

Art Direction and Photography Styling by Me.
Photos/Videos all belong to me and are copyrighted.
Please kindly ask for permission if you need to use any of my images.

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