Friday, April 17, 2015

The Value of Learning To Cook

The potential of food to add beauty/pleasure to everyday life should not be under-estimated.

I have been discussing job skills for the past five days, but life skills are equally valuable. For example, knowing how to cook. Knowing how to cook offers benefits beyond just saving money (though that is important); when you know how to cook:

1. You and your household will eat healthier, better-tasting food

2. You can create joy by sharing what you make with friends/neighbors/roommates

3. You gain the power and confidence that comes with having useful skills
4. You can add beauty and pleasure to your life and the lives of others

5. You can dramatically improve your health

6. Your value as a spouse, roommate, friend, colleague etc. rises

7. You can save money for investing or spending on higher-priority items/experiences

8. You have a daily creative outlet

The joys of cooking are varied and flexible. Once you gain the basic skills of prep (chopping, slicing, etc.), stir-frying, sauteeing, baking, etc., then just about any recipe is open to you.

It takes a lot of practice to create beautiful food (presentation), but this is a bonus. I am not adept enough to fashion such perfect spring rolls as the lady of the household; these were her first spring rolls, made a week or so ago (the dipping sauce is from Charles Pham's cookbook Vietnamese Home Cooking):

This is more my style: a burger topped with a nice brie cheese (from Costco--very reasonably priced) and home-made pickles--a remarkably easy project.

Even the simplest meals can be presented attractively. Though beauty is dismissed in our culture unless it's being used to signal wealth/prestige/power, the potential of food to add beauty/pleasure to everyday life should not be under-estimated.

The social capital value of sharing appealing, home-made food should also not be under- estimated. Watch how everyone's eyes light up when you stop by with freshly baked pie or a delicious meal; the simple act of sharing something you devoted time and energy to make transforms a mundane day into a special one for the person receiving your home-cooked treat/meal.

By the time you set up to make one or two for yourself, it's not that hard to make more to share with others:

If you type what's cooking at our house into the custom search box in the upper left sidebar, you will find many entries such as What's Cooking at our House: Sichuan Green Beans. My goal in sharing our day-to-day cooking is to show that it isn't that hard to create delicious meals--especially if you have a garden. I am not a great cook, but being a great cook isn't necessary. Knowing the basics and understanding that the prep is 90% of the process is enough.

The hierarchies and complexities of our society tend to make us feel powerless and helpless. In many ways, we are powerless to change the socio-economic structures and some are more equal than others dynamics of the world we inhabit.

But we are not powerless or helpless when it comes to shaping our inner lives and our household lives. We can bring health, beauty, sharing and creativity into our lives by knowing how to cook. 

Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy(Kindle, $9.95)(print, $20)
go to Kindle editionAre you like me? Ever since my first summer job decades ago, I've been chasing financial security. Not win-the-lottery, Bill Gates riches (although it would be nice!), but simply a feeling of financial control. I want my financial worries to if not disappear at least be manageable and 

And like most of you, the way I've moved toward my goal has always hinged not just on having a job but a career.

You don't have to be a financial blogger to know that "having a job" and "having a career" do not mean the same thing today as they did when I first started swinging a hammer for a paycheck.

Even the basic concept "getting a job" has changed so radically that jobs--getting and keeping them, and the perceived lack of them--is the number one financial topic among friends, family and for that matter, complete strangers.

So I sat down and wrote this book: Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy.

It details everything I've verified about employment and the economy, and lays out an action plan to get you employed.

I am proud of this book. It is the culmination of both my practical work experiences and my financial analysis, and it is a useful, practical, and clarifying read.

Test drive the first section and see for yourself.     Kindle, $9.95     print, $20

"I want to thank you for creating your book Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy. It is rare to find a person with a mind like yours, who can take a holistic systems view of things without being captured by specific perspectives or agendas. Your contribution to humanity is much appreciated."

Laura Y.

Gordon Long and I discuss The New Nature of Work: Jobs, Occupations & Careers(25 minutes, YouTube) 

NOTE: Contributions/subscriptions are acknowledged in the order received. Your name and email remain confidential and will not be given to any other individual, company or agency.

Thank you, William M. ($50), for your stupendously generous contribution to this site-- I am greatly honored by your steadfast support and readership.

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