informal_homeIt seems we are entering an age when a lot of parents and grandparents have not had the time, opportunity or inclination to teach the younger generations some basic good habits of self-care.     I meet an awful lot of young people who don’t know how to boil eggs, vacuum rugs or mow lawns.  Not that it’s necessary to do these things, especially if one is independent enough to pay someone else, but, knowing how to take care of oneself deepens one self-confidence and self-respect.

Thus in the next few blogs I will offer a list to all young men who wish to be good husbands, partners and fathers someday, or who simply want to live alone in independence and self-respect.  The same list applies to young women, by the way!Today we’ll deal with cooking basics:

  1. Know how to make soft-boiled, scrambled and hard-boiled eggs?  It’s just a step further to becoming expert creators of omelets!
  2. Learn the difference among: sautéing, frying, boiling, baking, braising, grilling, and steaming.  This will enable you to survive with any kind of vegetable, fish, chicken or meat.
  3. Find out about herbs to make things taste good.  Basics like: herbs de Provence, rosemary, oregano, thyme, basil, cilantro, parsley, bay leaf, and of course salt and pepper.
  4. Also basics like onions and garlic.  Do you know the “holy trinity” of great soups: celery, carrots and onions.  A simple chicken stock using chicken,      and the above trinity of veggies with some bay leaf gives you the basis for all other soups.
  5. That veggie trinity?  It’s the flavor profile for nearly anything that tastes good, including meats, poultry, sauces and stews.
  6. Speaking of stews: learn to make a basic beef stew.  The cut of meat is      cheap and the results are fabulous.  I make a big pot every once in a while and freeze portions for future meals.
  7. Discover the joy of canned beans: garbanzo, white and red kidney, cannellini, and black, to begin with.  They are rich in protein and with a simple vinaigrette and some herbs they’re a meal in themselves.
  8. Oh, yes…learn to make vinaigrette.  Forget the expensive bottled dressings      full of stuff that’s not always good for you!  Or just drizzle your salad greens with extra virgin olive oil and wine vinegar or lemon juice (from a lemon!) with salt and pepper.
  9. Oh, yes again…don’t waste your money on those cute yellow fake lemons filled with tasteless reconstituted lemon juice (?).
  10. Pasta!  Yes, learn to make pasta (not that blue box with the powdered cheese!)  A simple tomato sauce can be a joy: open a can, add some olive oil in a pan, cook down the tomatoes and there you have it.   Make sure to use a block of grating cheese, please….not that stuff in a green can!
  11. Never feel you have to know how to make bread.  That’s something easy to buy and fairly nourishing.
  12. Oat meal and a banana or other canned fruit for breakfast is not only inexpensive, but it’s really good for you.  It takes 5 minutes to make and will do wonders for your blood-sugar throughout the morning, not to mention the regularity of your bathroom visits!  Breakfast is still the most important meal of the day!
  13. Did you know unsalted almonds or walnuts in Greek yogurt with a drizzle of honey is a great sweet snack full of protein that will keep you going for hours?
  14. Please don’t drink artificially sweetened anything.  The risk of diabetes is just as high with fake sweeteners as with too much regular      sugar.
  15. Frozen vegetables are even better than most fresh veggies (unless they’re local and organic) because they are flash-frozen before the vitamins have a chance to escape in transit and storage.
  16. The more you make at home, the more money you’ll save, the more weight you’ll probably lose, and the more self-respect you’ll gain.
  17. There’s so much more!  Contact me at for all      recipes and dishes I’ve mentioned here and more, including: beef or lamb      stew, lentil soup, pea soup, chicken stock, roast chicken, braised pork butt, meat balls, tomato sauce, and omelets.  I’ve got my cooking down to a series of good habits to save time, money and energy!  I can easily cook a full meal, including dessert for four in about an hour!

Next time: Worshipping at the Shrine of Mr. Clean
Contact the Man’s Coach at