I did a cooking/nutrition class last night for a group of teens that were in a transitional housing group home. They were all going to school, working and learning how to live independently as part of the program. I wanted to teach them basic cooking skills that could be applied to anything they wanted to cook.
I opted to make stir fried vegetables, biscuits and apple crisp. The woman who worked at the group home requested we make chicken to go with the stir fried vegies. I haven't been in the same room with unwrapped raw chicken in years so this was a huge compromise but since the benefits to the kids outweighed my disgust, I agreed. (However, It was just as disgusting as I remembered it.)
The kids learned about cutting things in same size pieces to promote even cooking, how to mix batter without overmixing, how to make a tasty fruit based dessert, managing leftovers, how a dinner biscuit becomes a breakfast biscuit(margarine vs.jelly on top), how to cook when you have very little time plus other random facts about cooking in the real world. They've invited me back and maybe I'll get them to try a veg dish next time.
We went around the room to get opinions on how everything turned out. The consensus was good although one girl said the chicken was bland. I asked her what she could do differently to make it more to her taste which started a great conversation about marinating and using spices to personalize your cooking.
Although I'm not usually talking about making chicken less bland, the thought process is the same as we strive to cook frugally. We try recipes and then look back on them and ask ourselves, should I do anything differently next time to better suit my tastes? If the answer is yes, right down those changes right on the recipe! I know, I'm telling you to write in your recipe books again but if you don't, you're doomed to have the same conversation with yourself next time.
While you're digging through your cookbooks, if you find those magical pixies who chop and premeasure all the ingredients on cooking shows so all the chefs have to do is toss everything together, send them over to my house. I could use the help today!