- Build something. A new workbench for your office. Fix up an old car. Build a pull-up bar in your garage. Use your hands, cut some wood and metal, and treat yourself to a new tool or two. Do this with every project and you will have a nice tool collection before you know it.
- Learn to take pictures on a manual camera. You can do this with a modern automatic camera if it has a manual mode. Learn about ISO, f-stop, and shutter speed and the interplay of those three variables. There's a fantastic multi-part tutorial on Reddit that can help you learn these things. I don't have the link handy but you can Google for it.
- Set a goal of cooking for yourself at least two nights a week and eating leftovers two nights a week. Buy a binder and some clear inserts and start to put together your own book of favorite recipes.
- Take a nightly walk.
- Listen to classical music. This one didn't come to me until my 40s but I finally realized: there's a reason that this music has been popular for 300 years. Opera is great, too. Listen to Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro". Download the KUSC app and listen to the amazing Metropolitan Opera broadcast every Saturday morning at 10 AM Pacific.
However, when I'm in a relationship, we tend to cook a lot more. The economics works out better, lower incremental cost of 2 vs 1 at home but double the cost (nearly) eating out. Also with 2 people cooking / cleaning, the time it takes for 1 person reduces quite a bit.
— Mise en place (Get everything you need prepped)
— Clean as you cook
Get a bunch of small glass dishes and get all the ingredients you need measured, chopped and placed into those dishes. This will make combining them effortless when cooking.
If you've done prep, you'll have some down time while cooking. As you finish using pans and utensils wash them and put them away. By the time you're done cooking you'll also be almost done cleaning—save the pan that needs to soak a bit in the sink.
I use stainless steel mixing bowls, lighter and cheaper than glass and they stack really well. A large cutting board (24x18) helps you work clean.
But curious about any other approaches to "No look" you have!
Toss the cast iron and stainless steel skillets and buy nonstick skillets, cheap or expensive. When they wear out, replace them.
I've gone through more than two sets of cast iron cookware trying to "season" them properly. "Seasoning cast iron" never works, either consistently or well. It is little more than marketing horseshit the iron cookware industry feeds to foodies who cannot resist the perfect skillet they imagine exists on the far side of the hill.
Blasphemy! (As someone raised in the southern US)
In all seriousness, the biggest difference I've found in properly keeping up cast iron is using the right cleaning method.
Water. Or just a bit of highly-diluted dish soap.
I know there's ways to do proper coating (oven clean, etc), but most of the time I just hot fire mine on a gas burner with some oil. Works fine.
Also, there's no way in hell I'd cook cast iron on an electric top. (though I don't have experience with induction)
And finally... cook things with more fat. Bacon in the pan frequently goes a long way towards making it happy.
I ditched my (expensive) non-stick pans two years ago and bought a decent stainless steel pan and a cast iron pan (since then I've also upgraded to SS stockpots and sauce pans).
This was the best thing I've done in the kitchen. My cast iron pan is the best pan I've ever used and is as non-stick as any "non-stick" pan I have used. I cook pancakes, omelets, and fried eggs without any sticking and minimal oil. It is may daily cooker.
My stainless is okay for things like omelets and fried eggs but it takes more skill and understanding of the pan and I still sometimes end up with lots of sticking. But for things like meats, pan sauces, or grilled cheeses I love it.
My advice to any home-cook is to ditch the non-stick pans, buy a cheap 12" cast-iron pan, and a decent SS pan and watch a few videos about using them (e.g., SS pans needs to be heated to the point where the Leidenfrost effect occurs). These two things can transform your cooking and open a world of high-temp searing, pan sauces, and stainless steel tools (I can't stand using plastic spatulas any more, like when I use my teflon coated griddle).
Also, keep Barkeepers Friend on hand for cleaning SS pans (otherwise life is hard)
Tangential anecdote: For a few years in college I had a single cast iron skillet as my only pot or pan. It's all you need to make tacos, soup, noodles, bread, shepherds pie, or a host of other things. Being deep enough to hold a few servings of food for a couple people and being able to go in the oven go a long ways toward its versatility.
Advantage of stew / curry is they can be frozen and later thawed and reheated. Over time though it got really monotonous for me. I like good food, and importantly variety.
Feels like there is some opportunity here. A way to scale home cooking for a bunch of individuals. Like if a few people in close proximity, say in the same apartment complex, rotated responsibilities for cooking. You can get bulk savings, time savings and variety.
I am surprised BlueApron isn't doing well as they taught me how to cook, what to get, in a relatively simple instructions.
Once you know how to cook, you don't really need the training wheels any more, and the cost of their overhead is just that: extra cost.
I have a hard time imagining them beating grocery stores / delivery long-term.
Maybe if they get enough customers to get economies of scale so large they can offer meals cheaper than grocery stores, despite their extra overhead (meal planning, recipe development, and software maintenance come to mind immediately).
I have friends who do too but it's not because they don't know how to cook, it's because they don't like to and don't wanna bother and can afford the luxury of having someone else to do it for them.
I used to cook but stopped years ago. I like having a huge variety of food options on-demand. I like being able to order delivery, do something fun and/or productive while waiting for the food, and then continue as soon as I finish eating. Or I can walk to a restaurant and get some exercise in before and after eating.
I have a small kitchen and a short attention span. I could stockpile it with dozens of fresh ingredients every day and cook from 7 different cuisines every day of the week, but it's much easier if I don't have to do that. Time is the most valuable resource in the universe, and I don't get much enjoyment from cooking, so having the privilege to eat out for every meal has made me a lot happier on average.
I don't buy the argument that removing those sorts of obstacles and inconveniences makes you depressed. Maybe in cases where physical activity is greatly reduced, but that's just a correlation and not a given. If you're self-sustaining and not mooching off of others, I think you should do whatever makes you happy, and if that includes never cooking, cleaning, or driving again, odds are you'll be happier and better-off for it. If you enjoy cooking, go for it, but if you don't and don't have to, why do something that doesn't make you happy and erases a not-insignificant proportion of your entire existence? Life has more than enough hardships and inconveniences to throw at you in other ways.
With respect to the ancestral comment about getting confused looks when refusing to eat with someone, they likely aren't confused because you would eat food you cooked, they are confused because you don't want to spend time with them. Personally, eating out for lunch with my labmates, coworkers, friends, family, etc. is the highlight of my day.
OMG, this was definitely SO true of my grandma when she was alive. She would frequently go gambling and the casino gave her free food and she wouldn't eat it. She'd claim she didn't like it, all of it, couldn't stomach it, not even a bite. So she'd pack a lunch.
It kinda bothered me because as far as I'm concerned if food is free as long as it's not rotten/unsanitary or meat (I'm a vegetarian) and I'm hungry, I'll happily eat it, even if it doesn't taste good.
(The casino's food is/was just fine, btw)
"Just fine" is very low bar, my mom is an excellent chef, to get the same tastiness and attention to detail you have to pay quite a lot of money. Even eating her sandwiches on the go can be better than a high end fast food stall.
I suspect this is because people have a small repertoire of food which is largely designed specifically for their palette. I know that I have a very strong preference for the way I cook foods. But I also can't handle certain foods, notably olives, mushrooms, and raw tomatoes.
> Further on the food front, people who cook seem to be more heavily affected by fasting, or less willing to tolerate it.
This has not been my experience, but N=1 because I'm the only person I know who regularly fasts. I'm fine cooking for others while fasting too.
1. Fast all day out of laziness: no food in the house, in the middle of something, one more thing, etc. etc.
2. Get incredibly hungry all of the sudden
3. Optionally push through for a couple more hours upon which my hunger subsides somewhat
4. Desperately need food, upon which I order out or walk down the street for something
I end up eating 1-2 meals a day, and while many tell me I'm basically doing an awesome job at intermittent fasting, it doesn't feel that way.
I'm trying to cook more.
I think there's nothing wrong with this. (Though of course I'm biased.) The intermittent fasting seems to benefit my concentration and energy, even if the fasting happens to be unintentional and due to distraction or laziness. The only externality is if you end up eating a lot right before sleeping, which tends to impact my sleep and digestion. As long as you avoid that and are getting enough calories and nutrition, I don't see the issue.
I'm working on it
I would assert that most people who eat out regularly have spent some time amount of cooking for themselves (once again anecdotal) and are not just ignorant of the concept of cooking. Their cost calculus weights time, socializing, and mental load greater than their refined taste preferences and the cost saving. I really doubt anyone who is over the age of 20 hasn't cooked a cycle of meals for themselves.
It satisfies those two core urges we all have to some degree.
I agree that doing more has plenty of avantage, but is there something specifically about cooking?
Have you ever sew piece of clothes that you regularly wear? Most people never did... yet for something that will be used for hundreds of hours, we pay 20$+ for it instead of taking a few hours to do it. Why are we arguing about cooking ourself but not sewing our own clothes?
Cooking our own food is simply a tradition that stayed with us, nothing else. It doesn't make more sense to do it ourself, than making our own clothes.
I mean sustenance and cooking is one of the fundamental activities required to continue living. Defintely ranks higher than any other skill i.e. sewing etc. Although, still quite important to do that as well.
You can live without clothes (at least in certain climates) - you can't live without eating.
It's not just tradition, it's more core to our survival.
Sure, websites and phones save us so much time but there's always another thing to do. If we're not doing something we are wasting time aren't we? The opportunity cost gets higher every time technology becomes more efficient. Some of us aren't even safe from the constant feed in the toilet.
Vomiting their ideology upon strangers on the internet and watching youtube (or some other video platform).
A podcast I listen to calls this "ordinary misery" and stresses the need to bring as much of it into our lives as we can stand.
Anyways, these people I'm talking about upthread still go to work everyday, do their own laundry, clean their houses, scrub their toilets, do their yardwork, do their taxes, work out regularly, run errands, and probably hundreds of other things that cause minor inconvenience. It's not like they are doing nothing but sitting on the couch poking at their phones.
It's not my kinda thing, personally. Mostly because food in general just isn't at all important to me.
Just seems a bit convenient and masturbatory.
*  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3639863/
If I can make double or triple what a maid service charges per hour, it makes no sense to do the lower wage jobs by myself. It’s the same thing with hiring delivery services. Take amazon prime for example..When you can get caught Bay Area traffic for 40-60 mts at a time, it makes no sense to do a milk and bread run. I spend less, waste nothing, save time and eat better because I know exactly what to order and how much.
It reminds me of my childhood back in India when the corner store would deliver provisions and vegetables every weekend even without us ordering because they knew our eating habits. Same with milk man, vegetable vendor, flower girl and even the plumber/electrician who came once in 3 months for a check. There was no contract, no insurance and no order forms. It was small communities making sure there were jobs and income for all within small neighborhoods. They operated as clusters even with one billion people. Compared to that, it’s pure chaos here wrt domestic time management. I really appreciate all the services available these days. I have been american for a few decades and it wasn’t like so earlier.
Example: I grew up in a large joint family. In the family kitchen, everyone had a chore. Often around 20-40 mts time investment each benefited 12 people’s meals. Cooking for myself or even two people is at least one hour. My time is better spent doing other things. I would rather hire a cook.
Otoh, it’s also a timesaver and money saver if we could have a hired a cook to feed 12 people, but the family had seniors, kids, teens and working adults and stay at home moms. It was also a way for our grandmother to teach us family recipes and chores. That was invaluable. We also learnt time management, budgeting and cooking informally. Those are life lessons. Priceless. Now this..As an adult in a nuclear family, it’s a drain on my time. And time is money too. Ditto with driving.
Example: it costs $6.99 for A2 milk from Whole Foods delivered free. $5 tip for $40 worth of deliveries. The cheapest A2 milk in a store is 9.99/three cartons at Costco. That’s one hour shopping+driving plus gas. And I can’t buy in small quantities. I can’t manage groceries on a week to week basis. Net net, the seemingly more expensive option is the cheapest one.
Not including the carbon footprint benefit. One person delivering to ten homes on a route is better than 10 people driving to different stores to pick up milk. Time. The arrow of time goes in only one direction. Can’t reverse time and hence it has become more valuable. Take communal time and communal value for money too.
If I were a mom dropping off my kids at two different schools, that time shopping and driving for milk runs is better spent as quality time with my kids. Even if it’s pure comfort factor. Kicking back and watching a movie is totally worth the money. It’s hedonism at a very small price. Discomfort is not a virtue nor is it a teachable moment.
There is a quality I’d like to call ‘slack’. It’s the stress adjustment factor. If your inner space is taut and always stretched end to end, it would snap. Makes you inflexible. Frayed. No ‘give’ to personality. That has a huge impact..esp with relationships even if it’s with yourself. Slack makes it better. Let’s you live longer and better without snapping. Avoiding discomfort is a survival skill.
Having said that, discomfort is essential to children. It is an experience and a teachable skill. Interestingly, I have been observing that we pad our younger generation’s life and make them soft by catering to their every need while parents fray and become brittle. When the kids grow up, they are never going to understand ‘discomfort’ and when it becomes unavoidable (as it goes in life) and unable to adjust, they are going to break down.
Adults need to embrace slack and pass on discomfort to the next generation. They have rightly been dubbed entitled. And we are no longer children and our time in discomfort training camp is over.
But one day I was watching Gordon Ramsey work with a home cook and the home cook was trying to keep up with Ramsey.
It was amazing because Ramsey kept his whole cooking area so clean and organized, and the home cook's area looked like a tornado passed through. At that point I had an epiphany and started trying to keep organized like Ramsey.
Pretty quickly I became very efficient and clean in the kitchen. This is a skill that takes practice and experience and is as integral to cooking as the actual cooking.
Now I think about the order I do things, the order I use my tools, tool placement, tool cleanup, and surface cleanup as I cook. The result is that very rarely do I have more than a single pan (or two) to wash after cooking, and the kitchen is usually cleaner when the meal is done than when I started.
I put this to the test, last Thanksgiving when I cooked a large meal for 5 people over the course of several hours and when I was done I did not have a single dirty dish (other than those being used for serving/eating) and my dishwasher was empty. It felt good because just a year prior I would have had a destroyed kitchen with a sink full of pots and pans and dirty counters.
I call it "kitchen craft" (like field craft) and if you work to practice it, it gets better every time you cook. And it makes cooking so much easier. For instance, making something like tortillas from scratch used to be a huge endeavor because I'd have such a big mess to cleanup afterword. It seemed daunting. Now I will make tortillas on a whim because I wan't a breakfast burrito and my kitchen will be clean before the pan is even hot enough to cook the tortillas.
One could argue that struggle is the prerequisite to growth.
Sure, but for my situation it works out that by cooking the majority of the time I'll be able to retire 1-2 years earlier.
Save $10 a day on food most days ~= $3000/year, over 20 years ~= $60k.
I also enjoy eating out more as it is more of 'treat' (and less of a chore to some extent).
1. planning meals (may be minimal if you can ad-hoc quickly)
2. walking/driving to the grocery store
It can easily be more expensive for an individual person (or even a couple) to cook than it is to eat out. (I think this makes intuitive sense too, since there are economies of scale and efficiencies with how restaurants are run.) If you love cooking, then you are doing it for fun---thats great! But I think for people who don't like cooking, it can be rational to eat out for most meals.
Many people are not paid at an hourly rate, so this analysis may not make sense for them.
(Also, where I live, there are plenty of healthy and cheap places to eat out at.)
It doesn't particularly bother me to eat the same thing everyday, but some people absolutely hate it. I am good friends with someone who absolutely refuses to eat leftovers, ever.
Take 2-3 hours on Sundays and cook some food. It's not hard.
- Add salt/pepper/spices by hand if you can. Shakers/larger-volume canisters lead to over-application, but it's so easy to grab a little bit of salt, apply, taste, and do it over again until you hit the right mark
- Learn how to cook in a single pot - stews/soups/etc. Saves on cleaning, and broths packed full of nutrients
- Use a crock-pot/slow-cooker. Dead simple, very low risk, produces significant quantities of food
- Learn about portion sizing. So much of over or under cooking is applying the same technique and timing to two different quantities of food. 16 oz of steak cooks differently than 8, same for veggies. Buying the right portions consistently solves so many problems
- Given the point above, learn about an oven -- convection vs. radiant heat. Convection cooking is fast, easy, and awesome.
- Learn how to store stuff properly. You'll spend a fortune if you regularly trap your veggies in air-tight containers. Many of them don't need and are worse-off in those containers. Learn what stuff should be near or away from other vegetables. Good example: if you put your avocados and tomatoes next to your cucumbers, kiss the latter good-bye -- they'll go bad way faster due to the gas emitted by the two others
- Finally, it goes without saying -- not everyone likes what you do, so it's ok if your most exquisite dish doesn't go over perfectly with everyone.
Was not aware of the differences in veggie storage.
You do have a lot more seasoning control not in a shaker and that's how it is done in a professor kitchen.
Overall, there can be nuance in all of these things, but you don't need to stress yourself with that nuance in so many cases.
Maybe if you're scraping the bottom of the barrel in ingredient quality and buying a lot of rice and beans.
Restaurant chefs have known about 'mise en place' for years. Cutting and measuring most of your ingredients before cooking makes cooking simple and easy. Yeah, there are more dishes to wash, but it makes up for the eventual headaches.
But I hear you on the burning. I've burnt plenty of things in my time. I think any cook worth their salt has. Story time: an executive chef I once worked for had a keychain that looked like a pewter ingot. She said one evening as they were finishing their shift, they thought they could leave a 30 gallon pot over very low heat to make a reduction over night. When they arrived in the morning, the pot had mostly melted and the stove was on fire. Her keychain was part of the melted pot, her reminder to never do that again. Live and learn (and hopefully don't burn the house down)!
Baking is like quantum physics.
Now "home made pasta" starts with flour and eggs.
As for economy, you will find it once you've built up a good stock of spices and non-perishables and begin to optimize things by--for example--making chicken stock from the bones of that bird you roasted for dinner, or freezing the extra tomato paste from the can that you used 1/3 of.
This is coming from a guy who spent the first 15 years of his tech career eating out every single meal before meeting a girl, getting married, and then eating 6 of 7 weekly dinners at home.
That said, I eat out 80%+ of the time. Because I’m lazy.
I've come to a point where I can whip up a recipe and improvise some, but that's after years of following recipes, experimenting and eating a fair share of disappointing meals.
Learn the fundamentals. Binging With Babish on YouTube is an excellent show to learn with its Basics With Babish series.
There are methods to help. Over cooking vs undercooking is because of guesswork. Remove that by buying an Instant Read thermometer. Over and under season? Taste as you go, add more seasoning if it needs it.
Also, make sure you find a consistently good recipe. Allrecipes is a crapshoot even though it's consistently a top Google search. Another poster mentioned Kenji Lopez who tests the crap out of his recipes. I'd also recommend Alton Brown having solid but accessible recipes. America's Test Kitchen/Cook's Illustrated and Bon Apetit for when you're getting more advanced. More beginner friendly stuff like Budget Bytes tends to be less flavorful, but typically simple enough and cheap enough you don't feel bad screwing up.
Basics with Babish is decent, at least the early episodes, for helping explain and visualize some of the basic skills.
But again, it's a skill that requires practice. I've been cooking consistently for years and I still can't spin up a recipe from memory or by feel. I mostly rely on trusted recipes and maybe do my own riff if I've done something similar before.
Cook with stuff you like! That way even if you screw it up you're left with stuff you mostly don't mind. Can't count the number of times I've screwed up meat sauce, and ended up eating a pound of meaty-tomato slop that tasted just fine albeit wasn't recognizable as any type of dish.
Also go easy on yourself. Recognize that this is a whole skill set that people spend their whole lives cultivating (just like software). You'll start to develop an intuition.
Make sure you have the right equipment you need too. I probably spent two years thinking I couldn't make eggs, turns out my pan was warped.
My only complaint is sometimes they are way more steps and more exspensive sets of ingredients than other recipes. But often it's worth it for vastly superior results.
That's why I liked Serious Eat's Food Lab where Kenji also breaks stuff down but in an accessible set of recipes. Similar to Alton Brown's Good Eats, also a great resource if you like understanding the chemistry going on in your cooking!
A lot of recipes you find online are really guestimates on the amounts, so you never get the same result as the author. People are very bad about guestimating volumes, like "about 2 tablespoons of oil" when they really used half a cup.
Or high-heat nonstick cooking with like one teaspoon of oil in the pan, heating it to nigh-smoke before adding anything else. LOL. Or steel or cast-iron temp + fat combos that make no sense and are guaranteed to give you a bad time. Either lots and lots of recipes are nonsense on this front, requiring modification of one form or another to be reasonable, or these people have magical pans that I do not.
As for overcook / undercook as other have suggested, get a good stick thermometer and use it religiously. I have cooked since I was 8 years old in a family of excellent cooks and went to culinary school and to this day I still use a thermometer.
Also, can’t more highly recommend reading anything by Kenji Alt Lopez. A google of nearly any food you want to cook plus “kenji” will lead you to accurate, well explained, scientific based approach to cooking it. Or just pick up a copy of the Food Lab.
You're learning after-all, and learning while hungry is not a good combination. If you burn the food and then have to eat it, you're going to have a bad time, negative reinforcement, etc. Order something else, like pizza, munch on that as you learn this new skill of cooking.
Cooking edible food is easy for most people, they are either lazy or like me sometimes where their appetite is gone. Following recipes is more bothersome than you think for a lot of folks, programmers don't find it that bad given they are used to reading monotone instructions.
I was actually thinking about opening an online food service for people with diabetes/weight problems/specific goals where you can get good food delivered to your home. The recipes aren't that different for someone doing keto and suffering with diabetes type 2. They can generally be combined for example.
Finding ingredients for a keto low carb diet is hard if you are vegetarian/vegan and there is ton of problematic information out there. Recipes are not clear, it won't taste good and frankly speaking, it is expensive if you get the ingredients in low quantity due to the demand.
People need a dietician + food without jumping through many hoops. That way, More people can be healthy.
It was also boring (for me) in that in order to save time and money I'd end up having to make a larger portion of one thing and then eat the same thing all week.
If I'd eat out every day both lunch and dinner I'm going to pay roughly $800/month compared to my usual $300/month for groceries.
1. Cooking causes awe in Dutch people
2. Eating healthy is cheaper that eating out, and easier that many may think.
BTW, you Dutch guys should stop putting butter on everything, eating hagelslag by the ton, and drinking yogurt instead of water. It might be cheap, but terribly unhealthy :).
So much less packaging.
I spend less on more food and what I eat is largely organic, pasture raised, grass fed and often from local farms.
And I really enjoy cooking, so that probably helps. I love using my hands, and I usually don’t have any music on so I have a lot of nice time to think while I’m cooking.
Plus the people around me love eating delicious morsels I produce and I occasionally get a rain of compliments.
Sometimes I follow recipes, sometimes I do my own thing, and sometimes it’s a mix.
Keeps me on my feet, and dextrous, even going to the store is a bit of exercise since I walk there.
All in all, a wonderful part of my average day and week usually.
For context, I studied in the US and moved to London for work right after graduation.
I get home around 6:30 and go to the gym in my apt until around 7:30, then after I've showered and had my protein shake it's now 8:00 and I'm tired. Prep to eating to cleaning up can take an hour or more for me, and I try to go to bed around 10 if I can to wake up for the next day at 6. If I have to go to the grocery store that can take another hour out of my free time after work. Morale is low, freetime for hobbies are low, and the only way to maximize this time without cutting into fitness or sleep is to go with a premade meal from trader joes and be done with it.
Homecooked meals made a lot of sense when you showed up at home at 5:30 with that pot roast your wife started at 2:30 steaming and plated for you on the table, but that's not the world we live in anymore.
Also reading fiction, though how exactly it helps one is beyond me, but it offers glimpses into other worlds. For example I read recently 'The French Lieutenant's Woman', I doubt its richness of detail, and evocation of place and time, etc can ever be captured in a film or even a miniseries, and on top of it is choc-full of tid-bits of information.
I would also suggest getting an anthology like 'The Golden Treasury' or Anthony Quiller-Couch or Robert Penn Warren (Six Centuries of British Poetry) or G B Harrison. They are available often in small pocket editions, which one can carry around with one.
It's a collection of epitaphs for the cemetery of a fictional town, and each one basically tells a story. Fiddler Jones and Blind Jack (coincidentally, both about fiddlers) contain a few of my favourite verses in all literature.
- intense dedication to imagery
- his poem Danse Russe, which to me us just about the silly things we do in privacy where no one is around
- the fact he was a doctor and churning out an insane quantity of poetry
WCW inspired me to write my own poetry mainly because of that last point. I struggle to describe software engineering in that format, sadly!
When you get past the level of limericks and children's poems level, suddenly you have interpretive choices to make because the precise flow and timing of sounds can work different ways and some work better than others, and as a reader you have to bring an interpretive faculty to these works. When you get to something like John Donne's poetry, you're now deep in "every bit of timing and inflection matters."
For children's poetry to get started, Belloc's 'The Bad Child's Book of Beasts' or the Looking Glass Book of Verse are high quality collections. Then it's worth getting something like a Norton Anthology of Poetry as a way of reading very widely very quickly to find out what appeals to you right now, and explore that further.
Many people recommend the Oxford Book of English Verse. I don't, because I think Quiller-Couch had insipid taste and his editing ranges from the uninspired to the positively atrocious (what he did to John Donne's 'The Ecstasy' is horrid). I have found Garrison Keillor's 'Good Poems' to be particularly approachable, high quality collection of verse. I also suggest Ezra Pound's 'ABCs of Reading', though you shouldn't take what he writes about Chinese as anything other than a metaphor for his topic at hand.
Spend time with Shakespeare, of course. I recommend the Oxford complete works. I do not recommend the Yale complete works. Did my wife and I have a tiff about that? Yes, we did. Was I able to demonstrate by reference to passages that I was right? Yes. Do we only have the Oxford in the house now? Yes.
Robert Frost's complete works are cheaply had and a necessity for someone studying modern poetry. Two or three poems of his are butchered in every school class, and the full range of what he worked on is generally ignored, because it can require a very finely tuned ear to hear and interpret the force that his longer, narrative poems can produce.
But really, once your ear starts to come together, dig through the Norton anthology and use it as pointers to further things to read.
Those of a more Scottish persuasion might prefer Robbie Burns.
It's been around since the early 1900's and has lots of good articles and podcasts, even a poetry magazine.
If you're American, it's nice because it focuses a lot on American and Midwestern poets.
And if you're in the Chicagoland area, it has events and its new headquarters downtown is considered an architectural treat.
I prefer Tolkein's applicability of art over auteur theory and allegory. A work of Art applies in many different meanings. Allegory and auteur theory exist as a valid interpretation and are too limited to see the whole picture of what art can do. An artist can intend to write a meaningful poem that conveys love and sadness, an audience member can see that as a foolish endeavor. Both are right, when the poem is executed in a manner that provides fuel for both flames.
Especially concerning self-help books: aren’t most of these books written for those who simply don’t have enough courage to listen to their own common sense?
There is room for a minor hypocrisy in your average criticism of high concept fine art that seeks to express an idea that pushes the field forward despite it not being a complete, popular or useful product. Programmers are doing the same all the time in hobby projects and sometimes they blow up to a massive scale, the same in fine art.
Self help books hit multiple marks, it depends how broadly you see common sense. They help keep a very self-focused individual up to date with the culture and provide extra insight into common problems people can have. They can be used by the reader to explore a thought that is related to what is being read. They can be used as a reference point in a relationship. They can be a starting for point for people with psychological issues to begin the climb back up to a healthy state. They provide a window into another person's perspective on the world and that can be entertaining in itself.
This board is highly focused towards a certain set of goals and a certain set of outcomes. There are a bunch of perspectives that get trimmed in the comments, which is inline with the stated objective of this place as a technology incubator. Any derision or negativity to fields that don't have an immediate application in the tech field are going to be given more leniency than other windows into negativity, like flat-earthers, religious comments and lazy criticism of tech from other fields. That's part of what makes HN what it is. Independence in commenting (and content) has become a limited phenomena online.
As with all natural language, production and interpretation of poems is subjective. Poetry is just an attempt to use natural language without the constraints of prose, in order to accomplish things that are not possible with prose.
Some poets may have a goal to convey a particular idea or emotion. Others may just want to create something moves the reader. Still others may not care about the reader at all. All of these things are okay.
But seriously, I think we can all agree that among the literary arts, poetry is the most likely to be accidentally uninterpretable. Due to its cultural context it is also the area where uninterpretability is the most likely to be accepted. This creates an environment where you run a serious risk of developing a culture of meaninglessness.
Some poetry is made to make you laugh like Billy Collins' Another Reason Why I Don't Keep A Gun in the House.
Some poetry is purposefully inscrutable and difficult because the author wants you to work to understand them. A good example of this might be r-p-o-p-h-e-s-s-a-g-r by E.E. Cummings.
Each of these examples is meaningful in its own different way. I think trying to decide what has meaning is hard because you might automatically discard a work of art that is "just for fun". Isn't play meaningful?
I am sure the same applies, to e.g. William Blake.
"Meaning" may be present but is irrelevant if the experience is the same—what evidence do you want? Getting something out of poetry? Many people clearly do, if that's the test.
For me the first piece that spoke to me is When the Frost is on the Punkin by James Whitcomb Riley, that we had to memorize in 7th grade (he's buried here in Indy).
The first line:
>When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock,
This immediately triggers fall in my brain. The smell of damp hay and decaying leaves. The morning chill and moisture in the air as the frost begins to quickly melt as the sun comes up.
The second line:
>And you hear the kyouck and the gobble of the struttin' turkey-cock,
If you've ever seen a turkey in person, and heard it start making a fuss, it's a pretty unique sound. They can also be quite flamboyant and arrogant as they strut around a field. I immediately think of that sound, the herky-jerky movements, them posturing to challenge you before they charge.
>They's somethin kindo' harty-like about the atmusfere
>When the heat of summer's over and the coolin' fall is here
Those first few days when fall really sets in, when you start to get that frost and the leaves are falling and you have that wonderful musky aroma of their decay, there's something almost magical about it and you just stand there drinking it in. This takes me there.
A bit later:
>But the air's so appetizin'; and the landscape through the haze
>Of a crisp and sunny monring of the airly autumn days
>Is a pictur' that no painter has the colorin' to mock -
>When the frost is on the punkin and fodder's in the shock.
Again, the smells and chill of that crisp and often damp air with all of those aromas starting to rise as the sun comes up. The beautiful reds and oranges and browns and champagne yellows of the leaves of the changing trees
>The husky, rusty russel of the tossels of the corn,
There's something about wind blowing through standing corn that is almost ready to harvest, I read this and I hear that, 'rusty russel of the tossels' is a perfect description.
>And the raspin' of the tangled leaves, as golden as the morn;
As the laves have started to fall in great numbers and you traipse through them they do make a rasping sound mixed with this every so slightly wet sound as mositure trapped between them makes them peel and tangle.
>Then your apples all is gethered, and the ones a feller keeps
>Is poured around the celler-floor in red and yeller heaps;
>And your cider-makin's over, and your wimmern-folks is through
I can almost feel that fuzzy, sweet, crisp taste of warm cider lighting my mouth up and warming me.
>With their mince and apple-butter, and theyr souse and sausage, too!
Boom! Always makes me feel the cool air, catch a hint of memory of the smells of fall and want some warm biscuits slathered in apple butter and the wonderful porky-vinegar magic that is souse.
Poetry is play and learning to play with language can open up new worlds. Here is a favorite of mine.
Again by Ross Gay
This book compares poetry to music. There are many genres and styles of music, and it is likely that you don't like all genres. Enjoying poetry is about trying to find the "genre" of poetry that moves you.
 Don't Read Poetry: A Book About How to Read Poems - Stephanie Burt
Be careful... my wife gave me a drill one year and I’ve since renovated two houses and now have a small fortune in tools.
If you don’t have a garage, basement or backyard for it, your local community college might have a “maker lab” with all sorts of high end woodworking, metal working, laser cutters and 3D printers...along with meetups and evening classes to boot.
However, once I owned a house and had to do renovating/updating, I ultimately found it frustrating.
Some jobs are incredibly frustrating if you don't have the exact tool to make it easier.
The likelihood the angles and geometry of your home are square is, IME, near 0. Even measuring and re-measuring multiple times, I end up with a lot of wasted, mis-cut material.
YMMV, but I always found when you add up the time spent and material cost, it's nearly a wash to just pay someone else to do it.
I dunno. For some tasks the time it takes to find somebody else to do it, be available to let the person in/out, and settle payment is much larger than doing it yourself; the lead time is orders of magnitude larger, and doing it yourself gets the bonus that you can do it whenever is best for you, instead of negotiating your agenda with a busy person.
By the time I message 3 electricians, coordinate to let them in the house, get a bid and have someone do the job, and finally get it done, I could've just youtubed and googled my way to doing it myself. Maybe I have to pick up a tool or two along the way but eventually you reach an inflection point where you have the tools you need for multiple jobs. I think the biggest tool purchases I've made in the last 18 months are a brad nailer, a finish nailer, and a 4 ft level.
In my experience, the only way to do less of that in the future is to do more of it now.
This is true...it might be square on one plane and off on the other. That's what the 6 foot long levels are for by the way. It's good to find someone who has the tools and expertise to apprentice from -- either at a local cc or just hire them and ask if you can do some of the work. I went through several contractors before I found the guy I like to work with...I guess its the same in everything...but once you figure stuff out like that blasted little semi-hidden copper pin that's between you and a replacement shower valve, a lot of cost savings can be realized. The first time I replaced that thing, the plumber charged me $270. The second time I replaced it, I paid $19 for a part at home depot and did the rest myself.
I would agree that often projects to fix up your home can be more frustrating than satisfying, unless, like you said, you have the right tools and some prior experience.
Building things that sit in your home (furniture) is likely a bit less frustrating & rewarding, even without the perfect tools and experience.
Start small and work your way up. Make a cutting board, fast forward a couple of years and you'll be building cabinets. Fast forward from that and you'll be shaving backs on a Windsor chair.
The other thing is I can't find good plans. If I have a plan to follow, it makes all the difference, I don't know enough to figure it out as I go. Like right now, I've been wanting to build a pool stick holder. Probably one that is on the ground, not attached to the wall. Even the sites I look at that have plans you pay for, they don't seem that helpful.
It's like coding...in the beginning, yes, its useful to modify someone else's similar project as you learn, but after awhile, its much easier and more engaging to start with a blank sheet and just start typing.
Started with a 3D printer for me, then a membership to Techshop. Few years later I have a garage filled with woodworking / metalworking, diy cnc machines, laser cutter, welding, and automotive tools. It’s a slippery slope.
- Learn an instrument. Just for fun. You don't have to play in an orchestra or a band.
I came to this thread expecting it to be about tech skills, glad to see this comment at the top. Overall, I'm more grounded and happier for it (and less depressed).
I use manual cameras, or digital cameras in manual mode / with manual lenses because that's how I learned photography in 1990's
I like to cook, 95% of our meals are home made, I can prepare a whole week worth of meals in abut 3 hours, including cleaning. I usually just improvise, my wife says I can make a delicious meal out of an empty fridge...
Yet music somehow eludes me - and it is THE thing I have always wanted to be proficient at way more than any of the above. I just don't have any idea how to approach it. Let's say I get a musical instrument - be it a piano (keyboard), a guitar, saxophone or percussion. What's next? Practice the notes until I'm "touch-typing" them? Then try to mix and match? Try to play some sheet music or repeat what I've heard before by brute-forcing? I am actually able to re-create a simple melody by trying the keys on a toy keyboard, but in all the other areas (woodworking, cooking, photography) I went almost straight to improvisation - which I enjoy the most - and I have the feeling that in music there is some set of basic skills required to unlock this, yet I don't know what it entails. Woodworking is all about hiding the imperfections, photography is about selecting the best shots / being prepared for lucky timing, and an imperfect meal can be (usually) fixed with herbs/spices/salt. Music is either spot on, or too far off to be tolerable - am I missing some middle ground opportunity here?
but most importantly, play songs you like! sing along! play around with the lyrics! whatever!
I agree. It's funny how when I was young I would only listen to one type of music, like it was some kind of tribal loyalty. Now I listen to all kinds of things, and I've learned to hear the difference between really good music and stuff that's just manufactured for corporations.
(Ironically, what got me to expand my musical horizons was Apple's corporate promotion, back when you used to get a free iTune each the week on the iTunes store, by picking up a card in Starbucks, or buying a bottle of Pepsi from the vending machine at work.)
Getting back to classical, I also recommend apps for KDFC/San Francisco, KING-FM/Seattle, RTBF Musiq'3/Brussels, RTHK4/Hong Kong, and RTÉ LyricFM (Dublin?). I used to be a WQXR/New York fan, but it lost its way after the New York Times sold it. I've heard good things about WRR/Dallas, but haven't tried it yet.
KING-FM-HD2 is awesome background brain lubricant when you're working on something hard and mathematical.
If anyone else has any favorite classical stations, please reply.
My bookmark straight to the music streamer page is below uBlock a few of the banner ads and you are set.
I recently got one, and I've been cooking at home a lot more often as a result. I think more people would cook their own food if they knew how to make it taste really good.
To each their own but imo a sous vide is a big, expensive, plastic waste of counter space.
Sous vide opens up a wider selection of cuts that can be used, which traditionally do not cook well on a grill or in a pan.
Skirt steak, for instance, which has great flavor, but is difficult to cook correctly, can be cooked perfectly in sous vide.
Yes, you have to clean the pan. This is precisely why I use a torch to sear my meat. Even with the few times I use a pan, I prefer it because the reduced time on the pan means less oils splattering around my stove top, and I do think that the pan is still an easier clean this way. But that can all be avoided by using a good torch.
Sous vide takes out the guesswork for getting the insides to the right temp. Then just get the pan as hot as possible for quick sear in a pan for the outside.
I understand this point, the point of sous vide is consistency, but I disagree that not everyone can get the timing right. With practice, anybody absolutely can get it right. And if they have hundreds of dollars plus the counterspace to throw at a sous vide machine, they have the resources to cook a couple "bad" steaks before they start getting it right.
> And if they have hundreds of dollars plus the counterspace to throw at a sous vide machine
Exactly how much counter space do you think a sous vide machine takes up? Maybe there's some out there that are huge, IDK, but most of the consumer grade ones sold are like half the size of a wine bottle and can be attached to any container. You could probably even attach it to a kitchen sink if you wanted to.
Still, I also understand the appeal. More precise, less issues if something interrupts you, and perhaps the best benefit is batch cooking steaks. Especially when starting, using sous vide can help you focus on getting the sear right and not ruining your steak.
Plus, with thicker steaks, you often need better pan temp control or the use of an oven to help get it to cook evenly. And that's just an extra layer of hassle that takes time to master as well.
But I concede it can also be a crutch for a relatively easy cooking skill.
Your viewpoint is totally valid, though I still encourage people to give it a try for themselves. They don't even need a circulator the first time they do it, although I do think they're worth the money. A lot of restaurants actually sous vide their steaks before searing them, so if someone's sous vide steak is coming out terrible then I suspect something really went wrong in the process. Either not enough salt and seasoning was used(sous vide calls for a lot of salt), or they didn't properly sear the steak.
I think most people mess up on doing it all in a pan due to the fact that they go from at least fridge cold to the pan. Put one on the counter, salt it, cover it and let it sit for an hour or two and most people will be surprised at how well of a steak they can produce in a pan. If one really wants a good crust, leave it salted and uncovered in the fridge to dry for 3 day. It takes a lot of energy to evaporate moisture and you need the moisture out of the surface to brown a steak rapidly.
That being said I use my sous vide machine to bring them to temp as it also does a better job of distributing the salt and garlic I like to use.
I will say though the sous vide does work really well for some things. Batch cooking of chicken breast, venison in nearly any form, and various cuts of pork that you want rare but want to make sure it’s safe to eat.
2. You heat the pan as hot as possible, way hotter than normal, so that you can sear with only 10-20 seconds per side. Some use a torch instead.
Cook a steak, and then put each side in a hot pan for 3-4 minutes?!
I love sous vide for tougher cuts that need a long cook time, but using a sous vide for a ribeye is just pointless.
I've seen such steaks (I don't have sous vide myself), and they look like the perfect rare done steak. A nice pink shade throughout, with a beautiful crust.
But, what science?
Most likely something from The Food Lab when talking about food and science.
Experimental results: drool
Experiment status: success.
Materials needed: more steak
It's like anything else, you must invest the time and energy to get the quality. Restaurants simply abstract this away by increasing the cost.
If I'm making a quick soup for the evening; I'll use store-bought stock, if I'm making it for a huge group of friends, I'll put in the time to make my own.
Home made spaetzle is a great, quick noodle (and since I've got Celiac, it's an easy noodle to make GF) that takes about 5 minutes to actually make, 3 minutes to boil, and 5 minutes to brown on the stove top. Using it for Mac-and-Cheese is almost faster than the Kraft stuff.
And with anything that is a learned skill, cooking is slow at first; but as you get better at the basics it speeds up the process. As an example, it used to take me almost 2 hours to change my oil on my car; now I can do it as fast as a shop (~20-30 minutes).
The biggest thing that it all comes down to is time/money tradeoff, if I can convince myself that something is more worth the time it takes to do than the cost of someone else doing it, I can usually make it happen.
Last year I transitioned to 95%~ whole food plant based eating and used it a ton for black beans (I've since switched to low sodium canned black beans just for convenience) and now every 3 days I cook a bunch of peeled potatoes and baby carrots in it for my lunches.
I put in some water, hit the broil button to pre-heat the water and peel my potatoes. By the time I'm done peeling the potatoes and have dumped the baby carrots in the water is boiling and I go ahead and set it to manual for 16 minutes and put the lid on. 20-25 minutes later it beeps and I manually vent the valve and get my meal prep containers out, fill them up, 30-40 seconds to clean the pot and I've got lunch for three days. It's great!
It's great for rice, beans, sauce & soup bases. Plus, it doesn't heat up the house in the summer. But I think it's limitations make it a poor suggestion for a novice cook.
I haven't cooked much beef in it that hasn't become part of a stew, but my experience cooking chicken and turkey is that it comes out incredibly juicy and flavorful. Even better if you have the air fryer/convection add on. I've done turkey in it for the past several years for potlucks and family meals and it always gets rave reviews. For beef, part of the appeal was that I could brown it, saute aromatics, and then cook it in the same pot.
Highly recommended, but definitely pricier than acquiring it all yourself.
Kroger now has a recipe thing where you can add it all to your cart, so we went back to that for the time being.
Blue Apron tends to focus on interesting recipes. Hello Fresh tends to be a bit more focused on fresh ingredients. But honestly I couldn't really tell them apart.
Alternatively, several super markets now sell kits you can buy with the ingredients and directions.
All of the above, I find cooking is an incredible skill that many people underestimate greatly.
Here are the things that I do for my cooking for every week or every two weeks.
+ 30-45 minutes grocery shopping including driving.
+ 30-60 minutes per day to cook daily dinner and prepare breakfast.
+ 10-15 minutes to clean up.
And what I think it solves/helps/improve our family daily life:
+ Food quality is definitely way better than outside. We have good amount of vegetable, fruits, fresh meat/fish/poultry and other dairy products.
+ Lots of time saving for not going out, spending time waiting, driving, moving the whole family around.
+ The cost is very low, probably around 1/3 of eating out.
We do spend a day or two to eat out or eat carry-out food.
While this takes time (months/years) to get a good skill at cooking and minimizing the time, this is so far one of the best skills I have had and I do think people should invest in it.
Hope you enjoy it as much as I did. For newcomers to the book, I highly recommend the cheese enchiladas recipe and the anticuchos recipe. Anticuchos are not authentic Tex-Mex but they are very much tied to San Antonio and that recipe is probably the best in the book if you make it with good quality steak.
They'll slowly post the next step of the guide throughout the year. Subscribe and follow along to learn!
How is this a skill?
I think most people fall into a Passive Listening model when getting into symphonic or chamber music. The book suggested above would certainly push an average listener closer to an 'active' model.
When I try and cook new dishes, I do it by theme. The theme can be:
* Ingredients (eggs, poultry, grains, tomatoes)
* Courses (breakfast [eggs, pancakes from scratch], dinner, desserts [flan, custard]
* Execution (baking, sauté, oven)
* Cuisine (Mexican, Thai, French, Puertorican)
You will easily overlap the themes the more you cook, the themes are a starting point.
Two of my favorite books that the audience here might appreciate are The Food lab and Cooking for Geeks.
* : https://www.amazon.com/Food-Lab-Cooking-Through-Science-eboo...
* : https://www.amazon.com/Cooking-Geeks-Science-Great-Hacks/dp/...
What are you guys eating if you're not already cooking/eating leftovers 4+ nights a week? This is absolutely mind boggling to me... I eat out maybe 1-3 times per month, I don't think I would even want to go out more than that.
Are people actually eating out 3 or more times a week? I'm convinced that you aren't actually saving that much time vs cooking.
I cook for three and that's generally in the 10 minutes prep, 20-45 minutes cooking, 15+ minutes cleaning. And that's dinner. It adds up. Eating truly fast food takes 5-15 minutes.
If fast food were reliably better for you I think it would be a wash. Financially I used to order out in NYC and get two+ days meals out of a single Indian seamless order for $30 and no cooking time.
The compromise, I think, is cooking a meal 2x quantity and freezing half for a week, but then you get into some very tiresome food routines.
It also open the doors to so many other genres as well that you might not appreciate as much than when you enjoy classical.
Post-rock is mostly instrumental and some bands uses classical instruments to complement the guitar, bass and drum. It's an interesting mix
an example from a recent album I listened this week: https://besides.bandcamp.com/track/ich-bin-wieder-da-2
> Build something.
Build something that the world actually needs. Something where you're using your unique skills and privilege to help improve the world a bit - help others who are a few rungs below you.
Have a plan for how you're going to do the most good you can with the time you have left. Helping others (humans and sentient non-humans) is the best path to long-term happiness in my opinion.
If woodworking or car repair isn't your jam, volunteer to help the needy. Or if you like the stage join a drama club or comedy club or whatever else you can do to enrich other people's lives.
I’m not doing too badly by this list and I’m relatively happy.