Food & Drink

Andrea Weigl: To the rescue for all readers

I expected hate mail in response to my column offering cooking lessons to warehouse shoppers.

I did get one critique from a reader who wrote: “You are not capable to teach anyone how to use a warehouse store since you are not using it correctly.” (I’ve posted the entire letter on the Mouthful blog.)

But almost two dozen readers volunteered to be my students, including a neighbor.

What surprised me is the variety of challenges these home cooks face. One woman has a pantry full of food but struggles to plan meals. Another is tired of being a short-order cook for her family of picky eaters. A third lacks kitchen confidence. Several readers were sick of cooking the same recipes again and again.

Two mothers nominated their sons. One woman nominated a friend and shared a screenshot from Facebook where that friend recounted a recent kitchen failure: “Another example of why I don’t cook. I spent 45 minutes making cauliflower pizza – grating the cauliflower by hand even. Then I set off the smoke detector, not even sure why because nothing burned, and to top it off I can’t get the pizza off the parchment paper, ugh.”

Roughly a quarter of the readers who asked for help were people who cook for only one or two people. They struggle to keep meals interesting without being overwhelmed by leftovers or, as one reader wrote: “Food that vanishes into my freezer tends to vanish only to reappear months later with a bad case of freezer burn.”

I haven’t even described the challenges these readers face due to long commutes, hectic work schedules and their children’s sports and extracurricular activities.

So here’s what I’m going to do. I’ll turn what was going to be one lesson for a reader into a series of columns and help several readers with their kitchen challenges.

I’ll confess I’m a little daunted by this task. I’ll likely reach out to local cooking instructors for advice, read cookbooks on these various topics and then interview the authors to go better armed into these readers’ kitchens.

I will learn a lot along the way. I hope I’ll be able to help these readers feel better about getting dinner on the table. You’ll get to read all about it.

Weigl: 919-829-4848, or on Twitter, @andreaweigl