I especially love cooking cakes and cookies. These are things I usually cook because I feel like cooking or for a specific occasion. I will often look at the fruit bowl and see a few bananas that have gone soft and black and decide to whip up a banana cake. Or if there is a birthday, then something a little more impressive like a malteser cake (why yes, I do own most of Nigella Lawson's books. Love that woman and her work).
It's a skill that I think is sorely lacking in the younger generations. I'm generation X and I learnt to cook from my Mum. I grew up with cooking. Both Mum and Dad cooked. Mum involved me and my brother in cooking from an early age. I remember having parties where we cooked our own treats like peanut brittle and home made pizzas and sausage rolls. I was fortunate to have been immersed in cooking so that later in life it has never been a question that I would cook majority of what I eat.
Being able to cook has obvious cost benefits as it is far cheaper to cook for yourself than to buy take away or prepackaged meals. There are nutritional benefits in knowing exactly what goes into your meals. It is far easier to control how much fat and calories are in your diet if you're making your own meals. I remember many years ago joining Weight Watchers when I wanted to lose some weight and was astounded at the meetings as to how many people didn't cook and how many couldn't cook. I could understand people not cooking because they were busy or lazy, but not knowing how to cook seemed as foreign to me as not knowing how to tie your shoelaces.
I love cooking. Granted, I am not always enthused at the end of the day to make something spectacular for dinner, but that's where cooking confidence comes to the fore because I can practically sleep walk my way through making most dinners without thinking. My regular dinners are not grandiose affairs. I have a few tried and true staples that I use with an assortment of variations. That's the main trick to being able to cook dinner on a daily basis. Have some basic formulas that you can just insert whatever meat and veg you happen to have on hand.
I am pleased to see that with the rise of the celebrity chef has (eventually) come the return of the basic cook book with plain, simple instructions to get people started. I have an old Margaret Fulton cook book that was my bible when I was learning to cook. It has step by step pictures on how to do things like make your own pastry. If you don't know to cook, grab a basic cook book and get in your kitchen and have a go. It's one of the most rewarding skills you can learn.
Note for friends and family, the apron featured above is by Now Designs and the print is "cherries". I'm almost tempted to try and make one myself, but that depends on whether I can get a grip on my sewing mojo.