What do you think is the most challenging thing in cooking?

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Aug 31, 2017
Nea Tenedos
The things that I find challenging while cooking are sauces and spices combinations. Even though you can follow recipes
you can really mess up the flavor when using spices, something I always do when I'm not following a recipe letter by letter.

I also work in a Hotel kitchen (not as a cook). The cooks there are ranked in A, B, and C tiers with A the most experienced cook.
I asked the chef what makes an A-tier cook. He said, "Certainly experience but also they know how to make lots of sauces".
I was always fascinated by the sauces they make which I never saw in home cooking. White, orange, yellow, green, red sauces, pumpkin sauces,
garlic sauces, besamel similar sauces, and more.

So what do think is the most challenging thing in cooking?
Assume we are talking about home cooking without deadlines.
Not a specific item, but the most challenging was when I was making winter solstice suppers for friends, sometimes as many as 13 people at the table. There were crudités and dips before supper, as well as glögg (Scandinavian style, mulled wine). The main meal had goose for many years, until they got too lean. The meat was Cornish hens one year, but I didn't bother with those little birds again for Yule. A couple of them caught fire the time I made them for guests. There have been capons as well as rolled, stuffed, pork roasts. Then there were a couple of very large salads - one with sliced celery, one without. Several of my guests detest celery. Two carbs: mashed potatoes and brown rice. Dessert was trifle, usually fully from scratch (well not as from scratch as the Carl Sagan quote). More coffee and espresso and After Eight mints after supper. That was always a challenge to put on, but fun and worth it. Making sure that food allergies, sensitivities, and food hates were accommodated added a bit more challenge to the whole thing.
I sort of have to agree with taxy - which really what she is saying is - the most challenging part is to make everything come together smoothly.
I know you are looking for specific items to be cooked, but I find I try too many things at the same time.
I too want to learn the sauces - perhaps (at home) you can practice your "Mother Sauces" Look them up and start. I keep procrastinating as I don't want to make a bunch of sauces just to throw them out... maybe I should get over that but I'm too stingy with my foods when it comes to waste.
Coming up with an appealing meal for SO and myself every single day for the rest of my life.
I agree, and to take that one step further, keeping things new and exciting. Sometimes I get into a rut where I feel like I'm sick or bored of everything I cook. The topic me and my wife argue the most about is what we want for dinner the upcoming week. Even though I could probably cook something different for 3 months straight, I'm always looking for something new to keep me inspired.
I agree that sauces can be difficult. I have yet to make a decent soubise, and only recently had a successful (edible) mushroom sauce. Usually when you make a sauce the dish it is to be served with is done and in the warming oven. It's "make or break" time, and I've had a lot of breaks.
Great question Babaliaris!
LOL, Sara, that's one of the things I try hardest to remember. Especially if I don't want to ruin the dish! I don't think I can recommend it enough - really stops the "OMG I forgot the ...... and then $%^&*()(*&^. "
When I was a new cook (Mom started working Friday evenings when I was 11 or 12), it took me a while before I could get each item for the dinner plate finished at the same time. There were times I would forget to put the potatoes on, so potatoes had the entire dinner plate to themselves seeing as we had already eaten our meat and veggie portions. A few times I forgot to make gravy - so we went without or just put a plop of butter in the middle of our serving of potato. Eventually I got the hang of it - except for coffee. Since I didn't drink it at the time, I never thought of it. I ended up putting my aunt (who lived with us) in charge of setting it up and starting it. She was the one complaining, so she was delegated to do the job.

These days, like Andy and larry, cooking every night, night after night, is getting old. Probably because I am, too. :LOL:
I sent some time this morning looking at recipes to come-up with something outside the frequent rotation of dishes. Then added needed items to the grocery list. The prices is complicated by my need to run new recipes past SO to make sure I won't get a 'wrinkled nose face' when I serve them.
I had to think a while about this one! I've tried all sorts of cuisines, and I'm always one that gets all of the "essential" ingredients, before starting out, and eventually, even more, if I get hooked on a cuisine.
And things like sauces and pastries I learned from the best, in books, but after thinking about the pastries, it dawned on me what the most difficult thing was to perfect through the years - SOURDOUGH! Even though I have been baking almost all of my bread, since the 70s (still buy some kosher rolls, and good bagels), white sourdough is one of those things that is hard to get just right - easy to get too sour, or hardly sour at all, and even when just right, I find it almost impossible to duplicate, even with same quantities, times, and temperatures! It's hard to get rye breads too sour, given what they are served with, but it has to be just right with white breads. This is why I've found it easier to get a good flavor on a regular basis with yeast and pre-ferments.

In the early 90s I went out to CA with my parents, and started in San Francisco, where they are famous for their sourdough. Every place we went, that was part of our meals (except the Chinatown meals), and one bakery I actually talked to one of the bakers about their methods (I told him he wasn't losing a customer, since I live on the E coast! Some places there did ship all over, however), and I was surprised about the firm levain they used, as well as the higher temperature. It wasn't until years later, when the better bread books came out, with firm starters, as well as a method online, from a place no longer with us in SF, and that place used the rising method that baker gave, using 110°, which would seem way too hot! But it worked, though one thing not done at home, that is done in bakeries, is using the levain every day. With me, I have to "refresh" the firm starter, but that doesn't waste much (I usually use it in something else, anyway), and it's easy to do. And when they first came on the market (I don't even remember when!) my Mom gave me a dough proofer, which held it well at that 110°, and other desired temperatures. I told her I knew what would be expected anytime I made dinner for her, even if it was Chinese!:LOL:
I find it real hard to cook things I don't like :)
I do normally cook for myself, so it doesn't happen often.
But every know and again, I do some catering and having to cook thing I wouldn't want to eat.
Plus sweet stuff. But then, I don't like (most) sweet stuff either
Badjak, I find it very hard, actually impossible, to cook well for people I don't like. It rarely happens that we have dinner guests that I really don't like (my husband's niece and her husband) and I try, but the dish always turns out subpar.
Been in that boat cooking for people that you tolerate to be polite. Dinners always turned out fine. Maybe because I had left the table bailed out and ate in the kitchen. Alone! ;)
Badjak, I find it very hard, actually impossible, to cook well for people I don't like. It rarely happens that we have dinner guests that I really don't like (my husband's niece and her husband) and I try, but the dish always turns out subpar.
That might be because the dish is missing one important ingredient - love. ;) If there is a next time, think of it as cooking something for just you and your DH, but with extras. Just remember to not act surprised when niece and company show up. :LOL:

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