Back to basics: Cooking as a lifestyle

Back to basics: Cooking as a lifestyle
PHOTO: Pixabay

Some people are not into cooking because they think cooking is hard and time-consuming. However, those who are accustomed to cooking will find this activity not only fun, they will also have a healthier lifestyle and bank account.

Besides allowing us to choose the best ingredients and control our salt and sugar intake, we can also experiment with numerous local and imported spices. YouTube, cooking books, TV shows, apps and numerous recipes that are widely available both online and offline have also made cooking easier.

For starters, try to make something simple in the kitchen, celebrity chef Ari Galih said.

"Meals can be cooked easily with only a few ingredients required. You can even use only four ingredients such as salt, pepper, sugar and some instant spices with your food and you are ready to cook," he said at a recent event held by PT Multi Bintang at Por Que No restaurant in Menteng, Central Jakarta.

He said the key to a delicious meal is fresh ingredients. Learn how to identify fresh chicken, fish or beef and choose the best when you are shopping in supermarkets or traditional markets.

"Imagine eating a fish fresh from the ocean, grill the fish and put some salt and pepper on it. Nice, right?" Ari said.

If you have a meat but don't want to cook it right away, a simple way to cook it is by marinating it with some spices, put it in plastic wrap and store it in the chiller. It will be ready to be grilled, fried or steamed anytime and can stay in the refrigerator for a day or two.

"Don't keep the marinated meat for more than two days though. Remember, good food is fresh food," Ari said.

Oftentimes we need to compromise in the kitchen. If you do not have time to make your own spices, instant spices will do just fine. Ari said we do not have to buy organic vegetables as long as we know how to clean and store them the right way.

The Health Ministry sets out a number of steps to prevent contamination by the listeria bacteria, which is a source of food poisoning that can cause diarrhoea.

First, raw ingredients like vegetables and fruits should be washed with flowing water before they are cut or cooked. As for fruit, clean them again after peeling. Dry them with a clean towel or paper afterwards.

Another thing to remember when storing food in the refrigerator is to separate raw meat and poultry from vegetables, fast food and cooked meals.

Ari said another benefit from cooking your own meals was to instil a sense of togetherness at home.

"Cooking is something that all families should do. Families also need to teach their kids how to cook basic meals," he said, adding that he decided to teach at a cooking school to spread his love for cooking throughout the country.

He suggested that cooking should be a family activity where every member had their own contribution to the meal served on the table.

Newlyweds like Ana Octarina and Adie Baron find cooking a great idea. An Instagram celebrity, Ana admits that married life has changed her in many ways, especially in terms of cooking. She said as they would be moving to Australia in the near future, she was learning how to cook from her mom.

Ana said when they decided to order food or dine out, she always reminded her husband to buy meals that have no additives or preservatives.

Meanwhile, presenter Nycta Gina said fast food might sound like an easy way out when she and her husband have hunger pangs, but she tried hard not to order. The presenter, who used to perform under the Jeng Kelin character, said she was grateful that her husband, presenter Rizky Kinos, always ate what she cooks.

"Luckily, my husband is a really simple person. If I have limited time, the best meal I can cook is chicken and vegetable soup. That's it. He really likes it," she said, adding that her husband also cooked his own food.

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