How/Why I Cook

Because I was not able to learn cooking in a directly hands on manner, I have learnt and figured things out from observation and using my other senses.
How And Why I Cook

My relationship to food and being in the kitchen is very nostalgic

With the amount of time I had off school with illnesses and the realities of growing up on a farm where most things were made by hand meant that I had a lot of exposure to the domestic realities of the kitchen. My mum and my paternal grandma are the prime examples I have of how to be a cook. That combined with the hours of cooking shows I watched on day time TV as I grew up has given me quite a good basis for the theory of how to prepare food.

My cooking reality

For those who know the realities of my physical disability it may seem confusing to consider me as a cook. So my explanation is that I am a cook by proxy. The support staff who help me with my day to day life are my active hands on assistance in the kitchen, as in all areas of my life. When we are cooking, I am basically the conductor and overseer of the process. Because I was not able to learn cooking in a directly hands on manner, I have learnt and figured things out from observation and using my other senses.

I am generally able to give directions to create most of the meals I enjoy eating. It is possible to do this without needing to have a recipe because I remember the basic process and ingredients, whereas the rest of the fun creative part I use my sense of smell and sight to figure out what will work and what looks correct.

Most of the dishes I enjoy cooking are savory and are more forgiving then things like baking which involves a bit more chemistry and what I consider kitchen magic to come together correctly. With things like pasta, stir-fry, and comfort foods like soups and stews they are a lot more flexible and forgiving when you want to estimate measurements or change ingredients when something has run out unexpectedly. 

Risotto recipe

Required ingredients

  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 2 ½ cups of liquid stock (chicken or vegetable)
  • 1/3 cup of white wine (optional and can be replaced with water)
  • 1 tablespoon of cooking oil (olive or vegetable oil is recommended)
  • Pepper and salt
  • 1 diced onion
  • 3 diced cloves garlic
  • ¼-1/2 cup grated parmesan or other cheese available

Ingredients you could use

Meat suggestions – Diced chicken, diced sausage, bacon, salami, shrimp, salmon

Vegetable suggestions –spinach, zucchini, capsicum, carrot, mushroom, leek, cauliflower, broccoli, pumpkin, sweet potato, peas, green beans, corn  

Herb/flavouring suggestions – rosemary, thyme, parsley, basil, oregano, chili flakes, lemon juice/zest


  • Pour the stock or broth into a saucepan and bring to a simmer.
  • Keep liquid hot.
  • In a large, heavy saucepan over low heat, heat oil.
  • Add the onions and garlic and other firm vegetables and saute about 5 minutes.
  • Add the rice and stir until white spots appear in the center of the grains, about 1 minute.
  • (It is very important to use Arborio rice!)
  • Add the wine and stir until absorbed, about 2 minutes.
  • Add one ladleful of the hot stock or broth, adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid is absorbed, about 2 minutes.
  • Add the herbs and other flavourings
  • Continue adding the stock or broth, one ladleful at a time and stirring constantly, until the rice is just tender but slightly firm in the center and the mixture is creamy, 20-25 minutes longer.
  • In the last 5 minutes the leafy vegetables like spinach can be stirred in to wilt down
  • Add the cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Mix in thoroughly
  • Serve

Note: The suggested options of different ingredients may not be traditional for a risotto but to me it offers so much flexibility that I enjoy changing it up and finding new combinations