Reading a post by Sizzie a few minutes ago, reminded me how I learned to cook. When I was a child in our southern household, my favorite place was the kitchen. I loved to stand and watch my grand'mere make orange marmalade in a big kettle, and I would have spent all day in there when the cook prepared Sunday dinner. Usually, however, I was shooed out. "Don't bother Victoria," my mother would say.
When we finally hired a cook for our house, Mother remained good to her word. I wasn't allowed to watch. I am still not sure why.
The result, however, was that I went away to grad school in London unable to cook anything other than scrambled eggs. I learned a few things from my flatmates, though. Bangers and mash, for instance. Pork sausages browned in a skillet with left over mashed potatoes and cabbage. Surprisingly good, actually. I could boil the potatoes, too, and mash them. And once I went over to Fortnum and Mason, the specialty store, and bought canned Mexican food items--Spanish rice, canned tamales, canned chili con carne. And I prepared a "Mexican" meal for my flatmates. They ate it and said it was good, but really!
So when I was on my own in DC a couple of years later, I was desperate. Fortunately someone had given me the first Julia Child cookbook. This was a brilliant idea. She broke the ingredients and process down into small increments that even a novice could understand. Moreover, she taught technique--how to chop, etc. Eventually I became a fairly competent cook, especially in the days when one could use butter and cream.
Using her cookbook, in fact, I made only one odd meal and that was garlic soup, which I prepared for my mother and my fiance about two years after that. The mistake I didn't catch involved the liquid that should be used. (Sizzie, please note: not the amount of liquid, but the kind.) The recipe said that one could use broth or water. I had no broth, but I did have water. And the result tasted exactly like that: garlic boiled in water. Not a success.
PS: A moment ago I looked up the recipe on the internet (its link is posted above) and they call it aigo buido, and lo! water is correct. However, I promise I followed the recipe to the letter and it was not good. Maybe I didn't use enough garlic!