Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Learning to Learn

Well, I joined America’s Test Kitchen (ATK) website. It’s a really interesting organization—they have a program on PBS that is super interesting. I think of ATK as I do of the “Consumer Reports” organization, only its for cooks. They have different levels of membership depending on how deeply you want to go into their archives of recipes, instructional videos and research.

This experience of discovering a late-in-life passion for cooking is proving very interesting. I realize my approach to baking and cooking is identical to my approach to some of my studies in college.

Unable to decide what to focus on when I arrived at the UBC, I kept my options open by taking seven courses a year and by going to summer school. At the end of my sophomore year, I was qualified to specialize in the arts (history or English literature) or the sciences (so that I could continue on to medical school).

I chose English lit. It was an easy choice. But I wound up in a “program” comprised of both compulsory and optional courses. Sometimes I liked a course or its teacher, sometimes I don’t; sometimes I had an affinity for a course even if I didn’t like it — like Math (ninety percentile). Sometimes I was passionate about a course, but tanked in my marks — like zoology (32% by an honour student at Xmas).

And then there were Latin, organic chemistry and comparative anatomy — a trifecta from Hell. The last two killed all hopes of a medical school. But I needed a scholarship, so I really applied myself and on my final exam in zoology I got 98%.

When I loved the course or the prof, I learned the subject. When I hated the course or the prof, I learned how to learn. I learned to really appreciate the hands-on nature of science instruction. And my arts courses taught me the value of intimate one-on-one learning; I wrote competition exams so that I could take honours programs that focused on small group discussion as the primary instructional technique.

My cooking classes are the best of both worlds: They are intimate and hands-on. I can hardly wait for Saturdays.

I’ve created a spreadsheet for the dinners I make (and for whom) so that I don’t serve people things they’ve had before. And today I am going shopping for some new equipment: A scraper that is wonderful for helping with the kneading of bread and a torch with which to brown meringue.

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