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You knew you mastered the fine art of cooking or baking when you ______________.

Fill in the blanks with whatever it is that you shed blood, sweat & tears over.

I really felt like I had arrived when I could finally cook an egg just about anyway there is to cook it. Well, that is not entirely true...depends on the mood of my old black iron skillet. (yeah right)

Maybe you graduated from a fine cooking academy...maybe you can make some dish that took years to perfect.

Or maybe you finally made a dish that dear spouse's Mama would approve. If you did, you move right up to the front of the line in this discussion. Anyone that can please a cranky/picky/critical eater deserves first chance at bragging rights.

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  1. The demi glace I made for Sunday's Easter dinner is so good that I had to freeze it to keep me from eating it by the spoonfuls. 10 pounds of beef bones, 3 lbs of lamb bones and 2 lbs of chicken backs plus leeks, onions, carrots, celery, tomato paste,herbs and spices. My kitchen is still a mess. Every strainer and bowl got used all for a gelatinous globule of utter deliciousness. None of the meats dominate it's almost a Switzerland of umami. I only need a cup for Sunday dinner so what to do with the rest?

    1 Reply
    1. re: KateBChi

      You could pack in it dry ice and mail it to me =P Sounds heavenly

    2. The first time I tasted a dish, and said 'this needs more acid,' I felt like I had a handle on this whole cooking thing.

      4 Replies
      1. re: GilaB

        Yes! For me this happened with salt--salting pasta water sufficiently for the first time was a revelation. I didn't realized that pasta had a taste, or that it could be edible, even quite delicious without a topping.

        This isn't so much cooking as product-buying related, but I had another Eureka moment with sugar--that plain white granulated sugar has a flavor that is different from simply "sweet." I started giving up HFCS products and adding my own sugar to things like yogurt when I realized this.

        Writing this also reminds about the yogurt that my aunt served me when I visited her in France years ago--she bought these little Dannon-type cups of whole milk yogurt lightly pre-sweetened with sugar. For some reason, I feel that plain sugar-flavored yogurt would not fly in the U.S. (if I'm correct that it isn't available here) but that may be a question for another thread...

        1. re: Double Gloucester

          I wish lightly sweetened plain yogurt was available here! I've never seen it. Somehow, Americans seem to have equated vanilla with plain sweetened food. I love vanilla, but it's not exactly plain. On the other hand, most vanilla flavored foods I've had don't have enough vanilla to be interesting, with the exception of some pricier products. So, vanilla yogurt has just enough vanilla to mess with any flavors I'd want to add, but needs more vanilla to be appreciated for that flavor.

          1. re: celesul

            But vanilla yogurt is not plain yogurt, it's vanilla flavored yogurt. Plain yogurt is tart. If you want it to be sweeter, then add sugar or honey.

        2. re: GilaB

          Right there with you. I knew I could cooked when I could diagnose how to make something better. In fact my husband made a chocolate ganache gone wrong and I figured out how to turn it into a VERY fudgy brownie.

        3. The perfect roast chicken and the perfectly grilled ribeye. So many foods are easy to cook well, but these were my benchmarks.

          1 Reply
          1. Well... I still don't think I have mastered it but I think the feeling I had when everything was done and ready to be served at Thanksgiving .... all at the same time comes pretty close.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Hank Hanover

              This sounds like me. There are so many techniques I haven't tried that I never feel like I will ever master it but when my father praised my first attempt at thanksgiving, I decided I was pretty much there. Everything was out on time and we ate at the appropriate time to the minute.

            2. I come from a long line of excellent Hungarian cooks. I knew I had mastered baking when I was able to make strudel like my Mom and Grandma. I inherited the magic "cloth" passed down in our family which covers the kitchen table when I stretch the strudel dough. Who knew that voodoo was a part of strudel making as well, as it is considered the only means to success. This cloth survived the Nazis and is hand laundered after each use. BTW, you don't use your fingertips when you stretch strudel dough to cover an entire kitchen table, you use your knuckles. It helps tremendously if your fingernails are short, so the dough doesn't get mangled. Ah, the price of sweet success!

              3 Replies
              1. re: Diane in Bexley

                Voodoo Strudel...now this is my kind of eating. What a wonderful story...who will you pass the magic cloth down to? Hungarian cooking always sounded so mysterious to me....now I know why.

                1. re: cstout

                  Of my 2 daughters, only the older one shows any inclination of learning the finer arts of cooking and baking. Her request for a Kitchen Aid mixer for a birthday present gave me much joy. The "voodoo" strudel cloth will be part of her wedding dowry - along with recipes for paprikash, goulash, stuffed cabbage, poppyseed or nut coffee cake, etc. Apiece of her family's heritage!

                  1. re: Diane in Bexley

                    Why don't you start her a cookbook of family recipes plus all the others you have collected? It could be something simple simple like a 3 ring binder or maybe doing a scrapbook type cookbook. She will treasure those recipes & the time you took to get them all together.