Judy Rogers on Deciding What to Cook
"A truly good meal depends on a cavalcade of sound judgments, many of which occur well before you lift a knife.  When you decide what to cook, you are deciding whether a meal can be really good or not.  If you choose to do a dish you can't get good ingredients for, one you are completely unfamiliar with, or one you don't have the time or proper equipment to prepare, you may be setting the stage for a mediocre meal that will be no fun to produce.  Even if you have made a dish before, or at least eaten a delicious version of it, and you have the right equipment, the best recipe can only "doll up" mediocre product.  The process of deciding what to cook should always begin with deciding where to shop and what to buy (or if you are lucky, what to harvest).  Only then should you settle on the preparation, which should suit the qualities of those ingredients, as well as your experience, time frame, and equipment.  I add a premium for choosing a dish that suits the weather.  To assess and balance these things well is no mean accomplishment, and a good sense of what to buy and how to use it is not developed overnight.  Such skills are, however, a pleasure to acquire."

-Judy Rogers, The Zuni Cafe Cookbook

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Catie Baumer Schwalb is a chef, food writer and photographer, who splits her life between the city and the country. Not too long ago Catie was a New York City based actress and playwright for more than a decade. She has her Master of Fine Arts from the National Theater Conservatory, and her Grand Diplôme in classic culinary arts from the French Culinary Institute in New York City. ... Read More

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