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Scrambled eggs

Ramona King

Perfect Scrambled Eggs


Hot take: Why all home cooks should learn how to cook without recipes

One of the more interesting phenomena that springs from social media is the development of tribes and hiveminds around every conceivable interest.

In our home, the breakdown of responsibilities found me as the primary handler of diaper changes and diaper cleaning.  We chose to cloth diaper, so I’ve spent a lot of time on cloth diaper Facebook pages (shout out to my Grovia friends!) As you can imagine, the group is heavily populated with moms, and often gets off topic. A common refrain I hear is “my husband can’t cook at all….” Every time I read those words I have to fight the urge to track down said husbands and yell “ARE YOU @%#$* KIDDING ME!! YOU ARE A GROWN MAN. LEARN TO COOK.” And yes, I want to type that in all caps.

I’ve been “adulting” for going on 20 years now, and over that time, I like to think I’ve become a pretty decent cook. To me, cooking is an art. You start with some guidelines and basic techniques and then forge your own path. The more experience you have, the more often dinner will turn out well. Once you figure a dish out, you keep working on it and refining your technique, and through trial-and-error, it becomes a go-to dish in your arsenal. Even when it isn’t perfect, its likely still good enough to eat even if you don’t tell all your friends about it, and more often than not, you will have enjoyed the process.

(All of that said, I’ve also learned that while I really enjoy cooking, I really don’t enjoy baking. Baking is science. Strict measurements and rigid rules. If you deviate from the prescribed path it all fails, mighty Casey strikes out and there is no joy in Mudville.) 

Technique also becomes the great equalizer. Some dishes are just rooted in good technique — no matter how closely you follow a recipe, if your technique is off, it just won’t taste that good. I make really good scrambled eggs. I’ve been working on them for as long as I’ve been cooking; they are the first food I can remember making. I’m sure there are recipes out there for how to scramble eggs, but at the end of the day, its all about knowing your tools and developing a feel for the exact moment to pull the eggs off the heat. I learned that timing through lots of trial and error; in fact, for years I overcooked my eggs all of the time, but now I’ll put my eggs up against anyone’s, especially when I throw in some boursin cheese and fresh chives.

A good friend of mine makes a great brisket. There’s no secret rub or sauce, he’s just developed a knack for knowing just the right amount of heat and time to get melt-in-your mouth ‘cue. I’m sure he could try to explain how he does it, but it would take me days of practicing and probably quite a few overcooked roasts to even come close to his. As soon as I have some spare time though, its an adventure I'm looking forward to embarking on.

I work for a site that specializes in developing recipes, so this is probably a good time for me to clarify that I actually love reading recipes. I can think of no better inspiration than flipping through a cookbook or food magazine to see what the “experts” are doing.

And the first few times you make a new dish, you should probably use a recipe. But after that, put away the cookbook. Try adding a pinch of this or a splash of that. Swap out a jalepeño for a serrano, or use some garlic scapes instead of green onions. Ask your butcher for a unique cut of meat to sub into your tried-and-true recipe. The world is your oyster; go make some Bienville.

In case you need some tips, here are a few of my favorite technical tips from the team:
6 of our favorite Southern ways to grill fruits and vegetables
How to cook the perfect steak, the Southern Kitchen way
5 easy-to-learn principles that will make you a braising master, no matter the ingredients

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Sean Pruett leads Southern Kitchen’s merchandising team. He has been in the retail industry for over 10 years and was able to combine two of his passions — cooking and retail — when he traded in his orange apron for one with Southern Kitchen’s logo. Born in Florida and raised in Augusta, GA, he attended UGA and is an avid home cook, using recipes that let him combine great cuts of meat with fresh produce from his home garden in Atlanta. On a fall Saturday you’ll likely find him in Athens for football games, and in the spring he enjoys attending Atlanta festivals, or taking a walk to the local doughnut shop with his wife and daughter.