Big news! It took forever, but I finally finished reading “Eating Together: Food, Friendship, and Inequality.” It was worth reading, but I could give the author, Alice P. Julier some advice on cutting to the chase. Stop beating a dead horse. And other phrases for “Okay, I got it. Let’s wrap it up.” Occasionally, she successfully points out interesting inequalities in regard to gender, race, and social status. All for discussions at a later time. Today I explore how the author influenced my thoughts on what it is to be a good cook.

Alice inspired me to think about what makes a good cook. Is it about the food? Presentation?


How about the way a cook makes us feel when we are in their company. I suspect all of these play a role.

I often hear “I’m no good at cooking” “I can’t even boil water” or “I can barely make toast.” Unrealistic offerings on Pinterest; many cooking shows; and countless magazines, cause many of us to feel inadequate. It’s easy to make comparisons and feel we don’t measure up. Put an end to feeling intimidated and inadequate with my “24 Signs You Are a Good Cook”.

As a guide, I used the words of American Chef Thomas Keller, “A recipe has no soul. You, as the cook, must bring soul to the recipe”



If you can find at least one thing on the list you can do or are willing to learn, then our mission to make us all feel better in the kitchen is complete. Some suggestions listed may even qualify for “great” or “superb” status.

  1. You can boil water. If you can’t, see item eight.
  2. You can look in the refrigerator and see possibilities.
  3. Guests arrive unexpectedly. You manage to cook up a buffet fit for a king, but you’re also comfortable with toast serving as a meal.
  4. You have a cupboard full of spices and herbs, and you intuitively know which ones go best together.
  5. You know that a potato will absorb an overabundance of salt in the soup.
  6. Speaking of salt, mashed potatoes take more salt than one may think. You add a little more.
  7. A good cook is comfortable with guests in the kitchen.
  8. In case of emergency, you have the numbers of several take-out restaurants readily available.
  9. You order take-out with no apologies. After all, power is knowing you have it and when to use it.
  10. You can cook a complicated However you can also take basic ingredients and turn them into something that seems complicated, but isn’t.
  11. Recipes? Who needs them? Provide the ingredients and dinner will be ready in 20 minutes, complete with dessert.
  12. A good cook can take boxed ingredients and well, you know, read the directions and actually make it.
  13. Good cooks know a few cooking terms like ‘Al dente,’ broil, steam, bake, and roast.
  14. Cookbooks are guidelines, not rules.
  15. You know a cake is finished baking by the finger touch technique.
  16. Speaking of cake, you can make a Bundt cake.
  17. You read food magazines without being intimidated.
  18. You know whether to use a pot or a frying
  19. You can use a pot or fry pan interchangeably.
  20. Over the course of a week, you can create several different meals from one roast chicken.
  21. Your oven is broken but you successfully make meals for a family of five in your toaster oven for several months until the replacement parts come in AND your service man can fix it.
  22. You can whip cream.
  23. Cooking isn’t about the destination, it’s about the journey, and you enjoy it.
  24. Your family says “Why eat out? We can eat better at home.” Bam! 

How did you do? Did you find one or two, or maybe more that make you feel more secure about being a good cook? What do think? Are you the next Betty Crocker, Julia Child, or Chef Thomas Keller?