Confident home cooking

Three Years of Learning

by Nick

Sunday was my three year blogiversary which I think makes Macheesmo solidly middle-aged in the blog world.  To be completely honest, when I posted my first post three years ago, I had no idea that I would still be doing this every day three years later.

I had no idea that I would get thousands of readers and meet so many wonderful people over the years.

I had no idea that I would have opportunities to speak in public, be on the radio and television, and write for other cool sites.

I had no idea that I would ever make pasta from scratch.  Without a pasta maker.

While I’m far from an expert when it comes to cooking or blogging, I wanted to spend a post and talk a bit about some of the random stuff I’ve learned with this journey so far.

Becoming an Expert

Over the last three years I’ve tried to really improve two skills by working on them pretty much every day:  cooking and writing.  When I look back at some of the first posts I wrote or recipes that I made, I definitely think I’m improving.

But I’m so far from an expert it’s ridiculous.

I really like what Malcolm Gladwell says in Outliers about becoming an expert.  Essentially, you need to do that thing over and over again for roughly 10,000 hours.  This is why it’s almost impossible to become a world-class pianist or tennis player unless you start when you’re very young.

By my count I’ve logged roughly 3,126 hours of blogging and/or cooking practice.  And yes.  I keep track with a stopwatch.

But seriously, it’s very apparent that I have a long way to go.

Most importantly, what I’ve learned is that there aren’t any shortcuts available to get really good at something.  You don’t become a great runner by taking the short trail.  You don’t become a great cook or writer unless you’re doing it regularly and challenging yourself to try new stuff.

Having Patience

I used to be a fairly impatient person.  I used to value speed and getting somewhere first.

Maybe it’s just because I’m getting old (almost 30!), but I think I’m much more patient these days.  I have no problem waiting 10 hours for a pork shoulder to cook slowly on the grill.  I consider it almost a treat to spend a day braising short ribs.

Just like those dishes, some things in life take a lot of time.  And that’s okay.

Things are done when they are done.

Just Stop

More recently, I’ve learned that sometimes I just have to stop.  I’m such a busy person by nature that I’ll completely fill my schedule for two weeks straight and then realize that I’ve barely even said hi to my lovely wife.

I’ve learned that sometimes it’s important to say no to things and slow down.

I’ve learned that sometimes it’s important to watch Law & Order: SVU all day long while cuddling.  That’s a perfectly acceptable use of a day.

My Ten Favorite Posts from The Last Year

I always like to go back and pick out some of my personal favorite posts.  For some reason these typically aren’t the posts that get the most comments or traffic.  They’re just posts that I like and it’s my birthday so I’ll list if I want to.

Lengua Tacos – This was a reaching dish for me, but it turned out so good.  Just an example of how sometimes the dishes that scare you the most will end up being the easiest to make and also the most delicious to eat.

A Homecoming MealThis was my first meal in our new home in Colorado.  Reading the post just brings back memories of the crazy three day cross-country road trip that Tipsy and I had and how badly I needed a beer when I finally got home.

Ten Signs You’re Wasting Money on Food – Ok.  I mainly just like the photo for this post.  But it’s a snarky fun post also.

Nutella Surprise Cookies – Probably the best cookies that I made over the last year.  I’m posting some cookies next week though that might rival these…

Sweet Apple Hash – I make some variation of this hash very regularly these days.  It’s just fantastic and if you missed it the first time around, give it a shot.

In Defense of FoodiesKind of a rant of a post, but I had a lot of fun writing it.  Brought me back to my competitive debate days.  And yes, I just admitted that I did competitive debate.

Cast Iron Pizza – A revelation!  One of the simplest and best ways to make really solid pizza at home.

The Homemade Trials: Spaghetti Sauce – I really enjoy writing these posts and this is maybe the most relavent one in the series since people burn through jarred spaghetti sauce.

Ten Food Label Warning Signs – If there is one thing that I wish I could get ingrained in people’s shopping habits, it would be to regularly read labels.

Chicken and Waffles Brunch – I take my fried chicken seriously.  I also take brunch seriously.  This post sums up both pretty well.

Coming Up Next…

What does year four hold for Macheesmo?

Well, I can tell you that there are some cool things in the works.  I’m not ready to reveal a lot of details on some of the projects, but trust me.  I’ve been a busy kid.

What you can count on though is that I’ll be here pretty much every day.  Cooking up a storm and trying to get you (YES YOU) to get your butt in the kitchen.

I hope you stick around for another year!