Learning to cook

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Oct 23, 2011 2:48 PM GMT
    How did you learn to cook? I mean just in general, not gourmet cooking.

    I have almost no cooking skills. I need to control what I eat better. I don't eat horribly, but I end up eating the same food constantly because that's all I can make.

    I need basic cooking skills. I tried looking for a class, but couldn't find one. Any suggestions?
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    Oct 23, 2011 6:23 PM GMT
    Ask a family member. I think most people learned from a family member.

    If not - watch the food network. I actually learned to be more open minded and to try new things by watching food network - and now the cooking channel.

    Of course, this is also part of the reason why I was really fat and have been losing a lot of weight.

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    Oct 23, 2011 6:25 PM GMT
    Oooh, cook... Nevermind.
  • nanidesukedo

    Posts: 1036

    Oct 23, 2011 6:26 PM GMT
    I recommend starting with cooking recipes...Start simple: casseroles, slow cookers, whatever. There are lots of websites out there that are dedicated to simple recipes.

    After you are comfortable with cooking some recipes and understand why certain ingredients are used (especially if you get into baking), start using your imagination and start making up recipes of your own and doing so...it's all just practice.

    I recommend: tablespoon.com
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    Oct 23, 2011 6:39 PM GMT
    there r many good websites out there.

    i like lydia bastianich http://www.lidiasitaly.com/

    although the show is very boring, America's test kitchen http://www.americastestkitchen.com/

    don't laugh, but martha stewart's website is prob 1 of the best teaching sites on the web http://www.marthastewart.com/

    (i agree tho, it's best 2 learn from ur nana)


    edit: agree w/ the jacques pepin recommendation
  • sfjason

    Posts: 1

    Oct 23, 2011 6:39 PM GMT
    Any kind of cooking starts with technique. Learning basic techniques as you work on recipes, instead of just following one recipe at a time, will eventually lead you to put together all kinds of meals without much forethought or needing written instructions to follow. You may even learn to enjoy the experience, as I have.

    Some more practical advice: I'd recommend any and all of the DVDs and companion cookbooks with Jacques Pepin, produced by PBS. I think this is far superior instruction than anything on the food network.

    One silly thing that provided a "ah-ha" moment for me: they call it "prep" for a reason. Don't try to start peeling and cutting that potato just before you need it, or whatever. Get all that stuff done first, and you'll be a lot less harried while putting everything together.
  • Rowing_Ant

    Posts: 1504

    Oct 23, 2011 6:44 PM GMT
    Ask a family member or read some very basic cookery books.

    A LOT of cookery success comes with experience.

    I could already cook a bit before going to University but my uncle - a former Savoy Chef - taught me how so I wouldnt starve.

    Margerite Patten's "Cookery in colour" is very dated but has simple recipes and its easy to follow.

    So yeah - find a book or family member.
  • dancedancekj

    Posts: 1761

    Oct 23, 2011 6:52 PM GMT
    I agree with learning simple techniques and going from there. For example, if you want to learn about baking cakes, make them perfectly from boxed mixes. That's how I learned how to make a lot of stuff. Boxed cake mixes, rice-a-roni, red rice and beans mix and so on. This will give you the confidence and the skills to go to the next level of cooking from scratch.

    I love food, and one of my favorite websites is Apartment Therapy's The Kitchn (www.thekitchn.com). It has a lot of more advanced recipes, but a lot of simple and easy one as well.

    Lastly, watch Alton Brown's "Good Eats". They are the best way to learn about cooking, and demystifies a lot of the science of food. Alton also puts emphasis on learning about the food items themselves, which is important. Plus, they're fun to watch icon_smile.gif

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Oct 23, 2011 7:21 PM GMT
    My grandmother actually
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    Oct 23, 2011 9:19 PM GMT
    Cooking is one of my favorite things to do and talk about!
    Although it might seem intimidating at first glance, I learned so much about basic technique from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The book's nearly as old as I am, but the basics rarely change, and the authors (including the late great Julia Child) go into painstaking, step by step detail on nearly all matters culinary. You learn how to cook vegetables while preserving color, taste, and nutrition. How to choose and cook meat, fish, and fowl. How to measure accurately. What equipment to choose. The book's not about "fancy" cooking (although there's plenty of that, too), it's about cooking well.
    After the basics have been mastered, the book is full of classic recipes that are more challenging, should you choose to try them, maybe for a special occasion.
    I've taken the basic things I learned from the book and now apply them regardless of what I'm cooking.
    By the way, has anyone taken a look at Rocco Dispirito's "Now Eat This"? (Funny title!) He's slashed the fat and calories in a lot of favorite dishes that we tend to catagorize as unhealthful.
  • matt13226

    Posts: 829

    Oct 23, 2011 9:23 PM GMT
    I learned it from my mom and dad watching them and i love to bake stuff too my dad taught me how to crack an egg with one hand just like his dad taught him. You just need a bit of practice but if you follow a recipe you cant go wrong. What kind of recipe are you trying to make?
  • calibro

    Posts: 8888

    Oct 23, 2011 9:25 PM GMT
    sparrow approach
  • davidnta

    Posts: 86

    Oct 23, 2011 9:39 PM GMT
    I learned partially from my mom, but I also learned from experimenting. Allrecipes.com is a good site where you can find great recipes and what's great is that you can input ingredients you currently have and it'll match a recipe with what you got (you may have to go to the store to get the others though).

    I would say for a beginner to have the recipe in front of you, have all your ingredients measured so you're not doing it on the fly, and being mindful of time.

    It's definitely much cheaper than eating out. It's all about being motivated to cook that meal.
  • LJay

    Posts: 11612

    Oct 23, 2011 9:49 PM GMT
    Alton Brown is a rip to watch. You will learn a lot while laughing.

    Lydia Bastianich is wonderful, as are Jacques Pepin, and Jamie Oliver (who can be HOT) and lots of others on TV. Try The Cooking Channel because FoodTV has really gone downhill.

    Try and find some old Julia Child videos. She was amazing in her love of cooking and her outlook on life.

    Another approach is to head for the bookstore and look for beginner cookbooks. I started out as a kid with the one fom Better Homes & Gardens. Lots of basic technique.

    As you can and as you learn about them, invenst in good tools: pots, pans, knives, etc. It's just like woodwork or auto mechanics. Tools count.

    Use google in the "How to ... " format. Flabbergasting amount of info there.

    The neat thing about cooking is that there is always something new to learn, but that the simplest things are often the most satisying.



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    Oct 23, 2011 9:53 PM GMT
    sfjason saidAny kind of cooking starts with technique. Learning basic techniques as you work on recipes, instead of just following one recipe at a time, will eventually lead you to put together all kinds of meals without much forethought or needing written instructions to follow. You may even learn to enjoy the experience, as I have.

    Some more practical advice: I'd recommend any and all of the DVDs and companion cookbooks with Jacques Pepin, produced by PBS. I think this is far superior instruction than anything on the food network.

    One silly thing that provided a "ah-ha" moment for me: they call it "prep" for a reason. Don't try to start peeling and cutting that potato just before you need it, or whatever. Get all that stuff done first, and you'll be a lot less harried while putting everything together.


    This. Like, a lot. Accept the fact that you will fuck stuff up. I probably made fifty bad omelets before I got it right.
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    Oct 23, 2011 10:15 PM GMT
    Rachel Ray, obvi. . .

    Just kidding, it's all about Giada
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    Oct 23, 2011 10:26 PM GMT
    Wow! Thanks for all of the responses. I can't reply to everyone. There are some great tips here. I have to start at the beginning. I need basic skills like picking out food and chopping vegetables. I can do it, but it takes forever. I can follow a recipe, but it always takes much longer than it says it should. I never have time to cook during the week, unless it's something simple on the George Foreman.

    I bought "Cooking Basics for Dummies" a while back, but I haven't had time to read it. I learn more from hands-on learning anyway.

    I need to switch out the carbs I'm eating for some vegetables. That's a big reason for this. I'd like to learn how to make a nice stir fry dish. (The sodium isn't a problem because I have low blood pressure.)

    I almost titled this thread "Calling All Cooks". Imagine the pandemonium. icon_lol.gif
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    Oct 23, 2011 10:26 PM GMT
    Somewhere in all this text is good cooking advice. Share and enjoy.

    I covet Alton Brown's teaching style. His background in video production and chemistry certainly makes him a must-have learning resource. Plus, his shows are often found on DVD on the shelf at a big-box store like Target or downloads on iTunes. Start with season 1. You won't regret a minute of it.

    Cooks Illustrated and their PBS show "America's Test Kitchen" is very valuable in a different way. Their latest cookbook compilation from their magazines might be sitting on a table at your nearest Costco as you read this. Their contribution is they find all possible recipe variations, cook them, and then describe the formula and methods that they found most palatable. A real timesaver if for no other reason to learn technique, critical for baking.

    Shirley Corriher is a national treasure up there with Julia Child. Her contribution to the understanding of why food turns out the way it does is legendary. She has two cookbooks that should be on your shelf. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shirley_Corriher She has made cameo appearances for Alton Brown, Sarah Moulton and others.

    If you can't remember the last time you bought spices, they've expired and lost their flavor. Don't buy a quart-sized box of cayenne pepper just because Costco has it on the shelf. After a year, its past its prime and I'm being polite.

    Check out Penzey's spices online store or use fresh. It makes a difference.

    Before you start cooking for a crowd: most dishes takes a bit of practice unless its a frozen pizza. Do not hesitate to cook a menu ahead of time to get a feel for what can go right and horribly wrong.

    Just don't do like I did and serve your mistakes on your coworkers. Especially when that pecan pie filling has permanently bonded to the pie plate because you went waaaay past hard-crack stage and found epoxy.

    Keep a journal or don't hesitate to scribble in the margins of your cookbooks what you learned the *last* time you cooked that.
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    Oct 23, 2011 10:30 PM GMT
    First thing I learned to cook from my grandma when I was around the age of 7 was pancakes. I loved pancakes and she taught me how to do them from scratch using moms electric skillet and one of those hand crank mixers..too young for the electric mixer and I guess they though I might lose a finger. I always liked cooking and still do.
    It isn't difficult and some of the things guys are most afraid of trying are actually so simple.. like cooking the Thanksgiving/Christmas turkey or a roast beef.. That's the easy part.. the meat.. it's all the work involved in peeling and preparing the vegetables that takes more time etc.

    We have scores of cookbooks but my favorite is my ancient Joy of Cooking. It explains everything, even how to set a table properly.
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    Oct 23, 2011 10:38 PM GMT
    I can't learn from my family because.......let's just leave that topic alone. icon_sad.gif

    I have an online subscription to America's Test Kitchen. I use the to find cooking gadgets. I haven't tried any of their recipes yet.
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    Oct 23, 2011 10:40 PM GMT
    beneful1 saidIt isn't difficult and some of the things guys are most afraid of trying are actually so simple.. like cooking the Thanksgiving/Christmas turkey or a roast beef.. That's the easy part.. the meat.. it's all the work involved in peeling and preparing the vegetables that takes more time etc.


    Turkey.... so many things can go wrong it isn't funny. I guess it doesn't help I'm old enough to be "victimized" by turkey's gone bad at least twice to food poisoning. A handful of times to dry meat.

    Moist meat is easy: get a kosher bird or brine it yourself.

    If you don't want food poisoning, cook the stuffing separately. Defrost the frozen bird in the fridge.

    Alton Brown/Good Eats and Cooks Illustrated both have excellent programs on this.

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    Oct 23, 2011 10:44 PM GMT
    7Famark saidRachel Ray, obvi. . .

    Just kidding, it's all about Giada


    Haha, agreed!

    I learned from my grandmothers and mom. The family hangout has always been the kitchen so it was easy to pick up. In it's simplest form, it's just following directions. As quoted from Ratatouille, "Anyone can cook!"
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    Oct 23, 2011 11:05 PM GMT
    DudeInNOVA saidHow did you learn to cook? I mean just in general, not gourmet cooking.

    I have almost no cooking skills. I need to control what I eat better. I don't eat horribly, but I end up eating the same food constantly because that's all I can make.

    I need basic cooking skills. I tried looking for a class, but couldn't find one. Any suggestions?


    I learned how to cook from browsing through websites. Just type "easy recipes" in Google and start from there.

    It takes a little patience, but the reward is that you can cook good food and it saves the cost of buying you lunch or eating out at restaurants. I batch cook every Sunday and I have enough food for the week for lunches and suppers. In this way, I also have more time to train/exercise during the week.
  • dancedancekj

    Posts: 1761

    Oct 23, 2011 11:32 PM GMT
    DudeInNOVA saidI need to switch out the carbs I'm eating for some vegetables. That's a big reason for this. I'd like to learn how to make a nice stir fry dish. (The sodium isn't a problem because I have low blood pressure.)

    Ooooh, stir fry back in the day was super easy. I just bought a frozen bag of stir fry veggies, garlic, and a yellow onion. Heat a tablespoon of cooking oil, fry the garlic and onion until they're cooked, and add the frozen veggies. Add 1/4 cup of water, dump soy sauce and red pepper, and keep stirring it around until the vegetables are cooked through. Serve with rice, takes me maybe 10 minutes maximum, and tastes delicious. You can add tofu, chicken, fish, beef, pork, and do the same, although you'll have to cook it a bit longer.
    Although I've moved on to more complex dishes, this stir fry is a good basic to have. I have a friend that demands my oyster sauce, bok choy, and shiitake mushroom stir fry about once every three months icon_smile.gif
  • FredMG

    Posts: 988

    Oct 24, 2011 12:38 AM GMT
    I learned from mom, classes at the community center, home ec at school, and watching cooking shows.

    If I had to reccomend one kitchen gadget above all others: ZoJirusi rice cooker. because: it does brown rice painlessly. you can set the timer for steel cut oat meal (on the porrige setting) the new ones will even make small cakes (which makes me secretly hope that my old one will die soon, but at 8 years it's going strong).

    While the rice is cooking you can do a stir fry or any kind of meat or veg in a sauce with a side of rice. They also cook quinoa, barley really well.

    For sheer fun, get a book on Chinese steam cookery, a wok and steamer baskets. I've done bao, corned beef (with cabbage and veg) vegetarian tamales and a zillion other things with mine. It's almost as fast as microwave and probably healthier for you too.