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.