GAinCA I will wait to find if this will last forever.
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In the kitchen, with a cookbook, and with ingredients.
Start simple. Keep an open mind, and think of your favourite foods and favourite tastes.
funniculee is prepared
I always recommend getting a copy of How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman if you can. Tons and tons of simple recipes that work, along with clear explanations of each step. Also tons of tips about WHY to use various preparation methods. And tons of ‘theme and variations’ recipes, which if you try them out can give you the framework for making up your OWN variations fairly easily. Can’t say enough good things about it.
It depends also on what kind of food you want to make. If it’s something more non-Western, the internet or a library cookbook collection might be a good place to start.
What kind of food do you want to make? What kind of food do you like to eat?
Start with pasta and make your own sauce.
Pay attention to how long it takes to cook the pasta to your preference. It’s better when it’s a little firm (al dente).
Sauce is easy. Dice half of a yellow onion, a green bell pepper and a few Italian mushrooms. Heat up a wide, shallow pan. Add some olive oil and the vegetables. Sizzle them until the onions are mostly clear and golden-brown on the edges. (This sounds like a lot of work, but it’s no big deal.) Pour in a can of tomato sauce and maybe a spoonful of cane sugar. Turn the heat down and let it bubble for a while.
Plate the pasta, pour on a little sauce, then tear up a few fresh basil leaves.
(all the while drinking red wine)
brownsugarbear01 Life goes on.
Find a friend who likes to cook, then they can supervise. You can cook together or they can talk you through it, which is better than them doing all the work while you just watch & listen. Doing it yourself might run you into setting something on fire or under-cooking it & getting sick. A cooking/baking buddy will be helpful. Chose also your favourite dish that seems simple enough, then grow from there.
toriray is really motivated by lists!
Ask someone to show you how to cook their favourite meal – ask loads of questions, write down what you do. Make it yourself the following day. Just get stuck in! Good luck – it’s great fun so don’t worry too much :) And don’t worry if it goes wrong or doesn’t taste amazing first time round. I’ve made apple crumble loads of times but yesterday I made apricot crumble instead but got distracted and forgot the sugar – urgh! Shame but not great drama.
I second the How to Cook Everything book by Mark Bittman (its an awesome reference) but I wouldn’t say to start there…
Bettey Crocker has a book out called Cooking Basics which I think is a great place to start if there is no one in your life who is a great cook and could show you how one thing at a time. Also, you can search the internet to find out how your favorite things are made and just start there! Good luck! Its so worth it. I used to burn jello… no joke sadly…
You need to start at the beginning. I know that sounds trite, but too often new cooks get discouraged because they started by trying something way beyond their skill level. Learn how to use a knife, how to chop vegetables, how to sweat an onion, and so on.
Find a mentor. Ask someone you know who is a good cook if they will teach you. Offer to buy the ingredients if they will share their knowledge. You will be surprised how many will jump at the chance. After all, we usually learn to cook because we want the social pleasure of sharing the meal. Most good cooks are gregarious, in my experience.
If you can’t find a mentor, look at your community college or community events calendar. You can frequently find cooking classes, but choose a basic skills class first before you enroll in that Thai, or Italian, or Indian cooking class.
Understand why. Why are onions, celery, carrots and garlic used so often? Why do scrambled eggs turn runny? Never be afraid to ask a question.
Get some basic books. How to Cook Everything or The Joy of Cooking are worth considering. Since cooking is a hands-on experience, books will never replace a good mentor, but as your skills develop you will be able to rely on books more for knowledge and ideas.
Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new recipes, but perfect them at home by yourself before you serve them to guests.
Invest in a few good quality kitchen tools. That doesn’t mean expensive, but throw out that WalMart knife your Mom gave you when you got your first apartment. Get a good chef’s knife, a good paring knife, a few good pots and pans, etc. My favorite knives are Victorinox with the fibrox handle. They are well made, well balanced, and dishwasher safe.
Have fun. Cooking is tactile and sensuous. You work with your hands, and your mind. Enjoy learning, enjoy cooking, enjoy tasting and enjoy eating and you will become a great cook.
Josh ...and life just rolls on like a river.
On Cooking and On Baking both by Sarah Labensky are two of the best instructional books you can find on the culinary and baking/pastry arts. They basically assume you know nothing and take you from there. They aren’t cookbooks (though they both have more recipes than you could ever make) but rather they are the text books that many culinary schools use to teach their students from. They’re expensive, though. Around $100 each. They will teach you about ingredients, cooking methods and techniques, and cooking equipment.
Iron Man is one busy hombre
Start with something you already know you like. Look for recipes for that. You might find several variations of the recipe. Some recipes will seem more complicated than others, so start with the one that you can understand. Then just follow the instructions, and enjoy!
Joe Mayer is depressed that the U.S. has set itself up to become a police state.
I’d second a lot of the answers already here. Start simple, start with things you know you like. Figure out how to do a few basics with a few basic ingredients. As someone else mentioned, learn how to use a knife properly, learn how to sweat onions and how to sautee things properly.
Get a cookbook that has the type of food you like. Check the used bookstores and find a cookbook about some cuisine that you like to eat. Enjoy Thai food? Chinese? Mexican? Find a decent cookbook for that type of food. Look through it first and make sure it has a good section of basics in the front. Just buy one book. Don’t overwhelm yourself. I’m not going to recommend a single book because it really is going to depend on what you like. I have several of the books listed on here (On Cooking, On Baking, How to Cook Everything, Betty Crocker’s Cooking Basics), and every one of them has strong points and weak points. It really depends on how you learn. Find a book that looks interesting to you and read through a couple of the recipes before you buy it. See if they make sense to you. See if the style of writing grates on your nerves or makes you feel like you can do what they’re telling you. Get the book that makes you feel like you understand it best. That’s the book you’ll use.
In any case, sorry to blather on, but my basic advice is to start simple, start basic, and try to make things you think you’ll enjoy eating. Enjoy the cooking, and good luck.
I would also emphasize the importance of learning some of the basic hows and whys of cooking before you start. No one ever really sat down and said, “look, this is what’s happening when you cook and egg” back when I started making meals for myself, but I sort of wish they had. There’s a site called The Science of Cooking which is pretty neat. It contains a lot more specific information than a chef ever really needs to know, but it’s fun to browse around and provides a lot of basic background about the chemical properties of things like salt and gluten and how they affect your cooking: http://www.exploratorium.edu/cooking/
I wouldn’t suggest buying any super-expensive books right off the bat. Take a dish you already know you like (spaghetti and tomato sauce, potato salad) and try making a portion of it from scratch that you would usually buy pre-made. There are lots of recipes on the internet, too! Check out sites like Recipezaar or Epicurious where you can read comments from other people cooking the same recipe. Sometimes the insight from other people cooking the same thing can be just as useful as the recipe.
Goggle your favourite things to eat (As long as it’s not extremly complicated!!) and find the best, easiest recipes for them.
The internet is filled with great recipes, and user comments on what to fix, what not to do, etcetc. It’s free too, which is the best thing about them!
Good luck! Cooking is so rewarding – plus you got something yummy after all that hard work – what’s NOT to love!
Watch the food network. Good Eats is a great show to teach you most of the techniques you will ever need to know.
When you see something that looks good and simple. Look the recipe up on the website. As a beginner make sure you have ALL the ingredients and the equipment to cook something. You’re not good enough to take short cuts and come up with substitutions just yet.;) These will only lead to mistakes that will frustrate you.
Salad can be a good place to start since it actually requires no cooking.
Also check out the recipes on KraftFoods.com (not exactly gourmet but super easy and a good starting place.)
Go read or watch Julia and Julie and get enthusiastic. Then get a good cookbook. Joy of Cooking is good, Mastering the Art of French Cooking is good. My personal treasure I bought years ago when I was fumbling through with was Pelleprat (I know I misspelled it and I am too lazy to go the kitchen and read it) COuntry French Cooking. Read some receipes and when one speaks to your hear, pick a day when you little else to do and go do it. Repeat until ….. whenever ;-) Good Luck
One more thing ;-) Then find someone to share it with, hopefully who will help with the cleanup!
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