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Old 11-12-2008, 09:34 AM   #11
Sous Chef
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Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Wisconsin, USA
Posts: 526
Originally Posted by Drk2 View Post
Thanks for all the replies guys, is there a thread somewhere that has some basic recipes? And as far as hardware goes, what would should I invest the most money into [Knives, Pots, Cutting Boards etc.]
I got the cookbook "How To Cook Everything" by Mark Bittman. It's not very expensive for the softcover, and the latest edition has 2000 recipes. He also has great explanations on cooking techniques, how ingredients interact, equipment, etc.

Quality knives make your life so much easier. Most knife makers sell a Chef's knife, utility knife, and paring knife as a set. You can do virtually everything with those three knives. Get a steel too, and learn how to use it. Using the steel is super easy, and takes less than a minute even if you are moving slow.

I made good food with a mishmash of cookware, but it's not easy to make great food with poor cookware. You don't have to break the bank with All-Clad or some other high end brand. Do you have a Costco nearby? This set was the highest rated non-stick on Consumer Reports, and it's 14 pieces for $180.00 USD: Kirkland Cookware. Take care of those (no dishwasher, no metal utensils, etc.), and you will get a ton of mileage from them, and learn to be a great cook at the same time! I'm not saying that you have to buy this set, but I just wanted to let you know that you can cook really good food with moderately priced cookware. Check product reviews in forums like this, or on Amazon.com to get an idea of what people are saying about different products.

You should have at least one good cutting board. Fortunately they are not that expensive. I just ordered this one: Totally Bamboo Cutting Board. It's not super fancy, but I'm lazy and this board is dishwasher safe as long as I oil it after it's washed. There's nothing wrong with starting out with cheapie cutting boards, but if you are doing a lot of cutting/chopping every day then you will want a board that doesn't warp, doesn't slide around, and doesn't flex when you're holding that potato down.

Hope this helps!

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Old 11-12-2008, 10:46 AM   #12
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Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 41,715
Buy 2 or three good knives, not a set. Buy two or three good pots, not a set. Those white plastic cutting boards are inexpensive and good to your knives and can go into the dishwasher. Buy a couple of those and move up to wood later if you feel the need.

Decide which pots and pans to buy based on what you cook and for how many people. You don't need whole sets of anything.

"If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe." -Carl Sagan
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Old 11-12-2008, 02:01 PM   #13
Executive Chef
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Collier County, Fl.
Posts: 4,198
...and shop your second had stores, Goodwill and all those kind of places.
You'll be amazed what you'll find. (Ask JoeV)
Make sure you are comfortable with your equipment.
(I can't handle my cleaver, it's just too big and heavy for me. So it was a wasted investment.)
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Old 11-13-2008, 10:47 AM   #14
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Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Galena, IL
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I recommend you start working with dishes similar to ones you love the best OR that the people you feed love the best. Nothing encourages a cook more than having their food truly appreciated. If you fix something and people at the table just pick at it, or worse yet, say "yuck", not because you didn't do a great job of it, but because it is simply something they don't like no matter how perfect a job you did of it, you'll get discouraged very quickly. Then venture off into experiments with similar ingredients, but different dishes. I firmly believe in avoiding trying to duplicate a dish that someone's mom or a restaurant makes. It is setting yourself up for failure. It can be a fine balance. In other words, if no one you know likes ginger, don't start with a dish heavy in ginger. On the other hand, don't try to make authentic Thai cuisine for a friend whose mom is Thai unless she offers to teach it to you! Ditto a spouse's parent. If MIL makes a perfect _____, don't try to out do her, don't even make it at all unless she teaches you. It makes for good bonding moments and better relationships.

I think developing a specialty is just that ... something you develop over time. You do this after you've developed a few dishes, and you know which are hits and misses. You need to develop, too, a hard shell sometimes. Luckily I've always cooked in an environment where most people like to experiment in eating, so it's easy. When I first moved to the Midwest, I wondered, but eventually I wound up with several "specialties" that were not my specialties at all in younger days.
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Old 11-13-2008, 12:29 PM   #15
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Join Date: Oct 2008
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I agree with what the others have said so I will only add that you can also "learn" a lot about cooking just by reading recipes. The more you read the more you learn. I look at a cookbook the same way I read a novel.

By reading the directions from the recipes, you will start seeing trends, repeated techniques, needed equipment etc. Even though I do not fix each recipe I read there are many times that I find myself having a light bulb moment when fixing something. (I could do... like I read in that recipe for stir fried squid or I remember a recipe where xxx and yyy were blended with zzz so they should work with this too)

I would also suggest that you observe other people cooking to see if you can pick up any "expierenced cook knowledge"

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