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Old 09-03-2013, 06:11 AM   #1
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Advice for a new cook...

Hi, I am a new cook and I tend to get very frustrated. I have recently had to go on a special diet to fix some of my health issues. However, it requires that I pretty much have to work with whole foods and cook everything from scratch. The great thing is that when I hit on something it tastes amazing but then there are a lot of other times when I produce something that tastes awful and I have to throw it out. I hate wasting food so I sometimes eat it anyways, but I will admit it is so frustrating.

My husband is also not all that supportive with all my experimenting. He says I should just stick with our old ways because they worked. But he is a basics person and will and can eat almost anything North American. However he isn't all that crazy about ethnic foods. One of the worst stories I have had was that I had a dinner party for my friends and used "real" frozen cranberries instead of the sugary coated ones in a salad. It totally destroyed the taste of the salad and no one ate it. Oops. I am at the point now where I realize that some things compliment each other and some things just do not, when it comes to taste and palatability.

I realize it is all a learning process and it just takes time. Good cooks are probably made not born. Any advice to relieve some of my frustration would be great. It will give me some inspiration not to give up on it. Thanks in advance!

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Old 09-03-2013, 07:52 AM   #2
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I am going to tell you what works for us. I worked as Chef in a Childrens Hospital for several years. We had children that had several dietary restrictions. Some due to diet, ethnicity, malnutrition, allergies and many other reasons. We as cooks had to work very carefully with dieticians to make sure the child received the right diet We always were trying to improve on the dishes. We would make small batches and taste them ourselves before sending anything out. We throughout our share of dishes but only small amounts of food. Cooking for so many types of diets can be very frustrating and stressful. At home my wife and I have different diets. If either one of us cooks, we make each others diet meals. When we have company over, we make regular food for guests and try to stick to our dietary needs. It takes time and it takes patience. We also consulted a dietician, and she gave us some good information, and the names of several dietary cookbooks as well as self help books. I was a trained Chef and I had star over from scratch. I Think you will find this forum very informative and helpful. Good Luck and hang in their.
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Old 09-03-2013, 08:21 AM   #3
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I, also, have been cooking professionally for over 25 years. If I had a nickle for every kitchen disaster I was responsible for, I could retire...If you always push yourself to try new foods, recipes, and techniques, you will encounter mishaps. But, embrace that as part of life in the kitchen. Learn from it and carry on. Just the other night I screwed up a shake'n'bake chicken type thing, of all things. I fooled with a breading technique, over-breaded, using corn meal and ended up with a very hard and dry coating. We all ate the chicken, but there was a pile of breading on everybody's plate when we were done. lol. I have baked and roasted chicken a thousand times, but couldn't leave well enough alone. I learned that I shouldn't mess with a technique I have been doing successfully for decades.


I would be cautious about trying new things when you have company coming, though. I stick to tried and true classic recipes. It will also make for less work if you are familiar with the process.

Keep on cookin'. It's a never ending journey.
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Old 09-03-2013, 08:24 AM   #4
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I agree with mysterychef. Learning to cook can be a daunting task, for the reasons you submitted in your own post. However, look through recipes presented on DC; find ones that pique your interest, and mix 'n match. you might find for instance, a marinara sauce that you think is wonderful, and instead of serving it on pasta, serve in on spaghetti squash, or fill the seed cavity of a large, split zuchini. You might serve it over chicken, with cheese, or use it over lightly fried cabbage.

There are so many great combinations of so many great foods, fruits that can be served with poultry, or lamb, or pork, herbs and spices that enhance every thing from apples to zucchini. Before experimenting, come onto DC and post your idea, to see if anyone else has ever tried it, or something similar.

You can do this. We can help.

Seeeeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North
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Old 09-03-2013, 11:31 AM   #5
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I think you should cook what makes you happy as long as you are cooking healthy and not intentionally insulting family members with things they hate. When I find something that is a big hit, I try to stick with the same guidelines and new things just develop. I'm still figuring out new things after practicing for 55 years and there are still plenty of flops that get a "You don't need to make that again" response.
I wondering if the cranberries in your salad were sugar coated or were they dried like raisins and the sugar has been concentrated with the dehydrating. I've never had a sugar coated cranberry and frozen cranberries don't inspire me very much.
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Old 09-10-2013, 07:55 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hamlet_cat View Post
My husband is also not all that supportive with all my experimenting. He says I should just stick with our old ways because they worked. But he is a basics person and will and can eat almost anything North American. However he isn't all that crazy about ethnic foods.

I realize it is all a learning process and it just takes time. Good cooks are probably made not born. Any advice to relieve some of my frustration would be great. It will give me some inspiration not to give up on it. Thanks in advance!
My initial advice would be to take a carving knife to your husband but that might be a little extreme (and the food probably wouldn't be very good in chokey). It's a bit thick taking that attitude when it's an issue of your health and well-being. What ever happened to "...in sickness and in health"?

Keep experimenting. You'll get there. And DH won't starve while he waits.
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Old 09-10-2013, 05:42 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hamlet_cat View Post
Hi, I am a new cook and I tend to get very frustrated. I have recently had to go on a special diet to fix some of my health issues. However, it requires that I pretty much have to work with whole foods and cook everything from scratch. The great thing is that when I hit on something it tastes amazing but then there are a lot of other times when I produce something that tastes awful and I have to throw it out. I hate wasting food so I sometimes eat it anyways, but I will admit it is so frustrating.

My husband is also not all that supportive with all my experimenting. He says I should just stick with our old ways because they worked. But he is a basics person and will and can eat almost anything North American. However he isn't all that crazy about ethnic foods. One of the worst stories I have had was that I had a dinner party for my friends and used "real" frozen cranberries instead of the sugary coated ones in a salad. It totally destroyed the taste of the salad and no one ate it. Oops. I am at the point now where I realize that some things compliment each other and some things just do not, when it comes to taste and palatability.

I realize it is all a learning process and it just takes time. Good cooks are probably made not born. Any advice to relieve some of my frustration would be great. It will give me some inspiration not to give up on it. Thanks in advance!
Can you work with a nutritionist/dietician? You should be able to revamp the dishes you are used to making so that they work with your diet restrictions/requirements. Talk to your doctor about that.
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Old 09-10-2013, 07:57 PM   #8
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My sympathies for you in your situation. My husband is the same way. Don't ever give him anything new. In his opinion if it wasn't. something that would have been served by a working mother in the 1950's it's not worth eating. Frankly after 20 years of it I finally came to the conclusion that he is never going to say he likes anything I make. Now I cook for me and I cook the way I want to. If he wants something well he knows where the kitchen is. I know this sounds like a very unhappy situation but now I get to eat what I want and he gets what he wants and my feelings don't get hurt anymore. Additionally he has finally figured out that it is actually easier to cook the things that are good for a diabetic to eat so he is eating better. Since he can't bake he has cut way down on sweets. I hope you can find a way to solve your problem too.
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Old 09-11-2013, 12:06 PM   #9
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Like I said, cook for yourself. I agree with Joesfolk, cook the way you want. Every one knows here that if they don't like what's on the table... Sorry Baby, supper's over.. and they know where the peanut butter and bread is stored.

When my husband has blood work done, the doctor reads the results and comments "Your wife's cooking must be keeping you healthy".
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Old 09-11-2013, 12:06 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rocklobster View Post
I, also, have been cooking professionally for over 25 years. If I had a nickle for every kitchen disaster I was responsible for, I could retire...If you always push yourself to try new foods, recipes, and techniques, you will encounter mishaps. But, embrace that as part of life in the kitchen. Learn from it and carry on. Just the other night I screwed up a shake'n'bake chicken type thing, of all things. I fooled with a breading technique, over-breaded, using corn meal and ended up with a very hard and dry coating. We all ate the chicken, but there was a pile of breading on everybody's plate when we were done. lol. I have baked and roasted chicken a thousand times, but couldn't leave well enough alone. I learned that I shouldn't mess with a technique I have been doing successfully for decades.


I would be cautious about trying new things when you have company coming, though. I stick to tried and true classic recipes. It will also make for less work if you are familiar with the process.

Keep on cookin'. It's a never ending journey.

When I see a new recipe I want to try I take it to my son and daughter-in-law's when they have a party. If there's leftovers at the end then I know never to make it again. Last party my DIL made a comment about me trying out all my new recipes on them. I don't know if that was a dig or a compliment. LOL
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