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Old 09-08-2006, 03:04 PM   #1
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Basic cooking skills

What are some basic cooking skills necessary to get by in the kitchen? I know this is a can of worms to open, and there are many many variables involved but just list what YOU think are the basic skill set needed to get by. I was thinking of this the other day, and wondered how an amateur such as myself might stack up against a pro.


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Old 09-08-2006, 03:16 PM   #2
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Man there are so many. I could list them for hours. I will start with just one. This is the first one that popped into my head. It is by no means the most (or least) important, just the first one I thought of.

Heat control. Knowing how hot to have your pan, grill, what have you. Knowing when to turn the heat up or lower it. Knowing what foods will need high heat, what will need med heat, etc.

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Old 09-08-2006, 03:22 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by GB
Man there are so many. I could list them for hours. I will start with just one. This is the first one that popped into my head. It is by no means the most (or least) important, just the first one I thought of.
I know that. Everyone will probably have different answers as to what they think is essential (depending on what type of food you cook, etc). But I figure if enough people respond maybe some common things will keep coming up. Or not, and that is fine too. It's just something that's been rolling around in my gray matter for awhile.

I hadn't even thought of heat control!
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Old 09-08-2006, 03:26 PM   #4
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You need to be able to count accurately. Good eye/hand coordination. A healthy sense of smell and sight.

Honestly, anything after that is just gravy.

Having said that...

It helps to know the names of your tools.
It helps to know how to properly use those tools.
It helps to understand basic terminology - saute, braise, broil, etc.
It helps if you have an ability to prioritize.
Stay organized.

The fact that my list is soooooooo easy, it makes me wonder that everyone isn't cooking all the time
How can we sleep while our beds are burning???
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Old 09-08-2006, 05:07 PM   #5
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To be perfectly honest, I can think of only two absolute essentials.

1) Being able to read a recipe for comprehension from start to finish (even if you have to do it several times) & patiently research any terms you're not familiar with.

2) Not only cultivate patience, but also a sense of fun & the absurd when things don't always go the way you planned, & be willing to try again. Julia Child, the master of masters, had this 2nd one down pat, & touted it often on her tv series.

If you have the above, the rest - regardless of how complicated - will eventually fall into place easiily.
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Old 09-08-2006, 08:57 PM   #6
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BC said it better than I would.

If you can read and understand, you're home free.

Relax and enjoy. It's not the end of the world if the meal is not perfect. Good or bad, you have to do it again tomorrow.
"If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe." -Carl Sagan
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Old 09-08-2006, 09:32 PM   #7
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basic knife competancy able to cut chop clean etc without hurting yourself or making hash.
top of stove skills: simple saute, pan fry, boil & simmer
basic oven skills: roast, bake, broil, etc
ability to follow a recipe...yup
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Old 09-08-2006, 10:15 PM   #8
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I think the most basic and required essential is desire. With desire, all else will come.

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Old 09-08-2006, 11:00 PM   #9
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Ahhhh basic skills......yup, reading, now that's a good start; and fractions (in fact when my son complained about fractions in school I reminded him he already knew them - he was a good cook by that time!) Basic skills you will develop as you go along - that you have the desire to cook and the persistance to keep trying even when recipes fail (which they will) would be the two most important things. DH says I'm like the little girl with the curl in the kitchen - when it's good it's very very good (and for the most part I do succeed) but when it's bad it's AWFUL!

I love to feed people though - and just last weekend we had friends to dinner one of whom is lactose intolerant and neither like garlic....now that's a challenge for me!

Appetizers were Gardinera (pickled veggies with just a touch of heat) rare roast beef slices with horseradish rolled up, skewered w/ toothpicks and cut into bite size pieces; home-smoked salmon and a very nice Brie with crackers. Main Course was pulled pork sandwiches, cole slaw (a non-dairy cucumber salad for my intolerant friend) and corn on the cob. Plates were cleaned and there were smiles all around - I call that fun!

Now that was not the first pork roast we'd done - perhaps the 5th or 6th and I think we finally really have the process down. It also wasn't the first batch of salmon we'd smoked....again, though, it was a very good batch. Learn something from each mistake and try not to make the same one more than once and enjoy yourself! It also helps to have patient and hungry friends!

You do have an advantage - this site - there are always helpful folks about to answer your questions!

Best of luck!

2 in Or
Cooking is like love, it should be entered into with abandon or not at all. Oregon native transplanted to Chicago....
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Old 09-09-2006, 12:23 AM   #10
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When I was about 10, my mother broke her arm and I had to take over cooking for the family. She sat on the stool in the corner and directed the action. By the time she was out of the cast, I was a pretty good basic cook, I think. These were her rules, as I remember them:

1. Read every recipe twice before you start
2. Measure carefully
3. Never put meat into a cold pan (preheat until a drop of water sprinkled in turns to steam)
4. Treat knives with respect: keep them sharp and put them away as soon as you don't need them any more
5. Cook veggies with a minimum of water
6. Anything cooked in water needs a pinch of salt
7. Cook "with your nose": herbs that make a dish smell good will make it taste good
8. Don't be afraid to improvise, using the ingredients at hand
9. If cooking fat smokes, throw it out and get fresh
10. Don't overcook your eggs
11. Clean up after yourself

Do these count as skills?

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