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Old 09-20-2004, 11:10 PM   #21
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here's a good book to reference. like i say, it's old fashioned, but that's where the basics are. it's posted for free here:

i believe that life would not be complete sans comfy 'ol tee-shirts, the Golden Girls, and the color pink
& rock on, PITTSBURGH-
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Old 10-02-2004, 02:50 AM   #22
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Hi Will, welcome.

Understand where you are coming from.

Spent may years as a chemist, and even though we pruchased chemicals that were supposedly 'pure' we often had to clean the stuff up.

Our 'recipes' were very precise, and then, occasionally, things would often screw up.

But sorry, home cooking is worse than that; we can only buy what is available to us.

Where the food comes from, we usually do not know.

And cows, piggies, chickens, veggies, you name it, all vary in taste and texture, depending upon their source.

Have never found a butcher in a supermarket who could tell me where the meat came from.

And I will not go into the variation in spices you can buy.

What I am saying is that you cannot just assume a recipe is the gospel, follow it and you will have a great meal.

Sometimes the fault is in the recipe, they do not all work; sometimes something is just not quite right, and you cannot put you finger on why.

Although there is a science to cooking, it remains an art.

One must taste evey dish, and adjust as required.

I guess the message is do not be a slave to a recipe, you cannot make a meal by hitting the enter key.

I cannot tell you the bad meals I made when I started cooking.

It is you palate that decides what is good, and nothing else.

I wish you luck.

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Old 10-02-2004, 03:13 AM   #23
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Will, because cooking is a technical skill, you need to practice, practice, and practice some more. You don't need foie gras, colorado lamb, osetra caviar, and truffles to make a great meal. You do need to practice doing the basic things first (i.e. making a great tomato sauce, pastas, vinaigrettes, omelettes, pot roast, etc.), using ingredients that you can afford on a college student's budget (I was there only 6 years ago so I can feel your pain). Can you turn basic ingredients into a dish that tastes good? If it didn't turn out right the first time, what did you learn from it that will help you the next time. Just because it didn't come out right doesn't mean that it's a bad dish, it might just need more fine tuning. I can tell someone until I'm blue in the face on how to make, say a beurre blanc. But until they practice it, they won't know exactly how much of the liquid needs to be reduced, how much butter should be added at certain times, what the cooking temperature needs to be, etc. The only way anyone can ever, EVER learn how to cook better is to practice, experiment, and learn. But don't get discouraged, because to be honest, some people just aren't born to be great cooks/chefs. It's like art or music. Give 50 people a paper and pencil, and tell them to draw a tree, and you'll most likely get 50 nondescript looking trees. But you give that same pencil and paper to Picasso or Van Gough, you have a work of art. Cooking is a skill that can be honed, practiced, and improved on, but the bottom line is that some people just have the touch, and most others don't. For instance, I can tell you what will go well together and what won't, without even tasting the dish because I just know. The more you cook and the more you taste, and you'll be on your way.
"Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it."
Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
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Old 10-30-2004, 09:28 PM   #24
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If you want to learn basic cooking skills online, the site www.eGullet.org has a online course in various basics. you don't have to be a member to get acess to the material and it's very well presented w/discussion in the form of threads after the material presentation. the idea is to cook along, so you can see how to make stock and reductions for example. They've been doing it for over a year, so there's a good archive, and the new year will begin soon, if you want to actually become a student. free, interesting and a good online reference. The forums are entertaining as well, but I prefer the more modest discusscooking.com! you'll see what I mean when you read them. I will say that my gravy is going to be dynomite at thanksgiving!
there's no profit in deceipt
honest men know that revenge
does not taste sweet....
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Old 11-01-2004, 04:31 PM   #25
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By far the best place to learn online from people who really know their stuff is Egullet.com
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Old 11-01-2004, 09:18 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by Audeo
Of course, I don't have a website to recommend to you, but I'm pretty sure that one exists. And if there is ANYONE here who would know what that site is, that person would likely be Wasabi Woman. Send her your question and stand back to be amazed!
Audeo! I wish I could live up to that!
The trouble with this question is that there is so much out there, it is hard to know where to begin, and most of it is deeply technical and not user-friendly.
I think as others have mentioned, America's Test Kitchen and Bartlebys are good resources, here's another one I like...
howstuffworks - the food channel

and here's one for Thanksgiving meals: Cooking with chemistry

learned a lot from everyone's posts here, looks like I need to check out Robert Wolke's book too!

Good Luck!
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Old 11-01-2004, 11:41 PM   #27
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wow... im amazed at all the responses I got from this... thought this thread was lost in the board :)

thanks everyone for the info... i understand 'practice makes perfect' but i like to have a deep understanding of what is going on :) just my nature...

thanks again for the info... my bookmark collection is growing by the day :)
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Old 11-02-2004, 03:48 PM   #28
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Three of the best books I've read are "Cookwise" by Shirley Corriher; "How to Read a French Fry" by ??; and "What Einstein Told His Cook," by Rbt. Wolke.

All books by Harold McGee are wonderful too, but dryer and not quite as accessable as the three above.

Again, egullet is AMAZING. You will find everything from how to boil water to dissertations on the differences between Thai and Vietnamese fish sauce there. Interviews and Q and A with important foodies (Harold McGee next week) plus on-line classes, tutorials and more.

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