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Old 01-04-2009, 11:27 AM   #11
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Here are three basic cookbooks for people learning how to cook.

1. Betty Crocker's Cooking Basics (2000)
2. Learning To Cook with Marion Cunningham (1999)
3. Now You're Cooking (1994) by Elaine Corn

Plus I learned a lot by watching cooking shows on the Food Network. Giada DeLaurentiis explains and shows why she uses various ingredients on her Everyday Italian cooking show.
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Old 01-04-2009, 11:38 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Leolady View Post
There is a book called "Cooking for Dummies". It is very basic and will give you your start.
I have that book, it's actually called Cooking Basics for Dummies, and I agree that it's a great book to get you started. It's easy to read, easy to follow, and contains a lot of humor too.
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Old 01-04-2009, 02:50 PM   #13
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As far as books on "how to cook" is concerned, I recomend purchasing a culinary school textbook. Everything you need to know are in those books! Whether you are just beginning or want to improve your skills, these are the ultimate books for cooking techniques. And you don't need to overwhelm yourself with the entire book. You could just look at the table of contents, or index for what it is you want to learn. It's all in there!

On Cooking: A Textbook of Culinary Fundamentals (4th Edition)
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For Introductory Cooking, Cooking Skills or "Food Prep" courses in Culinary Arts, Food and Nutrition and Hospitality Management departments. THE definitive culinary skills textbook in the market. Attractively designed and extensively illustrated with color photographs, line drawings, charts and tables, this contemporary introduction to cooking and the culinary arts focuses on information relevant to today's students.
The Professional Chef (8th edition)
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The book includes essential information on nutrition, food and kitchen safety, and tools and ingredients, as well as more than 640 classic and contemporary recipes plus variations. One hundred and thirty-one basic recipe formulas illustrate fundamental techniques and guide cooks clearly through every step, from mise en place to finished dishes.
Being good at cooking comes from practice, practice and more practice. Trial and error.

While the combination of flavors and textures differ from recipe to recipe, every recipe usually calls for some kind of knife technique (slice, dice, mince, chop, julienne, etc) and / or cookery technique (braise, saute, simmer, roast, etc). Once you are comfortable with your techniques you can tackle any recipe book you want with ease.

Good luck. Have fun.
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Old 01-04-2009, 06:23 PM   #14
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The first two cookbooks in owned were Fannie Farmer and Betty Crocker. The next one I added was Joy of Cooking. I still use all of them today - much more frequently than any of my other dozens of cookbooks. Fannie Farmer and Joy of Cooking are more comprehensive and are great reference cookbooks but, for absolute beginners, I think Betty Crocker is more helpful because of its simplicity and clear instructions. It also has great illustrations, charts, and photos.

I'd buy all three, but I bet you'll use Betty Crocker more often until you gain skill and experience. The one you want is Betty Crocker's Cookbook: Everything You Need To Know To Cook Today (9th or 10th edition). I'd spend the extra money for the ring-bound or hard-bound edition. My copy is almost 40 years old and still gets regular use. I have a 10 year old paperback edition that's almost unusable because the binding is so broken apart.
LOL mine are the same way, they desperately need replacing. None have the hard cover still attached, and on all of them the binding is coming apart as well.
Well used indeed!
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Old 01-04-2009, 06:28 PM   #15
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Amazon.com: Cooking for Dummies: Bryan Miller, Marie Rama: Books
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Old 01-04-2009, 08:34 PM   #16
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Thanks again for all your suggestions!
I ordered the Fannie Farmer Cookbook today. I think I'll hold off on buying any others for now - you know what the Christmas season does to our funds!

While I anxiously wait for that book to come in, I've been going through my cook books and putting post-it notes on recipes I'd like to try.

Are there any foods I should avoid because they are complicated or expensive, or perhaps any foods that are very easy to work with. I've already been told that chicken can rarely go wrong, so I'm tagging a lot of chicken recipes
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Old 01-04-2009, 08:50 PM   #17
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another suggestion... check youtube for videos... there are quite a few!!
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Old 01-04-2009, 08:59 PM   #18
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I'm going to give you my best advice. There is a term called "mise en place" - simply put it means everything in it's place.

Bring out all ingredients and measure, chop, dice, slice and place everything in containers in the order they are needed. Some things can go in the same dish i.e., if the recipe says add 1 cup chopped onions and 3 cloves of chopped garlic, you can put those things in the same dish.

Once you have everything out (this will also help you know if you are lacking an ingredient ) and also your cooking will go more quickly. You won't be standing there with your onions burning while you open 4 tins of tomatoes or chopping your chicken.

My other bit of advice is just read the recipe from start to finish. Make sure you understand everything. Google (or ask us) any techniques that aren't familiar. Pounding out a chicken normally means pounding out a boneless/skinless chicken breast or thigh. It makes it cook quickly and is more tender. Less chance of overcooking due to varying degrees of thickness.

Look up some cooking terms online. Look up "Italian Recipes" or "Hamburger Recipes" or "Chicken Recipes" and just start reading. Pictures are worth 1,000 words. No question should go unasked! We learn from each other here.
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Old 01-04-2009, 09:29 PM   #19
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Julia's Kitchen Wisdom: Essential Techniques and Recipes from a Lifetime of Cooking is a small book with a lot of information in it. It is great for a newbie cook. I often give it as a present to someone who knows nothing about cooking and who wants to learn.
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Old 01-04-2009, 10:01 PM   #20
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My first cookbook was Betty Crocker. I still have it and I still use it.
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