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Old 01-04-2009, 12:52 AM   #1
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Question Cooking for Dummies?

First off, hello everyone! My name is Karilan, I'm 21 and in dire need of some cooking skills.
I've got a handful of cook books, but I've never taken a cooking class and neither of my parents taught me. What I'm looking for is a recommendation for a book that covers the absolute basics.
These books I have look nice and everything...but they assume I already know what they're talking about.
I get lost when they give instructions like "sautee" or "score fish" and amazingly: "pound chicken" (does chicken actually flatten out if I take a mallet to it?!)

Needless to say, I need some help! Does anyone know of a good book that teaches me all the little things?

Thank you in advance!

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Old 01-04-2009, 01:06 AM   #2
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To start with, the only cooking class I ever took was Home Ec. in Junior High. And my parents never taught me either, which is a good thing LOL. ;)
My first book two books (and they covered all the terms, measures, weights, etc) were the Fanny Farmer Cookbook and Cooking for Young Homemakers.
Both explained things in great detail, including the methods they talked about in the recipes. The nice thing is that while both contained tons and tons of recipes (they are literally book size at two inches thick), they only ever covered basic methods and recipes so I never got lost.

Oh, and yes chicken will flatten out if you hit it with a mallet.. LOL.
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Old 01-04-2009, 01:41 AM   #3
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There is a book called "Cooking for Dummies". It is very basic and will give you your start.
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Old 01-04-2009, 01:45 AM   #4
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I suggest practice in addition to whatever good book recommendations you get. Onions are cheap and a great way to practice knife skills, carrots as well (but read up a lil on knife work first, it will help you keep all your fingers in tact). Flipping a piece of toast in a sautee pan will help you control those sautee tosses. My wife never cooked before we met, but I have been working with her slowly to improve her skills. It's only been two years, and she can now cook lots of good stuff. My most honest piece of advice to help you rock out the kitchen...clean as you go, and keep organized, it will really help you work faster. Oh, and give it time, you'll get better every time you fire a recipe. Good luck.
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Old 01-04-2009, 01:58 AM   #5
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Thank you Maverick and others for the quick replies!
I work in a book store, and luckily we have the Fannie Farmer Cookbook in stock, so I'll definitely check it out tomorrow at work.
I know I'll get better with practice, everyone tells me so, but it's nice to know what I'm doing in the first place, haha.
Thanks again, I will keep you updated!
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Old 01-04-2009, 02:15 AM   #6
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Your post got me thinking, and I went and checked out my cookbook shelf in the kitchen. Sure enough, I forgot another really good cookbook to start out with. I have enclosed pictures so you get an idea of the wealth of info included in it, but to summarize it has not only tons of recipes for most every type of dish you might like to try, but also contains a 2,000 facts about food section, definitions sections, terms sections(like what saute means), and food types section(for example listing different types of cheeses). In case you can't read it from the pics it is the Culinary Arts Institute Encyclopedic Cookbook, 1963. Here it is, hope you can find a new release of it:

PS: click on thumbnails to view larger easier to read pictures.
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Old 01-04-2009, 02:17 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maverick2272 View Post
Your post got me thinking, and I went and checked out my cookbook shelf in the kitchen. Sure enough, I forgot another really good cookbook to start out with. I have enclosed pictures so you get an idea of the wealth of info included in it, but to summarize it has not only tons of recipes for most every type of dish you might like to try, but also contains a 2,000 facts about food section, definitions sections, terms sections(like what saute means), and food types section(for example listing different types of cheeses). In case you can't read it from the pics it is the Culinary Arts Institute Encyclopedic Cookbook, 1963. Here it is, hope you can find a new release of it:

PS: click on thumbnails to view larger easier to read pictures.
I have the smae book...I love it! Is that the copyright 1964 version? Oops, never mind, I just noticed you included it. Anyhow, the cinnamon rolls are the best I've ever had.
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Old 01-04-2009, 02:19 AM   #8
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LOL too funny! It is the 1963 version, and like the Fanny Farmer Cookbook it is so well used it is falling to pieces!
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Old 01-04-2009, 04:11 AM   #9
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I will 2nd the vote for Fanny Farmer ... it's really helpful on many levels! And my tip is to not be afraid to make mistakes. That's exactly how we learn in the kitchen!
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Old 01-04-2009, 08:04 AM   #10
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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.
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