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Old 04-24-2013, 03:08 AM   #1
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Smile HELP - Inexperienced, need advice!

Hi everyone.

I am embarking on a task to take myself from complete newbie in the kitchen to becoming a confident and decent cook.

As I'm guessing there are ALOT of people on here who are pretty confident of their ability and maybe some others that are just starting off too, I was wondering if anyone had any advice for someone that classes themselves as a terrible cook right now?

Any steps I should follow? Where should I start?

It's quite daunting at the moment.

Thanks

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Old 04-24-2013, 03:45 AM   #2
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Joining Discuss Cooking is a good start. Next, get some basic cookbooks (you can even find them at the library and at used book stores. There are some cooking shows on TV that are helpful to see various techniques being used. You will want to begin with simple recipes that have few ingredients. You can find many, many, many recipes online through a simple search.

What are some dishes you especially like? Many DC members will be able to help you learn to make them and others.

Welcome to DC!
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Old 04-24-2013, 03:50 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Barbara L View Post
Joining Discuss Cooking is a good start. Next, get some basic cookbooks (you can even find them at the library and at used book stores. There are some cooking shows on TV that are helpful to see various techniques being used. You will want to begin with simple recipes that have few ingredients. You can find many, many, many recipes online through a simple search.

What are some dishes you especially like? Many DC members will be able to help you learn to make them and others.

Welcome to DC!

Thank you Barbara.

Some great tips and I will taken them on board. I am planning to go hunting this weekend around book shops etc to pick up as many as I can. I do tend to watch ALOT of cookery programmes but I feel they are too advanced for me and although I always feel motivated by them, I haven't the skills to recreate what they're cooking.

I love Italian food, Chinese food, I love a good roast too (who doesn't huh) but all these are way out of my reach at the moment. I make a hash of everything so I think you're right, aim lower to start and then work my way up?
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Old 04-24-2013, 07:06 AM   #4
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You are on the right path. D.C. is a great resource and, in my experience, the good folks here are always glad to offer advice and suggestions. All you have to do is ask.
Welcome to D.C.!
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Old 04-24-2013, 07:20 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveDE View Post
Thank you Barbara.

Some great tips and I will taken them on board. I am planning to go hunting this weekend around book shops etc to pick up as many as I can. I do tend to watch ALOT of cookery programmes but I feel they are too advanced for me and although I always feel motivated by them, I haven't the skills to recreate what they're cooking.

I love Italian food, Chinese food, I love a good roast too (who doesn't huh) but all these are way out of my reach at the moment. I make a hash of everything so I think you're right, aim lower to start and then work my way up?
I agree that most of them are pretty advanced, but there are some that show some basic techniques. You just have to look around for them. Some of the advanced ones show some techniques that you could try. Just don't try to do everything on the show. I have picked up some individual techniques and tips from some shows, even though I could never even attempt to make the meal they are featuring.
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Old 04-24-2013, 08:42 AM   #6
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Hi, Steve. Welcome to DC

I'd say, first, make sure you have a couple of good knives and learn how to keep them sharp. An 8- or 10-inch chef's knife, a paring knife and a serrated bread knife are the basics. Then start learning the basic knife cuts on foods - slicing, dicing, julienne, etc.

Here's a site that has lessons on basic cooking skills: Culinary Arts Basics: The Fundamentals of Cooking

If you want to see a certain skill demonstrated, search for it on YouTube. There are lots of chefs who have posted videos that are easy to follow. And ask lots of questions Good luck.
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Old 04-24-2013, 10:24 AM   #7
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One thing that will help is to find a cook book that has definitions in it. You need to understand the language of cooking to decipher a recipe. Knowing the difference in sweating or saute and cubed, minced diced chopped etc. is always helpful. Learning that will help you choose recipes to get you started.
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Old 04-24-2013, 10:50 AM   #8
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Welcome, again, to DC.

In my estimation you have become a part of one of the most helpful cooking resources on the Internet.

I, too, recommend viewing cooking programs...but for the simple reason of seeing (learning) how flavors work together and to see some of the different cooking techniques.

If you can see any of the Alton Brown shows, you'll get a very good education. He is an excellent teacher and is exceptionally good at explaining the "why" of cooking procedures, etc.

And, don't be afraid to try things you think are a bit out of your range. You may discover that you are more skilled than you thought.

Now, I'm going to share some advice that Julia Child offered, plus one suggestion at the end that is mine. You might want to cut it out and post it on your refrigerator when you need a boost.

1. Not reading the recipe carefully. (Read from start to finish before beginning.)

2. Not getting out all the ingredients before starting. (This will prevent getting halfway through a recipe before realizing you don’t have a necessary ingredient. However, following suggestion “1” above should prevent it, too.)

3. Fear of failure. So what if you have a “flop?” Learn from your mistake(s) and try again. There are no mistakes, just lessons.

4. Not really following directions. For example, properly measuring flour.

5. Taking cooking too seriously, not having fun doing it. It is fun.

6. Not reading, really reading, the recipe – all the steps – and visualizing the process before getting started.

7. Finally, my suggestion, being in a hurry. Take your time to do it right. By following step “6,” you should be able to form some idea of the time needed to prepare your selected recipe.

One thing to remember, too, is that the worst thing that can happen when you've had a cooking failure is that you might have to order pizza delivery for dinner.

It's not a world crisis when you've flubbed.
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Old 04-24-2013, 01:30 PM   #9
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welcome to dc, sd!:) lots of good ideas and suggestions here for you already. just thought i'd mention a cooking experience that gave a real boost to my confidence early on in my cooking life. i was a newlywed and very new and inexperienced to cooking. my inlaws were invited to dinner, and i was an emotional wreck. just blind luck, i happened upon a rather simple recipe for chicken thighs w/thyme and heavy cream. it had relatively few ingredients, with seemingly easy-to-follow instructions. fast forward--the dish was absolutely divine, served over wild rice! and i received heaps of compliments from everyone, and an instant, as yet undeserved respect for my perceived cooking abilities.:)
from this experience i learned to step out of comfort zone with cooking more easily. i was able to make and accept my mistakes along the way, with the certain knowledge and expectation of more huge culinary rewards ever within my reach and grasp....
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Old 04-24-2013, 04:22 PM   #10
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Welcome Steve! What DC has here are some of the most knowledgeable and skilled home and pro chefs on the web. And then there's me.

What^ Katie H and vitauta^ said. I've been cooking for decades and I still measure and line up all my ingredients before starting when it's critical to the outcome - that's what making pumpkin pies for the entire family does to you when you forget the sugar. So what did we do that Thanksgiving? Just put a lot more whipped cream on top and it was fine. Cooking is like American football - when you have to, just punt.

Even though I've been cooking a long time and feel fairly comfortable with my skills I still find many cooking shows a bit daunting. When I watch I feel like I should be making the dish right along and in the same time span that they do it on TV. If you want to cook along I suggest you either find a particular dish in an online video or get a cooking disc from your local library so that you can pause the play while you cook along.

Like some others said, when all else fails get take-out. And, like Katie H., my Julia Child quote is another good motto to cook by.
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