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Old 10-26-2011, 11:18 AM   #1
Assistant Cook
Join Date: Oct 2011
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hints and tips


I've just started to get more into cooking and am looking for some advice.

As I'm only really cooking for myself most of the time things like herbs go off before I have used all of the packet. This is obviously a bit annoying, is there any way of getting them to last longer? Is dried as good as fresh?

Is there a website or a book that can show me basic cooking skills e.g how to chop properly?

I live in a shared house with friends and the knives are quite blunt. What's the best way to make them sharper? Stone or one of those sharpening metal rod things ( see told you I was an amateur, I don't know the real name ;) )

Is there any advice you wish you were told when you first started?

thank you



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Old 10-26-2011, 11:35 AM   #2
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Hi :)
I hope you will become an addict of cooking ;)

I can help for a few questions you've asked but not everything,
For the herbs, best way that I keep them it's in some water (like flowers) that I change regularly (everyday) If it's too hot in my place, I put that glass of water in the fridge, they are hydrated in a cool place. You can keep them longer like that.
If you don't like having a glass full of water in your fridge, put an absorbent paper in fresh water, put it in an alluminium paper and roll that thing around the bottom of your herbs, put that in the fridge, you have to change the absorbent paper every day too.

Herbs can also be frozen, but if you don't have a whole bunch of it, I don't see the point of doing it. My mom often had "bouquets garnis" individually frozen in bags at home, that she unfrozened when she wanted to do a roast or something with it.

I don't know english websites about it :) but maybe on youtubes you could find some videos ? When I chop, I hold the top of the knife (near the extremity) and I do a balance movement, while going left and right (but the extremity of th knife stay still)...

An advice... be organized ? :) you always need more place/room so tidy your workspace after every step !

For the knife I don't know it's my husband's job ;)

A french recipe ?
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Old 10-26-2011, 08:52 PM   #3
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Dont worry we all started somewhere.

What PPoppy said about herbs is spot on.

For knife skills check out this video by Alton Brown. I think it is a great demo.

As for your knives that is a tough subject. I do not know what type of metal your knives are made out. But I will assume they are decent knives that can keep an edge.

The metal sharpening thingy you speak of is called a Honing Steel. It does not actually sharpen anything. What it does is realign the edge of your knife that has gotten out of wack from use. They are used before using your knife. But remember they do not sharpen only realign your edge.

Sharpening a knife happens when steel is removed from the knife and a new edge is formed. I do not trust any of those electric sharpeners you can get in the stores. It is difficult to sharpen by hand as you need to keep aprox 25 degree angle to get a good edge. I use something like this Lansky Sharpeners :: 4-Rod Turn Box | Ceramic Knife Sharpener. As I just have to keep the blade perpendicular to the ground to get a good angle. You can also get them sharpened by a professional.

However, before you invest in either a Good knife that can keep and edge, a sharpening system or professional sharpening. I would talk to your roomates about proper knife usage or keep your prized knife away from them.

I hope I did not give you more questions then you started with.
Kachow! Joshua
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Old 10-26-2011, 10:22 PM   #4
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My advise would be to buy a culinary textbook.(not a cookbook)
It covers knife skills in detail and will progress from simple sauces to advanced techniques that will always stay with you.

They also cover food safety which is VERY important.Most cookbooks don't cover it well if at all.
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Old 10-27-2011, 02:56 AM   #5
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Thank you for the herb tip, I will try the tin foil one. I was thinking of freezing them but don't think it's worth it with such small amounts.

I will get a horning this weekend and see if I can improve the knives.

I'm not sure what the knives are made from. Knowing my housemates they will be very cheap. I was given/made to take my friends knives (kitchen devil?) When he got some new ones. I may use and hide these.

Is there any cook textbook things I should look for or any I should avoid?

I cooked in my slowcooker last night :) so nice to come back to a cooked meal rather than a frozen pizza! (Work is a hour and a half away on a good day so it was a massive plus)

Thank you for all of the advice so far.

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Old 10-27-2011, 03:36 AM   #6
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Poppy covered a lot of territory. I'll add one thing to his/her instructions on keeping fresh herbs fresh, and that is when you change the water, snip the bottom of the stems just a bit. Just as you'd do with fresh flowers. They'll absorb the water much better that way.

Another hint is one I wish I'd done when I had to share living space. Buy one really good knife, and keep it in your room. Take care of it yourself, don't let roomies use it to pry open boxes and other things.

When and if you move on to a partnership with someone (marriage, living together, etc), then as stupid as it sounds, set the limits and rules. Remember that food preparation is something that someone has to do a few times daily. If you don't set the rules, I swear, cooking will become a big chore rather than a pleasant way to get good food. For me, right now, it has worked for 30 years: the person who cooks doesn't have to clean up. I love to cook, but am a messy cook. My husband comes behind me and cleans. He doesn't cook as much as he used to, but when he does, I make sure his work-space is absolutely clean.
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Old 10-27-2011, 07:27 AM   #7
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Can one of the moderators link this to the other thread on tips? And, to whomever suggested putting the strainer/colander in the freezer for 30 minutes (I left it in there for 2 days), to make it easier to clean--THANK YOU. It works really, really well. Never again will I have to scrub/rinse/scrub/rinse a colander/strainer ever again!
I've got OCD--Obsessive Chicken Disorder!
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Old 10-27-2011, 11:36 AM   #8
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I'm thinking of keeping my better knives in the kitchen but in a box of something. Can you get special knives boxes or anything?

If I was to get a good knive what would people recommend?

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Old 10-27-2011, 11:41 AM   #9
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You can store good knives in a knife block or on a magnetic strip on the wall. There are also knife holders for a drawer. They're like a knife block for the drawer with slots to separate the blades so they don't get damaged.

Check out our knife forum. There's a ton of discussion on knives for the home cook.
"If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe." -Carl Sagan
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Old 10-27-2011, 12:44 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Andy M.
You can store good knives in a knife block or on a magnetic strip on the wall. There are also knife holders for a drawer. They're like a knife block for the drawer with slots to separate the blades so they don't get damaged.

Check out our knife forum. There's a ton of discussion on knives for the home cook.
I like the look of the magnetic strip. Just need my own kitchen first! I'm looking for something to keep mine away from my housemates. I looked at the blade on our ones and the tip seams to be curled almost to 90 degrees :S don't want this to happen to mine lol.



I have also asked about what to look for in the knife section.

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