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Old 02-18-2009, 12:34 PM   #41
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I would start off learning how to cook pasta and progress from there. Buy a digital meat thermometer that can be left inside the food while it's cooking in the oven. I think this single piece of equipment could have shortened the learning curve for me a lot. It's almost foolproof cooking. The important thing is cooking the food for the right amount of time and making sure it is done to your liking. Seasonings aren't as important as doneness. Then after you learn that then you can figure out how to make sauces, soups, rubs etc. Start off with the basics - salt and pepper. I know that sounds nuts to someone that doesn't cook, but after cooking for myself for 10 years my favorite steak is just salt and pepper. Hope this helps. Listen to what the others said about garlic too. Also olive oil is your best friend.

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Old 02-18-2009, 08:25 PM   #42
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I learned by watching others. I now watch Food Network, even if you don't cook what they are cooking you will learn things.

Experiment and have fun. Don't stress about it!

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Old 02-19-2009, 12:07 PM   #43
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Originally Posted by trixie View Post
We used to eat out a lot during the week. But now we're trying to save that money so I found a book for beginning cooks. Well, I just love it. It has hundreds of recipes in it and every one just uses like 5 things. And it's stuff I usually already have in my cabinet.
The best part is that my picky DDs will actually eat the stuff I cook! LOL (That is something new).

It's called:
500 Fast & Fabulous Five Star 5 Ingredient Recipes by Gwen McKee and Barbara Moseley, and I think it cost about $16. I have already saved probably $200 in a month since we quit driving through for dinner. So I'm happy with it.

Oh, I got it at Amazon.
This kind of book is so useful! I've seen a few like it and they're great for quick meals.
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Old 02-21-2009, 10:07 AM   #44
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I didn't read through the whole thread, but I will give what I use.... just the basics.

-small, medium and large saucepans
-small, medium and large skillets (for frying eggs, making omelets, sauteeing vegies and browning/frying meat
-One large, heavy-duty skillet/sauce pan that can be used for soup, stews/frying onion rings, french fries or chicken wings
Dutch oven (can also be used for frying), roasting pan, Crock-pot... to make roasts, soups, stews. (the roasting pan for the beef/pork roasts or whole chickens/turkeys)


wooden spoons (some people don't like using these, but they are great for -quick stirring. If you have an extra-long one, it's wonderful for mixing homemade lemonade and iced tea)
-slotted spoons (to drain off liquid from meats/vegies)
-spatulas (to lift off your grilled cheese to scraping off the excesss, when you mix a bowl of brownies)
-tongs are great to flip things over or to remove slices/pieces of meat from a pan, when they're in liquid....OR when you're frying chicken wings,onion rings, french fries, etc...easy to take out of the hot oil.

-Grater/microplane.... you'd use the grater if you wanted shred carrots, cabbage, cheese, etc. The microplane is more used for cheeses (hard cheeses, like parmesan or romano for a nice topper to topper to salads and pasta dishes) and to add lemon/orange zest to recipes

-a VERY good set of kitchen knives. I love Henkel knives... BUT, I have used inexpensive knives that do the trick..... to slicing meat or paring vegies. The key is that they are sharp. Henkel seems to stay sharp, very long.
-various sizes of mixing bowls. I love Pyrex. You can beat eggs (medium), stir/whisk dressings/sauces (small), mix batter for breads/brownies/cookies or put together salads (large).
whisk (for beating eggs!! Also, mixing a vast menagerie of sauces or soups)
-I, also set out 3-4 regular spoons, so I can taste-test, while I cook. That is so I don't have to rinse off the spoon all the time, while I'm cooking.

Small Appliances (a few are obvious)

-can opener
-microwave ovens are great to thaw out meats, (BUT I tend to use the meat for soups, stews, salads--it's tends to partially cook the meat under DEFROST.) cook vegies in a snap, (BUT not on HIGH. Depending on the oven, Power Level 7 - three minutes, for two servings.) reheating, (When you want to reheat leftovers, start out at 2 minutes, Power Levl 7-8, stirring or turning over. They seems to cook very uneven), and boiling hot water for recipes or a cup o' tea.
-stick blender/immersion blender

This is great for mixing soups, while still in the pan. Also, good for pureeing vegies (potatoes for mashed or others for baby food). They are great for crushing ice and making smoothies, too. Mine came with an extra-large tumber for the task. Many have different attachments. If you choose to purhase one, look for what is practical for you.
-George Foreman indoor grill/sandwich maker.

You can various sizes. For two, I would get the larger one. You'll have the luxury of grilling, indoors! They make smaller ones that are great for melt/panini sandwiches, or a single chicken breast/fish filet. You don't have to get George Foreman as they have many off-brands. Make sure they don't have "wells."

Those are for pocket/filled sandwiches. Just look for the kind that have the grates, like on a normal grill.

Cutting boards

-small to large-sized boards are use for slicing bread or cooked meat. (I have separate Large ones for slicing raw meat as in chicken) The smaller-medium are for vegies or fruit.


-a whisk is a good mixing tool, but there are other options. The immersion blender (mentioned above) is good for SOME things. Other than that, the hand-held mixer is great for beating eggs to batters... read the manual, and sometimes they come along with recipes. If you want to really to get professional, there is the counter-top mixer. They come with different attachments.

I think that is about it. Sorry, if I rambled on. I gained most of my experience from growing up in a cooking family, along with watching many cooking programs. In the early years; Julia Child, Martin Yan, Jeff Smith, Graham Kerr and Justin Wilson. I started watching the Food Network in 1995, even though they started in '93. Emeril Lagasse and Paula Deen really have the "enthusiasm" for cooking, which is important, I think. Robin Miller has taught me a lot when you work long hours during the week. If you like the Food Network, take notes! They also have some great cooking shows on PBS, depending on where you live.

Don't expect rainbows when making egg dishes. Julia Child couldn't get it right on the air!... it takes practice.

I also read cookbooks for tips and techniques.

I hope I helped.

-Vanilla Bean
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Old 02-21-2009, 01:29 PM   #45
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I realize that my previous post probably won't be of much use to you, since you are just starting out, etc. When I reread your post again, i really feel like I probably confused you, than help.

You should probaby start out with simple recipes... 5 ingredients or less.... that you have heard of. This site and a couple others are great for teaching you about different ingredients... everything from meat to lettuce!

For some reason, I got the impression that you wanted some basic tools to get started cooking and how we learned to cook.

Good luck, and let us know what you try to make in the future!
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Old 02-24-2009, 02:53 AM   #46
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Dang...I this got kinda long...I been busy studying and being lazy, sorry if I'm bumping this up from the dead. I just went through these posts real fast, but I'll definitely go back and reread when my eyes don't feel like closing on me D:

I just bought "Cook with Jamie, my guide to making you a better chief" and I kinda regret it =[ It talked about how he wanted to teach people how to cook real food cause of the way foods are right now and how people these days don't even know how to cook and he wants to help/change that. I like the idea, but when I look at the pictures of the recipes, theres only 1 or 2 out of all of them that I like. LOL!! I'll check of the other books in this thread in a month or something, I had to get new tires on my car cause they are all worn and smooth and the roads get kinda wet now...=[

I've been watching food network a bit more! I don't really like some of the shows like the sugar structure making competition and stuff that don't really teach you how to cook, but I do like some of the cooking shows like Giada at home or w/e. I think I get intimidated by the real meals that involve actual cooking with meat and stuff and gravitate toward the more desserty stuff. My goal is to learn to cook/eat more healthy though but I can't help it =/

I think I just have too high expectations when I start out with stuff...like watching iron chief where the cheifs get a secret ingredient and start making stuff from it without and previous planning or recipe written down. Thats what I wanna do!! Not just follow recipes and depend on them all the time. And then things like the plates they have on TV that are squares and nice looking, we have round ones . See...expectations too high...Can't let this stop me though...

And Vanilla Bean, thanks for all the info, it looks really well organized and with pictures too. Those equipments look really nice, better than what I have to work with at home D:. I need to learn basic everything right now so basic tools helps =]

Don't worry guys, I'll make something...one day. All your efforts will not go to waste!!
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Old 02-24-2009, 10:21 AM   #47
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Mainly cookbooks. Also if I don't know some term i look for it in google :). Mom helps me much too.
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Old 02-24-2009, 01:33 PM   #48
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I learned to cook from my Mom and Grandma first. Then I washed dishes in a kitchen and showed an interest in learning. Eventually I was running the place. These days I experiment at home a lot. I have a website devoted to teaching cooking meat howtocookmeat.com But I think you should start with something a little easier. Ask around for help from people you know. We can tell you all sorts of things but if some one could show you it would be easier for you.
Good luck
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Old 03-07-2009, 01:20 AM   #49
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As a professional Chef who sometimes gets hired out to do cooking parties I have found one common thing among these people: They are SCARED of food. They have a passion and a good palate, they are adventurous with eating and dining out but are TERRIFIED to cook anything with the fear of messing up! My advice to everyone and anyone is this...it is only food. How can you let food dictate what you are going to do with it. Mess around, try something new, eat your mistakes in private and show of your accomplishments! I always feel that everyone should start with egg cookery before anything else. You make scrambled, omelettes, over easy, sunny sides, soufles, meringue. You can progress and understand a lot of fundamentals in cooking eggs. Every professional chef I know and talk to often, agree egg cookery is a VERY importat skill and is the building blocks to becoming a talented cook. Then read about quick breads, muffins, cookies, etc. Pastas next. basic protein, chicken, shrimp....etc. There is tons of literature out there, go with something pedestrian like the Joy of Cooking. It is cliche, but theres a reason its been selling so many copies for years and years. You also have an invaluable asset by joining this site. I have only been a member for a few days and all these people are great.
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Old 03-07-2009, 02:08 AM   #50
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I agree with all of you.......Chef Paul, I was totally and utterly scared of bread dough and pie dough...........but I got my hands into it and finally got a feel for it....esp bread dough......when I realized I couldn't hurt the dough and it was more of afraid of me (you'd better rise-----now I make a yeast sponge first) I gained such confidence.......even my mother-in-law wouldn't attempt bread by hand.......now I make all kinds......a few pie doughs did go flying across the room at first but now I know what consistency works for me.......and it has to be with lard or shortening....butter or oil pie doughs I can't work with.......so you're absolutely right.....you have to get in there and go boldy forth and be not afraid

The only difference between a "cook" and a "Chef" is who cleans up the kitchen.
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