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Old 04-05-2009, 08:39 AM   #71
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Actually, the ingredients you find confusing are simple things you see everyday. There are culinary terms which are the version of the common name you give you things. Start with simple cook books and then move on to advanced ones. Once you make one meal, the rest are easy. Start with cookies and pastries, then move on to frying and other advanced cooking methods.
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Old 04-05-2009, 08:47 AM   #72
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yup learn the method and you're half way there.
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Old 04-05-2009, 10:25 AM   #73
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This is a long thread with lots of good advice and some that's maybe not so good.

For a true, absolute beginner I don't think the internet is a great source. Sure, its free and there's a wealth of great information. The problem is sorting through it and finding the stuff that's really helpful and reliable. If you don't know anything about cooking, you also don't really know how to evaluate the information, recipes, etc. you find on the internet. Remember, anyone can post whatever they like. I'd say fully half the information - recipes, techniques, etc., are not especially great. I'm not saying the internet isn't a good source, only that it isn't the best primary source.

The same holds true of cooking shows. TV chefs need to be original and creative, and they're all showman. If not, their shows wouldn't last very long. In terms of learning basic techniques and recipes, they are a useful source but, again, not the best primary source.

Learning from experienced cooks, such as family or friends, is great but not always possible. Besides, even great cooks aren't always great teachers and unless you spend a great deal of time cooking with them, you're only going to learn how to make a fairly limited range of food.

Professional cooking classes are probably the best way to learn, but impractical for most of us.

So, what does that leave? Cookbooks! Not mere recipe collections or celebrity chef cookbooks. Start with good, basic general purpose cookbooks. Several have been mentioned - Betty Crocker, Joy of Cooking, Fannie Farmer, Mark Bittman (How To Cook Everything), and others.

Any of these will do as a start. My strong recommendation is the regular Betty Crocker Cookbook (9th or 10th edition). Everything is clearly explained, with good photos and illustrations, and the recipes are all field-tested and work! You can't do better for a first cookbook and you'll find it to remain a favorite throughout your cooking career. Buy as many other cookbooks as you want and can afford, but buy this one first.

One other important piece of advice, particularly when you're first learning. The first time you make anything, follow the recipe EXACTLY with absolutely no changes or substitutions! Evaluate the result and make notes of anything you think might improve it the next time you make it. Before you know it, you'll have your own personalized "signature" recipes made to your individual taste and earning kudos from friends and family.
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Old 04-05-2009, 03:19 PM   #74
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I see a lot of great advice on here..........mine is pasta.........yep.....you can mess that up, too..........but not if you follow directions and devote some time to watching the pasta so you don't overcook it.........you want to look really fabiousla??? Cooking for 4? Then buy a good decent pasta sauce (I prefer Paul Newman's but there are some really good ones out there.......sorry, I add a bitta red wine, mushrooms approximately 1/3 teaspoon Italian herbs rubbed between my hands before adding a a wee bit of sugar.......but tweek your taste buds to the way you like (fresh basil is supremo but not absolutely necessary........into that wonderful melange I add a large can of drained clams and a can of artichoke hearts (drained in brine not oil) that I have chopped on the coarse side (not fine in other words).....serve this with simple salad and an Italian bread-------for dessert I prefer a sherbert or some fresh fruit..........
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Old 04-05-2009, 05:31 PM   #75
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Lucky store is no more... ;-)

Try a Thrift store for a cook book.
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Old 04-05-2009, 06:01 PM   #76
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I didn't know how to cook when I met my husband 7 years ago. He put a box of Hamburger Helper down, and just told me to read the directions. It was easier than I thought. Like you said, if you know how to cook eggs, start with that. Experiment with that and add ingredients. It doesn't have to look pretty, just as long as it tastes to your liking. The more you cook, the more you will want to experiment. Good Luck! Oh, and don't forget that if you handle chicken before it's cooked, remember to wash your hands.
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Old 06-12-2009, 04:13 PM   #77
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As I continue to learn to cook, I do several different things.

Often I look here at the "what are you having for dinner" posts.
Or, I'll look through restaurant menus online and see what would be appetizing if I was out.
Or, I have a craving for something that I've had before.

The next step is to find a recipe. I use allrecipes.com like it's going out of style. A previous poster mentioned the site, and I agree completely. There are tons of recipes out there, and if you look through the reviews you can see what may need to be changed to make it better. Often I just run the recipe as written the first time and then think about how I can change it to suit my tastes for the next time (or throw it in the garbage if it was truly aweful).

All of the advice to get cookbooks are valid, but if you are an internet junky like me, I don't think you need them. Most are available online. I think I am going to ask for some Alton Brown books for Fathers day though. That guy just get's it for me.

At the end of it all, just have fun. My friends and I started having cooking parties once a month. Each person has to cook something for everyone, and it has to be something that you have never cooked before. It's great fun.
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Old 06-12-2009, 04:18 PM   #78
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i also posted this in another thread.

trial and error are important learning tools. the first time i made homemade ravioli (i rolled the dough by hand). my table was bent in the middle so when i did the make a well in the flour and drop an egg in method, the egg rolled out of the well and into the crack and onto the floor. the cat was happy i wasn't!! well i got the dough mixed and made my raviolis not a one broke open!! BUT you could only fit ONE on a 9" plate. i have gotten better at the size thing and i still like to roll my own dough out because they never leak the filling into the water.

the first time i made swedish meatballs well............ my hub still refers to them as swedish bowling balls.

they tasted good!!

after i had my first daughter (at the begining of december) i was told i still had to bring lemon meringue pie and pecan pie for holiday dinner (mine were the best i was told). well i was so tired from nursing the baby and little sleep. i made my pies. they looked beautiful. the pecan was perfect but when my uncle cut into the lemon and it was soup he just rolled with it and said thats ok just give me a spoon this is mine!! accidents happen!! this happened AFTER i was making lemon pies for years so even experienced cooks have off days. no worries. learn to laugh at the boo boos!! and never apologize.
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Old 06-18-2009, 05:43 AM   #79
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It's a shame they don't teach how to cook in schools anymore, at least they certainly don't here. It's so ironic, the TV schedules are filled with cookery shows, but we have a geneartion of kids that only seem to know how to open a packet , so have loads of health problems as a consequence of not eating well.
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Old 06-18-2009, 05:51 AM   #80
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chinese Foodie View Post
It's a shame they don't teach how to cook in schools anymore, at least they certainly don't here. It's so ironic, the TV schedules are filled with cookery shows, but we have a geneartion of kids that only seem to know how to open a packet , so have loads of health problems as a consequence of not eating well.
the girls had to take home-ec in 7 and 8th grades (boys got shop) when i was in school.

my oldest girl took cooking in high school one year.
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