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Old 10-16-2014, 12:51 PM   #1
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I know nothing...

Background: I'm facing the possibility of being Mr. Mom (five children) and that means cooking - formerly my wife's responsibility. That means there are things in my kitchen to cook with but I don't know what they are.

Request: Where do I begin? I know what a knife is but I have no idea what a (Fill-in-the-blank) knife is. I know what a microwave it but I don't know what all those buttons on it do. I've taught my children everything I know about the oven: "Stay away. Hot. Don't touch."

Rules for answering:
1 - For those of you who believe anyone who can read a recipe can cook - I don't believe you and I'm not listening - I've tried that before: Picture dense, black smoke, alarms, burnt appendages, melted utensils OR undefinable goo that tastes bad, smells bad, and never became anything vaguely like what it was supposed to be. So a book of 1,000 recipes is NOT what I'm after.

2 - If you recommend a resource - be sure it defines EVERYTHING. If it starts with a list of tools, I'm in trouble. I've found several references online that start with telling me I need a "skillet" and then proceed to tell me what kind of a skillet I need. Why not simply say, "The first tool you need is a jkwefbvbaisdvb. Look for a jkwefbvbaisdvb that measures 10" across it's hdgjhsbvjdnsjk. You might want one that is made of iron." That's not helpful.

3 - Regarding equipment - I'm not buying any. Who knows? It might already be there, I can ask. But I've browsed enough threads suggesting $100 knives to start with to tell you that I'm going to be cutting things with whatever kind of knives I've got. If you provide a detailed description and a picture, I'll try to find something similar.

4 - Think REALLY BASIC. Don't tell me to crack an egg. I don't know how. I've tried. It always makes a mess and I end up picking out the biggest bits of shell and as for those little pieces...

You get the picture.

5 - Please don't tell me what a lost cause I am. I understand that but survival dictates I do something.

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Old 10-16-2014, 01:01 PM   #2
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Three things come to mind ...

An open mind about the task at hand

Patience

"How to Cook Everything" by Mark Bittman

How To Cook Everything
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Old 10-16-2014, 01:03 PM   #3
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If you are truly serious about your lack of knowledge and, truly no offense, but it's kind of hard to believe that someone has absolutely no knowledge of cooking, I would suggest finding somewhere you can take basic cooking lessons. Perhaps you might call the high schools and see if they offer any adult education classes or if a home education teacher might be willing to give you private lessons. Alternatively, ask someone that you know to give you cooking lessons, offer to pay them if necessary or trade favors by offering to do something for them. It will be very difficult to try to tell someone over the internet how to do something when they have no basic skills whatsoever and don't even know what kind of tools they have. Don't mean to discourage you but you'd probably do a whole lot better with some hands-on help.
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Old 10-16-2014, 01:16 PM   #4
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Jennyema, I've looked at the preview of "How to Cook Everything." It starts with a list of tools, tells me what things to look for in those tools but still doesn't tell me what they are - and yes "skillet" is on the list.

medtran49, I'm not offended but, yes I truly am serious about my lack of knowledge. I've never lived alone and never had to do this before. On the rare occasions that I've had to provide for the kids because my wife has been gone, McDonalds and PizzaHut have been there to assist. Unfortunately, I can't seem to find any local classes that aren't designed for people who know a little bit and want to get better. I don't think private lessons are an option either but that would be great.
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Old 10-16-2014, 01:32 PM   #5
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Okay then, as far as learning what things are and what they look like Google Images is your friend. Just Google "skillet images kitchen" and you get tons of pictures of skillets. Same thing for lots of other kitchen tools.

Found a site that tells you about knives and their uses. Kitchen Knives - Blade Styles and Uses

And here's a website with some basic skill videos
Cooking Skills Videos

Hope this helps to get you started.
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Old 10-16-2014, 01:34 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CluelessDad View Post
Jennyema, I've looked at the preview of "How to Cook Everything." It starts with a list of tools, tells me what things to look for in those tools but still doesn't tell me what they are - and yes "skillet" is on the list.

medtran49, I'm not offended but, yes I truly am serious about my lack of knowledge. I've never lived alone and never had to do this before. On the rare occasions that I've had to provide for the kids because my wife has been gone, McDonalds and PizzaHut have been there to assist. Unfortunately, I can't seem to find any local classes that aren't designed for people who know a little bit and want to get better. I don't think private lessons are an option either but that would be great.
I'm a self taught cook. I learned by watching cooking shows. Not what passes for cooking game shows/contests/useless (for the most part) shows. Shows on PBS or Create are your best bets,IMO.
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Old 10-16-2014, 02:00 PM   #7
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I think we're going backwards here. Get your wife to explain all the pots, pans, utensils, and gadgets you have to work with. Take notes!

What do the kids like to eat? How old are they? Do you have an indoor grill, such as a George Foreman grill? Those are easier to deal with than the oven broiler or stovetop frying at first.

Think: simple, wholesome. Canned vegetables are a good start, which do not require incorporating sharp objects, unless the can opener is a problem.

Get two cans of cut green beans and two cans of corn. Get two 1 or 2-quart pots with lids. Open the cans, dump the beans into one pot and the corn into another pot. Put enough water in both so that the water barely covers the veggies and get out the butter dish. Put a 1-inch chunk of butter into each pot. Put the pots on the small eyes of the stove and turn the heat no higher than 5. Cover the pots and watch until the bubbles come up from the bottom and burst on the top. They're done. Turn the pots to low, about 1.

Get some frozen family-sized meat entrees, such as salisbury steaks. You'll need two of these for seven people. There will be six to each box. Open the boxes and pull out the cardboard trays. Turn the oven on BAKE at the temperature it indicates on the box, and wait until the oven is pre-heated. Put both trays on a cookie sheet (it's a flat rectangular metal thing with about a 1/4" rim, usually bigger than the trays, or a pizza pan, which is round) and put them in the oven when it beeps. Set a timer or watch the clock for however long the box says to heat it, usually about 50 - 55 minutes.

Start the above-mentioned veggies after putting in the entree trays and follow the afore mentioned directions. Dinner is served!

Does that help?
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Old 10-16-2014, 02:01 PM   #8
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medtran49,

1st, let me say I now feel rather foolish for not using Google images. After first looking up many images of the band, I noticed you added the word "kitchen" and what do you know? I have three of those things. (Next step: figure out WHY I have three...)

The kitchen knives site is AWESOME! Lot's of pictures and clear descriptions. If I could find something like that to cover the rest of the things in the kitchen, then I might be able to use it with the Mark Bittman book that was suggested.

Thanks for the help and keep it coming.
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Old 10-16-2014, 02:09 PM   #9
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Hi CluelessDad, and welcome!

It sounds like you just need to start with the most basic of basics - get your hands in there and try something simple - like eggs.

I would start with a 10-12" Teflon skillet and a rubber spatula, any employee at a big box store can point you in the right direction. Buy a dozen eggs...they're cheap, and just go ahead and practice. If you have to go through nearly the whole dozen before you learn how to crack an egg without getting egg shells in the eggs, you haven't lost much $ and will surely have learned something. You'll gain a lot of skills by just getting in there and doing, hands on. YouTube videos do help.

Best of luck to you, and stick around! There are so many here who are willing to help, and we all had to start from scratch at one point.
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Old 10-16-2014, 02:22 PM   #10
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CrazyCatLady,

Thanks for the help. I added the line about not telling me I'm a lost cause in part because I've learned that asking my wife about things in the kitchen is quick way for us to engage in conflict. If I want a happy marriage, I don't ask my wife to teach me things, that's an unfortunate dynamic of our marriage in this case.
The kids are 7,5,3,3&1. They like pizza, tacos and pancakes. After that they don't all agree but things my wife normally fixes include, meat loaf, hamburger helper, spaghetti, chicken with some kind of bread coating, and probably other stuff that I don't recall just now. Most meals we have salad (I actually think I can handle that) and some kind of rice or potato for a side dish.
I don't know if we have an indoor grill. I Googled that and we have something that looks similar but it's not bumpy like those. It's smooth and my wife makes pancakes on it. I'm not sure if that's the same thing.
Regarding ovens: I don't know what a broiler is. My oven doesn't have numbers, on the knobs for the top part, just "High" and "Low." Nothing says "Bake" that I can see but the center knob does have temperature settings. It's a gas oven and I need to make the top burners click for a minute before I get fire. I can't seem to make the bottom part click. I'm not sure if I need to or if it has a pilot light - I'll ask, later.
Other questions, what do you mean by a 1" chunk of butter? I would have expected more of a liquid measurement for that. Otherwise, 1" x what? What do I cover the pots with? I think I have both cookie sheets and pizza pans but the pizza pans have little holes in the bottom and the cookie sheets don't. Does that matter?
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