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Old 02-01-2009, 12:53 AM   #1
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I need to eat in and don't know how to cook

Hello everyone! I know I'm posting at an ungodly hour, but I think this forum might be able to help me.

All my life I've eaten out. It's both expensive and fattening. So I need to cook at home. Problem is, I don't know how to cook (no one in my family really does). I wish it could be a simple as picking up a cookbook, but I think I need to take a basic cooking class to understand the basics thoroughly. I learn very well in such an environment and it would boost my confidence tremendously. So how would I go about finding a cheap class? Community college? Do culinary schools offer basic classes to the public? I'm in the dark.

In the meantime, my palette is very, very simple. I just need basic ideas. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.


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Old 02-01-2009, 01:04 AM   #2
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Welcome to the site. I would definitely check out local community colleges. They often have cooking courses.

Don't give up on cookbooks though. There are some that are very helpful for the novice cook. A great on is "How To Cook Everything" by Mark Bittman. He gives you the basics with easy to follow instruction and some great recipes.

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Old 02-01-2009, 01:59 AM   #3
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I agree with GB. Check out the community college. You might even find cooking classes by checking your classified ads.

Some cookbooks are very good about showing you how to do things step-by-step. If you don't want to invest a lot of money to start, go to the library. They should have a lot of cookbooks. You can also find cooking demonstrations online. I know that YouTube has some.

Do you have any patient friends who could come over and show you the basics?

You can also watch some of the more basic cooking shows on TV. Record the show so that you can stop it and rewind whenever you need to. I know that on Good Eats the other night Alton Brown made macaroni and cheese. His recipe would have been easy to follow along, especially if you were able to stop and rewind.

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Old 02-01-2009, 04:43 AM   #4
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ask google for basic cooking class in your area...

you need to be equipped.. you have pans, pots, knives, etc? *I have a kind of Deja Vu*
LiGruess cara ~~~ Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, wine in the other, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO what a ride!"
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Old 02-01-2009, 08:37 AM   #5
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Taking a cooking class is a great idea but, to me, isn't really necessary if you start with the basics. The internet is also a great source for information but there is no substitute for a couple of good basic cookbooks.

My suggestion is to go to a bookstore and browse through several basic cookbooks. Mark Bittman's book "How To Cook Everything", mentioned above, is a modern classic and deserves consideration. However, I'd recommend it as your second or third cookbook, not your first. Why? Because it's too big, too comprehensive and and too advanced for most of what you need to learn at this stage. At this stage, you don't NEED to learn how to cook everything - you need to learn the basics. Other excellent general purpose/reference cookbooks include Joy Of Cooking and the Fanny Farmer Cookbook. There are many others.

The best cookbooks I know of for absolute beginners are those from Betty Crocker. I highly recommend "Betty Crocker's Cooking Basics", which is the best basic beginner's cookbook I've ever seen. I've given numerous copies as gifts.

Here's an excerpt from the publisher's description: "Today, many people find they don't know kitchen basics, much less know how to cook a meal. Betty Crocker comes to the rescue in Cooking Basics, covering all the information anyone needs to cook, whether they are just leaving home, or discovering a need to cook at any age. Using the 100 appealing recipes here, anyone can learn to cook a complete meal. Nothing is intimidating, and every technique, term and ingredient is clearly explained....Also covered is how to set up a kitchen, how to read a recipe, a glossary of ingredients and a complete explanation of food preparation terms. Learn about fresh herbs--what they look like and how to use them -- plus complete easy-to-read listings of pasta shapes and salad greens. Sections on grilling, entertaining, table setting, and refrigerator and freezer storage guides complete the book, and make new cooks feel confident on all fronts." A new 2nd edition of this book was released in October 2008 but I haven't seen it yet. The version I'm familiar with is the original 1998 edition.

Alternatively, consider the classic "Betty Crocker Cookbook", which has most (but not all) of the same basic information but includes many more recipes and advanced techniques.

You can read reviews and comments on Amazon but really should try to go to a bookstore and look through them and others to find one that you like and that suits your learning style. The advantage to starting out with a basic cookbook is that the recipes and techniques are generally simpler and the number of ingredients are more limited.

Good luck!
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Old 02-01-2009, 09:57 AM   #6
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I've never had any formal cooking training, and I don't think you need it to learn basics. I've been cooking since I was a kid, and I've taught myself most of what I know. I recommend you start off buying this book:

Amazon.com: Cooking Basics for Dummies (For Dummies (Cooking)): Bryan Miller, Marie Rama, Eve Adamson, Wolfgang Puck: Books

For $15 you can learn to feed yourself, and the authors really make you understand how easy cooking is.

After that, I found that Joy of Cooking is the best reference for everyday meals and more advanced cooking if you wish.
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Old 02-01-2009, 10:18 AM   #7
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Cooking for the Rushed has simple, well balanced meals and planning that will be so helpful to you. Its where my kids started and you will find its easy to follow.
You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it. Robin Williams
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Old 02-01-2009, 10:41 AM   #8
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All of the above suggestions are really good. I don't know where you live - how big a town, etc. - but I'd suggest you check with your town's community services, recreation department, etc. They often offer basic cooking classes free or very cheaply, along with all the other stuff like exercise classes, etc. You might also check the cooking stores and markets in your area to see if they offer classes. This is often a way to get some good, hands-on experience at little or no cost.

Take heart. It doesn't take much in the way of experience to get your confidence up. Start simply. Enjoy. You only need a few basic skills and you'll start getting the hang of it in a hurry. More than anything else, don't get discouraged by a few failures. We all still have them, no matter how long we've been cooking, and nothing feels better than cooking something that comes out better than you expected. This will happen too.
If you can't put it on a plate, it probably isn't all that important.

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Old 02-01-2009, 02:18 PM   #9
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If you belong to a church, or a gym, or a library....ask someone for help....most people love to help others, (just so they can show what "they" can do"....LOL
All kidding aside.....just ask.....most people are very nice. Want a recipe for a grilled cheese sandwich?....2 slices of bread....any kind....some oleo or butter, cheddar cheese,(easy to come by)...butter bread, put a couple of slices of cheese in between the slices.....butter the outside of one slice. Add some oleo or butter to a fry pan, let it melt over med heat. Put sandwich in, unbuttererd side down. Using a spatula, press down on sandwich until you can see an edge getting brown. Turn sandwich over, press down again for awhile....Turn off burner, put sandwich on a plate, cut in half, voila!!!! a grilled cheese sandwich......I'm sure you'll do very well, just think positive and clean up as you go along, that helps a great deal in making a good experience
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Old 02-01-2009, 02:32 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by RobsanX View Post
I've never had any formal cooking training, and I don't think you need it to learn basics. I've been cooking since I was a kid, and I've taught myself most of what I know. I recommend you start off buying this book

For $15 you can learn to feed yourself, and the authors really make you understand how easy cooking is.

After that, I found that Joy of Cooking is the best reference for everyday meals and more advanced cooking if you wish.
Thanks i will check that book out.

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