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Old 08-14-2009, 06:23 AM   #11
Assistant Cook
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 16
Originally Posted by quinn1990 View Post
Hi all.

My name is Quinn and I'm going to be a sophomore in college this upcoming school year. I will be moving into a house with 3 roommates and it is my first time both having my own kitchen and not being able to go to the dining halls. That means I'm going to have to cook my own food, and possibly food for my roommates.

I could just go the typical college kid route: ramen noodles, frozen TV dinners and potato chips, but recently I found an old cook book that belonged to my late grandmother. I was around ten when I lost her and some of my fondest memories of her are Sunday afternoons where she cooked marvelous food. Reading this cook book has been one of the best ways to remember her. Going through, I have discovered some recipes she used to cook and it's a truly wonderful and indescribable feeling, it's almost like she's back for a second. A brief scent of her meat loaf shoots by and I can almost taste her strawberry cake on my tongue. I would really like to begin cooking some of her old recipes to make her visits a little more routine. This would both solve my problem of having to cook for myself and would also provide a link to one of the most beautiful people in my life.

But where there's a will there's always a problem: I am a terrible cook! I have really no experience in the kitchen and I am scared I will not be able to cook most of these recipes, as they are rather complex. I was wondering if anyone had some advice. Besides that, some questions I have are:

A) I don't eat beef so I'm wondering if buffalo can replace it in most recipes.

B) What are some of your favorite "beginner's" recipes?

C) A lot of these recipes have mushrooms and/or mushroom sauce in them and two of my roommates absolutely despise mushrooms! Can this ingredient be ignored or replaced?

Thank you all so much in advance,

Because you're in college, and new to cooking, I really recommend you invest in a high quality cookware set. The quality and ease of cooking is not just determined by a chef's skill, but also the cookware equipment. For example, certain cookware can cook much more evenly, with much less chance of burning, than other types of cookware. And the color of the cookware can make it harder or easier to gauge whether the food has been cooked to the correct point or not (professional chefs prefer lighter colour materials).

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Old 08-15-2009, 12:11 AM   #12
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Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Modesto,CA
Posts: 12
I have been cooking since I was very young - probably around 10 when my mom and I would try and replicate dishes we had at restaurants. She was an excellent cook who would pretty much just supervise and instruct as I chopped, sautéed, baked etc. When I got to Jr High and High school, I was the teacher’s aid in Home Ec (I could already sew too).
Make sure you have all of your ingredients out on the counter for ready access. Make sure your bowls are clean, your utensils are ready and the stove works!
Practice on sympathetic friends with the most basic recipes others have mentioned. I still use the recipe for Lasagna from the Better Homes and Gardens 1974 cookbook - with a few of my own 'kicks'.
Timing was a problem in the beginning, but not after a few Thanksgiving dinners where I learned the hard way that you make the mashed potatoes last and not first - before the turkey.

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Old 08-15-2009, 02:20 PM   #13
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Eastern PA
Posts: 56
First of all, Congratulations on your trip outside of mom's kitchen! I think it is fantastic that you have all your memories of your grandmom's cooking. Keep the recipies of hers you managed to capture close to your heart. There, you'll gain the most benefit from inspiration for making your own dishes.

I'd like to know why you won't eat beef, but will eat other red meats. Just curious.

I'm a personal fan of osterich, as its wonderful to be able to take meat from a BIRD and keep it red inside without risk of disease like poultry. hehe! ok so perhaps I'm bending the white meat / red meat border here a bit, dispite phylum/genius, etc...

I love buffallo. several years back when I worked as a Network Engineer in PA, I had a client at a school district close to the NY border. This was a good two hour drive for me, and completely worth it. Up there is a Buffalo ranch with meat processing plant, and attached diner. The diner was tastefully a mile or three away from the plant, but they still kept a small coral with three or so buffalos roaming for show next to the diner. You can admire the majesty of the beast, see its differences from cattle, and realize how different the meat tastes just by observing their mannerisms compared to cattle. In the diner, they had typical diner faire with tons of buffalo dishes. their 1lb buffalo burger served "HAI-YA!"style with the steak knife down the center of the fresh baked roll with a combination of chedder and monty jack cheese slices, with three perfect 1/3 lb pattys layered between the cheest goodness. It was too big to get your mouth around!

I digress into story mode too easy! I'd love to provide you with some help, but I think everyone here beat me to the punch!

There's always some amazing info on this forum. I, myself, am a newcommer here. I'm 34 years old and not a chef by profession, but a fixture in the kitchen from as long as I could stand. I'm just realizing now, later in my life, that I want to live the rest of it in the culinary arena. If julia can start in her 30's, so can i. :)

As for tips....

1) spend a little on a GOOD 8 inch chefs knife. This is an all purpose blade that'll get you through almost every scenario. It comes in 10" too, but the 8" one suffices. Spend for quality, as you need to sharpen it, not dipose of it, after it becomes dull. Thankfully, sharpening comes in two forms...your day to day pre-cutting tune up...with a steel, and your every 2 weeks to 4 months to one year to (insert lazy timeframe) sharpening routine on a stone! Now where do you get more info on knives? search the forums. or you can always PM me for a detail list.
2) make sure your kitchen has a decent stove and oven. I mean if you have a glass top stone, DON'T BUY cast iron cookware! you'll have it cracked faster than you can say "how do you want your eggs, Jim?" typical spiral electric heating elements hold up nice, so do gas ranges. I have a glass top at home, and I do more cooking on my electric griddle and my butane dual pan burner than I do my actual stove. Once you learn what cast iron is about, its hard to resign yourself to other pans.
3) get some decent inspiration to fuel your internal burners! Food TV is good, as is green TV. Yeah, celebrity chefs aren't all that, but food TV has a hidden Gem, who's name is...Alton Brown. This man and his show Good Eats scientificaly breaks down recipies to help you learn how something works, not just how to make it.
4) Julia child. Buy her mastering the art of french cuisine book. she's a goddess of cooking, and her recipies are simple enough to wow anyone you cook for, if you have a little budget to spend.
5) Raman isn't all that bad! all you need is a 2quart sauce pot to make a double batch! Heat up your raman but use soup stock or water with a bulion cube added. or dump some old bay seasoning in instead. Cook the raman until 2 minutes from done and add a half pound (for a double batch) of thawed raw shrimp. they'll boil within a minute or two, and you can dish our your shrimp raman to your roomies, call it a seafood medly (throw on a few slim slices of imitation crab meat on top to boast more than one type of seafood).

Enjoy college life!
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Old 08-15-2009, 03:11 PM   #14
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Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Florida!
Posts: 694
LOL And welcome. Listen to our Uncle Bob, he always has good advise as do some of the other cooks here. Glad to hear the meatballs were a hit. I too use buffalo and like it as a sub for beef. A plus being that it's not as fatty.
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Old 08-15-2009, 05:10 PM   #15
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Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Galena, IL
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Quinn, good luck. One thing, if you don't have the bucks to buy kitchen-ware, ask Mom (or Dad, whoever does the kitchen in your house) if you can bring one skillet and one pot away with you. Or get something cheap from Goodwill or some such. As for knives, if you really want to cook, I'm with those who've already told you to buy a couple of decent ones. HOWEVER, that said, when I had a room-mate when I was young, they'd rob me blind if I didn't watch them every minute. They loved me when I cooked, and then I'd find stuff missing. So if you buy a great knife, hide it under your pillow, no matter how much you think you trust them! Maybe sticking with a ginsu knife set will do for now. Heaven knows I cooked with that set for easily a decade (and the bread knife I still use, and the other knives are better than most in kitchens where I "guest cook"). I guess what I'm getting at is that if you're in a dorm/barracks situation, call me a cynic, but don't invest a huge amount in cookware unless you have the money to replace it.
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Old 08-15-2009, 05:40 PM   #16
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Location: Florida!
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I was thinking along those lines as well Claire. Plus if you get something cheap from Good Will or Kmart and can cook on it, then you can cook on anything. LOL Imagine how wonderful it will be when you get the good stuff.
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Old 08-16-2009, 10:47 PM   #17
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Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Galena, IL
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Yeah, buying the good stuff isn't for people with room-mates, at least not in my experience.

The ultimate was that I told my roomie that I was going to go on an assignment with my fiancee. I asked her to start to get things ready to go. She refused to believe I was actually going to leave her. I'D ONLY LIVED WITH HER FOR MAYBE 6 MONTHS. Over a few months, instead of advertising for a new room-mate, she decided on denial. Kept telling me things like, "you aren't really going to leave,right?" It was somwhere between pitiful and truly sorry. I kept telling her I was leaving,she kept denying that I'd go. I do NOT,and seriously, do not understand why she thought I wouldn't go. Anyway, the bottom line is that I left a lot of kitchen ware in that apartment because it was too filthy to bother with.

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