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Old 01-24-2005, 01:44 AM   #1
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Recomendations for those learning how to cook.

Im trying to think of the absolute basics and tricks that all "bachelors" should know. The roomie Im living with can cook but really dosent have that much experience yet so I find myself teaching him on a regular basis. Here's a few I've figured out so far:

1) Never spice while frying. All you will end up doing is making a very effective pepper laced smoke and making the hot sauce bitter. Spice near the end when possible.

2) Cooking with high heat is great, but certanly not applicable to 50% of dishes.

3) Putting an alcoholic beverate in what you cook dosent instantaneosly give it class.

4) Sometimes less is more. You dont always have to spend a brick of extra sharp cheddar or douse something in hot sauce... foods are made to be apreciated, not disguised.

5) Any carpinter can tell you this: use the right tool for the right job.

6) Learn how to make a good white sauce. All you need is butter, flour, milk and 3 minutes or so. This can be turned into a dozen gravies, pasta sauces, rues, soup bases and whem mixed with a little stone ground dijon mustard... heaven.

7) Knowing how to shop is half of knowing how to cook. Look for fresh ingredients. Look for what's in season. Lean to recognize quality and take advantage of bulk with any thing that can be frozen.

8) Treat your knives like a loaded gun. Never leave them in soapy water, never leave the handle dangling off the counter and if possible give the sharp stuff it's own drawer.


My english, she's not so good... I meant to say I did it with the malice of forethought.
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Old 01-24-2005, 06:21 AM   #2
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Pretty good advice, I'd say. Add the following:

Water boils at 212 degrees or so. A gentle simmer will set an egg-white as quickly as will a full boil, but without breaking it into peices and clouding up the soup.

Meats begin drying out and becoming tougher when cooked over 165" F. Again, water boils at 212. If you boil meat, it will toughen and dry out. So when making stocks, broths or soups, use the bones and carcass of critters to flavor the liquid. Then cook the meat to the desired degree and add to the soup as you serve it.

Use a little flavoring at a time, and test after several minutes of cooking time. You can always add more of a flavor, but once it's in a dish, you can't take it out.

Just as some colors will compliment each other while others clash, so it is with food. Smell the flavors you are using and try to put them together in your head before trying a new combination.

Whether it's on the plate, or in the recipe, strive for a ballance of color and flavor in your meals.

Generally, the more colorful a food is in its natural state, the greater nutritional value it contains.

And there are a host of others too numerous to put here.

Seeeeeeya; Goodweed of the North

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Old 01-24-2005, 06:24 AM   #3
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pay attention all you new cooks out there! (furiously writing all of this stuff down) :D
The next time someone asks what you did this past weekend, squint really hard and say, "Why, what did you hear?"
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Old 01-24-2005, 06:38 AM   #4
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good advice
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Old 01-24-2005, 08:25 AM   #5
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I'm writing too bucky. that was all great advice.
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Old 01-24-2005, 10:20 AM   #6
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Buy some basic cookbooks Fannie Farmer and Better Homes and Gardens are good ones for a new cook. Hang out in Borders and browse their selection too.

Buy the best you can afford and build as experience grows. Ask for pricey items as gifts.

INVEST IN A GOOD KNIFE. A quality blade will last your whole life if treated with respect and care.

Subscribe to Cooks Illustrated magazine. Check out their cookbook too The New Best Recipe From Americas Test Kitchen. Great cookbook.

Don't be afraid to try something new.

Ask alot of questions.

HAVE FUN WHEN YOU COOK, otherwise it's just another chore.
Just because someone tells you that you can't do something doesn't mean you have to listen.
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Old 01-24-2005, 10:46 AM   #7
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That's really great advice goodweed and it really presents eloquently what I was trying to say about using too much heat... definatly worth making note of. On the other hand...

Originally Posted by Goodweed of the North
...use the bones and carcass of critters to flavor the liquid...
This might be a bad idea...

My english, she's not so good... I meant to say I did it with the malice of forethought.
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Old 01-24-2005, 11:08 AM   #8
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What a great topic! Right now my mind is blank and I am having trouble coming up with sage advice (so many good pointers were already submitted).

One that I will add though, when making pasta, use a lot of water. Use way more than you think you will need.

Another one I just thought of is to know that you do not have to be a slave to a recipe (unless you are baking). You don't need to sit there with a measuring spoon and freak out if you use a little more than the tablespoon of whatever.

Lugaru I love your advice about alcohol (#3). That is so right on. I remember once when I was camping with some buddies. We bought these great looking steaks and were cooking them over an open fire. We didn't have a grill rack or anything so we used those throw away aluminum pans. The streaks were almost done and looking and smelling great when one of the guys we were with decided to pour a can of Guinness over them. I have not camped with him since
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Old 01-24-2005, 12:04 PM   #9
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Wow, there are some great ideas here.

You guys are great.

In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on. Robert Frost
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Old 01-24-2005, 12:39 PM   #10
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I cant think of many that havent been mentioned already, but here is one thing that I have learned just recently. When following a recipe, and you decide to adjust it to your own liking, write it down! I often adapt recipes, and then can never duplicate it twice.

If a recipe calls for deep frying, which we all know is not healthy, try coming up with a baked version if possible. For example, some on here posted a recipe for baked onion rings. They were dipped in egg whites, then sprayed with cooking oil, and baked. Those were yummy!

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