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Old 03-24-2010, 03:17 PM   #1
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Beginners thread to learning to cook!

Hello,

If you can give a technique, tip, suggestion to a beginner that's learning to cook what would it be?

( From picking the right vegetable to timing something in the stove or oven )

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Old 03-24-2010, 03:25 PM   #2
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I would say watch cooking shows.

I have a story about that. My wife was reading a story to my 7 years old son (who is homeschooled) about a dad who was left a note by his wife to cook dinner. The husband was apparently pretty lost in the kitchen. After the story my wife asked my son some questions about the story and he was really confused. He couldn't comprehend the thought of a dad that couldn't cook. So my wife told him that not all dads cook like his daddy. So my son said "we need to get that dad hooked up with Food Network!"
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Old 03-24-2010, 10:34 PM   #3
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What a cute story Vagriller!! Love it, and I agree.

I always say "if you can read, you can cook". I had a "foo foo sister-in-law" who always said she couldn't cook, Whaaa. Actually, she was just a lazy, although not illiterate, DIVA. groan.

Cooking and eating your own creations is a wonderful thing, and can be done easily.........especially these days with the internet. When I learned to cook, it was by cookbooks, but these days the internet opens up a whole new world.
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Old 03-25-2010, 08:38 AM   #4
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Watch cooking shows and read cookbooks, but most importantly get in the kitchen and actually do some cooking. Lot's of people become "Armchair Cooks" similar to "Armchair Mountaineers". They create this fantasy world in their heads where they see an Iron Chef cooking twelve components at once and think, "Yeah, I could pull off at least 3-4 components to a meal - heck, it's just mixing flour and water!". At some point you have to dive in and learn by making mistakes.

For a direct approach, you can search out local cooking classes. For a formal approach (that works well for some), purchase a textbook used by a cooking school (such as the CIA) and follow along in the kitchen. These methods can get expensive unfortunately. If you do look for cooking classes, choose between them based on their level of abstraction. If they are advertised as "French Fusion" or "Chinese", avoid them. Look for classes that focus on technique, such as "Braising" or "BBQ Fundamentals". Learning technique rather than a specific recipe will open doors to thousands of recipes for you to try at home. It's similar to the "Teach a man to fish..." metaphor.

Oh, and spend time with friends/relatives who can already cook well. Ask them to show you some things. This is probably the best option by far.
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Old 03-25-2010, 08:46 AM   #5
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All of the above is great advice.
There is a tip that I have finally convinced Mrs Hoot about. Everything does not have to be cooked on "High". Some things benefit from high heat, others do better low and slow.
The best way to find out is like that old Bill Haley song says--
"Get out in the kitchen and rattle them pots and pans".
Seriously, though, the best way to learn is by doing. Experience is the best teacher.
'Course, a good recipe helps.
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Old 03-25-2010, 09:04 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoot View Post
'Course, a good recipe helps.
Yes! Start with recipes at first. I like allrecipes.com because of the reviews and comments. Many times the comments will have suggestions to make the recipe better, or just better to your taste. On that site I usually only make things that are rated 4 out of 5 stars. I've had great success with it. A good general cookbook is good too. Here are two threads discussing cookbooks.

If you only had one cookbook...

Your first cookbooks
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Old 03-25-2010, 09:21 AM   #7
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My advice would be not to get wrapped up in the details. If you start cooking something and realize you put in too much X or forgot to add Y or sliced when you should have diced, it will not be the end of the world. Just continue on the best you can and you may just end up coming up with an improvement over the original.

Don't be scared to try things. The worst that will happen is that you will make something that tastes disgusting. That is what the corner pizza shop is for.
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Old 03-25-2010, 01:10 PM   #8
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Invite your friends over. Get some basic ingredients for different meals and cook together. I am learning new meals way easier by cooking with somebody than watching cooking show.
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Old 03-25-2010, 08:33 PM   #9
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Learning to Cook

When I was developing an interest in cooking, someone got me the McCall's cooking class cookbook. It had step by step instructions with pictures! The meals were simple, but tasty enough. Not much WOW factor, but plenty of mmm, mmm good reviews. Regardless, these recipes taught me about basic cooking techniques and seasonings.

I would advise finding a cook book that is not so frou-frou, and not terribly labor-intensive to help you learn the basics. Then find one that helps you branch out.

~Kathleen
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Old 04-05-2010, 03:07 PM   #10
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TURN DOWN THE HEAT on those burners. It took me years to learn that.

When it comes to sea food, do not think about cooking it. Threaten it with heat. It is so easy to ruin shrimp, lobster, etc. with over cooking.
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