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Old 07-10-2007, 10:02 AM   #1
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Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Chicago, IL
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Hello from Chicago!

Hi there!

I stumbled across these forums while searching for cooking tips on using Stainless Steel. I must say that from what I've read this is the friendliest cooking forum on the net!

My name is Jonah and I'm from Chicago. I'm getting married October 6th and that explains the new stainless steel cookware (best mother in law EVER). Anyway I come from a rich tradition of the male of the house as principal chef. My grandfather, my father, and soon to be me. I'm terrible at baking but my fiancee is quite good, I hate cleaning dishes but she doesn't mind, she hates cooking and I love it. So it works out quite well.

Because my family was always on the go it was very much fend for yourself on the weekdays which is largely how my brother and I learned to cook. My mom was a good cook too but she hated the process, whereas my dad would spend entire days cooking from the old red and white patterened Better Homes Cookbook circa 1975.

I did lots of research before we registered for the upcoming wedding hence the stainless steel calphalon set and my prayers for a Shun chef's knife. I love cooking but I'm very much the "what's in the fridge and what goes together" type of cook. Because I've only really cooked for myself and the ocassional set of roomates I've never really had to do any "meal planning" per say. Also because of largely self taugh style I'm pretty sure that many of my prep methods are completely inefficient. So I guess my main questions for the forum are regarding:
- Stainless Steel Cookware and it's use (hot pan cold oil - just made eggs this morning - scrambled at that - with minimal sticking!)

- Cast Iron maintenence and use (pre seasoned Lodge skillet and dutch oven are my two heavy cast iron pieces that I'm working to season up. Just fried bacon in the skillet this morning so that should help.)

- Meal planning - how do people go to the grocery and come back with foods that they use by the end of the week? People who can plan a week of meals are like magicians to me. Any helpful methods to the madness?

- Books - not so much cook books as technique books. I can't seem to find a cooking class around here that fits in my schedule and the last time I learned the difference between chopped and minced was high school home ec.

Look forward to reading through the forums!

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Old 07-10-2007, 11:39 AM   #2
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Well, Johan, first...welcome to DC. Then, congratulations on your soon-to-happen wedding. October 6th will be here before you know it.

It also looks like you and your wife-to-be have gotten your kitchen teamwork down pretty well. Good for you.

You will come to love your cast iron cookware as it becomes more and more seasoned. I have a large, deep skillet that is about 100-years-old and it's one of my cooking treasures.

Many folks do meal planning on the fly but that's not for me. I'm basically a very organized person and usually have my dinner menus planned about 3 months in advance. I try to utilize the fruits and veggies that are in season and let that guide me as to what the entree will be. I also pay attention to the advertised specials in the newspaper for my area markets when it comes to meat, poultry, fish, etc. Once you get the hang of meal planning, you'll find it's not really that difficult. Especially if you are only cooking for two.

As for cooking efficiently, one of the best techniques you can establish is to pracatice "mise en place"...everything in place. In other words, read your recipe from beginning to end and have all your ingredients, in place, say in small bowls or on pieces of waxed paper before beginning the cooking process. This will ensure you will not forget an ingredient and that they are all in the correct amounts.

I've given you a start and, trust me, you will receive many, many more replies, all of which will be valuable to you. Enjoy!
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Old 07-10-2007, 11:47 AM   #3
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I plan by the week and sometimes on the fly. We also buy meat in bulk at BJ's once a month. I'm also 8 months pregnant and I'm starting to plan easier methods of cooking such as crock pot cooking. I think you definetely save money though when you plan ahead of time. I will write on a piece of paper what where having for the week. I'm try to plan it around what I already have. Than I'll put a list together of things I need to get at the grocery store.

Well welcome to the site and have fun!!!!!
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Old 07-10-2007, 12:21 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katie E
I try to utilize the fruits and veggies that are in season and let that guide me as to what the entree will be.
Is there any resource for this? I'm just getting into gardening but I'm not sure how to find out what is in season when other than by looking out my window. I should have some tomatoes before too long so I'm pretty pumped for caprese salad, salsa, and bruchetta. I would love to buy more food locally as an eco friendly, fresh, and delicious move. Is there any guide to find out what is generally in season when?

Thank you for all of the kind welcomes!
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Old 07-10-2007, 02:50 PM   #5
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Welcome to DC Jonah. It is nice to have you here with us.
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Old 07-10-2007, 03:20 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JamminJonah
Is there any resource for this? I'm just getting into gardening but I'm not sure how to find out what is in season when other than by looking out my window. I should have some tomatoes before too long so I'm pretty pumped for caprese salad, salsa, and bruchetta. I would love to buy more food locally as an eco friendly, fresh, and delicious move. Is there any guide to find out what is generally in season when?

Thank you for all of the kind welcomes!
Well, Johan, there is a pocket-sized book (about 4- x 6-inches) that may help you. It is called "Field Guide to Produce" and is a handy little book. It lists most of the fruits and vegetables found in today's markets, lists their names (and in some cases the other names they are called), a general description, the season they're found in, what to look for when purchasing as per freshness/quality, what to avoid, how to store, how to prepare, serving suggestions, as well as flavors that pair well with them. Here's a link to some for sale now on Amazon.com.

Good luck and happy menu planning and food shopping.
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Old 07-10-2007, 04:10 PM   #7
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Johah-Congratulations and welcome. Just keep using the cast iron and keep it away from the dishwasher and it will get better and better. I plan meals based on available local produce and the grocery circular which I use to buy meat that is on sale that week. Then I make a plan of meals and a list a go shopping. I use coupons too. Every bit helps. You will get the hang of this as time goes on, but it does save time. I wish you guys lots of happiness.
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Old 07-11-2007, 07:07 AM   #8
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Welcome aboard!
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