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Old 02-17-2005, 02:32 AM   #1
Assistant Cook
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 2
I can't cook.

*stands up and waves*

Hi everyone, my name is Azalea, and umm, I can't cook. I'm a disaster in the kitchen. It's quite awful. I get flustered when my boyfriend asks me to boil water on the stove and so quite naturally he generally cooks. Unfortunately he took a new job this year, and it's straight night shift, so he is sleeping when he is usually cooking. This results in us eating at different times (I hate this!) or eating a lot of quick, thrown together, boring meals. We get one really good meal maybe once or twice a week if he has time to cook. Sitting down at the table with him and having a good dinner is really important to me. It's one of my favourite things to do in fact.

So I throw myself on the altar and beg for mercy.. and cooking tips. I'm looking for easy meals that I can make.. baby steps if you will. Stuff that isn't overly complicated but tastes good and shows that I put effort into it. Hopefully that makes sense. I want to be able to actually make dinner for us a few nights a week without setting our kitchen on fire or creating something inedible.

A few fun facts about us to maybe show you where I am at..

-we don't eat red meat at all
-I keep seeing recipes calling for a "saucepan"... I don't even know what that is. I wish I was joking.
-my biggest accomplishment in the kitchen to date was learning how to use the garlic press. I get teary eyed thinking about that special time.
-we like spicy food
-we like garlic. a lot of garlic. it's unhealthy really.
-we like cheese. a lot of cheese. you get the picture.

So...any thoughts? Pity? Pointing and laughing? I'm a desperate woman! :roll:


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Old 02-17-2005, 04:12 AM   #2
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Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: USA,Virginia
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Nah, no pointing and laughing here. Every cook worth his/her salt has way too many goofups in their history to dare laugh at anyone aspiring to cook. It's totally bad karma. :)

In fact, you have come to the right place, as you will discover if you stay with us. Welcome, by the way.

The first thing to realize is that cooking, while detailed and occasionally complex, isn't an arcane science that only the gifted few can master. It's a skill like any other: You learn the baby steps and then you start combining them to create beyond the basics. First you learn to boil an egg. Then you learn how to shell it and chop it up and mix it with mayonnaise and salt and pepper and presto, you have egg salad. Next thing you know, you're debating with your neighbor about whether adding finely chopped green pepper is a good thing or a bad thing. After you learn to recognize a green pepper, of course. :D

The next first thing you do is get yourself a good basic beginner's cookbook. Two great old standbys are Betty Crocker's Cookbook and the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. Generations have learned to cook with these. You can go nuts buying cookbooks -- in fact, if you fall in love with cooking, you probably will -- but either of these two will get you started properly. You don't need to buy any others for now.

Then read your new cookbook, focusing on the basics. Pick a simple task, like baking a potato. Think about each step as you're doing it. Think about why you're doing it the way you're doing it, why it makes sense to do it that way. When your potato comes out of the oven perfectly baked and fluffy, you will feel empowered. You will next want to tackle mashed potatoes, which will teach you about boiling things. (Incidentally, the pot you boil things in is a saucepan.) And so it goes.

Remember that the kitchen is a potentially dangerous place. Heat, knives ... Concentrate on the safety aspects. Establish safe habits right from the start, so that you do them automatically, like turning your saucepan handle so it doesn't stick out into the room for someone (you) to walk by and brush it onto the floor and possibly your feet.

You will probably get a lot of responses to your desperate cry. Everyone in here loves to cook; some of us make their living with it. And all of us just love to give advice. :)

I'll stop for now and let others add their bit. Good luck. If cooking takes with you, you're in for a splendid and fulfilling adventure. Just keep repeating that to yourself when you scorch the chicken, drop the carton of eggs, grind up the spoon in the garbage disposal: "I am having a splendid and fulfilling adventure ... I am having a splendid and fulfilling adventure ..."


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Old 02-17-2005, 06:44 AM   #3
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Azalea. don't worry. I think I might have the perfect recipes for you. It's spicy lots of garlic. oh yeah and cheese. literaly takes 15 mins to make. only because of the noodles. taste like you were making it all day. spaghetii :

2 T. oil
1/2 C. onions chopped
2 T. minced garlic ( I read you know how to use this )
2 t. salt
1/4 t. white pepper
1/4 C. fresh basil
1/2 C. chicken broth
2 C. tomato sause ( you can use tomato puree, whole tom. in can )
muzzarella cheese
rotini noodles ( look like corkscrews )
heat oil in sauce pan ( looks like a metal bowl with handle ),
add onions garlic salt wh. pepper, stir constintly for 3 min.
stir in tomato sauce stir for 1 min. add freash basil. stir that in. add broth. YOUR DONE.
While you are boiling your noodles you can make this sauce.
mix noodles and sauce and sprinkle threw muzzarella cheese mix and bake at 350 for 30 min or till cheese is melted and heated threw. thanks to Emeril this is our fav. meal to eat. I hope you enjoy it.
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Old 02-17-2005, 06:45 AM   #4
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Hi Azalia! First of all it's great to have you here & 2nd, like Catseye said, you have come to the right place! She has already given you some great advice. I have another cookbook to recomend to you. It is called Where's Mom Now That I Need Her? http://www.aspenwest.com/ It's at the bottom right hand side of the page when you click on the link. My mom gave it to me when I got married & it has been a lifesaver more than once! Another good alternative, is Kids cookbooks. I know that may sound odd but they usuallly have good & easy recipes that are written step by step. Also as Cats said, sit down & read your cookbook...I do this all the time & always find things that I missed the first time. Also, before you use a recipe, read it all the way through & make sure you have everything you need before you start cooking. I still have a bad habit of starting something & then finding out that I don't have everything. :oops: I don't really have anything else to add exceot, do not get discouraged if you mess something up, some of my best meals have come from things I thought I had ruined! Oh, one other thing, check out my web site that's in my profile. I have a lot of good & easy recipes on there & if you don't understand something, please feel free to PM me & I'll try to explain it. If I can't, there are a lot of great peolpe on here that can! Good luck & I think it's great that you want to learn to cook!! It's the best gift you can give yourself & others!! :D
"Treat everyone with politeness,even those who are rude to you - not because they are nice, but because you are."
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Old 02-17-2005, 08:05 AM   #5
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Welcome Azalea. You really did come to the right place. The others who have posted so far have given you tons of good advice to start with. We were all in your position at one point. I remember calling my mom up to ask her what a sauce pan was or what it meant to season a pan (do I use salt and pepper?). Hang around this site and read lots of posts. You will be amazed at the knowledge you pick up. Ask lots of questions. I know it is cliche, but when you are learning something new there really is no stupid questions. Even the pros here ask questions and learn new things all the time. Here is another good cookbook to add to your list...How To Cook Everything by Mark Bitterman. There are a lot of great recipes and information. I find it very helpful. Read through a recipe from start to finish become you make it. That way you will make sure you have everything you need and understand all the steps before you start. Don't be scared to try and fail. Every single person here has made meals that turned our horrible and had to go in the trash. I am also willing to bet that everyone learned something from that experience and maybe did not make the same mistakes again. I know I just said it in the last sentence, but it is so important that I will say it again. Don't be afraid to try. Just jump in and give a recipe a whirl. In cooking (unlike baking) you don't have to be a slave to a recipe either. If your recipe calls for parsley and the store is out of parsley then just leave it out or substitute something else. as you get more experience you will learn what subs work well and what doesn't, but experiment and see what you find.

Welcome to the board. You really came to the right place and will fit in perfectly (Garlic, Cheese, Spice, YUMMMM). :)

(By the way I will move this to the Introductions & Birthdays section of the board)
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Old 02-17-2005, 08:11 AM   #6
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Welcome Azalea! I don't have much to add to the folks that have already posted--they made a ton of good comments and ideas! Just be patient with yourself (and remind BR, to be, too)--cooking is a learning experience that never stops. Like others said, start with easy stuff--eggs, pasta, potatoes, and then once you have your confidence built up a bit, start trying some more.

A great book that I recommend in addition to the ones Crewsk and GB did is the Kitchen Survival Guide by Laura Brody. It's the first "grown up" cookbook I ever got and I've given it as gifts to many people just starting out on their own since. It walks you though supplying your pantry with staples, working an oven and burners, how to pick out good fresh produce, planning a week of meals and a grocery list, how to clean a stainless steel sink...all sorts of really practical things! There are also many excellent, very easy recipies. Even though, after many years, I'm a lot more comfortable in the kitchen, I still use this book for reference and still enjoy a lot of the recipes in it, too.

Don't be afraid to ask any questions around here! We're always happy to help and like learning, too!
-A balanced diet is a cookie in each hand
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Old 02-17-2005, 09:46 PM   #7
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I want to thank you all for the warm welcome and advice! I have The Kitchen Survival Guide en route to me as it seemed the best option for me right now. I'm going to take a look at some of the other books too when I have extra cash on hand. Looks like I will have plenty of reading to do!
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Old 02-18-2005, 08:12 AM   #8
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This thread may help you some too. Always feel free to ask questions, there is no dumb question except that which is not asked. Welcome to the site!
Just because someone tells you that you can't do something doesn't mean you have to listen.
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Old 02-18-2005, 08:31 PM   #9
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Get a pocket kitchen thermometer, it will be your best friend. Learn to cook slowly and then build your way up! :D
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Old 02-18-2005, 11:41 PM   #10
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lol damp, i thought you were just happy to see us... :D

welcome azalea. i couldn't add a single word of encouragement beyond those stated heretofore. stick around tho, we'll all learn together...

in nomine patri, et fili, et spiritus sancti.
beidh ar la linn.
wisdom is often in short supply within ones' ego.
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