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Old 02-15-2021, 11:34 AM   #1
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How did you learn to cook?

I have been learning through web and cooking for more than 10 years but I think I still have too much to improve, do you think learning through books or lesson or just youtube video is enough?

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Old 02-15-2021, 12:11 PM   #2
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I've always been interested in cooking. I used to watch my mom cook dinners. My dad was a chef. In the evenings, I was called upon to fetch the typewriter and type out recipes my dad dictated.

As I got older, I cooked occasionally and started to watch Food Network on TV. Back then, there were actual cooking shows with chefs preparing dishes. I watched Julia Child and Jacques Pepin on PBS. I watched Jeff Smith, Nick Stellino, Caprille Pence, Biba Gagiano. I had to furiously jot down recipes as the chefs called out ingredients and added them to the pot. I got cookbooks from the library. It was a lot more difficult back then as the internet was not as developed as it is today.

When I was able to practice cooking, I improved my skills gradually and learned more of the workings of foods and heat.

Now I do just about all the cooking at home, preparing all dinners for the two of us.

I really enjoy cooking for my family when we all gather to celebrate a holiday or just to get together.
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Old 02-15-2021, 12:12 PM   #3
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I learned by watching, reading, re-inventing the wheel, and trial & error, and a whole lot of practice, paying attention to how foods and ingredients worked together, and how they responded to different cooking methods. I also used to purchase herbs and spices of every variety I could find, and learned to identify them with my eyes closed, by smell. This allows me to determine what flavors, and ingredients are used if I have something I enjoy while eating out, so I can remake it at home. It's a handy skill to have.

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Old 02-15-2021, 01:06 PM   #4
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My main cooking experience, until my late 30's was grilling. My wife ruled the kitchen.

Late 70's, my mother gifted me with a wok set and Chinese cookbook. I became hooked and we ate so many Chinese dishes that my family told me to stop.

My wife was pleased with my interest and she proceeded to help me learn "other" cooking in her kitchen.

By the time she passed, in 92, I was the main cook in our home and remain so to this day.

Ross
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Old 02-15-2021, 01:49 PM   #5
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As a kid my father was the cook in the household, as my mom had gone back to school as an adult and didnt have the time ( when she did cook, it wasn't that great, so it was a blessing in disguise ).

When he would make soups he would always had one of us cut the carrots, another cut the celery , peel the potatoes ...but he did the part by the stove.

He was also more adventurous than my mom, introducing us to things that weren't that common at the time, like artichokes, I remember him buying a wok to make moo goo Gai pan and other foods from different regions.

Once I was in my teens, I started experimenting by enhancing canned soups and sauces ( adding mushrooms, wine ... whatever I thought they needed to boost the flavor.

The first dish that I kinda created myself was a soup that was out of this Del Monte leaflet that my mon must have gotten by sending a bunch of proofs of purchases along with a few bucks. I actually still have it today. I changed it around so much, that I consider it my own ( really unrecognizable when comparing my finished product to theirs).

Things really started to kick in once I got married and moved out of state. It was me and my wife on our own. We were just outside of Phlly, but had access to some great markets in the area ( Zern's farmers market, The Italian market ( Rocky), Reading terminal market...and there was this other place called Produce Junction, which still exists. Everything was prepackaged and $1. You got so much produce cause it was so cheap and you got a lot for your money.

I was still in school, but I used cooking as my relaxation outlet, It was one of the few times I wasn't studying, so either early Saturday or Sunday morning we would hit the markets and load up on produce and other products, and Id spend the day alternating between watching PBS cooking shows and cooking from what I learned on those shows. Some names that come to mind were Jeff Smith ( the frugal gourmet), The Galloping Gourmet, Pierre Franey, Jacques Pepin ( who I thought had an attitude at the time, but now is one of my favorite chefs to learn from an watch), Justin Wilson, Martin Yan and a bunch of others. Id literally leave the shows on as I studied, and if a good recipe came along, I'd scribble it down next to my School notes in my notebook or on the pack page along with groceries I'd need to complete the dish.

Eventually I moved back to NY and the Food Network was born. This is when it was more cooking shows than reality shows, so I really learned a lot. I also loved shows like chopped and the Iron chef. As the network and cooking became the cool thing to do, the food and wine shows and festivals became more common, widespread and convenient to go to. I remember there were 2 in Connecticut at the same time. I had never been to one before and for my birthday my wife asked which one I'd prefer to go to. I said both, so we did . They were only about 20 minutes from each other ( Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods), so I made a schedule as to which Chef Demo was when and we jackassed back and forth. I learned a lot from the demos, got to meet a bunch of the chefs I admired and taste their food first hand.

As the Food Network shifted more from learning to reality, and as the internet made recipes, video tutorials and online classes more readily available, I found myself relying more on the internet to learn and explore. That being said, I love cookbooks and when I redid my kitchen, I made sure to have a bookshelf in my kitchen so I could proudly display my favorites and have easy access to them when I need them.

I have some great reference books from Jaacques, Julia , among others that I frequently refer to. I have also taken part in several in person cooking classes at Sur La Table.

One more note, as a vegetarian ,especially back in the day when there were few ( if any) good vegetarian products on the market, I was almost forced to learn how to cook to fend for myself . If I hadn't, I would have bee stuck with little to no variety and eating steamed veggies and beans.

Sorry for the lengthy lifes journey of my cooking experience lol , but I didnt know where to end. I guess the short simple answer is I learned ( and learn from) My dad, TV cooking shows, The Internet ( video tutorials/ and articles), Cook Books, Live Demos and cooking classes.

And Finally, my cooking journey wouldn't be complete without mentioning all that I have learned from the fine people here on the DC Forum. And the truth is, you are never too old to learn, and you do learn something new every day!!!
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Old 02-15-2021, 03:33 PM   #6
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I learned a little from watching my mum and a few simple recipes. I learned from reading and from friends. I learned by trial and error. I got a copy of Joy of Cooking, which became a wonderful teacher. Then, in the early 1980s, I moved back to the city and started watching cooking shows, mostly on PBS. Nowadays, I mostly learn from people here and from YouTube videos. Still plenty of practice and trial and error.
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Old 02-15-2021, 03:35 PM   #7
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Cooking has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.

It started out in my grandmother's kitchen standing on a chair helping her.

It was a way to keep us occupied and engaged while underfoot and I'm thankful for that. These days too many small children find themselves parked in front of the television to keep them out of the way.

By the time I was in sixth or seventh grade I was able to have basic dinners ready on week nights when my parents got home from work.
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Old 02-15-2021, 03:37 PM   #8
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I didn't have a choice. My mom got sick when I was 10, and dies when I was 13. I was the oldest of 5 kids, and someone had to cook. My father decided since I was the oldest, and a girl, it was my job. I learned fast.
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Old 02-15-2021, 03:58 PM   #9
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I didn't have a lot of interest in cooking until after I got married because my mom didn't enjoy it and didn't want other people in the kitchen with her.

After we moved here in the mid-'80s, I went to a class on cooking with herbs at a local garden center. I was transformed! Right after that, DH and I put window boxes on the fire escape railings outside our apartment started growing herbs. I had a few cookbooks and started learning more.

I discovered Cooks Illustrated magazine and have learned a lot about the science of cooking; I've been a subscriber for over 20 years and have an online subscription, so I can look up recipes from past issues. That could be a good way for you to learn techniques and get recipes that use them.

In the '90s, I found out about the Food Network and learned a lot from Rachael Ray's "30-Minute Meals." She has a lot of simple but delicious recipes and ideas that make cooking easier and yet cooking with whole foods. I've learned from other cooks and chefs on the Food Network, but I remember her in particular. I also enjoy early Bobby Flay and Mario Batali shows, Ina Garten and Giada de Laurentiis.

That's also when I joined this group and I've learned a TON from the great and generous people here

A good cookbook that I recommend to new cooks is "Ruhlman's Twenty: 20 Techniques / 100 Recipes." It describes the basic techniques - poaching, boiling, roasting, using salt, using acidity, making and using doughs, etc. - and includes recipes for each one

I also buy cookbooks with stories about particular regions or countries to learn their traditional cuisines and now I can adapt them to what I have and we like. And I have taken classes from time to time.

Hope this helps.
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Old 02-15-2021, 06:50 PM   #10
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I started by watching my mother...she was great at improvising and giving us a variety of different meals considering the small town we lived in with the lack of availablility of ingredients and the little money we had..I took many of those recipes with me when I moved out as a teenager..meat and potatoes, pizza, sauces from canned soups, etc..loved cook books from early on, and I liked to try different recipes that offered something new...
When I met my first wife in Canada, who was Italian, she had her recipes that I enjoyed and learned to copy..then, we moved to Italy to work in her parents hotel..I couldn't speak Italian so there were really no jobs for me working with the public so I went in the kitchen to work with the cooks..I cooked there for almost two years, and that's where my passion was cemented. I came back and worked at a few Italian restaurants, then started my own family place..mostly classic diner stuff as I was in a small rural town..Learned a lot there, though..not so much about recipes, but how food and ingredients react, how to get the best results, etc..more of the technical stuff...anyway, two restaurants later, I am about to retire from this current one in a week..still learning..my new hobbies of late have been charcuterie, Chinese cooking, I love Indian which I try new dishes ever couple of weeks...it will never end..
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Old 02-15-2021, 07:25 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by taxlady View Post
I learned a little from watching my mum and a few simple recipes. I learned from reading and from friends. I learned by trial and error. I got a copy of Joy of Cooking, which became a wonderful teacher. Then, in the early 1980s, I moved back to the city and started watching cooking shows, mostly on PBS. Nowadays, I mostly learn from people here and from YouTube videos. Still plenty of practice and trial and error.
If we add two grandmas along with Mom, this is pretty much my cooking story. As I got older, I wanted foods that I saw on the cooking shows and so my interests expanded.

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Cooking has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.

It started out in my grandmother's kitchen standing on a chair helping her.

It was a way to keep us occupied and engaged while underfoot and I'm thankful for that. These days too many small children find themselves parked in front of the television to keep them out of the way.

By the time I was in sixth or seventh grade I was able to have basic dinners ready on week nights when my parents got home from work.
Sadly, I was "helping hands" until I moved out. My grandmothers and mother liked being the chef. On my own, I got to put their instructions (verbal and observed) to practice. I'm glad to have learned that way.
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Old 02-15-2021, 07:45 PM   #12
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I didn't live in the same countries as my grandmothers, so I didn't really learn from them. Oh yeah, my mum wanted to be in charge. I did do a little cooking, when she travelled to Denmark to visit her mum and siblings. But, mostly, we ate the meals that she had prepared and frozen before leaving for Europe.
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Old 02-15-2021, 08:10 PM   #13
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My mom did most of the cooking, on the weekends when dad was home, he'd be in the kitchen helping mom out. When I was old enough to be alone after school, my mom got a job and I started cooking and have dinner ready when mom and dad came home around 5 or 6pm. My dad did most of the breakfast cooking.

It's something that came naturally to me, I read cookbooks like novels. My go-to was a 1968 edition of the Better Homes and Gardens binder cookbook. When mom was culling through her house and asked if I wanted anything, that was the one thing that I wanted. I reinforced the pages so that I could use it for years to come. I ended up making it my career and it's been very fulfilling.
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Old 02-15-2021, 08:47 PM   #14
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I was the oldest of my siblings and I lived in a very dysfunctional household. As a result, I was tasked with taking care of my siblings, as this was the case, I began to cook for them. At the time I was 8-years-old. Stood on a stool to take care of business. Been cooking every since and I'm now 71.
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Old 02-15-2021, 09:17 PM   #15
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My daughter moved out of state about a year ago, and a few weeks before she left, She asked me to make here favorite things for dinner. As I made them, she watched me and she took notes. She ultimately made her own personal cookbook of home cooked meals ( and she illustrated it too). So, I've passed the torch. My son also does his own cooking in China ( with limited ingredients so he has to improvise sometimes). Its nice that I passed on cooking to the next generation at a time when its so easy to go out, order in or buy preprepared foods.
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Old 02-15-2021, 09:21 PM   #16
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My daughter moved out of state about a year ago, and a few weeks before she left, She asked me to make here favorite things for dinner. As I made them, she watched me and she took notes. She ultimately made her own personal cookbook of home cooked meals ( and she illustrated it too). So, I've passed the torch. My son also does his own cooking in China ( with limited ingredients so he has to improvise sometimes). Its nice that I passed on cooking to the next generation at a time when its so easy to go out, order in or buy preprepared foods.
Yes..I find that important..I think of my kids a lot when I cook at home...weather it be their favorite I am preparing at the time or something I would like to share with them..My son has become quite the foodie, almost moreso than me as I am staying with the classics, and he is preparing much more modern dishes with different techniques and ingredients..My daughter was just here the other day for the first time in months due to the pandemic..I finally got to show her how I make my potato soup, which is something she has been asking me to show her for a few years now..anyway, we made it, she took notes and then ate some for lunch..froze the rest in containers for her and then I drove her back to the city the next morning and forgot them in my garage freezer..lol...gives e reason to go back again and see her soon..
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Old 02-17-2021, 09:34 AM   #17
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My main cooking experience, until my late 30's was grilling. My wife ruled the kitchen.

Late 70's, my mother gifted me with a wok set and Chinese cookbook. I became hooked and we ate so many Chinese dishes that my family told me to stop.

My wife was pleased with my interest and she proceeded to help me learn "other" cooking in her kitchen.

By the time she passed, in 92, I was the main cook in our home and remain so to this day.

Ross
Hi. I'm Chinese
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Old 02-17-2021, 09:42 AM   #18
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Hi. I'm Chinese
Yes. I have a life long love for Chinese cuisine.

Wish I could cook it as well as when younger. I still do, with shortcuts I'd not have taken back then.

Ross
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Old 02-17-2021, 12:09 PM   #19
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Yes..I find that important..I think of my kids a lot when I cook at home...weather it be their favorite I am preparing at the time or something I would like to share with them..My son has become quite the foodie, almost moreso than me as I am staying with the classics, and he is preparing much more modern dishes with different techniques and ingredients..My daughter was just here the other day for the first time in months due to the pandemic..I finally got to show her how I make my potato soup, which is something she has been asking me to show her for a few years now..anyway, we made it, she took notes and then ate some for lunch..froze the rest in containers for her and then I drove her back to the city the next morning and forgot them in my garage freezer..lol...gives e reason to go back again and see her soon..
Same happened to us. I made the mother load of a few soups, froze them for her. informed her that I made them and they were in the freezer to take home with her. Of course, she left and realized halfway home ( she lives 5 hours away) that she left them.

In addition to this, things have gone full circle, as my parents are in their 80's and now I make extra soup for them ( just made pea soup the other day), as they dont really cook anymore. One of my mothers favorite soups, is the soup he mom ( my grandmother) made for us back in the day. I literally got the recipe from her on her death bed ( she died days after I got the recipe). My grandmother wasn't a great cook, but her vegetable soup ( and her Hungarian Goulash, although I dont eat meat anymore) were great. She had a lot of limitations ( Ulcers, Diabetes, Kosher and grew up during the depression), so most of the things she cooked were under salted, under spiced with the basic of all basic ingredients.
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