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Thread: Cooking 101 (aka Cooking for Dummies)

  1. #21
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    Ivy - Don't waste time with frozen entrees, that won't teach you any basics. Your best way to learn is to experiment. Try your local bookstore and look at some of the books they have there. You'll find plenty of books for the novice cook that will teach you techniques (they'll usually be in the front of the book before the recipes start). Steaming vegetables is a trial and error thing depending on the size and type of vegetable. You can't really set a timer for that, but after you try a few times, you'll get a feel for how long it should steam and you can always check it early and continue until they're done. Also, if you're breading chicken breasts, cutting them in half cuts the cooking time so the breading doesn't burn. You can fry them in oil or even roast them in the oven. I usually roast them on a baking sheet that's sprayed with a little cooking spray and roast around 425 for about 15 minutes. Your ticket to doneness with chicken is to not see any blood, no pink, just CLEAR juices. Once you see clear juices it will be done, if you go too far passed that time it'll dry out.

    Going back to the bookstore thing, they also have the books for Dummies series and I believe they have a cooking for dummies - it'll have the basic techniques and procedures you need to get started. If you're willing to spend $40 on a book (most people won't), you can get Cooking at Home with The Culinary Institute of America (2003). It breaks down technique with loads of recipes. You can also get the The Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer; it's been revised and updated over the years and that's a GREAT book full of alot of information. I hope this helps you a bit. Happy Cooking!
    "Knowledge without mileage is bullsh*t"... Henry Rollins

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    "PETA doesn't want stressed animals to be cruelly crowded into sheds, ankle-deep in their own crap, because they don't want any animals to die-ever-and basically think chickens should, in time, gain the right to vote. I don't want animals stressed or crowded or treated cruelly or inhumanely because that makes them probably less delicious"...Anthony Bourdain


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  2. #22
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    I just have to join in here.......

    Quote Originally Posted by IvyWitch
    Ok, I'll start =)

    What is the best way to learn to cook? Finding recipes and trying them? Experimenting? Starting with pre-packaged frozen entrees? lol

    I am a total disaster in the kitchen. I have a beginner cook book that spells things out for you, but I miss little details like "how to steam vegetables" and cutting chicken breasts in half before breading and cooking them.

    Basically, how can I start cooking and build some kitchen confidence at the same time?
    I'm a high-end cook these days and totally self taught, sort of. I've been at that level for a bit over 2 years, yeah? (I say high-end cook because I can't really call meself a chef. I'm not quite that level......yet). It took me about the same amount of time practicing from when I started to seriously try my hand at cooking only 4 years ago in total! See how shoet a period of time that is? I still have a lot to go, but I just keep going.
    So far you have gotten some good advice from what I have read here.
    I would like to add the following:

    The best way to do what you are asking is to just get in there and do it as someone else mentioned earlier. The secret is to go at your own comfortable pace. Don't take on too much at once and put yourself under pressure.
    Here's how I did it thus far: First off I had the desire instilled in me at a very early age. Only I didn't know it would have affected me later as it has. I was watching cooking shows on the tely since I was in a high-chair. (Please forgive my accent. I'm half Brit as it is and it really comes out when I talk about cooking. Probably has something to do with my mentor).
    After moving out of me parents house later I had to start cooking. Sure I did the bachelor thing for a bit. Then I started thinking there must be something more and a way I can eat better, healthier and all of that. So I started watching FoodTV back when it wasn't so vanilla. I just started absorbing it. I found me mentor on that channel. I am kind of a nerd about it as I watch I would record and take notes on Alton Brown's show. (Care to guess whom me mentor is? It is not Alton Brown. Although I think Alton is great).

    After a little while I decided to get some really simple receipes off the web or where ever and go into the kitchen and just start doing. Eventually got better and better. (Unfortunately, though I have also now outgrown me kitchen).

    Here's a summary: Get some simple receipes from where ever you want. (No money needs to be spent on that) Don't start with anything too complicated at first. One at a time and read the receipe all the way through before you do it. If needed, make a shopping list of any ingredients you might need and go get them. Go into the kitchen and start cooking. Take it slow at your own pace. Here's the big two-fold secret:
    One, practice...practice....practice. Just keep doing. Before you know it, you'll be cooking great. If you do this you'll be surprised how fast you'll move forward in your skills and knowledge. Something my mentor said, "Don't be afraid to keep cooking and experiment. It takes practice to learn and do anything and I'll tell you what, you'll be a better cook long before you become a good golfer." (I've paraphrased it).

    Secondly, believe it or not this really helps: Cook from your heart! Cook with love. This is the most powerful thing me mentor instilled in me. It really works.

    On the side of you want you can get a dvd or two from Alton Brown and/or Jamie Oliver. (Expensive though). You can use them to learn from and to be inspired, but it's only optional. You can also get some of their books if you wish. (Much less expensive than the DVDs). To start with you can keep it simple and go with Rachael Ray's books. Later on you can pick up Alton Brown's "Gear for your Kitchen". and/or one of Jamie Oliver's books. These are just examples. There are so many good cook books out there and an unlimited supply of resources. You'll spend more energy and time trying to decide what you want and looking at it all.

    I hope that encourages and helps you. I also have a load of tips, so anytime you need one or if you have any questions, let me know. If I don't have the answer I can direct you to it.

    Cheers,

    Heart of Isis

  3. #23
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    Woot!

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  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heart of Isis
    I'm a high-end cook these days and totally self taught, sort of. I've been at that level for a bit over 2 years, yeah? (I say high-end cook because I can't really call meself a chef. I'm not quite that level......yet). It took me about the same amount of time practicing from when I started to seriously try my hand at cooking only 4 years ago in total! See how shoet a period of time that is? I still have a lot to go, but I just keep going.

    Cheers,

    Heart of Isis
    A chef is either classically trained, with a degree or has worked as a cook for a minimum of 10 years (I believe) without being trained in school and no degree. Are you working high end meaning "fine dining"? I enjoyed working in fine dining establishments for several years and then I realized that I preferred working in the more mid range/mid priced establishments with the open kitchens. They were more laid back and you can see what's going on in the dining room.

    So we have something in common then? Food is always a good thing to talk about for me, I could do it all day!

    Cheers.
    Last edited by WitchJezebel; November 15th, 2005 at 11:22 AM.
    "Knowledge without mileage is bullsh*t"... Henry Rollins

    "That moral high horse is a tough perch to stay on"... Me

    "PETA doesn't want stressed animals to be cruelly crowded into sheds, ankle-deep in their own crap, because they don't want any animals to die-ever-and basically think chickens should, in time, gain the right to vote. I don't want animals stressed or crowded or treated cruelly or inhumanely because that makes them probably less delicious"...Anthony Bourdain


    R.I.P. MiLo
    Run free and catch the rabbits
    4/7/96 - 11/30/10

  5. #25
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    Hmm... for flour and sugar, can you keep them in their original packages or should you put them in containers? My question of the moment.
    -Kendrah


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  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kendrah
    Hmm... for flour and sugar, can you keep them in their original packages or should you put them in containers? My question of the moment.
    Preferably you should store them in containers to prevent pantry moths and little buggers from getting into them. If you use your flour and sugar up very quickly it shouldn't matter. I bake about once a week so the flour doesn't have time to gather bugs but I bought an inexpensive airtight plastic container for the flour and my sugar is in a ceramic canister with a rubber gasket to keep it airtight.
    "Knowledge without mileage is bullsh*t"... Henry Rollins

    "That moral high horse is a tough perch to stay on"... Me

    "PETA doesn't want stressed animals to be cruelly crowded into sheds, ankle-deep in their own crap, because they don't want any animals to die-ever-and basically think chickens should, in time, gain the right to vote. I don't want animals stressed or crowded or treated cruelly or inhumanely because that makes them probably less delicious"...Anthony Bourdain


    R.I.P. MiLo
    Run free and catch the rabbits
    4/7/96 - 11/30/10

  7. #27
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    You can keep flour inthe freezer. Pop it in a tupperware type container, lable it so you you remember what it is and it willlast a long time. You can also freeze brown sugar. I would guess you can freeze cane sugar, but I have never done that.

  8. #28
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    Cooking Definitions

    These are some commom terms you will come across in recipes. These are from my head so they 100% correct term might be slightly differently worded. Feel free to add any on, make any requests or ask for clarification.

    Chop: to cut an ingredient into small pieces, about 1/4 inch square.
    Dice: to cut an ingredient, smaller than a chop
    Mince: smaller than dice, usually very fine

    When cooking for a stir fry, it is best to try to chop/dice/mince as uniformly in size as you can so they cook evenly. For sauces and stwes that have a longer cooking time,t hatis not as important

    Julienne: to cut a food (usually a veggie, like zucchini, carrots etc) into long and think, match stick shape pieces

    Simmer: to cook on a stove at a low heat. Often you will bring the food to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Often for sauces, rice

    Reduce: to heat a liquid so that much of it evaporates and the resulting liquid is a more concentrating flavor. For ex. You might saute chicken in olive oil and wine. You'll cook the chicken, remove it fromthe pan, and continue cooking the liquid (wine, oil and pan juices) until it there is only a little bit left

  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Faery-Wings
    You can keep flour inthe freezer. Pop it in a tupperware type container, lable it so you you remember what it is and it willlast a long time. You can also freeze brown sugar. I would guess you can freeze cane sugar, but I have never done that.
    I forgot that you can freeze flour, but I've never heard of freezing brown sugar - I would think it would turn into a brick! I never have enough room in my freezer for extras like flour and such, but it's definitely a good idea if you'll need to keep it awhile.
    "Knowledge without mileage is bullsh*t"... Henry Rollins

    "That moral high horse is a tough perch to stay on"... Me

    "PETA doesn't want stressed animals to be cruelly crowded into sheds, ankle-deep in their own crap, because they don't want any animals to die-ever-and basically think chickens should, in time, gain the right to vote. I don't want animals stressed or crowded or treated cruelly or inhumanely because that makes them probably less delicious"...Anthony Bourdain


    R.I.P. MiLo
    Run free and catch the rabbits
    4/7/96 - 11/30/10

  10. #30
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    It does turn into a brick, but it defrosts quickly and then is soft again.

    Do you know the trick for softening hardened brown sugar, something about inthe oven or with an apple?

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