Author Topic: Learning to cook tips  (Read 4204 times)

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takeheart

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Re: Learning to cook tips
« Reply #90 on: October 06, 2014, 11:09:15 AM »
Without reading all of the previous posts, my advice is:

If cooking from a recipe, especially for the first time, read through the entire recipe FIRST and make a mental game plan. It's also a big help to prep before hand, that includes having seasonings and what not out on the counter in addition to prepping the vegetables and what not.

Clean as you go. I love cooking, but I hate cleaning a big sink full of pots, pans, and dishes afterwards. It makes it less intimidating if you can clean some along the way (e.g. while the chicken bakes, throw what doesn't need deep cleaning into the dishwasher).

Invest in good kitchen supplies. It does wonders! Knives especially. This doesn't necessarily mean 'expensive' though. My personal favorite is the garlic press.

Make it a goal to try a new recipe at least once a month then build on it, eventually gaining a foundation of recipes, ideas, and how-tos. Last week I made the Pioneer Woman's sesame noodles for the first time. I used lo mein noodles and added raw napa cabbage and stir-fried chicken to it. It wasn't bad, but next time I will use thicker noodles, steam the napa cabbage, and add less rice vinegar.

My favorite cookbook is anything by America's Test Kitchen.

Baking is a beast on its own. My thoughts have always been, "Cooking is a craft. Baking is a science."

newbiePA

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Re: Learning to cook tips
« Reply #91 on: October 06, 2014, 11:30:44 AM »
Oh, and I'd add a rice cooker to my moderate-budget setup. Push a button and wait 20 minutes (45 for brown rice) - and hey! rice!

(And a bit of rice-cooker trivia - they work by detecting temperature. The spring-loaded plate at the bottom is a thermometer [the spring keeps it pressed tight against  the pan].

Because of Science! boiling water is always a constant temperature [100C, 212F]. The heater stays on as long as the pot is at boiling temperature. When the rice is done cooking and has absorbed all the water, its temperature rises.)

Amazing!   I never knew that.  I wondered how the pot knew the difference between white and brown rice.  Thanks :)
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Outdoor Girl

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Re: Learning to cook tips
« Reply #92 on: October 06, 2014, 11:48:51 AM »
Baking is a beast on its own. My thoughts have always been, "Cooking is a craft. Baking is a science."

See, I see it the other way around.  I'm a baker.  I can make the same recipe as someone else and mine will be better.  There is a bit of an art to knowing how the dough or batter should feel to get the best results.  My Mom made the best pastry.  I followed her recipe exactly and it was crap.  I've had to tinker with the recipe and the techniques I use in order to get it to work properly.  And I still don't get it right every time.  A friend of hers couldn't even get it to work when she made it with my Mom standing right there beside her.

Cooking?  If you can read, you can cook, according to my aunt.  If you follow the recipe exactly, without substitution, it will turn out.  Yes, there is some art to knowing how to tweak it but at the beginning, cooking is more scientific for me.
After cleaning out my Dad's house, I have this advice:  If you haven't used it in a year, throw it out!!!!.
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QueenfaninCA

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Re: Learning to cook tips
« Reply #93 on: October 06, 2014, 02:33:16 PM »
For meal planning, do onions and potato/sweet potato count as vegetables? I am a very beginning cook and find it intimidating to try to make everything that is supposed to be in a balanced meal work properly. What about tomato sauce/diced tomatoes when making pasta or chili, is that vegetable? Or does it have to be carrots and green beans?

Sauces or onions usually are a condiment, not really a side dish. Potatoes and sweet potatoes usually count as a starch, not as a veggie.

In this context veggies really mean a vegetable based side dish like steamed green beans.

POF

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Re: Learning to cook tips
« Reply #94 on: October 06, 2014, 02:49:50 PM »
I also want to add that frozen ( plain ) veggies can be a great stand in for fresh if :

1) Fresh is too expensive

2) No sure what to do with the fresh kind

3) Not sure you have time or energy to go fresh

I find the following items very good frozen:

Corn, peas, limas, green beans, butternut squash.  Sure its a short cut, but I think the road to cooking is baby steps.  Thanks

Ms_Cellany

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Re: Learning to cook tips
« Reply #95 on: October 06, 2014, 02:55:20 PM »
Frozen can also be more nutritious, as it's frozen soon after harvesting, while "fresh" produce can take a while to get to the store.
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ladyknight1

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Re: Learning to cook tips
« Reply #96 on: October 06, 2014, 03:08:33 PM »
Unless you live near a port, frozen seafood is usually much fresher than the 'fresh' seafood in your store. Particularly shellfish, which is frozen on the boat on which it's caught the same day.

magicdomino

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Re: Learning to cook tips
« Reply #97 on: October 06, 2014, 03:09:57 PM »
For meal planning, do onions and potato/sweet potato count as vegetables? I am a very beginning cook and find it intimidating to try to make everything that is supposed to be in a balanced meal work properly. What about tomato sauce/diced tomatoes when making pasta or chili, is that vegetable? Or does it have to be carrots and green beans?

Sauces or onions usually are a condiment, not really a side dish. Potatoes and sweet potatoes usually count as a starch, not as a veggie.

In this context veggies really mean a vegetable based side dish like steamed green beans.

My rule of thumb is 1/2 cup or more equals a serving of vegetables.  So, ketchup on my french fries doesn't count, but a 1/2  cup of tomato sauce on my spaghetti does, especially since mine has mushrooms, and sometimes zucchini or red bell pepper added.  Onions don't count on their own because there is usually less than 1/2 cup of onions in a serving, but they do help bulk up that spaghetti sauce.

Potatoes and corn still count as starches, though.    :P

cicero

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Re: Learning to cook tips
« Reply #98 on: October 06, 2014, 03:20:41 PM »
clean up as you go along, especially when you're doing a lot of cooking at once. this is a tip i learned from my mom. Otherwise, after you've finished cooking, you then have to wash a lot of dishes, put things away etc. I don't have a dishwasher, so i just clean as i go along - wash out pots and dishes etc, wipe down the counter, put things away, etc.

Also - i break up the work that i do: if i'm going to be cooking on Friday, then i'll  try to shop on wednesday, prep the veggies on thursday (peel and cut the vegetables, wash and dry the greens, set out the pots i'll need tomorrow, etc) and then i can just start to cook on friday. it's like having a sous chef.

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Outdoor Girl

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Re: Learning to cook tips
« Reply #99 on: October 06, 2014, 03:35:35 PM »
Conversely, I don't clean as I go.  Growing up, that is what my Mom did.  But she'd leave the dishwater in the sink and the last few things would be 'washed' with lukewarm, dirty water.  Gross!

I will load the dishwasher as I go, and start it if it is full.  But anything that can't go in the dishwasher?  Gets washed when I'm done, unless I need it again.

Usually, I'll do most of the washing and cleaning up while whatever is baking/cooking.  Then when that comes out of the oven/off the stove, I'll do a small round of washing up the pots and pans used.
After cleaning out my Dad's house, I have this advice:  If you haven't used it in a year, throw it out!!!!.
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miranova

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Re: Learning to cook tips
« Reply #100 on: October 06, 2014, 04:09:49 PM »
I clean as I go, and my husband does not.  He will get flour all over the counter, have stumps of veggies all over the place, the whole 9 yards.  We have a large kitchen and every inch of available counterspace will be covered in food or dishes when he's done.  I just hate looking at that stuff, so I clean things ASAP. A lot of times he is cooking while I'm cleaning things up.

Hillia

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Re: Learning to cook tips
« Reply #101 on: October 07, 2014, 06:52:10 PM »
Why you should read the recipe all the way through, preferably the day before (learn from my fail):

I like to plan my menus; I don't do well with spur of the moment decisions so I like to have a plan and then execute it.  So Sunday I planned the week's dinners and decided on stuffed cabbage for Monday.  I skimmed through the recipe to see if I needed to buy anything but didn't read it carefully - I've made stuffed cabbage before, duh.

Mistake #1: I didn't actually get in the kitchen and start supper until almost 6 pm.  That's DH's fault :-)
Mistake #2: I got the onions browning, then looked at the recipe again and realized that it calls for cooked rice.  Rice takes about 20 minutes after the water boils, and I had to wash a pan to cook the rice in.
Mistake #3: Because I didn't read the recipe carefully, I didn't realize that it had to bake for 1.5 hours after it was assembled.

I ended up sending DH out for burgers while I cooked.  But hey, we had plenty for lunch today!

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ladyknight1

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Re: Learning to cook tips
« Reply #102 on: October 08, 2014, 09:50:17 AM »
I frequently cook for the next night, while making something quick for that night.

Saturday - I roasted two whole chickens and made a lot of roasted vegetables at the same time. Made a fruit salad as well. After we ate one chicken, I pulled all the meat off and put it in a ziploc bag.
Sunday - Cooked a pork shoulder with a citrus and garlic marinade, then made Cuban sandwiches from it. Stored the rest.
Tuesday - Made an enchilada sauce, added the chicken from Saturday, and layered with tortillas and cheese as a casserole.

This way, we have variety and are using what we have. The rest of the pork will go in a slow cooker tomorrow with sauce and vegetables and be served over rice tomorrow for dinner.

Ms_Cellany

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Re: Learning to cook tips
« Reply #103 on: October 08, 2014, 10:11:44 AM »
The Sweetie and I do what we call "field rations" - things that we can mix and match.

The last few weeks, every Sunday we:
-- buy a rotisserie chicken and "field strip" the meat (the carcass goes in the freezer to make stock later)
-- broil bratwursts
-- steam a bunch of broccoli florets, carrot strips, and snow peas
-- cut up celery
-- buy hummus, cheese, olives, pickled garlic, and dried cranberries

The rest of the week, we take these for lunch, or make a mixed plate for dinner. Last night my dinner was leftover bean soup with some cut-up bratwurst, and veggies and hummus on the side. Dessert was slices of cheddar cheese and cranberries.

Sometimes for breakfast, I have "brat on a stick" - I'll eat a brat as-is, using a fork to hold it like a corndog.

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texgalatheart

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Re: Learning to cook tips
« Reply #104 on: October 08, 2014, 11:10:57 AM »
I have found Pinterest to be very helpful to find new ways to make the same ole chicken, pork chop. I have put in what i had on hand - smoke sausage and broccoli - and multiple pins(recipes) come up. i look at the pictures and see one that looks good - read the recipe and see if i want to try it. If it is too complicated or takes to long for the time i have but still looks good, i'll pin it for a later date and move on the next good looking dish and repeat until i find one that works for me. I now have a fantastic chicken enchilada dish that i found this way.