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Thread: Learning to cook...

  1. #1
    Senior Member Ultralight's Avatar
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    Learning to cook...

    Anyone on here gone from totally disliking cooking and/or being horrible at it to enjoying cooking and being good at it?

    My cooking skills (Who am I kidding? I have almost none.) have been a lifelong deficiency.

    I also dread the idea of buying more utensils and -- dare I say it? -- gadgets.

    But also: I know I could save mucho dinero if I learned to cook foods I like. I think I could probably eat healthier too, if I learned to cook veggies and lentils.

    I got this book called How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. He was apparently known as "The Minimalist" in the world of foodies and chefs and in the NYT, so that appeals to me.

    So I think I am going to take one last stab at learning to cook. It may involve buying a handful more utensils and maybe even a gadget or two. But ultimately, it might be worth it.
    I came from a real tough neighborhood. I put my hand in some cement and felt another hand." -- Rodney Dangerfield

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    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    My DH just wrote the kids yesterday saying, "Mom is FINALLY learning how to cook!" (My husband is a great amateur chef and I have historically been as inept in the kitchen as I was disinterested).

    But, I finally learned to cook when I a) became a vegetarian and b) read Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma. I was, frankly, unable to find what I wanted in the supermarket and was forced to feed myself.

    I also have Mark Bittman's book, and it's great. If I were you, I would start very small. You don't need a ton of gadgets to master basic skills. You need a good knife and a couple of basic pots/pans. You don't need a whisk--a fork will do.

    I think many of us would be able to contribute some great Cooking 101 recipes.

    We do Blue Apron, and one thing I've noticed is that it has really taught me a lot about cooking. It's very simple, yet basic and efficient. You probably don't want to go to the expense of Blue Apron--and I also really object to all the packaging they use--but it does give you a really broad introduction to different cuisines and foods and is pretty dummy-proof.

    If I can learn to cook at my age, you can DEFINITELY do it. And as you said, it will be worth it!
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Ultralight's Avatar
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    I checked out the preview of Bittman's book on Amazon. It seemed like he was at all points trying to keep it simple and inexpensive. And I can just skip the desserts section entirely.

    The only thing I can cook relatively well is deep-fried panfish or sometimes pan-fried trout. I can also cook eggs, but not omelettes. haha

    I also figure learning to cook (god help me!) might also help with romance.

    A few years ago I spent a winter trying to learn to cook. And I learned a handful of recipes -- like Riz Djerban and harissa chicken. I needed a VitaMix for many of these things though. And I just did not learn to love cooking.

    I am willing to try again, and really go for it.
    I came from a real tough neighborhood. I put my hand in some cement and felt another hand." -- Rodney Dangerfield

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    Senior Member herbgeek's Avatar
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    Most of our meals are made with a good knife and a pan that looks like a cross between a skillet and a wok. It doesn't have to be fancy to be good. Really good fresh ingredients don't need a lot of embellishment. I do have (and have gotten rid of) a lot of gadgets over the years, but most of them sit in the drawer.

  5. #5
    Moderator Float On's Avatar
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    Is there a meet-up cooking group in your area? That would be fun.
    Float On: My "Happy Place" is on my little kayak in the coves of Table Rock Lake.

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    Like most who grew up in the 50s-60s, cooking was pretty low-key and blah - tuna noodle casserole, etc. But when I met DH at 20, he had landed his first job was as a sales rep for an imported foods company. We began to try many of those exotic ingredients and continued through the years since he stayed in that line of work. Without the internet back then, it was hard to even find recipes so there was a lot of experimenting. To this day, we are frequently trying new recipes with different spices and ingredients. Even before I retired, one of my favorite things was to come home and cook for an hour so that we could try a new dish or prepare a favorite. Nowadays, I seem to be the sous chef and DH does the cooking and plating.

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    This time of year it is so easy to cut up fresh veggies, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.

    Roast in oven until done. Meat can also be added.

    We love oven roasted potatoes year round. No need to peel, just cut up, add minced onions or garlic, roast at 400 for 30-45 min.

  8. #8
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    You don't need as many gadgets as most people seem to have, but it might be more than minimalism. I have VERY FEW electronic gadgets and mostly only use the hand blender (well beyond the fridge and the stove, do need those things pretty much)

    Non-electronics: I have: some pots, frying pans, oven dishes to put things in the oven (you could just do with one of each really). A knife to chop things with, can even just use a plate for chopping if you don't have a cutting board in many cases, a large bowl to prepare a salad in. I have other stuff: cheese slicer, cheese grater, veggie peeler, tongs, salad spinner, collander, manual citrus juicer. But don't think you need all these things, most of them aren't necessary for many things. Acquired kitchen shears recently, I'll see how useful they are. You do need measuring spoons and cups, don't think you can avoid those.
    If you want something to get done, ask a busy person. If you want them to have a nervous breakdown that is.

  9. #9
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    Foodie family here. My kid who likes cooking the least can still make mac and cheese from scratch. So we have kitchen stuff that makes it easier. I like cooking better with the right tools like any other hobby.

    2 sets of measuring cups and spoons (wet and dry)
    Variety bowls with lids
    Grater that collects what you grate
    Good knives
    Cutting boards
    Mason jars (sauces, storage, making tea)
    Little dishes, I measure all the spices when I start cooking
    Garlic and ginger in jars
    Good spices, I go to the specialty store

  10. #10
    Senior Member Geila's Avatar
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    I learned to cook by necessity growing up. Lately I've become interested in learning ways to cook that are easier and more relaxed than before. So I'll take one dish - say chile verde or curry or something that I like - and work on tweaking that dish by making it several times and changing things up. There comes a time when the dish becomes really easy to make because you've identified what you like and the easiest way to achieve it. I tend to prefer things that keep well or improve with age and that can be frozen. That way I can make a big batch of it and always have something ready to eat. I cook most of our meals at home but I don't cook every day.

    I also learned which dishes are more trouble than they're worth. Stir fry is delicious but tastes terrible as leftovers to me. And there's all the chopping, and big pan to clean up afterwards. Just for one meal. So I don't do that anymore. Instead I'll make fajitas which do keep well and will give me several meals for my efforts.

    What would make cooking feel like a good use of your time?

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