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Thread: How Is Your Cooking?

  1. #1

    How Is Your Cooking?

    Do you consider yourself a good cook? If so, where or how did you learn all you know? I'm a terrible cook. I cooked some good hamburgers lastnight using lipton onion soup mix, dale seasoning and an onion and they were really good. I done it again today and in about 6 minutes time they got burnt real bad. I guess im gonna have to watch the grill a little closer.

    Im gonna buy some cook books. Can you help me out with some good ones? Thanks

  2. #2
    I do consider myself a good cook and I'll tell you why. Everyone who eats my food always thinks it tastes great and it's an extremely rare occasion when something I make doesn't turn out. I hear very often that my ____ (chicken parm, meatballs, soup, brisket, enchiladas etc.) are "The best I've ever had". My mom cooked almost every weeknight when I was a kid and we ate out at good restaurants on weekends (not kid places) so I developed a love of food and passion for cooking at a very young age. By 12 y.o. I was (sometimes) cooking meals for my family. I truly believe that what makes someone a great cook is a passion for food. If you don't love food and to eat, I just don't see how one can become a great cook. Food=love to me.
    Aside from that natural passion, practice, practice, practice will help a good amount. Just keep trying over and over until you get it right. Like, you could make hamburgers every day for a week and you would probably get the hang of it.
    I love the Silver Palate Cookbook. Although I have a ton of cookbooks I rarely, if ever, even crack them open.
    Don't get upset if a recipe doesn't work out. Just keep trying and you will get it. We've all had things we've had to try over and over before perfecting. The key is to keep at it.
    Good luck and have fun trying,
    Lisa

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Location
    Chicago, IL USA
    Posts
    9,076
    While I had good cooks in my family, and learned what "good" food was from an early age, I didn't learn to cook from anyone. I am pretty much self taught. I just had the courage to try recipes that looked good to me and follow the directions. Read, read, read. Watch different cooking shows for techniques, and then actually try them. Don't be discouraged by failure.

    And most importantly (for me) is to choose recipes from trusted, reliable sources. Many, many cookbooks are full of untested recipes, and I don't usually cook from those kinds of books since the outcome is too hit or miss for me. I am uninterested in spending time and money and effort on something that's not going to turn out.

    Cooking Light has been my favorite recipe source for a long time now, and I almost NEVER have a dud from them (although recently I've been cooking a lot from Eating Well, Cook's Country (and Cook's Illustrated, same thing, basically), and from a few select cookbooks (Everyday Italian, Nigella Lawson's books, etc.).

    Be adventurous, don't worry about the failures, and soon you'll be a fantastic cook!!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Dadeville, AL
    Posts
    12,855
    I'm a decent cook, but I'm too impatient, and I substitute too much. I'm really a much better baker -- I guess I just like baked goods more!

    My mother was said to be a great cook, but I always hated it when she'd try a new recipe on company! Usually, it was ok, but there were a few that defied description... pork with sour cream and dill pickles, and then there was a squash soup that... well, I don't want to ruin your appetite...

    I am relearning the art of cooking after years of Jenny Craig meals, breakfast-for-dinner, and takeout! Now that DH is home all the time, and does some of the cooking, we are experimenting more with seasonings. Penzey's was a good find for us, because we can buy pre-mixed seasonings, like the beef roast or pork chop seasoning, and be sure we'll have a good-tasting meal!

    If you can read, you can cook -- but you have to actually pay attention! I used to try to cook while reading things beside the cookbook, but it didn't work too well. Now I use TNT recipes, mostly from this board and from cookbooks that have been recommended by this board! We watch Rachael a lot, and Giadda, as well as Alton Brown, if you're interested in the science of cooking.

    Some standard cookbooks like Betty Crocker, or Better Homes and Gardens are good for basics. I just got the 365 -- No Repeats and Express Lane, both from Rachael Ray, and have had some good luck.

    Let us hear how you are doing with your new endeavor! We're interested!
    Kay
    I'm a WYSIWYG person -- no subterfuge here!

  5. #5
    I'm a really good cook, but my big caveat is that I can't cook ANYTHING without a recipe. So as long as I have a recipe, I will make delicious food. If I'm left on my own to improvise, disaster is imminent.

    I credit the Food Network with my ability to cook. In high school, all I did was watch the Food Network. I learned all the cooking techniques, tips, and definitions. Then when I started cooking on my own, when I got an apartment a couple of years ago, I already knew exactly what to do. It was awesome.
    "One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, unless one has dined well." - Virginia Woolf
    http://whatsinlaurenstummy.blogspot.com

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Adelaide, South Australia
    Posts
    1,576
    I was cooking "dinner" (Hamburger Helper ) for my family by the time I was 10...I always thought I was a good cook; now looking back on it, I wasn't really. I kept trying new things until I got them right. I can now say that I am a good cook--when I say that I had people over for dinner on X night, my friends ask why they weren't invited too! (I explain that my small condo holds a limited number of people!)
    Follow recipes at first, and try different recipes for the same thing (like red pasta sauces) and you'll begin to see, smell, and taste the differences the different ingredients and then one time you'll run out of something and go "I can replace X with Y!"
    And always feel free to ask questions on these boards, people here are fantastic about answering questions!

  7. #7

    Brand-new cook

    I'm a brand-new cook who started cooking this very month. I'm glad that you good cooks say not to get discouraged at any failures but to keep on trying. Thanks, I needed to hear that bit of good advice.

    So far, I've poached salmon fillets that were delicious, broiled some lamb chops that were heavenly, baked some chicken that needed much more time than the recipe stated since my new electric oven is 25° off, and used my crock pot several times and enjoyed the results. I've got a bunch of basic cookbooks and I follow the recipes exactly as printed.

    I enjoy eating and have eaten almost every type of cuisine known to mankind. So far, I'm having fun cooking, buying cookbooks, kitchenware, and shopping for ingredients. I watch various cooking shows on the Food Network.

    The say that you can't teach an old dog new tricks. Well, this "old dog" (age 64) loves learning new tricks, especially in the kitchen.
    I'm one man who is not afraid to ask for directions.

    I'm real glad that I discovered this cooking BB.
    "When the kitchen smells spicy and wonderful, it can only mean one thing...it's not my kitchen." --- Maxine

  8. #8
    My mother-in-law is an awesome cook and I learned a lot by watching her and helping her in the kitchen. She is a great entertainer and I copy a lot of her ideas and ways of doing things.

    I think I am a good cook, but it depends on who I am cooking for. I have friends and neighbors who do not cook much so anything I make for them gets great reviews. Cooking for other foodies makes me nervous....they will know when I mess something up!!

    I took a number of cooking classes through my local Adult Ed which really helped my confidence.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    In the kitchen or the garden
    Posts
    939
    First of all, Welcome Stump and Welcome Max! I for one am glad you found this board as well!

    I agree with what most others have said. Practice, practice, practice. I have learned so much from this board, Cooking Light and other cooking mags, and The Food Network.

    For new cooks, I think Rachael Ray's cookbooks are good. The recipes are not too fussy, they are relatively quick to prepare (not all can be done in 30 minutes IMHO), and she generally uses fresh ingredients with the occasional convenience item. Most local libraries carry many cookbooks so you check them out and see if you like them.

    Patti

  10. #10
    I would say I'm very good to average. Very good in the weeknight meals department, average (to possibly below-average) for dinner-party type fare. I haven't had a lot of experience with more complicated dinner party dishes, so I definitely need some work there. Casual entertaining or everyday eating, I'm very good!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    midwest
    Posts
    640
    Check the library for any or all of the following, and see if they might be the kind of information you are looking for.

    “How to Grill” by Steven Raichlen of BBQ-U --- for info on (you guessed it) grilling
    “How to Cook Everything” by Mark Bittman --- for a general purpose cooking reference “How to Cook without a Book” by Pam Anderson --- practical cooking techniques/tips

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Hollywood, California
    Posts
    10,883
    If you can follow directions, you can cook -- up to a point.

    As others have posted, much depends on the recipe. For a neophyte, I would recommend fairly simple recipes such as RR which depend on robust flavors and fairly easy techniques -- and which tend to be forgiving.

    Read the recipe carefully -- re-read the recipe -- have all ingredients prepped and ready to go and pay attention.

    While I used to be a pretty good cook, I became an outstanding cook by watching the cooking programs -- especially shows like Alton Brown and America's Test Kitchen in which the TECHNIQUE is explained. I understood why recipes have certain techniques -- i.e. sauteing to start -- intensifes flavors; not crowding the pan when searing -- how to properly chop an onion.

    Choice of recipes is key -- lasagna, spaghetti sauce, roast chicken, chocolate chip cookies, brownies -- these are all the basic recipes that are pretty fail proof while enabling one to learn techniques.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    South Lake Tahoe, CA
    Posts
    3,259
    First off, welcome Stump!

    I am said by folks who eat my food to be a good cook.

    Resources that were especially helpful to me: 1) A good, basic, easy to understand cookbook -- for me it was "Better Homes and Gardens,'' 2) I learned much regarding techniques from Julia Childs' "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," vols. I & II. Whatever you choose, read it over and over.

    I would agree with those who counsel not to be discouraged!

    Kay

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Dadeville, AL
    Posts
    12,855
    I checked with DH, and of course, he wanted to know what the measurements are for a good cook, great cook, etc... I told him that a good cook was following a recipe, and most everything tasted good, and was properly done -- no raw, no burned. An excellent cook was one that made the best you ever tasted of everything. A mediocre cook had lots of failures, but also lots of good-tasting food.

    Following that criteria, he said that I was a good cook...

    I had reported myself as mediocre, but I'm glad he didn't agree... is that like asking whether this outfit made me look fat?
    Kay
    I'm a WYSIWYG person -- no subterfuge here!

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