Learn to Cook - Tips for The Beginning Cook
Cooking with Vincent Price!
Anyone can cook!
Cooking is an art and like any other art form, it requires practice. I often have to try recipes several times before I am happy with the final result. For many reasons a recipe may not work for me according to the instructions so I tweak and add, subtract or mix two or three together until I am satisfied.
I have been cooking for at least 25 years. All the ladies in my family are very good cooks. My grandmother was the head of food control at the famed Chase Park Plaza Hotel in all of it's glorious years. She would tell me how to cook while I watched. She would tell me about the famous guests or the latest excitement at the hotel.
I loved Vincent Price movies and he was a frequent guest at the Chase. He liked to cook for himself though and would just order things from room service like pots and pans. I was very impressed that even he loved to cook!
During the 1980's and '90's it seemed like women went into the career world in full force. They weren't at home cooking in the kitchen - they were busting balls in the corporate world. They didn't have time to cook! It became almost unheard of..."I don't cook!" became a power statement.
Now I am seeing a trend - cooking is now coming back into fashion! Food Network, Gourmet and Specialty cooking stores are sprouting up in metropolitan areas. Cooking is not just for the frumpy housewife who has a job to do. Cooking is fun, sexy and a resourceful talent. Being able to open the refrigerator and take stock of the pantry and whip up a delicious meal on the fly is a talent and a skill.
Veggie Brush is a must!
Can you bring it?
"Get people back into the kitchen and combat the trend toward processed food and fast food." ~Andrew Weil
Teach your kids how to accessorize!
Cook with your kids!
- Kids Cook Monday Recipe: Easy Taco Tortilla Bar Menu
A taco or tortilla bar is an easy, tasty meal to make! Try this recipe with all the fillings and toppings you need for a great spread!
Tips for the Beginner
The way you cook is highly dependant upon factors that may be out of your control. There is a lot of chemistry involved in cooking. Altitude, air, temperature, humidity, and salt are a few things that will affect your recipes. If you live in the mountains your cake might not turn out exactly like mine if we follow the same instructions. You should be aware of how your climate affects cooking and baking.
- Before you begin to cook anything - read the recipe at least twice completely. You don't want to find out you have to marinate your meat for two days in brine before you cook.
- Measure ingredients in precise measurements
- Have an Ingredient Encyclopedia that has photos and explanations of items you may have never seen or heard of before. A visual reference when shopping is a huge advantage and time saver.
- Never try a new recipe if you are having guests. Always practice on the family a couple of times first!
- Some foods can make you and others ill if you don't cook it completely. Raw eggs, raw or undercooked pork, undercooked chicken can kill a person.
- Do not try to use substitutions unless stated in the recipe.
- Do not use salt and pepper unless it is called for. Until you are a pro just let your guests salt and pepper their own meal.
- Don't be afraid to cheat and use Bob Evan's mashed potatoes or a flavor your family likes. I usually make one dish that is difficult and easier dishes to accompany the meal.
- Wash dishes as you go this way you don't end up with a gigantic mess at the end.
- Let the kids help! Kids are terrific for peeling potatoes, stirring, mixing, gathering ingredients or measuring things. Kids can learn to follow simple instructions on boxed items such as noodles or cake, cookie and brownie mixes.
- Google is your friend! It is a wonderful advantage to be able to search for recipes or reviews from people that have already made the dish. I often incorporate ideas or additions based on the review.
- When you begin each meal, get all the ingredients together first and measure them out in advance so when you are ready to begin cooking you won't be suddenly surprised if that Vanilla bottle is empty! It also will prevent mishaps such as over boiling while you are trying to measure 1 and 1/3 cups of sugar to add, for instance.
- Wash the meat, and NO! Adrienne from Beverly Hills - you do not wash a chicken with soap! You scrub vegetables with a brush made for this and no soap. Soap can cause diarrhea. Meats should be rinsed very well in luke warm or cold water.
- Check the temperature of the oven you use to make sure it is correct.
- Always preheat your oven or grill before cooking for several reasons. One, for example, if you put a frozen item in an oven that hasn't been brought to temperature it may drastically change the cook time.
- Serve every meal at least one hour late until you can cook well. Everything tastes great when you're starving!
There is love....
A few meals I have tried and recommend to beginners.
- How to Make Easy Garlic Parmesan Crusted Chicken Wings
Tired of Buffalo Wings? Then try these delicious and easy to cook garlic Parmesan Crusted Baked Chicken Wings. This recipe is easy and fast and healthier than fried chicken wings.
- Meat Loaf - The Sunday Night Dinner Anytime of the Week
A meal that orginated from the Great Depression, meat loaf has become something all Americans are familiar with. Try this recipe and your family will be asking for it weekly.
- Jambalaya Using ZATARAIN with Shrimp and Sausage Recipe
In this easy to follow recipe I've added other ingredients to Zatarain's Jambalaya mix to make it go further and feed more people. Pictures included with recipe.
Cooking is a skill that anyone can learn, no matter how young or old, male or female. It is frustrating to make mistakes while you learn but learn you will. I do not know one good cook that doesn't have several kitchen disaster stories.
Please leave your best tip for the beginner or the best kitchen disaster story that everyone can learn from!