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9 Tips to help you start cooking right away.

Updated on June 26, 2011

One part of my life that I know I had to face someday is to learn how to cook!

Through many trials and errors, I finally got a grip of how to cook. To make things easier for me, I started to question myself why I did fail and why did I succeed? What ingredients did I put into the food that make it taste good? How can I make this process faster without losing the essence of the dish?

So this is when I had my own lessons and that's what I am going to share with you today. :)

9 Tips for novice cook to start off your cooking journey.

1. Start from something that you are familiar with. Start from ingredients that you know, the flavors that you love. Don't try to make other cuisines just yet. Start from what you have already known and familiar with.

2. Don't blindly follow recipes. I have had bad experiences with many bad recipes. This is where your intuition comes into play. You have to taste your own food and make your own experiment with it to get the best flavors that you really like. The exception is for baking (cakes, bread and etc.) where you need exact measurement.

3. Knife skills is important. It helps you to work faster but don't try to be a professional chef overnight by cutting too fast, or you might cut yourself. Start with a slow and steady motion so you know your move. You will get better at it over time. Get a good chef's knife and learn how to take good care of it. It will be your best friend in the kitchen. You can use food processor that helps to chop food or cut vegetables, but I find it too much work than just using a knife. Besides, the cleaning work is much easier with a knife.

4. Organize your work space. Clean as you go. Never run out of a clean towel beside you so you can wipe and clean the knife, cutting board and the work space.

5. Grab a basic cookbook to get a brief knowledge of basic cooking skills such as how to boil water, keep meat and vegetable, cook with oil and so on.

6. In a hurry? Then grab a recipe book and try to make a dish from it. Ask yourself what type of cooking method is the recipe using, what you should know about it so you can do it the right way. Start from something easy. Mistakes can be a good learning experience if you know why you failed.

7. Organize recipes. After you have been exploring many recipes that you want to experiment with. Organize it in your own order to create your own cooking lesson. (by difficulties, by methods, by ingredients, etc.)

8. Don't forget to record what you've done and succeed so you can look back and get the information anytime. (Don't be like me, I have just started to record them not long ago) Always be organized. Prepare ingredients and tools ready at hand before cooking. It will help you work faster with less clutter.

9. Try new things once every week or once in a while after you have mastered all the basic skills in the kitchen. It may be a new ingredient, or a new cuisine. You will be amazed of how much fun you have, and what you can create when cooking is not a burden anymore!

Good basic cookbooks to read :

These are cookbooks that teach me the basic of cooking. I have read it and picked some useful things of each books to combine and make my own cooking lessons for my own practice. Feel free to plan your own meals and put some lessons to apply in each meal as you make. Everything takes time and practice and since cooking is the activity that you have to do so often, I don’t see any reason why you can’t be a great cook!

Here are some books I would recommend :

1. Martha Stewart’s Cooking School : This is the most recent one that I have been reading and I like the lessons that she put together into this book. There is enough information and lots of details to give you the basic understanding of cooking and it is filled with beautiful pictures. Although the dessert section have fewer things to learn than I expected, and it does not contain the bakery basics, but overall, it is a good book to read.

2. Betty Crocker Cook Book : This is the book that I have had for a long time, a very old version one. I have seen it has been edited with more recipes and information. Mine is a hard cover book with binders, and organized with recipe tabs for easy reference. I like Betty Crocker’s Cook Book as a reference of basic recipes and variations that can be made from it, especially the bakery section.

3. The flavor Bible : This is the reference book where I use to create new dish with a new combination of ingredients. The book is a great reference for the art of flavoring. It is an essential guide to culinary creativity which you will explore the roles of basic tastes, how to work more intuitively with ingredients, and many techniques that you will find to make your food taste the best that it can be.

That should start you off on the right foot. I wish you the best on your cooking journey!

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    • Julie-Ann Amos profile image

      Julie-Ann Amos 

      9 years ago from Gloucestershire, UK

      Really useful hub thanks - wish I had had this years ago

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