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can you teach me how to cook :(

post #1 of 39
Thread Starter 
ive been buyin meats/veges and trying to cook something good, but most of the time it turns out to be horrible. i use allrecipes.com for recipes but nothing tastes good. sometimes i google recipes. i used to buy my meats from albertsons but i was told their meat is nasty so i just switched to vons and i noticed a difference when i cooked their meat recently. but i need more than that.

since all of you know how to cook, can you teach me how to cook? is there something i have to do while cooking? steps? anything i need to know about cooking to help me cook better?

i wanna start w/ simple and easy recipes first. mainly on the range. i would use the oven but we never used it once and i have to clean it and we have a roach problem.

if any of you can drop good recipes on beef and macaroni, spagetti, george foreman recipes, and a green bean/carrot recipe id greatly appreciate it.
post #2 of 39
Ok so here's what I would do and what I did, when I first went out on my own in life...

I made a list of my 5 favorite dishes from growing up. I got the recipe for each of them from my family and followed them religiously. I got great at making them. I internalized them. And while I was doing that, I was reading recipe books, magazines (this was bc - before computers *blush*) anything having to do with cooking. And I watched cooking shows on Saturday PBS (before FoodNetwork and Fine Living).

Before long I would try out new recipes featuring a new technique about 1x a month. Before long I had a long repertoire of things I knew how to cook and cook very well! Along with those recipes, I had built skills - the basics that I had used and watched while growing up and helping cook. (It's still not the same as having to depend on yourself to cook on your own though.)

So let's start with your list of top 5 dishes you want to learn to prepare and then maybe we can help you learn to make those great. Then we can move on to other types of lessons.
post #3 of 39
Your first lesson should be in selecting a cut of meat. This is kinda hard to do without visuals.

Your second lesson is this. Heat skillet on high. Add some oil. Salt and Pepper the steak on both sides. Place in pan. Flip when ready. Allow to rest. Eat.
post #4 of 39
kuan but you missed quite a few steps like

.5 What kind of steak?

.75 How thick of a steak?

.85 How do I pick a good steak? (You already referenced this here)

1. How do you know how long to heat it?

2. What kind of pan am I using?

3. Do I add any oil to the pan?

4. How will I know how long to cook it on the first side?

5. What if it gets too dark and burns on the outside before it's ready to turn?

6. How do I know when it's ready?

7. How long do I rest it?

Not tryin to be a smart *ss, just trying to show that as people with cooking experience of relative amounts there are things we have internalized and know "almost instinctively" about cooking so we don't think to relate that cumulative cooking knowledge when telling someone how to do something. When you're teachin someone to cook it's almost as if you are taking someone in kindergarten and walking them through a recipe.

Also, to agree with you, one of the first lessons outside of knife skills, the basic kitchen, the basic pantry, how to pick raw ingredients would be how to pan saute and make a pan sauce cuz those two fundamentals form the foundations of soooooooooo many different recipes and represent lateral techniques that form the basis for cooking skills.

*stepping off soap box now, sorry .... blush, shrinking away*
post #5 of 39
How I'd organize lessons.

1 Buy fresh produce. make a simple vinaigrette to dress it. bake a potato.

2 meat grades, buy a whole fryer chicken or two butcher for the next lesson

3 stock. even if you rarely make it, knowing a good stock is important at the very least so you can pick a convenience alternative that isn't execrable.

4 simple soups

5 Roux and white sauce finishing with home made macaroni and cheese: by extension gravy and other homey sauces (biscuits and gravy)

6 required equipment, instant read thermometer. pan searing meat with a pan sauce (chicken thighs as they're forgiving and moist) perhaps a reduction or two.

7 quick breads, pancakes and biscuits (spaetzle is a simple extension here too)

8 eggs

(8a egg desserts, creme brulee, custards and cheesecakes--optional)

9 grill a steak

10 roast a chicken--extension to other large roasts

I've done similar routines with the scouts when I was scoutmaster and have written a couple of letters to mormon missionary relatives on similar skills. (I am in Utah after all).

Yes, I completely skip deep frying.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #6 of 39
Thread Starter 
everythign in bold i have no idea how to do or dont know wat your talkin about. i think i know how to grill a steak, but i use a foreman grill. i dont have an outdoor grill.
post #7 of 39
Thread Starter 
5 dishes id like to make are...

spagetti (ground beef, not chicken)
green bean
burger recipe (Ground beef)
chicken leg recipe (not fried, but i do wanna know a good fried recipe)
carrot recipe
potatos (not sweet)

i picked one extra. always wanted to know how to make potatoes. in those recipes i dont want mushrooms or olives. i want the veges to be healthy, not too much fat in it.

thankyou everyone for your help btw
post #8 of 39
Above all, salt and pepper are your friends. Don't be afraid to be somewhat generous with it (unless you have a really really bad blood pressure problem). Usually food (everything from soup to steaks to potatoes) taste bland because it's not seasoned with enough salt. As an experiment, cut a chicken breast into four pieces. On one don't add any salt and pepper, and the others add 1/8th of a teaspoon, 1/4 and 1/2 of a teaspoon respectively. Also add a pinch of pepper on all the salted pieces of chicken then cook all the pieces of chicken until they're done. Notice how seasoning the chicken makes a substantial difference to the taste of your food and how much is too much salt.
"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
post #9 of 39
Thread Starter 
i would assume that 1/2 is too much salt and 1/4 or 1/8th is the right amount of salt. but wat yall are sayin is that salt and pepper can make everything taste a lil bit better? i dont use much salt but i use a lotta pepper
post #10 of 39
Salt will certainly "enhance" the flavours of foods and make them taste "better" for lack of a better term (partially because our body craves that stuff). But how much salt a person can taste can vary from person to person. Pepper has been an important part of most old world cuisine as a very basic seasoning (as valuable as salt in the olden days) and in my opinion "brightens" flavours, but is less important than salt.
"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
post #11 of 39
phatch's log of skills is awesome! So ok, learn to make these favorite 6 things that will at least keep you eating at home for a few times a week and go through his step by step process too! Woot! You're a rockstar in no time!

OK, so tell me what kinds of pans do you have and what kind of stove and oven set up do you have? Also are you in the U.S.? and do you have access to stores/markets?

And are you cooking only for yourself? If so, how do you feel about leftovers? How much freezer space/frig space do you have that is yours alone? Do you share a domicile with someone?
post #12 of 39
Buy a Betty Crocker cook book. I still go back to the Betty Crocker if there's something I haven't made before that I need to do. The book is very clear on recipe precedures. Recipes are easy to follow and leave some margin for error. Once you have the basics down, you can move on to things that are a little more ambitious. I once knew a girl who literally could not boil water. She loved cheese cake and wanted to make one. I gave her a Betty Crocker and told her to have at it. she made a perfect cheese cake. This is always my advice to people who say they can't cook and want to learn. If you can read, you can cook. Good luck!
post #13 of 39
Yep I still have 3 books from when I first had my own place in '81: Betty Crocker Cookbook, Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, and Joy of Cooking
post #14 of 39
Thread Starter 
i have an electric stove. i guess thatd make my oven eletctric, i never used it. i am in the us, in cali. the stores around me are trader joes, albertsons, vons, ralphs, lazy acres. i stopped buy my meat n veges from albertsons cuz their food doesnt taste good. im cookin for 1 or 2 other pple. i can eat leftovers if theyre only 1 day old, unless theres a way to make them taste good the 2nd/3rd day. lots of frig/frz space (i have 2 :) the other is a small fridge tho)
post #15 of 39
Couple of things so-far unmentioned:

When a recipe involving frying or sauteing most things says to "pat dry," DO IT. Wet food doesn't sear, it steams, and searing (or browning) is a huge flavor factor in many dishes. To that end you pretty much have to have at least one honest to goodness heavy-bottomed skillet, like one with a stainless steel/aluminum/stainless steel disk on the bottom or a cast iron skillet.

The other thing, rather more intangible, is that you have to be willing to fail. You learn more from mistakes you make than from ones you're just warned about.

Do you know any good cooks? Pick their brains! Watch them cook & ask questions, & have them watch you cook & coach you. Probably only cost you a couple bottles of wine...

Does anyone know if the Cook's Illustrated gang has a "beginner's" cookbook? My favorite basic cookbook is "The Best Recipe," but I don't know if that would be the best choice in this case....
The genesis of all the world's great cuisines can be summed up in a four word English phrase: Don't throw that away.
The genesis of all the world's great cuisines can be summed up in a four word English phrase: Don't throw that away.
post #16 of 39
Thread Starter 
i made spagetti meat sauce and surprisingly it tasted bad :( . another 3 dollars wasted. can that betty crocker teach everythin a newbie at cookin needs to know
post #17 of 39
In this case, "bad" is a meaningless term.

Try and analyze exactly what about it you didn't like. Then we can try and correct your procedure or improve it.

I'm assuming you mean a tomato-based meat sauce? Let me walk you through the proceedure.

1. Sear the meat. Chopped beef should be fresh, with good color and aroma. Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet (or work right in the pot you'll be using for the sauce) until it's very hot. Add the meat, breaking it apart as it cooks, until it turns gray and starts to brown. Drain it in a collander or strainer to get rid of the excess oil.

2. In a large pot, heat a tbls or two of olive oil. Add chopped onions and saute' (saute means to fry over high heat in very little oil) until onions turn transluscent. Add one or two garlic cloves, smashed. Lower heat and cook 30-60 seconds. Add chopped bell pepper. Cook until pepper is tender.

3. Return meat to pot and mix with veggies.

4. Add seasonings. Salt & pepper are basic. What else do you want? Italian sauce usually has oregano (but go easy on it, as it has a lot of reach). Red pepper if you want some heat.

5. Add the liquids. I would start with a large can of diced tomatoes, a couple of small cans of tomato sauce, maybe some red wine, and half a can of tomato paste. Stir this all together. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, for about half an hour until the tomatoes have melted into the sauce. Continue cooking, uncovered, until sauce reaches your desired degree of thickness.

Once you have this basic sauce down to your satisfaction, you can then start experimenting with other ingredients, and in other directions.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
post #18 of 39
Assuming that this is a serious post, Joy of cooking should be sufficient to teach you everything you need to know about cooking in general. Older editions are considered better resources than the latest edition.

Watch food network or PBS on weekends. There's lots of cooking shows, like America's Test Kitchen, that show simple cooking techniques and recipes for simple dishes. You can look up websites too, including this one which has a lot of recipes. There are others, that have cooking lessons en masse, like egullet.org

Necessity is the mother of invention. You have to eat. You have bascially two choices. Buy your food in a restaurant or make it yourself. Or a third possibility is to find a good friend that knows how to cook, compliment them like crazy, and maybe they'll invite you over everynight.


post #19 of 39
First, spread the ground beef on the cutting board so it's about 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick. Lightly salt and pepper. Then brown it in a skillet. Remove it when it's browned.

What are your other ingredients?
post #20 of 39

Basic Rule of Seasoning

The one thing to keep in mind with seasonings, particularly if you're unfamiliar with them, is to go easy. You can always add more, but removing too much is impossible.

Taste as you go along, adding more seasoning if you think it needs it.

Over time you'll develop a feel for how much of what to use.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
post #21 of 39
:chef:Ok the first thing that you need to do is get a cooking for dummies book, it will have most if not all of the basic terminology your going to need for starting your soon to be excruciating culinary life. Then you will be able to take any recipe step by step. That is exactly what I would recommend, find a recipe get all the ingredients measured and available for use when making your dish of choice, and take the recipe step by step. If you cannot follow ( understand ) the directions for a recipe I would either find a reputable translator or get some English lessons. If you are serious about cooking you also might want to get some items that will help, like a measuring cup and spoons, also a timer is good. Good luck and take your time, soon enough you will be creating your own dishes and you will be able to taste your victory.;)
post #22 of 39
Thread Starter 
i used this recipe for the spagetti

Spaghetti Italian - Allrecipes

i used ground beef instead of sausage and the can sizes are slightly off.

does it really make a difference if i cook it for one whole day? thats a lotta electricy. first time i did this recipe i cooked it for about 4-5 hours. 2nd time 1hr30min. tasted the same to me.

wat if i chopped the tomatoes myself? just seems kinda nasty to buy canned tomatoes. i cant use wine cuz im not old enough to buy it. when i brown the meat i take off big chunks and shape it into a ball then put it in the pan and break it apart.

wat are good ingredients to use for spagetti meat sauce? is the recipe i have good enough?

also, this is just ONE recipe. im hopin to have at least 5 in my arsenal very soon :) . ima buy the betty crocer and cookin for dummies books.
post #23 of 39
Ok well that sounds like a pretty basic recipe to me. What went wrong in your estimation and as KYH asked, what exactly didn't you like about it?
post #24 of 39
I didn't see anything about the original recipe or your subs that would make it bad. Personally, in that particular sauce, I'd have left out the bay leaf.

Couple of things:

Where did that cook-all-day thing come from? Top of the recipe very specifically says cooking time is 1 hour. Not that longer cooking hurts that kind of sauce, but it isn't necessary.

Why are you shaping the chopped meat into balls, only to break them apart. Just break off hunks and drop them in the pot, and then break them apart. Again, what you're doing isn't wrong; just an unnecessary extra step.

There most certainly is nothing wrong with using fresh tomatoes you chop yourself. Just be aware that they will take longer to cook down than the ones in a can.

Based on personal preference (which you'll develop with some time in grade) you can either just chop the whole tomatoes, or you can peel, core, and deseed them. Tomato seeds often turn bitter, which is why most people remove them. If your sauce does turn bitter, a tablespoon or so of brown sugar will solve that problem.

Once more, though, you need to tell us exactly what you didn't like about the sauce you made. That's the only way we can help you fix it.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
post #25 of 39
I'll echo KYHeirloomer...what exactlly was wrong? Was it too sweet, sour, burnt, bland, salty, etc. Need to know this if you want to fix. This is an great example of learning how to cook, taste at various stages then figure out if there's something missing or too much of something. There are fixes for most and sometimes you just have to start over. Keep trying and cooking/seasoning will eventually make sense. Heck I've been cooking for over 40 years and am still learning. The best of luck and keep trying 'cause eventually the art of seasoning and timing will come to you.
post #26 of 39


lets start with pasta:

first buy the things you will need for it. witch could be (you can go the fresh route using real tomatos ,But I never have that kind of time anymore.)
tomato paste ,tomato sauce , extra virgin olive oil, fresh garlic, oregano fresh or dried. and the pasta, and salt and pepper. this will make a basic marinara sauce you can also use the net : I bought my computer and it cost a lot so I use it to find everything(getting my money's worth). when making recipes from someone else make sure you change up some things to make it yours.

How to Make Marinara Sauce - wikiHow

when you set the sauce off to the side get a skillet ready and put in 1/2 cup olive oil heat that up and then add three cloves of garlic turn the fire down to low and when the garlic turns light brown take it out,
salt and pepper the sauce that is on the side then toss it ( or some of it) into the olive oil stir to combine pour over pasta and toss it. that will make it tast-a-fratific-olisous. I want some now !!!!

cooking should be fun, its not like baking.
post #27 of 39
Thread Starter 
hmm, im not entirely sure wat was wrong. it was bland, didnt taste that great. i dunno wat to look for in the taste so i cant really tell you. but thx for all the help so far. and i think it was another recipe that said it was reccomended to cook longer for an hour, my bad
post #28 of 39
Try this soup recipe pretty easy to do:

1lb spicy sausage ( any )
6 strips bacon
11/2 lb gold potatoes/yukon
1/2 onion
2 tbl butter
2 cloves garlic
1 cup Kale, ( it by the greens )
1 pint heavy cream
2 cans beef broth
1 can water
salt n pepper to taste

do all of these things at the same time
1. cook spicy sausage ( frying pan ) drain a couple time to get red color out chops small pices
2. add butter chopped garlic and onion saute til tender 2-4 min
3. boil water beef broth then add potatoes cook til done
4. cook bacon, chop small pices
when all done
add bacon and spicy sausage potatoes together (big pot ) bring to boil add kale cook til tender lower heat to medium add heavy cream and let lower temp to emulsify togther couple mintues, salt n pepper to taste. cool and enjoy 4-6 servings

this is the sausage potato soups served at olive garden
post #29 of 39
I suspect that might be the culprit of your bland taste- italian sausage is heavily seasoned, and ground beef... isn't. The can sizes shouldn't make too much of a difference if it's an ounce or two, I don't think.

My suggestion: before you try to alter recipes based on needs or desires, make them EXACTLY just once. Then you'll know what it's supposed to taste like, before you start messing around with it.

And I second the Betty Crocker book- still got mine on the shelf, all battered and stained.
post #30 of 39
I suspect Bluedogz is right. If you make that recipe again, increase the salt and pepper. And try increasing the oregano by 50%. See it that doesn't perk it up a bit.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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