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Learning on how to combine foods.

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Like a lot of married guys, I'm not the most adept in the kitchen. But the refrigerator is full of lots of food.

Not just fresh food, but several cartons of left-overs from restaurants, as well as some tupperware.

Rather than just throw out perfectly good food, is there some way or forum or recipe book on how to combine diverse types of food that a beginner can follow?

This would be a valuable asset to me when coming home mid-day and having to prepare a hot meal with "found objects."
post #2 of 12
Various hashes are the most common. Fried rice too though that is essentially the same concept as hash.

Soups, casseroles, frittatas, are good ways to use up many leftovers.
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the response.

My "problem" is really oddball for you guys. I'm just not a food hobbyist. I think I could combine foods with a similar pedigree--like left over Asian food and a plate of rice and scrambled eggs.

And when I say 'problem,' it's serious. Here's an example.

Before we were married, my wife and I lived in a cracker-box apartment and watched our pennies. I came home hungry one afternoon, and found very little in the refrigerator.

I took the heels of a loaf of bread, mayonnaise (we were out of butter) and a tupperware container of baked beans and made a 'sandwich.' I quickly ate it over the sink just in case the congealed baked beans warmed to room temperature.

I am now learning how to slice and dice vegetables and stir food on the stove. No kidding.
post #4 of 12
Ah. Gotcha.

Okay, the first thing I think you should do is go over to YouTube and search for "Fast Food My Way." This is a series with the great Jacques Pepin teaching super-simple, super-fast food. He's a great chef and a brilliant teacher.

Now when you watch him, what I want you NOT to do is to think, "okay, so how many spoonfuls of that did he put in?" I want you to think, "okay, so how did he do that? What's the method?" If you watch those programs carefully, and imitate his methods, his techniques, and his approach, you will very soon be able to turn what's in the fridge or the pantry into something delicious. What's more, you will never fall into the trap of thinking that recipes are a solution to anything: you will learn how to cook, not how to follow a recipe, and there is a HUGE difference.

You're starting from nothing. You know that. The two don't go together almost ever, so make the best of it and learn from the very best teacher. Fortunately, he's on YouTube!

Good luck!
post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thank you, sir. I watch youtube almost daily, but purely for entertainment up until now. I'll report back after I have watched the video.
post #6 of 12
The knack is to have a permanent back-up supply of food. Or rather edible stuff that will always be there to make the job easier. (long shelf-life stuff)
For example.
Try to always have eggs. You can mix virtually anything to make a frittatta. From leftover veg. potatoes. We've even done it with leftover chowmein. Odd but delicious. Told the boys it was a fusion fu yung.. They fell for it. Also leftover fahita stuff.

Sticking stuff on buttered toast works too. leftover Bolognese, chilli, meatloaf So make sure you have real or plastic cheese slices handy to cover and brown under the broiler.

If you always have tinned tomatoes handy, they're the best standby for a good meal. You can add sooo much to them. All of the above plus Simply add onions and mushrooms. Season and serve with pasta with lots of cheese.

Keep pitta bread and wraps in the freezer. Stuff with leftovers, all the above and add loads of salad, some kind of chilli dressing.
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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post #7 of 12
Amen.

There is a cavernous divide between those who know how to follow a recipe and those who understand why that recipe works.
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Youtube channel: TheMetalChefOnline

The classics, presented irreverently with a healthy dose of slapstick and loud music.
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post #8 of 12
For learning which foods go with what - whenever you are out for a meal, whether it be a restaurant meal or just grabbing a quick cut sandwich/Sub, look more closely at the combos they have on their menu/selections. They're combined that way because (most times) they do taste well together.

Where you can, pick up a menu from the local take-away where they list what's the basic ingredients in the meals, and make a collection of menus to read in a spare moment. See what appeals to you - try those combos, depending on what you've got at home.

And hey, you may wind up sometimes with some failures that are totally wrong and don't work. Don't frett, the more you try, the better you'll get :) Start simple.
 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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post #9 of 12
The video? It's a series. You're in luck: something like 25 half-hour episodes are freely available on line. If you love them, as I do, you can try borrowing the whole series from a local library. This is also "more" Fast Food My Way, because there was an older series -- fewer available gadgets, younger and perkier Jacques Pepin, same wonderful teaching approach.
post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
A series! LOL. Yikes, I hope I won't have to do homework in becoming a member here! Now, if I find out math is involved...

I'm not off to a good start with my cooking. My wife just got back from a vacation she took with her girl friends. She's still unpacking and doing laundry.

We ate out at a restaurant tonight...
post #11 of 12
Hmmm Maths...1 +1 = several hundred, if 2 mice are involved!

You won't learn to cook in a day, in a week - let it take its course. Choose something that's simple. Give it a go.

My husband is living away with a new job at the moment, and he was pretty much the same - couldn't boil water. But he's surviving. Makes use of a lot of tinned ingredients like spaghetti sauce, then can boil spaghetti to go with it. Or simple fried chops and steak and sausages, microwaved potatoes and pre-prepared salads (cuz I told him he had to have something green :) ). He loves to cook a bbq tho when he gets the chance, and thru much experimentation (key word that) has improved.

He cooks within what he's comfortable with - don't ask him to bake a cake. For that matter- don't ask me to bake I cake - the flour runs away when I go into the pantry out of sheer terror of a life being lived in vain.

But he can scramble eggs, fry bacon, make toast, so he's not going hungry. Told him to make use of frozen veg and just followdirections on the back (do men ever read instructions.... :) ) But he is trying.

That's all you can do. You've got the will to do it. That's more than half the battle.
 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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post #12 of 12
Don't worry. When you get a chance to see one of these episodes, you'll see what I'm talking about. Each program starts with a 30-second snippet in which Pepin makes some little dish... in 30 seconds. Generally he takes stuff in cans or jars or whatever, purees some of it in a food processor, mixes in the rest, and serves it with crackers or something. Then in the main part of the show, he'll make an entire meal very quickly and simply, showing you not only how to do everything but also, if you pay attention, how to keep several dishes going at once.

The shtick of the show is to let the supermarket be your prep cook. That is, he doesn't in this program show you how to break down a whole chicken, make stock, or any of that stuff. He buys pre-cut chicken and stock in a box instead.

I was chatting with my wife about this show the other day, and we agreed: it's basically Jacques Pepin doing the kind of thing Sandra Lee does. The difference is that Sandra Lee is a hack, and Jacques Pepin is one of the best classical chefs of his generation. Watching Pepin's show, you have this extraordinarily good chef who is also an amazingly gifted teacher, and he's teaching YOU: the guy who really is totally new to cooking, who needs to learn some rock-bottom basics, who might spot an interesting ingredient and have no idea what to do with it, and so on.

Math? There are very few cooking programs so adamantly opposed to calculation of any kind. Everything is "maybe I'll throw in some of this, taste it, hmm, maybe a little more salt." Don't sweat it.

I'm just waiting in pleasant anticipation of your response when you've seen a couple of these shows. You're going to love this.
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