Learning to cook....

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ron C, Sep 5, 2002.

  1. Ron C

    Ron C Stunt Coordinator

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    Hey peeps,
    I'm just turning 21 and sad to say I don't know how to cook yet [​IMG] I just graduated college, am working full time and just got an apartment. However, eating at McDonalds everyday is getting expensive not to mention unhealthy! I want to learn how to use this big square thing in the kitchen but don't know where to start. Unforunately, I never payed attention when my parents where cooking [​IMG] Any suggestions on cook books or basic meals to start with? The landlord just put in a new gas stove and I might as well make use of it [​IMG]
    Thanks!
     
  2. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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    Betty Crocker cookbook

    Seriously, it's not that hard. Follow the directions and you'll be fine
     
  3. LewB

    LewB Screenwriter

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    Ron:
    I think the first thing you will need are the tools of the trade. A good set of knives and a set of pots and pans. After that I guess you could check out the Food Network website. I think that 'The Joy of Cooking' is considered one of the basics in terms of cook books. Do you have any place to put a grill ? If so, you can always make something as long as the weather isn't too bad. Call mom, I'm sure she can talk you thru some of your favorites. My mom was an awesome cook, I very much regret not getting all of her recipes (that stuff, you won't find in a cook book).
    Roasting a chicken usually will provide me with 2 or 3 dinners.
    Get a roasting chicken, throw some spices on it (salt, pepper,paprika, whatever you like. Put in a roasting pan, throw in the oven at 350 F for around an hour (juices run clear, no pink meat) and you have most of the work done. Add
    a starch like a baked spud or rice and you look like a culinary genious !
    Egg or pasta dishes are pretty easy to make also.
    Bon appetite !
     
  4. Christopher P

    Christopher P Supporting Actor

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    Are you living alone? I have for a couple years and it can be tough to cook for one sometimes, especially when a peanut butter & jelly sandwich, a can of chili, or a microwave pizza would do. I feel that way alot of times when I come home from work, having had slim-fast all day, starving and wanting to eat right away.

    My parents just got me the George Foreman grill, and it's pretty cool, and pretty cheap too I think. I use it alot to grill a little chicken (marinating all day in some teriyake and barbeque sauce) then cook a few vegetables and put on some rice. Doesn't take too long. I also found that combining stuff (chili and macaroni and cheese for instance) can be good for the financially challenged. Good luck to you Ron!
     
  5. Alex Spindler

    Alex Spindler Producer

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    I recommend AllRecipes.com
    Very good directions, reviews, and some helpful tips for newcomers to the cooking field.
     
  6. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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    Probably you should focus on basic skills. These then get combined into more exotic food preparation. The main thing is to use your powers of observation. Two simple examples:

    Cook pasta: get big pot full of water boiling (bubbles). Throw pasta in and stir every so often (big wooden spoon). Reduce heat (bubbles almost go away). You will notice that the pasta will (1) get more limp and (2) swell up. This is where the powers of observation come in. You have to keep observing until you can determine how limp and swollen the pasta should be, and this comes from practice. You want it cooked just enough that it give some resistance to the teeth ("Al Dente", Italian for "to the tooth"). Drain in a collendar (bowl full of holes, put in the sink).

    Saute onions: get frying pan, put in some olive oil, put on medium heat. Cut up your onion and throw in, stirring almost continuously. You will notice that the onion will (1) get more limp (2) get more transparent and (3) start to get brown. Once again it's the observation that's critical.

    And you need sharp knives. Get a chef's knife and something to keep it sharp. You should be able to slice ripe tomatoes without tearing the skin. The knife should be that sharp.
     
  7. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

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    Watch lots of Food Network. Many shows will explain how ingredients react with each other and various preparation techniques instead of just walking you through a recipe. Some of my faves:
    "Good Eats" with Alton Brown
    "Food 911" with Tyler Florence
    "30 Minute Meals" with Rachel Ray
    "Cooking Live" or "Sara's Secrets" with Sara Moulton
    Recipes and show schedule at www.foodtv.com
    I avoid Emeril like the plague. Can't stand him.
     
  8. Max Leung

    Max Leung Producer

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    Those standalone electric cooking grills rock! They're a good investment if you are single. Usually takes about 10 minutes, including the 5 minute warm-up, to cook boneless meats.

    The caveat is that they don't work very well with bones. For that, you'll need to get friendly with the electric oven or BBQ. Get yourself a timer for precise and burn-free cooking!

    Aside from the cookbooks and other sources people mentioned, a timer is a must-have for the lazy bachelor.

    Also, rice cookers are another good investment. Add rice, add water, and the cooker does the rest. And you can use them to steam too!
     
  9. Kenford G

    Kenford G Auditioning

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    Spaghetti is virtually FOOL PROOF. You brown a pound of hamburger and add diced onions to that. Add one can of diced tomatoes and 2 cans of tomato sauce. Add garlic, oregano or Italian Seasoning, little cinnimon, little thyme, and some garlic sauce. Use as much salt as you need until you get the right flavor you want. Then let it simmer for as long as you like. And when you're ready. Boil a pot of noodles for about 10 minutes, depending on the directions on the package. Drain into a strainer. Add a half a cube of butter into the pot and put the noodles back in and stir it around. Then pour the sauce in and mix it all together. I love spaghetti like this. That way, all the flavor gets on the noodles. This is basically fool proof. I've been making my own spaghetti since I was. Crap. I can't remember. I think when I was 13 or 14.
     
  10. Anders Englund

    Anders Englund Second Unit

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  11. Kim Donald

    Kim Donald Stunt Coordinator

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    Real Name:
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    If I could have only three cookbooks in my collection....
    Joy of Cooking
    Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, and Ethan Becker
    all the basics are covered probably the best single reference cookbook ever published.
    The French Chef Cookbook
    Mastering the Art of French Cooking I and II
    Julia Child
    the FCCB paperback is from the 60's PBS cooking show that brought classic cooking to America and full of simple but great meals, lots on the how to. If you like the first the set MTAFC is a must.
    Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking
    Marcella Hazan
    what Julia Child did for French Cooking Marcella did for great Northern Italian cooking. A must for Italian cooking.
    on line the
    Recipe Archive Index will have a recipe for just about anything you can think of cooking.
    kd
     
  12. Todd Henry

    Todd Henry Second Unit

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    I am a similar situation and what I like to do for dinner, when I am not grilling is to get the frozen pre packaged dinners like Skillet Sensations. You pour the contents of the bag into a skillet, cover and cook for 8-10 minutes. It has meat and vegetables in it and is pretty healthy. The have a decent variety of choices, plus there are some different brands out there. Total cost for dinner is less than McDonalds.

    Todd
     
  13. Tom Fynan

    Tom Fynan Stunt Coordinator

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    Try the book "Betty Crocker's Cooking Basics." My mother gave me a copy back in 1979 when I got my first apartment. It gives very simple, clear directions on the real basics of how to cook, along with decent recipes. It stopped me from starving during my college years. These days I rely mainly on Fanny Farmer, with Joy of Cooking as my backup.
     
  14. JasenP

    JasenP Screenwriter

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    Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are your friend. You can grill 'em, bake 'em etc.. There are also a lot of "cheats" such as Shake N' Bake and multitudes of different marinades. This and some rice, vegetable side or a salad makes a great meal for one. When I used to work 70+ hours a week I would spend Sunday night cooking chicken breasts for the week and heat them up in the good ol' microwave.

    Definitely invest in a good "basics" cookbook and (as mentioned before) don't be afraid to experiment.
     
  15. Max Knight

    Max Knight Supporting Actor

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    That's great that you want to learn how to cook! Far too few guys on their own can really deal with the kitchen, and there is no excuse.

    I second the recommendation to watch the food network a lot (especially good eats!).

    Probably the best way to start is to think about what you like to eat! Do you love eating Italian food? Is it meat that really satisfies you? Do you love stirfry? Start with what you like to eat, and try to learn how to cook that. The recipes on Foodtv.com are a great resource.

    In terms of kitchen gear, don't go out and break the bank now. A nice set of knives plus pots and pans could run you $700 easy! For now I recommend that you get 1 good chefs knife, 1 good skillet, and 1 cast iron skillet. Buying these serves a few purposes:

    1. You've spent some money. That usually makes people want to try a little harder so that they don't feel they have wasted their cash!

    2. Using a good knife will make all the prep work go much easier.

    3. While you can get by with cheaper pots and such for quite a while, a good skillet will be a lot nicer for learning due to the absence of "hot" spots that show up in cheaper cookware and leave part of your food burned and the other half raw. A good skillet will have a nice even heat distribution.

    4. The cast iron skillet is great for steaks, burgers, etc, and is so cheap ($10-$20 at a hardware store) that there is no reason not to own one.

    Now get in the kitchen and cook!
     
  16. Marshall Alsup

    Marshall Alsup Second Unit

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    I agree with Max and others... Watch Good Eats! Alton Brown is both very entertaining and a very good cook. He actually explains why things are done the way they are, not just how. This is good because if you watch a show where he talks about searing a steak he explains the process of searing and you take much more away from it than just the steak recipe!
    I highly recommend his book. It is great because it explains how to do various things like searing, grilling, roasting, etc. It doesn't contain as many recipes as some cookbooks but thats because the recipes only serve to illustrate the cooking method. I think this book is a cooking newbies gift from god.
    Good Eats had a marathon on this past Sunday. I recored all 12 episodes and would be glad to make you a copy and send it to you if you'd like, just shoot me an email, or a pm. (mods, if this offer is a problem (copyright?) or something just take the offer out). I haven't watched it yet so I cant say which episodes there are, but hey, I've never seen a bad Good Eats episode.
    Other things:
    1. Use kosher salt. I've learned that using kosher salt in cooking makes a big difference. It makes you food taste much better, and much stronger, without tasting "salty"
    2. As Max said, get an iron skillet. They are cheap. They rule! They hold their heat well so you don't have to worry about hot spots and stuff. Only thing is you have to season it, there will be instructions with it oh how to do that. Also, until you've used it several times don't cook anything watery or acidic (like tomato sauce) in it because this will remove the precious seasoning your trying to build up.
    3. Get a good knife. I have shitty knives and I plan to remedy that when I graduate. I HATE them! They are sharp for the first week but they don't stay that way long. If you get good knives (and take care of them) you'll have them for life. Good brands are Wusthof, Henckels, and Global.
    Some good Cookbooks that I have and like:
    1. See above for Alton's Cookbook.
    2. Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking - This is a great book for learning Italian. There are some simple but delicious pasta sauces in here.
    3. How To Grill - A great book that has a large section on the basics, like how to pick a grill, the differences between gas and charcoal, etc.
    4. The Way to Cook - I don't have this one, but one of my friends does and I really dig it. I'm getting it as soon as I have some cash.
    Last bit of info.... Practice makes perfect!
    Later,
    Marshall
     
  17. Max Knight

    Max Knight Supporting Actor

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    Speaking of knives, my favorite is Global.
    Marshall (and others), you should check out www.cutleryandmore.com, they have GREAT prices on high-end knives. The best prices on Global that I have seen. Scrounge up $112 (plus shipping) and buy yourself the Global 8.25" forged chefs knife. This is the best knife ever! I had been using Globals for a few years before I bought this knife, and I wish I had gotten it sooner! You can't go wrong with it.
     
  18. Ron C

    Ron C Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks everyone. Guess I'll be going to Borders to pick up some books, and see if i can get a TV in the kitchen :p) Also gonna need to pick up some cookware; I only have some basic stuff. Gonna have to be careful with the knives though, don't want some unintended red "sauce" in my food :b
     
  19. David Singleton

    David Singleton Stunt Coordinator

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    Ron, I can't stress enough the importance of good knives. Yes, they are extremely sharp and must be handled with care. That said, you are more likely to injure yourself with a dull knife when you put too much pressure in cutting a slippery vegetable to compensate for the knife's dullness. A sharp knife is much, much safer.
    Try www.cooking.com for your skillets, and other items. You can usually find a great Calphalon skillet in their clearance area. Every skillet, pot, saucepan, etc. that I have purchased at WalMart/Kmart/Target (such as Mirro, RevereWare, etc.) has warped due to high heat. It doesn't help that I have a smooth top radiant range which can really produce the heat. I bought my Calphlon 10" omelet pan for $30.
    Enjoy the experience.
    David
     
  20. Anders Englund

    Anders Englund Second Unit

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    Here's an incentive:
    Women are usually very impressed with a guy who knows how to cook. Am I right, ladies? [​IMG]
    --Anders
     

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