Lessons for New Cooks: The Foundation

Lessons for New Cooks: The Foundation

When you are just starting out in the kitchen, it can be intimidating. You've no doubt seen someone standing over a stove at some point furiously throwing things in a pan, and stirring wildly and thought, hmm, I could never do that, but cooking is absolutely like every other skill you've ever had to learn to do in your life from walking, to shoe tying, to driving your car. Instead of leading the charge with I can't, or that's too hard, or I'll never get it, realize that with all those other things you've managed to do in your life, you weren't perfect on day one, or ten for that matter. It took a lot of trial and error, a lot of falling, a lot of mistakes, but you kept at it, and now you can do them. Cooking is no different. Stop focusing on the idea that you have to be Martha Stewart in the kitchen, and focus on you and your skill level right now, and how you can keep improving upon that.

1. Keep a Clean and Organized Kitchen

If you have a messy pantry, utensils all over the place, a disorganized fridge, a helter skelter spice rack, or just an overall messy kitchen to begin with, it is going to be difficult once you get started to find what you need. Spend a little time putting things in order so that when you begin you can work with efficiency because no one wants to wait 3 hours for you to cook a simple meal because you can't find anything. Also once you get going, clean as you go. When you're chopping things, have a trash can or bag or bowl nearby to easily discard odds and ends so you don't have to keep stopping and starting because you're walking over to a trash can across the room. Wipe down/disinfect surfaces after using cutting boards especially when it comes to raw meat with bacteria, don't cross contaminate your cutting boards (keep one for meat, one for every thing else), and once you use something wash it and put it away or put it back in storage so at the end of cooking your fantastic meal, you won't have a sink full of dishes leftover.

2. Learn How to Cut Food (Not Yourself)

I'm pretty sure you enjoy your fingers just the way they are. In order to ensure that they remain intact, you need to learn to master basic knife skills. Not only will this save your fingers, but this will save you a tremendous amount of time. I cannot stress the absolute importance of this lesson because cutting and chopping are a skill you will use over and over and over again in almost all your recipes.

3. Learn To Read a Recipe and How to Measure Ingredients

When a lot of new cooks start out, they sometimes assume they know what they are doing quickly go off the reservation that is the recipe listed in front of them adding more ingredients then are called for, upping temperatures on ovens, skipping ingredients because they don't have them, or making substitutions with ingredients that simply look alike. Learn to follow recipes as written and then over time, you can begin to adapt and know what does and does not work, what you can and cannot substitute, what each of the spices are, etc. Also, equally important, especially when it comes to baking is that you know how to properly measure ingredients.

4. Learn to Season Your Food

There is a reason so many people over the centuries have fought and died in the name of spices. Spices and seasonings help enhance or bring out the flavor in the foods we eat. We've probably all had a set of overly salted fries that made us give a sour face or had a bland piece of chicken that had us reaching for the salt shaker. Learn to be a master of seasoning on a most basic and universal level first, with salt and pepper. It is extremely rare that you will ever find a savory dish that does not call for salt and pepper. Even desserts often employ salt in them, especially baked goods. Simple tip for beginners, never take a full bottle of salt or pepper and begin pouring it over your food. Put the seasoning into your hand first so you can see exactly how much is going in, and then sprinkle on top of your food because lets say that salt shaker is loose; you will have poured an entire bottle of salt into your food with no way to recover it. Start with a pinch and work your way on up one small pinch at a time to your desired taste level. You can always add more, but once you dump a whole bunch in without care, there is no going back.


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What Guys Said 5

  • Nice take. Cooking is a skill that everyone should learn how to do. It's funny that during bad weather there will sometimes be food shortages in some stores, but when I walk in, all I see left is food on the shelves, and the junk food no on should ever eat is what the stores are out of that people are complaining about the stores being out of. It really shows how unhealthy and helpless most people have become in regards to their own diets.

    I think learning the different definitions, associated with most common recipes really helps make things less intimidating. I wouldn't worry too much about learning about the different types and thicknesses of pans for different foods starting out. Most people don't have that many pots and pans to afford to be that picky anyway. That stuff is for professional or experienced cooks, not someone trying to learn to cook.

    I would also keep the ingredients, and steps simple as you start, and build on your knowledge as you go. Don't worry about mistakes. You often learn a lot from mistakes, and some mistakes can actually make some foods better to you, as each persons taste is different.

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  • Most people will fail at number 1. It is an important one, folks! Extend organization and cleanliness in all aspects of life! Take pride in tide... iness.

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    • Sanitation and order are absolutely essential to any workable kitchen. It's like a bad bathroom. If you see filth everywhere, you're not going to want to use that bathroom unless forced, and that's a bathroom! We're talking food you're going to actually put into your mouth or that of others. Why is your kitchen not clean, I wonder, at the very least... Second that with tidiness. You can't work well in disorder and chaos and you'll end up losing focus from what you're supposed to be doing in the first place, which is cooking.

  • Hahaha, your take reminded me of the Swedish Chef from The Muppets

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Qj8PhxSnhg

    ... hurdy gurdy everyone!

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  • Very good take - I am not a natural cook - I am the type that have to follow recipes to the letter but it usually turns out okay - Those tips are very useful

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    • Whether you follow a recipe or not, at the end of the day, if people enjoy the meal, there really is 100% no difference whether you came up with it or read it from a book.

  • Nice take. Many people need an education in how to cook. As a lover of cooking it astounds me how so few can cook anymore.
    Your the bee's knees! 🐝

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    • Thank you for the nice comment. I was fortunate that my mother believed that both my brother and l learn to be self-sufficient, so she taught us both to cook when we were around 11 and 13. You are absolutely right in that so many, especially in the newer generations have no clue as to how to cook and rather then learn they depend on others (who may not be there forever) or fast food, or microwave food to survive when that is far less healthy for you and much more expensive in the long run. When I meet people like that, or they come over, I get them in the kitchen and I instruct them on how to cook dinner so at least they can prepare at least one thing in their lives!

What Girls Said 5

  • I cannot cook! I will start learn soon :)

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    • Good for you. Start slow. Focus on a few basic recipes after you've learned the basic skills here, and go from there.

  • Another tip which might not be popular today with so many cooking shows- KEEP THINGS SIMPLE! It is better to make a simple dish really well, then a fancy one poorly. Start simple, perfect your cooking skills, and increase your level of difficulty slowly.

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  • Interesting Mytake, good lessons :)

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  • Cooking is an useful skill and an art in its own right! Even if you don't become the master chef or celebrity chef, then you can always cook for yourself, your loved ones, and flip some burgers.

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  • Very very useful👌🏻👌🏻👍🏻👍🏻

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