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Learning to Cook

binge

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I must admit I've gone through this cycle a number of times in the past...

 

philosophe

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Binge, have you tried recipes from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything? Bittman's recipes are great, and he really de-mystifies cooking. Most of the recipes are very easy to make. I think it is the best book for starting to cook.
 

Mark from Plano

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I joined this about a year and a half ago. Of course the prices have gone up since I joined, but it's been well worth it. I've also gotten lots of good advice from some very accomplished cooks on this board that have been of great help.
 

kwilkinson

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I know a guy that wanted to learn to cook. He took out a $60k student loan and went to culinary school.
 

Piobaire

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Binge, are you single or just live with Mrs. Binge? Is it the left over part that's the problem?

I tend to cook big batches of things on weekends, freeze in vacuum sealed bags, and reheat on week days.
 

polloloco

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Some quick suggestions.

RESEARCH - study recipies as much as possible. follow recipies/look at cooking videos/cooking shows. The closer you follow the more likely you will achieve the desired result (good taste). Better results will help reaffirm your goal and motivate you to keep cooking.

PRACTICE - try to plan events to force you to cook. Tell you're SO, partner, family, you will cook on such a date and try it every 2 weeks/month for some time. Plan a get together where you will prepare some food w/ friends, not necessarily a meal, just an appetizer/starter/hors d'oeuvres. Maybe you want to get "cut" - cooking at home/yourself is a great way to hit that goal. Maybe you want to save money, find a goal and use it as motivation.

OTHER
-cook stuff you like eating or are interested in. Maybe cooking is a way to learn about a culture/country you like
-don't buy in bulk and don't buy best ingredients the first few times, save the expensive stuff for later (better olive oils, cuts of meat, fresher herbs/spices, wines etc)
-start small (fewer ingredients and things that have general appeal) ex)
pastas, salads, pizzas, soups, burgersare really easy to start with and you can EASILY vary ingredients and try exotic/different combinations to personalize your signature items
 

binge

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Thanks for the suggestions and comments. It was meant mostly as a joke, especially funny to me in that just over a month ago I found myself at the start of the flowchart yet again.

Originally Posted by philosophe
Binge, have you tried recipes from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything? Bittman's recipes are great, and he really de-mystifies cooking. Most of the recipes are very easy to make. I think it is the best book for starting to cook.

I haven't but thanks for the suggestion. I haven't really gone too far into a lot of cookbooks. I was inspired by the Avec Eric episodes, mainly because he cooks single-serve portions and that when I read his recipes I think, "Mmm, sounds like something I'd like to eat". I've picked up a few other dishes here and there and am slowly building up a set of favorites I plan on making regularly. I'll look for Bittman next time I'm at the bookstore.

Originally Posted by Mark from Plano
I joined this about a year and a half ago. Of course the prices have gone up since I joined, but it's been well worth it. I've also gotten lots of good advice from some very accomplished cooks on this board that have been of great help.

Thanks for the idea, I'll check it out.

Originally Posted by Piobaire
Binge, are you single or just live with Mrs. Binge? Is it the left over part that's the problem?

I tend to cook big batches of things on weekends, freeze in vacuum sealed bags, and reheat on week days.


I'm cooking just for me. I don't do as much cooking on the weekends, it's mostly weeknights. My current process somewhat limits what I cook. Typically, as soon as I get home from work, I'll decide what to eat, maybe 1-3 different potential dishes, then go to the store with list of ingredients for a one-person portion. Prep, cook, eat and clean-up.

It's not the most efficient and I do wind up wasting stuff. I mean, a whole bunch of green onions? If I cook with them on Tuesday, then am out Wed and on Thurs don't use them, by Friday they are looking pretty tired and might just have to junk them.

I accept that with enough uncertainty in my weekday schedule it's tough to buy fresh stuff for many days worth of dishes and in the end I'm overpaying since I often won't use everything. Such is life, I don't mind too much. I'm more focused on building a set of things I can cook to my liking consistently, then I'll worry about efficiency.

Come spring, I might sign-up for one of the many services here in SF that do weekly deliveries of farm-fresh seasonal produce. As long as I can get a small-enough delivery where I'm not throwing half (or more) out each week.
 

StephenHero

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The biggest obstacle that prevents me from learning how to cook well is the wastefulness of cooking alone. I have a hard time finding recipes that use up fresh ingredients in the same quantity as I'm forced to buy them in. It's a headache to buy $8 worth of tarragon or gouda cheese for some wimpy ass salad and then have to search online for recipes to use the other 75% of each. I need to get better at improvisational cooking by learning flavors and ratios.
 

mordecai

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Originally Posted by StephenHero
The biggest obstacle that prevents me from learning how to cook well is the wastefulness of cooking alone. I have a hard time finding recipes that use up fresh ingredients in the same quantity as I'm forced to buy them in. It's a headache to buy $8 worth of tarragon or gouda cheese for some wimpy ass salad and then have to search online for recipes to use the other 75% of each. I need to get better at improvisational cooking by learning flavors and ratios.
i've said it before, but everyday food is nice for this. they have simple fast recipes that require just the sort of produce, meat, and spices that you'd probably have around anyways. that magazine broke me of the OP cycle. plus many of their recipes yield 1-2 portions. perfect for cooking alone.
 

philosophe

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Binge, it might help to cook things that can be used in multiple dishes. For example, if you roast a chicken, you could eat the leftovers as is, or you could cut/shred the meat and use it in an Asian salad or Mexican dish. For true comfort food, I sometimes roast a chicken, shred the meat, and toss the meat and the pan juices with pasta. It's an old Italian Jewish dish, so no cheese. Fresh herbs are a nice touch. You could easily treat just half the bird this way, then use the other half for a different preparation.

Some here may find what I am about to say utterly heretical, but: sometimes frozen veggies are perfectly fine. Not just peas, but any vegetable that will go into a hearty soup (e.g. spinach, broccoli). I prefer lightly cooked fresh veggies, but I keep some frozen stuff around for those moments when I just don't have much of anything else around. It beats having Chinese food delivered.

@Stephen Hero: use up excess fresh herbs when you cook chicken or fish. Blanch excess produce so that it will keep in the fridge until you figure out what to do with it. Last but not least, get in the habit of making stock.
 

impolyt_one

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^ that's exactly what I do, I roast a chicken early in the week and then put the leftover meat into something else, like a tortilla soup. I collect the chicken carcasses and make chicken jus from them for later.
My cooking would blow wide open if I lived in the US though, I have the problem of having everything be too expensive here. Making roast beef is like a $100 undertaking, so that ain't happening.
 

Johnny_5

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Foodwishes.com is a great resource with videos for those who arent too great of cooks.
 

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