Sunday, September 22, 2013

Advice to a Beginning Cook

Someone asked for cooking advice on Facebook today. The person is a beginning cook and wanted help with finding recipes, cook book recommendations, etc. A few people recommended Alton Brown; here's what I had to say, and it was long enough that I decided to post it here:

I love Alton Brown too but I think he's probably too complicated for a beginner. (I bought one of his cookbooks but wound up donating it to the library- the recipes were way too hard/time consuming and I have decent cooking skills. I've learned a LOT from watching "Good Eats", though!) The old classics- Betty Crocker, for instance, would probably be better, or Taste of Home magazines, which I believe are fairly basic. You can also check out cook books from the library to see which ones you like without having to buy them right away. It's disheartening to spend money on a cook book then find out the recipes don't work for you for whatever reason.

Plus remember the old adage- practice, practice, practice. The more you cook, the better you'll get.

Also- when trying a recipe for the first time follow it to the letter. After that feel free to experiment and change things up, mix up the seasonings, make substitutions. Don't try that with baking, though- you have to be more precise with following the recipe when you bake, especially when it comes to proportions of one ingredient to another. Look for the websites where you can plug in the items you want to cook with, then it generates a list of recipes for you. There's also and Cooking Light magazine and Southern Living both link to..., I think, and their recipes are fantastic.

Cooking magazines are wonderful- I have a bit of an addiction to them! Finally- focus on the style of cooking you want to pursue- if you want healthy recipes, then Cooking Light or Eating Well would be fantastic, for instance. Vegetarian, then go for Vegetarian Times, etc. Then there's all the cooking shows out there- I actually prefer good old PBS for cooking shows. Julia Child re-runs and Martha Stewart's current show, along with America's Test Kitchen. Even if they are making things too complicated for where you are right now, you'll still learn techniques that will help you out in the long run. And don't forget about Pinterest!! There are about a bazillion recipes on there. Good luck!!!


Julie Sczerbinski said...

Kim, I popped in to see what you've been up to and I'm so glad I did. This post has some great advice! I agree with your take on Alton Brown. Love the guy but not the best for beginners. I know because I'm a beginner.

I'm going to pin your post to my pinterest board~wisdom. Then I'm gonna check out some of the resources you mentioned. Thanks again!

Kim said...

Yeah I'm getting pinned!!! :) Love it when that happens- thank you! I have some recipes on this site too- check the sidebar waaaay down toward the bottom just over the member pics. Some are from my grandmother who was a good home cook, I've made up a few of them, and I even asked for permission to post one. (The Black Bean cakes, an excellent "pantry food".) Speaking of which, the Black Bean Cakes are from the first book on my Shelfari bookshelf, but the second edition is out and it's now called Vegan Unplugged. (But you can find great recipes even if you're a meat eater!!) It's a great resource to prepare for cooking post-disaster; the authors went through the aftermath of a hurricane so their advice section is from first hand experience.