The joys and struggles of learning to cook

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The joys and struggles of learning to cook

Postby Sammy Boy » Wed Mar 26, 2014 3:30 am

Is anyone learning to cook (whether just starting out like me, or continually learning, having already mastered a number of recipes) ?

I can't cook but have decided to start trying as it's a useful skill and would allow our family to be more flexible in our schedule.

I also realised that as a result of trying to cook, I absolutely suck at it.

The meat is really tough, because I probably left it cooking for too long (because it was still raw). There is also a lot left to be desired flavour-wise. Essentially I only know about salt, pepper, and soy sauce. :)

But even though I am only making barely edible food at this stage, it's still a wonderful feeling when I was able to make something to feed the family (because they all have a really high tolerance for tough-to-eat, bland tasting food). I believe with more practice I can get better at it - perhaps even make food that tastes good.
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Re: The joys and struggles of learning to cook

Postby Yuki-Anne » Wed Mar 26, 2014 3:38 am

Try experimenting with marinating meat overnight. It'll produce more tender. flavorful food. One very simple, very delicious thing to do is marinate chicken breast in Italian dressing. It's super delicious.

I'm getting better at cooking since I got married. My husband is a really good cook and I'm picking up nice skills from him.
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Re: The joys and struggles of learning to cook

Postby Sheenar » Wed Mar 26, 2014 8:11 am

I used to cook a lot from scratch, but with my current health issues, I am experimenting with finding easier recipes to make that don't involve having to stay near a hot stove or do lots of stirring/prep work.

So far, I do well with baked chicken, baked fish, and baking sweet potato fries. I also make homemade hummus and guacamole using my food processor.

I am terrible at cooking ground beef, though. I *always* manage to burn it because I have to go sit down away from the stove (but still keep an eye on it as I can see it from the living room 10 ft. away). So I leave that to my aide to cook (she does most of the cooking, but I have to have a few things I can make myself for times she is unable to come or on the weekends when she doesn't work --I am trying to get away from the processed gluten free stuff --even though those fish sticks and chicken nuggets are very tasty.)
"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

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Re: The joys and struggles of learning to cook

Postby Xeno » Wed Mar 26, 2014 10:30 am

Note: please don't try cooking with chicken until you've gotten down cooking other kinds of meat that you have leeway with. Chicken is a pretty zero tolerance food that must be cooked to a specific temperature or it could make you horrifically sick.

For basic meat cooking, salt and pepper are really all you need for seasoning. I skillet cook steaks because I can't have a grill at my apartment complex, so I get olive oil smoking in the skillet, add some butter and toss in a room-temperature steak which has been rubbed with salt and pepper on both sides. Cook it for about three minutes per side, 30 seconds to a minute along its fat strip and you have a medium cooked steak, keep cooking very slightly longer for more doneness.

Baking potatoes, coat them in olive oil, salt, pepper, wrap in aluminum foil, bake for an hour.

Pork chops, rub the chops with salt and pepper on both sides, dredge in corn meal, place in hot canola oil, place lid on the skillet and let it cook for a few minutes, flip and let it go a few more. Continue until they're crispy.

Chili is arguably one of the easiest things to make. Here is the recipe I follow:
1lb roast or stew meat, cut into around 1" cubes and then seared in extra virgin olive oil (remove the roast from the dutch oven or whatever after searing them with a slotted spoon and place into a bowl)
2 serrano peppers (sliced longways and then chopped, deseeded)
1 jalapeño pepper (sliced longways and then chopped, deseeded)
1 organic red bell pepper (sliced, deseeded)
1 medium sized white onion roughly diced & small package of mushrooms sautéed in more olive oil
2 14.5 oz cans of diced tomatoes
1 can of tomato paste
1 27 oz can of chili beans (can be omitted if you don't like beans in your chili)
Approx 6 oz of Whiskey (you can sub in 12 ounces of a dark ale or a cider or nothing of the sort if you so wish)
Approx 1/2 teaspoon of ground coriander, mustard (the powder, not the stuff you put on sandwiches), oregano, parsley, paprika, and garlic powder (adapt to taste, I had to add more of some half way through).
Approx 1/4 teaspoon of Cinnamon (adapt this to taste, I had to change half way through).
Random shakes of my liking of cayenne pepper, McCormick "Chili Power", and Konriko Chipotle seasoning (adapt to taste, I had to add more of all half way through).
14 oz of vegetable stock
Add back in the meat
Add water to about cover the whole concoction
Set stove on medium or low heat, stir every 30 minutes to a hour as needed. Make sure the water is evaporating or thickening. If it is not after a few hours, add some mesa/corn meal to help it do so. Make sure it does not go into a full boil. Total cook time will be about 5 to 7 hours. Your meat should be essentially falling apart by the time it's all done with, and cooked all the way through.
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Re: The joys and struggles of learning to cook

Postby K. Ayato » Wed Mar 26, 2014 11:26 am

I sent a message already, but a good first step is getting a Basics-type of cookbook that explains what certain terms and steps are. Particularly those with pictures and let you know what to look for as you're cooking.
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Re: The joys and struggles of learning to cook

Postby Mr. SmartyPants » Wed Mar 26, 2014 12:14 pm

I make an awesome chicken tikka masala. I'll post instructions later!
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Re: The joys and struggles of learning to cook

Postby Sammy Boy » Thu Mar 27, 2014 4:08 am

Yuki-Anne wrote:Try experimenting with marinating meat overnight. It'll produce more tender. flavorful food. One very simple, very delicious thing to do is marinate chicken breast in Italian dressing. It's super delicious.


You've lost me when you mentioned "marinating meat". :)

I vaguely know about this - is marinating meat when you rub some kind of "stuff" into it and let it sit there in the fridge? If so, is there a specific method to rubbing this stuff into it (e.g. direction, number of times, etc.)? I ask because I heard about how you should cut meat in a certain direction, or else it will be tough, and wonder if marinating meat carries a similar requirement. Also, for Italian dressing, do you make your own (and if so, what ingredients and how) or is the shop bought ones good enough?

Yes, I realise it's like me asking if you know what 4 + 5 is, but hey, everyone has to start somewhere, right? :)

Sheenar wrote:So far, I do well with baked chicken, baked fish, and baking sweet potato fries. I also make homemade hummus and guacamole using my food processor.


What do you use to make hummus, and do you know of a manual way (i.e. no food processor required) ?

Xeno wrote:Note: please don't try cooking with chicken until you've gotten down cooking other kinds of meat that you have leeway with. Chicken is a pretty zero tolerance food that must be cooked to a specific temperature or it could make you horrifically sick.


Thanks for the tip, I suspected as much which is why I've only tried beef and pork. And for pork, just medallions because I felt pork chops were too ambitious for a newbie like me.

Xeno wrote:Baking potatoes, coat them in olive oil, salt, pepper, wrap in aluminum foil, bake for an hour.


I am saving your recipe as it will take me sometime to understand, but my eyes suddenly lit up when I read about baking potatoes. Thank you!

Xeno wrote:Chili is arguably one of the easiest things to make. Here is the recipe I follow:
1lb roast or stew meat, cut into around 1" cubes and then seared in extra virgin olive oil (remove the roast from the dutch oven or whatever after searing them with a slotted spoon and place into a bowl)
2 serrano peppers (sliced longways and then chopped, deseeded)
1 jalapeño pepper (sliced longways and then chopped, deseeded)
1 organic red bell pepper (sliced, deseeded)
1 medium sized white onion roughly diced & small package of mushrooms sautéed in more olive oil
2 14.5 oz cans of diced tomatoes
1 can of tomato paste
1 27 oz can of chili beans (can be omitted if you don't like beans in your chili)
Approx 6 oz of Whiskey (you can sub in 12 ounces of a dark ale or a cider or nothing of the sort if you so wish)
Approx 1/2 teaspoon of ground coriander, mustard (the powder, not the stuff you put on sandwiches), oregano, parsley, paprika, and garlic powder (adapt to taste, I had to add more of some half way through).
Approx 1/4 teaspoon of Cinnamon (adapt this to taste, I had to change half way through).
Random shakes of my liking of cayenne pepper, McCormick "Chili Power", and Konriko Chipotle seasoning (adapt to taste, I had to add more of all half way through).
14 oz of vegetable stock
Add back in the meat
Add water to about cover the whole concoction
Set stove on medium or low heat, stir every 30 minutes to a hour as needed. Make sure the water is evaporating or thickening. If it is not after a few hours, add some mesa/corn meal to help it do so. Make sure it does not go into a full boil. Total cook time will be about 5 to 7 hours. Your meat should be essentially falling apart by the time it's all done with, and cooked all the way through.


So just to clarify, this is chilli with some kind of meat ? 'Coz it doesn't look that simple to me (then again, what do I know about cooking)....

K. Ayato wrote:I sent a message already, but a good first step is getting a Basics-type of cookbook that explains what certain terms and steps are. Particularly those with pictures and let you know what to look for as you're cooking.


Thanks, have replied via PM.

Mr. SmartyPants wrote:I make an awesome chicken tikka masala. I'll post instructions later!


I await eagerly. :)
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Re: The joys and struggles of learning to cook

Postby Xeno » Thu Mar 27, 2014 9:13 am

The chili is simple because you're basically just throwing stuff into a large pot and letting it simmer all day, most of the work is in chopping up vegetables and peppers and making sure you like how it's seasoned halfway through. And yes, it's made with meat. You'd buy an approximately 1 pound roast at the market and then cut the roast into smaller one inch cubes. Then pour some oil into the large pot you're going to use to make the chili and sear the roast in batches until all of it is browned on the outside and you have no more roast left that you want to use. This doesn't cook the meat all the way through, just cooks the exterior of the meat, the internal cooking occurs during he long process with everything else.
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Re: The joys and struggles of learning to cook

Postby Sammy Boy » Sat Mar 29, 2014 4:03 am

Xeno wrote:The chili is simple because you're basically just throwing stuff into a large pot and letting it simmer all day, most of the work is in chopping up vegetables and peppers and making sure you like how it's seasoned halfway through. And yes, it's made with meat. You'd buy an approximately 1 pound roast at the market and then cut the roast into smaller one inch cubes. Then pour some oil into the large pot you're going to use to make the chili and sear the roast in batches until all of it is browned on the outside and you have no more roast left that you want to use. This doesn't cook the meat all the way through, just cooks the exterior of the meat, the internal cooking occurs during he long process with everything else.


Thanks for clarifying that, it sounds do-able, but I'd still probably wait until I have a day off work to try it, and when I'm a little more experienced (i.e. level 5). :)
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Re: The joys and struggles of learning to cook

Postby Sheenar » Sat Mar 29, 2014 7:48 am

For hummus, you can make it without a food processor/blender --it just is more arm work (have to crush the canned garbanzo means and mix all the ingredients until smooth).

Ingredients:
2 cans garbanzo beans
4 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, crushed (I cheat and use garlic powder/minced garlic in a jar --a tablespoon and add more as needed if you taste it and feel it needs more).

I leave the tahini out of the hummus I make because I don't really care for it.
"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

"Since the creation of the Internet, the Earth's rotation has been fueled, primarily, by the collective spinning of English teachers in their graves."
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