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Learning to Cook

Thu Apr 27, 2017 7:28 pm

I'm not a total novice, but I want to become more confident in my culinary skills. I'm making advances in my life and want to be prepared for living alone.

As many of you know, I have a lot of thoughts on the movie Moonlight. One of the things that sticks out for me in this movie is that everyone in Chiron's life capable of giving him love also fed him. In the third act, it's hinted that Chiron cannot do much in the kitchen. I want to be able to take care of myself properly and not have such a messy or dysfunctional kitchen.

Additionally self-sufficiency is attractive and the ability to cook tasty food for others is a useful skill when courting a potential interest.

So, if anyone has resources for the following, I'd very much appreciate it.

1. Meal Planning
2. Cost-efficient shopping in groceries
3. Stocking a kitchen and pantry
4. Proper kitchen tools and uses
5. Meal and food preparation
6. Cooking techniques
7. Recipes

This is meant to be a fun bit of self improvement, so I will post about the things I'm reading and watching and let everyone follow along with my learning. Others are also welcome to join the journey.
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Re: Learning to Cook

Thu Apr 27, 2017 7:41 pm

Are there any specific types of foods you like/dislike?

And when you say meal planning, is there a specific goal you are looking to accomplish? i.e. weight loss, muscle building, low sugar, low sodium ect.

I can say one of the most important things I can think of right off the bat is a good set of measuring tools, both for wet and dry ingredients.
 
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Re: Learning to Cook

Thu Apr 27, 2017 7:48 pm

Merlin wrote:
Are there any specific types of foods you like/dislike?

And when you say meal planning, is there a specific goal you are looking to accomplish? i.e. weight loss, muscle building, low sugar, low sodium ect.

I can say one of the most important things I can think of right off the bat is a good set of measuring tools, both for wet and dry ingredients.

I'm allergic to Tree nuts? I don't react well to cashews, pistachios, and raw peanuts. I can eat almonds and pecans without trouble.

I've lately not been reacting well to shrimp, which is very upsetting for me as a New Orleanian.

I'm not a very picky eater. I don't like blue cheese. I don't like watermelon, melons, and I can't remember the name of the food that's hard on the outside and orange inside. Other than that I'm pretty open to food experiences.

My primary goal is weight loss. I'm also at high risk for diabetes, so my doctor and I are trying to stay in front of it. I've lost about 30+ pounds in the last year and a half and need to continue to lose weight.
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Re: Learning to Cook

Thu Apr 27, 2017 8:14 pm

Mashed cauliflower = mashed potatoes, with 0 consequences.

My favorite cooking tool is my cast iron skillet - it cooks anything and everything (mostly)
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Re: Learning to Cook

Thu Apr 27, 2017 8:40 pm

Hmm, one piece of advice is eating an early dinner is it'll give you time to digest it. And it will save you money if you head out with a party.


You'll be buyin less when out.

One thing I've found is that fiberous foods can fill you up, with some mild discomfort in those early days, so start out with low servings of fiber.

Also, spices like red pepper flakes or garlic powder can cut the unessecary sodium intake.
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Re: Learning to Cook

Thu Apr 27, 2017 10:00 pm

Rice.
Just throw a load of junk in a pile of rice.
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Re: Learning to Cook

Thu Apr 27, 2017 11:35 pm

Aside from having a good set of pot/pans, baking dishes, and other kitchen equipment you just need to start cooking stuff. I will say a good knife is very important, find a good chef's knife that holds its edge well and get something to sharpen it with occasionally. The difference between chopping ingredients with an old cheap knife and a perfectly sharp high quality knife is huge.

I look on sites like Yummly or Allrecipes and find things I've either had in the past or would like to try and make any necessary ingredient replacements to make the dish vegetarian. Then I just follow the directions, I treat cooking as a logical step by step process. While not as creative as those who have an artistic flare for cooking, it gets the job done and I make some tasty stuff.

If you can follow directions and pay attention to what you're doing anyone can cook. The hardest part is learning to multitask multiple parts of a meal at once without making a mess. That just comes with time and learning tricks for things. Don't try to cook 5 things at once to try and make things go faster. At the start you'll have recipes that say they take 30 minutes that take you 90. You'll get faster, just keep cooking. Find some recipes you like and do them until you don't even need to look at the recipe anymore. Look up videos on how to do things better, I saw a video on how to chop an onion and went from 5 minutes of random chopping to about a minute. Just type in what you want to know how to do on youtube.
 
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Re: Learning to Cook

Fri Apr 28, 2017 8:06 am

My random tips:

Buy a good thermometer -- we use this:



So when you cook meat, you don't use the times they give (because ovens all vary), and you can use the proper temp.

Slow Cookers and Pressure Cookers like the Instant Pot are glorious things for cooking without much work. Slow cookers are also amazingly cheap to buy from thrift stores/yard sales.

If you can find one cheap at half price books or whatever, the America's Test Kitchen cookbooks are fantastic. They have good recipes AND tell you why you do what you do, and how. America's Test Kitchen on PBS in general is fantastic.

Buy lots of mixing bowls/prep bowls. I like glass because they're cheap, but you can never have enough bowls.

Measure by weight as much as possible, particularly when baking. Love me a good digital scale.

Blue apron and the like aren't really cost effective for me, but they do at least give you a reason to use certain skills and techniques, so we sometimes will sign up for the freebies or heavily discounted ones to try out new stuff and keep the recipe (to then use with our own food)

For weight loss, I always go with chicken or pork, baked or grilled whenever possible, and then fill the rest in with vegetables & beans. Rice sparingly, particularly white, so many kcal.

Omg Aldi's pork loins are so good, particularly the teriyaki ones, just bake or grill and add vegetables and people will love you.

Sorry for the randomness, trying to type this while doing work.
 
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Re: Learning to Cook

Fri Apr 28, 2017 8:08 am

Oh and spices, flour, oils, many of those things expire, so try not to buy huge amounts of them at once. Get just enough, keep them sealed, and note when you purchased them.

Always use unsalted butter unless someone specifically says salted.
 
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Re: Learning to Cook

Fri Apr 28, 2017 5:35 pm

One of my Favs is Risotto i have made it that many times that i dont even need to look at a recipe because it all memorised cant go wrong with that aswell Sarge if you want i can walk you though it by PM.
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Re: Learning to Cook

Sat May 06, 2017 1:44 am

Knives! I cannot stress how important great knives are for the kitchen! I have 3 solid ones that I use almost daily. A general purpose Big Ass Chef's knife, a Santoku for cutting foods that love to stick to your knives (potatoes, onion, cheese etc), and a flexible "fillet" knife. Something that can bend a bit and work its way into small spaces. Again, I use these about every day.

Good advice so far except I would say stay away from rice if you're looking to eat healthy. Brown rice or wild rice can be decent enough for you but its basically flavorless calories so consider this when looking for something to smother your etouffee over.

I'll stress spices as many others have. Staying away from salt can be rough unless you add plenty of zest in other ways. Garlic, pepper flakes, lots of herbs, etc. Fresh herbs too. If you're looking to impress a special someone fresh herbs and some lemon zest seals that deal 110% of the time!

I would say don't spend too much money up front buying a ton of tools and gadgets. You might not like them even though WE use them all the time. Example, I don't like slow cookers and don't use them. I have a zester but you wont need one for a while... and you could just as easily use another tool for free.

For the food itself... Cauliflower was mentioned and I second that. Its not a perfect replacement for mashed potatoes BUT in a 50/50 blend you get all the flavor and half the calories of Mashed Potatoes. I've also, while vegan, boiled up some cauliflower, put it in a blender, and seasoned it to hell resulting in a strange "cauliflower soup" that you would know as Nacho Cheese! Trust me, its amazing and you should be jealous.

Eggs and lean meats really help keep the carbs down. Protein in general. So beans, lentils, quinoua.
Sautéing or roasting anything will usually bring out more flavor so consider that on basic/simple meals.

Think about what foods you like, WHY you like them, and see if you can re-work them in the kitchen. Healthier would obviously be better but even if you can just MAKE the dish itself thats a win. I'd stay away from frying all together and just accept that its not something you need in your life.

Last suggestions:
1 pan meals
AND
The Oven is your Friend


So, 1 pan meals... things like gumbo, chili, stir fry, etc. Think of something that will be relatively easy to cook, cuts back on the number of dishes, and will LOOK amazing. Stir Fry is my go to but you can use things like fajitas or pasta as well. Boil the pasta VERY al dente so its still got some bite to it, drain, rinse pan, add oil to said pan, add veggies into pan to saute. Once the veggies are about halfway done I then add the pasta BACK into the pan, giving it a bit of a golden finish, then top it all off with sauce. This will warm up your sauce as well and the more veggies you add the healthier the dish.

The Oven: Picking sides or even a main course that you can simply "set it and forget it" is a wonderful thing. Tonight I made a pork loin roast (just something on sale at the grocery store) that was already marinated and seasoned. Instructions on the package itself advise about an hour so I cut up some onion slices to line the bottom of my roasting pan (you can also use things like garlic, carrots, rosemary, etc) then laid the pork atop its bed of flavor. While that did its thing in the oven I was able to prep some other stuff and start on the sides. Corn on cob is SUPAH easy, set it in room temp water then turn to boil... when it boils the corn is done. HOORAY! Then I par-boiled some green beens then sautéed them with onion and some ham (would normally use bacon but didn't have any). Add spices or butter to tastes and if you wanted a little something extra maybe a roll or biscuit....
Bam. Purdy meal. Delicious meal. Healthy meal. And honestly pretty cheap.


I LERV cooking and I could go on about it for days. I would suggest that you try some simple dishes you haven't cooked before OR take some of your favorite foods and try making them at home. Good Luck!
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Re: Learning to Cook

Sat May 06, 2017 11:50 am

I want to cook largely just because I know the feeling of having friends, family, people I visit and others cook for me and it's the best and if I was able to do that for other people and cook for them I would feel so much satisfaction and feel so much joy from those moments.

Some of us had people cook for us at the Rally, I've had Luv Gun and Kali cook for me when I stayed with them, Allyjoy cooked for me when I stayed with her, Mofoxs family cooked for me and Sarge when we visited them and Sarge and his extended family have cooked for me at get together or for regular dinners. If there has been one thing that has consistently brought people together and given me some of my best memories it has been people cooking for me, whether that be for me alone or as part of a group and if there is one thing I wish to be able to do by learning to cook, is to give back that experience and cook for others.

So I really should get on this and be more proactive in the kitchen.
 
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Re: Learning to Cook

Sat May 06, 2017 11:52 am

SPEAKING OF SWIFT EATING WITH US. WE LET SWIFT TRY TACO BELL AND THEN TRY SPICY CRAWFISH BY MY UNCLE AFTERWARDS.

SWIFT THREW UP.
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Re: Learning to Cook

Sat May 06, 2017 11:57 am

Also take out. Take out Taco Bell is bad. That's why you need to learn to cook y'all.

That crawfish was good, albeit a bit spicy for my taste I had to have water with me at all times, but that Taco Bell was nasty.

You know what I took away from that evening? "These folks have a nice toilet. That's a pretty sweet tap. I like these tiles."
 
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Re: Learning to Cook

Mon May 08, 2017 5:51 am

RE: Corn on the Cob

The real magic is this:

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/222856/cor ... -shucking/

Don't shuck it, cook it in the microwave, chop the bottom off with a knife and squeeze the cob out like a tube of toothpaste. It's magic. MAGIC.

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