Getting used to cooking

KyouguKyougu Registered User regular
I recently realized that I gained some of the weight I was able to take off last year and gone back to the weight I been for the past few couple of years.

After a bit of introspection I realized its all because of my diet. Working out is no problem, and even making reasonable choices when eating I can be okay at, but I eat so much processed food/fast food out of laziness and convenience.

It also doesn't help that I had a financial rough patch a year or two ago where I was just buying the cheapest food possible. Now I'm fine, but I think I just got in the habit of buying stuff like frozen chicken strips and fries, or canned tuna that I'll add mayo and some rice to.

So yeah, any tips?

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Posts

  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    edited November 2016
    ...about what, specifically?

    Assuming cooking, in general, its just about learning recipes. Find a site you like, such as Epicurean or All Recipies, and try out recipes that sound good and meet your health goals. Try something new once a week at least, and you'll learn 55 new recipes each year.

    Enc on
    Elvenshae
  • imdointhisimdointhis I should actually stop doin' this. Registered User regular
    http://www.thugkitchen.com/

    Thug Kitchen assumes you have zero baseline kitchen knowledge and takes you from the ABSOLUTE basics, to stocking a working pantry that you can basically bust out any basic filling dish, and focuses on making you a functional cook that can make tasty stuff with just the bare essentials of a kitchen.

    Really can't recommenced it enough for a fledgling kitchen-mancer.

    Gnome-InterruptusElvenshaeT-boltCalicaCommander ZoomThe Ender
  • ChopperDaveChopperDave Registered User regular
    I'd also recommend the app Pepperplate: https://www.pepperplate.com

    You can easily import recipes from most websites and blogs, create tags and categories so you can search for them later, scale up/down portion sizes, and then use the planner and shopping functions to plan out the recipes you're going to do for the week. You can even program your grocery store's layout so that it automatically optimizes how the ingredients are ordered on your list.

    My wife and I share an account and find it a really handy tool for planning out our cooking for the week--which, for us, is the most annoying part of cooking. (When we order out, it's usually because we were too lazy to plan and shop, not too lazy to cook.) We even created a weekly staples "recipe" (e.g. milk, cereal, and sandwich bread) so that we can automatically populate a weekly shopping list and cut
    down on the amount of brainpower we need for planning.

    It's also a good idea to find tasty recipes that you can prep easily in large batches on Sunday afternoons, then refrigerate or freeze in lunch-size portions for the rest of the week. Curries, stirfries, eggplant salads, that sort of thing.

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  • NightDragonNightDragon 6th Grade Username Registered User regular
    Also, if one of your aversions to cooking is that it takes too long or too much effort....try finding healthy food choices that you can make very quickly, even without cooking. Snacks like apples and peanut butter, baby carrots and hummus, low-sugar high-protein greek yogurt with fruit and/or low-sugar granola, etc. Frozen veggies can be steamed in a tupperware container in the microwave in 3 minutes. Sweet potatoes in about 7 minutes. Steel-cut quick oats on the stove with some fruit and milk or water, takes ~5 minutes.

    I find it really helpful to have these types of things on-hand when I'm feeling tired or too lazy to make an elaborate meal. They're healthy for you and are super fast to make!

    CelestialBadger
  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    Crock-Pot is worth its weight in gold. Can make cheap healthy meals for days with minimal effort.

    NijaNightDragonsee317KetarAresProphetDivideByZeroschussIncenjucarSummaryJudgmentElvenshaechrishallett83TofystedethEl MuchoTheBlackWindEmissary42Robonunan_alt
  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu PIGEON IndiaRegistered User regular
    This cookbook will teach you how to cook.

  • CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    Learn some easy, healthy recipes you can do with your eyes closed. I ate a lot of bagged salad and baked potatoes as a student. Won't win you any cooking awards, but healthy.

    Cauld
  • PaladinPaladin Registered User regular
    edited November 2016
    Learn your tools. You've got a knife, oven, range, pots, pans, microwave, freezer, and fridge. You need to know how to use them properly and expertly, which will make everything you put out have a minimum level of quality so you won't feel you wasted a bunch of good ingredients. Pan fry until you know how to stop things from burning or sticking, bake until you know how off your oven temp is, how long fruit lasts in the fridge, how dull your knife is. Cooking fast and easy is learning the muscle memory of tool use so everything goes as fast as it possibly can. Consider the burnt eggs dry chicken, and mangled onions good practice and waste some cheap, simple, low stakes food.

    Make counter space however you can. Cramped kitchens suck. They're slow and need more dishes. It is incredibly freeing to lay stuff out like you see the chefs on TV do, and much cleaner. Make some room in your cabinets and throw away or archive all the stuff you can't use yet.

    Paladin on
    Marty: The future, it's where you're going?
    Doc: That's right, twenty five years into the future. I've always dreamed on seeing the future, looking beyond my years, seeing the progress of mankind. I'll also be able to see who wins the next twenty-five world series.
  • V1mV1m Registered User regular
    Kyougu wrote: »
    I recently realized that I gained some of the weight I was able to take off last year and gone back to the weight I been for the past few couple of years.

    After a bit of introspection I realized its all because of my diet. Working out is no problem, and even making reasonable choices when eating I can be okay at, but I eat so much processed food/fast food out of laziness and convenience.

    It also doesn't help that I had a financial rough patch a year or two ago where I was just buying the cheapest food possible. Now I'm fine, but I think I just got in the habit of buying stuff like frozen chicken strips and fries, or canned tuna that I'll add mayo and some rice to.

    So yeah, any tips?

    Batch cooking is your friend here. There are a whole bunch of thing you can make where it's not really much more effort to make 4 or 6 portions rather than just 1. Make a pot of chilli/pork & beans/spaghetti sauce/stew/etc on saturday, eat one portion, then freeze the other 3-5 portions. Do this every week for a month with a different recipe, and then you can pull out a container of whatever in the morning, and just cook up your rice/pasta/baked potato/whatever when you get back home from work, and combine with your defrosted main dish, and you can eat a different dish every work night.

    This also allows you to take advantage of special offers when you see them. Half price on ground steak? Great! Buy 3lbs of it and make a big ole batch of spaghetti sauce! And so on.

    PLA
  • clicli Registered User regular
    If you get tired of this cooking shit, sign up for a meal delivery service that brings you a few days of healthy perfectly portioned meals that you can throw in a microwave and eat damn near instantly. For the same amount you spend on groceries and cooking time you can get your food prepared by people who know what they're doing. It'll change your life!

  • schussschuss Registered User regular
    I'll also say: when you start, you won't be that good at it, but you'll get better. Don't get frustrated.

    AresProphetCalicaCelestialBadger
  • PLAPLA The process.Registered User regular
    edited November 2016
    It's not significantly harder to cook more of the same thing, so it's pretty easygoing to use your big pots and pans to make enough food for a few days all at once. Then you're not in a hurry to cook before you starve.

    Frozen vegetables are great. Any ingredients that can be frozen without taking damage are great.

    PLA on
  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited November 2016
    I get real depressed about left overs, so if cooking in bulk does not end up working for you, I suggest swinging back the other way, and finding things you like to stir fry, and other one off meals you can make in little batches. I cook bigger things now that I live with someone, but I have a thing where after a day or two I dont want to eat stuff, and frozen things dont always appeal to me.

    I suggest getting a rice cooker, its an easy way to keep a lazy staple around, and with very little effort you can throw something over rice.

    Buy family packs of chicken breast and freeze them individually. You can do the same thing with bacon (roll the slices individually so you can pull them out two at a time, 20 seconds in the microwave and you can unroll them and fry like normal):
    fit640_bacon-rolled-1.jpg
    I also freeze pork chops and sausages individually. The idea is that I always have some frozen veggies, protein, and rice in the house, and stir-frying those together takes maximum 30minutes, considering the rice maker you can completely walk away from.

    I was at my best cooking habits when I worked next to a grocery store and could just pop in everyday. I would by my proteins from Costco, and pick up some fresh veggies and whatever other odds and ends I wanted. The variety helped me transition into cooking more regularly, and the stability of my system meant I could do this during the week and then try new things on weekend.

    My best suggestion, if you are a fast food person is to be adventurous. Buy a few vegetarian and vegan cookbooks, they will help you introduce variety to your veggies.

    Iruka on
    Calica
  • Gnome-InterruptusGnome-Interruptus Registered User regular
    I personally cannot stand reheating frozen meals, because I did that so much when I was younger. I found I could cook a small meal with enough portions for 3, which would be a fresh meal and then 2 days of leftovers, then repeat the process with a new dish/recipe.

    I actually found myself excited to cook that way, because I was so looking forward to trying some new things.

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    MWO: Adamski
  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    edited November 2016
    I personally cannot stand reheating frozen meals, because I did that so much when I was younger. I found I could cook a small meal with enough portions for 3, which would be a fresh meal and then 2 days of leftovers, then repeat the process with a new dish/recipe.

    I actually found myself excited to cook that way, because I was so looking forward to trying some new things.

    I can't do reheating of any meats, so my multi-day items are things like black beans, which I can then use as a base for many things or eat by themselves so I get the aversion to the strange flavor that happens when you cool/rewarm something.

    I buy vegetables on Sunday and cut them all up for the week. I buy 2 cucumbers, radishes, a large red onion, bell pepper, carrots, green onion, broccoli and a few tomatoes. I cut them all up when I get home and clean everything up, turns out I'm way more likely to eat vegetables if I don't have to wash a cutting board and stuff every time I want a diced tomato or fajita.

    Buy a cheap aluminum baking sheet, silicon muffin pan, some non-stick vegetable spray and some egg whites. Preheat oven to 400, spray one or two of the muffin cups on the pan, fill 1/2 with egg white, salt, pepper and cheese on top. Cook for 20 minutes at 400 and breakfast. I also add any of the aforementioned vegetables, I like green onion and dicing up some turkey bacon. You end out with a hockey puck for breakfast that you can easily toss on an English muffin or something. If you get in the habit of turning your oven on to preheat when you get out of bed and getting your muffin pan ready to go in the oven, you do basically 2 minutes of work including cleanup. The baking sheet is just to set the muffin pan on while it's in the oven, silicon doesn't do well directly on a rack and it makes taking it out/putting it in much easier. If you let the muffin pan cool for a minute or so, they are much easier to just pluck out as they contract a tiny bit.

    Having a nice knife (not necessarily super expensive) and full size cutting board are big motivators for me do a bunch of prep once a week. Also much like doing prep in a commercial kitchen, you will get faster at it and learn to handle a knife with more consistency. It kind of becomes a game and there will be times where you'll want to high five yourself for properly doing a julienne cut on carrots in a timely manner.

    dispatch.o on
  • darkmayodarkmayo Registered User regular
    Buy a bunch of chicken breasts, put each breast in a separate freezer bag, throw it in the freezer. Take one out before you start cooking let it thaw (I tend to throw it in water still in the bag) then I do up rice, white or brown up to you, I tend to cook it with some sort of broth either veg or mushroom. Cut up and cook your chicken with.. well whatever the fuck you want, heck a splash of soysauce can even do the trick. Add some red peppers or mushrooms or whatever veggies you have to the cooking chicken maybe a bit of liquid cover, steam briefly. Mix it with the rice.. bam done. Quick, easy as shit and healthy.



    IrukaCelestialBadgerCommander Zoom
  • Mr KhanMr Khan Not Everyone WAHHHRegistered User regular
    spinach is hella cheap and quite healthy for filler. Make it into salads, add to soup, burgers, or sandwiches as needed.

    NightDragondispatch.oschussbowenan_alt
  • PaladinPaladin Registered User regular
    Two things that revolutionized my ability to bake:
    - parchment paper
    - thermometer

    Marty: The future, it's where you're going?
    Doc: That's right, twenty five years into the future. I've always dreamed on seeing the future, looking beyond my years, seeing the progress of mankind. I'll also be able to see who wins the next twenty-five world series.
    schusschrishallett83TheBlackWindEnc
  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    Mr Khan wrote: »
    spinach is hella cheap and quite healthy for filler. Make it into salads, add to soup, burgers, or sandwiches as needed.

    way better than lettuce imo

    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
    XaquinschussElvenshaeTofystedethNightDragonan_alt
  • schussschuss Registered User regular
    bowen wrote: »
    Mr Khan wrote: »
    spinach is hella cheap and quite healthy for filler. Make it into salads, add to soup, burgers, or sandwiches as needed.

    way better than lettuce imo

    Also keeps twice as long IME

    bowen
  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    schuss wrote: »
    bowen wrote: »
    Mr Khan wrote: »
    spinach is hella cheap and quite healthy for filler. Make it into salads, add to soup, burgers, or sandwiches as needed.

    way better than lettuce imo

    Also keeps twice as long IME

    Way more versatile too. I've used it in red sauce, can't do that with lettuce.

    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
  • KyouguKyougu Registered User regular
    Clearly I been fucking up by grabbing the bagged salad instead of spinach!

    Thanks for all the tips. Bought a beginner cookbook and right now my goal is to make 2 or 3 recipes a week.

    Gonna get me a crockpot too!

    bowendispatch.oGnome-InterruptusBlameless Cleric
  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    I'd be lying if I said I never bought a family size of bagged salad instead of the components.

    I'm not the world's best cook myself, but I've been thinking about sous vide a bit and it seems like one of those "great for beginners to make a decent meal" since it doesn't require a whole lot of watching and you can cook lots of meals with it. Expensive, but not much worse than a crock pot.

    If you haven't, invest in a vacuum sealer, great for when you find deals or you just can't go through enough food before it spoils.

    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
  • SoggybiscuitSoggybiscuit At the edge of spacetime lies a path with no end.Registered User regular
    bowen wrote: »
    I'd be lying if I said I never bought a family size of bagged salad instead of the components.

    I'm not the world's best cook myself, but I've been thinking about sous vide a bit and it seems like one of those "great for beginners to make a decent meal" since it doesn't require a whole lot of watching and you can cook lots of meals with it. Expensive, but not much worse than a crock pot.

    If you haven't, invest in a vacuum sealer, great for when you find deals or you just can't go through enough food before it spoils.

    I can't agree with this enough. Vacuum packing is the greatest thing ever. Buy everything on sale or in the sale bin and vacuum package it. Steaks and chicken breast/thighs/legs are particularly suited vacuum packing and freezing.

    But, you can also make meals and vacuum pack those as well. At home right now, I have 3 lbs of taco meat (in 1 lb portions) and half a batch of french onion soup vacuum packed and frozen. I don't have a large freezer (yet), but when I do, I'm going to make a variety of lunches for my wife and I and vacuum pack those so the only thing we have to do on the way out to school/work is grab what we want.


    Steam - Synthetic Violence | XBOX Live - Cannonfuse | PSN - CastleBravo | Twitch - SoggybiscuitPA
    bowen
  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    spend the extra $20 and get the one that can seal containers too

    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
  • imdointhisimdointhis I should actually stop doin' this. Registered User regular
    So didja cook anything yet?

  • tinwhiskerstinwhiskers Registered User regular
    Crock pots are super nice and convenient, but "chop stuff up, dump in pot, turn to low, come back in 6 hours", only lets you learn so much.

    For starting cooking, I don't know that anything is better than a enameled cast iron dutch oven, and making a bunch of 'stews'. Stews being basically anything you cook with a lot of liquid, chili-a stew, chicken vindaloo-a stew, beef bourguignon, coq au vin, coconut curry, gumbo, beef stroganoff, etc.

    Because cooking this kind of stuff-unless you like dump the salt into it- will be edible at worse. And while making them you work on your knife skills, plus other basic stuff like searing meat, sauteing, controlling the heat(searing/sauteing/simmer/boil), adding different ingredients and seasonings at different times so you can get a sense of how they effect the flavor and the time it takes for various things to cook.

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  • KetarKetar Come on upstairs we're having a partyRegistered User regular
    Crock pots are super nice and convenient, but "chop stuff up, dump in pot, turn to low, come back in 6 hours", only lets you learn so much.

    For starting cooking, I don't know that anything is better than a enameled cast iron dutch oven, and making a bunch of 'stews'. Stews being basically anything you cook with a lot of liquid, chili-a stew, chicken vindaloo-a stew, beef bourguignon, coq au vin, coconut curry, gumbo, beef stroganoff, etc.

    Because cooking this kind of stuff-unless you like dump the salt into it- will be edible at worse. And while making them you work on your knife skills, plus other basic stuff like searing meat, sauteing, controlling the heat(searing/sauteing/simmer/boil), adding different ingredients and seasonings at different times so you can get a sense of how they effect the flavor and the time it takes for various things to cook.

    "chop stuff up, dump in pot, turn to low, come back in 6 hours" is the worst way to use a slow cooker.

    When I use ours for a stew I'm doing the same initial searing and sauteing that I would for making a stew in our dutch oven. I'm also sometimes adding a seasoning partway through, and often adding something like a bit of cream, or some parsley, or whatever in the last few minutes before serving. The main difference is that I'm not controlling heat, unless I've programmed my slow cooker to go for X hours on high or low and then switch over to Keep Warm if I know I might be late getting back to it.

    There's absolutely no reason to just dump everything in the pot and come back later with a slow cooker unless you are stuck in that mindset for some reason. Any good slow cooker recipe book is going to have plenty of prep work beyond chopping - again, all of the same searing and sauteing you would be doing for other cooking methods.

    Naphtali
  • MadicanMadican No face Registered User regular
    imdointhis wrote: »
    http://www.thugkitchen.com/

    Thug Kitchen assumes you have zero baseline kitchen knowledge and takes you from the ABSOLUTE basics, to stocking a working pantry that you can basically bust out any basic filling dish, and focuses on making you a functional cook that can make tasty stuff with just the bare essentials of a kitchen.

    Really can't recommenced it enough for a fledgling kitchen-mancer.

    Halfway tempted to put one of these on the Amazon wishlist that is surely going to be distributed to all the family.

    Thankfully good sense is winning out over comedic value I think. Still, this is pretty nifty and I'll be perusing it further.

    imdointhis
  • CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    Ketar wrote: »
    Crock pots are super nice and convenient, but "chop stuff up, dump in pot, turn to low, come back in 6 hours", only lets you learn so much.

    For starting cooking, I don't know that anything is better than a enameled cast iron dutch oven, and making a bunch of 'stews'. Stews being basically anything you cook with a lot of liquid, chili-a stew, chicken vindaloo-a stew, beef bourguignon, coq au vin, coconut curry, gumbo, beef stroganoff, etc.

    Because cooking this kind of stuff-unless you like dump the salt into it- will be edible at worse. And while making them you work on your knife skills, plus other basic stuff like searing meat, sauteing, controlling the heat(searing/sauteing/simmer/boil), adding different ingredients and seasonings at different times so you can get a sense of how they effect the flavor and the time it takes for various things to cook.

    "chop stuff up, dump in pot, turn to low, come back in 6 hours" is the worst way to use a slow cooker.

    When I use ours for a stew I'm doing the same initial searing and sauteing that I would for making a stew in our dutch oven. I'm also sometimes adding a seasoning partway through, and often adding something like a bit of cream, or some parsley, or whatever in the last few minutes before serving. The main difference is that I'm not controlling heat, unless I've programmed my slow cooker to go for X hours on high or low and then switch over to Keep Warm if I know I might be late getting back to it.

    There's absolutely no reason to just dump everything in the pot and come back later with a slow cooker unless you are stuck in that mindset for some reason. Any good slow cooker recipe book is going to have plenty of prep work beyond chopping - again, all of the same searing and sauteing you would be doing for other cooking methods.

    It is important to distinguish between "skilled" cooking and "easy" cooking. A newbie will most likely want "easy" cooking, at least at first, so even if it makes skilled cooks have conniptions, "dump it in the pot and eat 6 hours later" is about as hard as a newbie wants to try. They will be working harder than you might expect, getting knife skills and buying spices and herbs. If they try the gourmet recipe that requires a lot of work then they will just get the impression that cooking is a fuck ton of work and decide that McD's ain't so bad after all, especially on days when work wears them out. Baby steps. After a while you get better at cooking and want to try the more involved recipes.

    ElvenshaeDarkewolfeCommander ZoomBloodySlothCalica
  • KetarKetar Come on upstairs we're having a partyRegistered User regular
    Ketar wrote: »
    Crock pots are super nice and convenient, but "chop stuff up, dump in pot, turn to low, come back in 6 hours", only lets you learn so much.

    For starting cooking, I don't know that anything is better than a enameled cast iron dutch oven, and making a bunch of 'stews'. Stews being basically anything you cook with a lot of liquid, chili-a stew, chicken vindaloo-a stew, beef bourguignon, coq au vin, coconut curry, gumbo, beef stroganoff, etc.

    Because cooking this kind of stuff-unless you like dump the salt into it- will be edible at worse. And while making them you work on your knife skills, plus other basic stuff like searing meat, sauteing, controlling the heat(searing/sauteing/simmer/boil), adding different ingredients and seasonings at different times so you can get a sense of how they effect the flavor and the time it takes for various things to cook.

    "chop stuff up, dump in pot, turn to low, come back in 6 hours" is the worst way to use a slow cooker.

    When I use ours for a stew I'm doing the same initial searing and sauteing that I would for making a stew in our dutch oven. I'm also sometimes adding a seasoning partway through, and often adding something like a bit of cream, or some parsley, or whatever in the last few minutes before serving. The main difference is that I'm not controlling heat, unless I've programmed my slow cooker to go for X hours on high or low and then switch over to Keep Warm if I know I might be late getting back to it.

    There's absolutely no reason to just dump everything in the pot and come back later with a slow cooker unless you are stuck in that mindset for some reason. Any good slow cooker recipe book is going to have plenty of prep work beyond chopping - again, all of the same searing and sauteing you would be doing for other cooking methods.

    It is important to distinguish between "skilled" cooking and "easy" cooking. A newbie will most likely want "easy" cooking, at least at first, so even if it makes skilled cooks have conniptions, "dump it in the pot and eat 6 hours later" is about as hard as a newbie wants to try. They will be working harder than you might expect, getting knife skills and buying spices and herbs. If they try the gourmet recipe that requires a lot of work then they will just get the impression that cooking is a fuck ton of work and decide that McD's ain't so bad after all, especially on days when work wears them out. Baby steps. After a while you get better at cooking and want to try the more involved recipes.

    I was a cooking newbie when my wife bought our slow cooker. This was after a big move at a time when I had far more free time to cook than she did. I mostly learned to cook by making recipes from the America's Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Revolution cookbook, which were all as I described - moderate levels of prep work that resulted in far richer flavors than just chop, drop in, and cook. Some of it was harder for me than the authors probably expected (I would have to look up videos on the best way to chop certain things at times, for example), but I learned a ton about cooking doing it that way. For a year I did most of the cooking at home, and I did more of it with that slow cooker and that cookbook than anything else.

    So that's my recommendation for getting into cooking, because it worked so well for me in a very similar position. Get a slow cooker, get the Slow Cooker Revolution cookbook, and start off with the easier recipes - the ones with very light prep. Their basic pulled pork has prep that consists of just making your own dry rub from scratch with half a dozen or so ingredients, quartering and trimming a pork shoulder, getting a good rub on the pork, and letting it sit in a large ziploc bag in the fridge for 12-24 hours. Then cooking it in the slow cooker with a store-bought bbq sauce (and they provide recommendations for common sauces based on taste tests). At the end you pull the pork out, shred it with 2 forks, skim some fat from the cooking liquid, and mix in some apple cider vinegar before using the cooking liquid to sauce your pork. Very simple, delicious enough that I still make it that way regularly even though I've moved on to making my own bbq sauce at times, and it makes a ton of food. Make some like that to start off. Then move on to something with a bit more work, like making your own pasta sauce and meatballs from scratch. It feels like a ton of work by comparison, but it's so worth it compared to sauce from a jar. Something like that where you can make an easy comparison between what you'd normally buy and what you just made will feel especially rewarding. Keep moving on to more complicated recipes over time.

    When you've worked through a healthy chunk of that book you will have acquired a number of basic skills that will serve you well in all areas of cooking. You'll have learned how to sweat things, how to toast aromatics, the proper level of browning to bring out better flavor in various ingredients, and so on. The nice thing about doing all this with the slow cooker is that while you might be doing 45 minutes of active prep once you've worked your way up a bit, then you dump it in the pot and walk away and come back to a great meal later (with maybe a few minutes of final tweaks at the end), as opposed to doing the same 45 minutes of work and then having to stay in the kitchen to monitor heat or actively work at the stove.

  • CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    Ketar wrote: »
    Ketar wrote: »
    Crock pots are super nice and convenient, but "chop stuff up, dump in pot, turn to low, come back in 6 hours", only lets you learn so much.

    For starting cooking, I don't know that anything is better than a enameled cast iron dutch oven, and making a bunch of 'stews'. Stews being basically anything you cook with a lot of liquid, chili-a stew, chicken vindaloo-a stew, beef bourguignon, coq au vin, coconut curry, gumbo, beef stroganoff, etc.

    Because cooking this kind of stuff-unless you like dump the salt into it- will be edible at worse. And while making them you work on your knife skills, plus other basic stuff like searing meat, sauteing, controlling the heat(searing/sauteing/simmer/boil), adding different ingredients and seasonings at different times so you can get a sense of how they effect the flavor and the time it takes for various things to cook.

    "chop stuff up, dump in pot, turn to low, come back in 6 hours" is the worst way to use a slow cooker.

    When I use ours for a stew I'm doing the same initial searing and sauteing that I would for making a stew in our dutch oven. I'm also sometimes adding a seasoning partway through, and often adding something like a bit of cream, or some parsley, or whatever in the last few minutes before serving. The main difference is that I'm not controlling heat, unless I've programmed my slow cooker to go for X hours on high or low and then switch over to Keep Warm if I know I might be late getting back to it.

    There's absolutely no reason to just dump everything in the pot and come back later with a slow cooker unless you are stuck in that mindset for some reason. Any good slow cooker recipe book is going to have plenty of prep work beyond chopping - again, all of the same searing and sauteing you would be doing for other cooking methods.

    It is important to distinguish between "skilled" cooking and "easy" cooking. A newbie will most likely want "easy" cooking, at least at first, so even if it makes skilled cooks have conniptions, "dump it in the pot and eat 6 hours later" is about as hard as a newbie wants to try. They will be working harder than you might expect, getting knife skills and buying spices and herbs. If they try the gourmet recipe that requires a lot of work then they will just get the impression that cooking is a fuck ton of work and decide that McD's ain't so bad after all, especially on days when work wears them out. Baby steps. After a while you get better at cooking and want to try the more involved recipes.

    This was after a big move at a time when I had far more free time to cook than she did.

    I think I picked out the relevant sentence here. Don't assume that everyone who wants to cook has enough free time to make a hobby of it straightaway. A lot of people just want something cheap, fast, tasty and healthy. They are trying to avoid making that call to the pizza place, not taking up a rewarding new hobby. Getting too ambitious too fast is a good way to put yourself off for life. If you are a newbie and try a recipe that would take the average cook 30 minutes and it takes 2 hours and turns the kitchen into a war zone, they might well conclude "I suck at cooking, better get a Subway loyalty card."

    I have a favourite cartoon about this issue:

    http://theoatmeal.com/comics/cook_home

    I started out cooking at university because I wanted to save my spending money for beer. My recipes would not have impressed anyone - generally bagged salad and baked potato, or rice & chicken with curry sauce. But you know what? I was building skills that mean I can cook pretty much anything these days. I don't buy bagged salad anymore, but I don't think a newbie just starting out who does buy it is doing anything wrong. After a while you think "I could make this cheaper and better" and that means you just leveled up as cook :)

    ElvenshaeDarkewolfedjmitchellaTofystedethCommander ZoomCalica
  • KetarKetar Come on upstairs we're having a partyRegistered User regular
    Ketar wrote: »
    Ketar wrote: »
    Crock pots are super nice and convenient, but "chop stuff up, dump in pot, turn to low, come back in 6 hours", only lets you learn so much.

    For starting cooking, I don't know that anything is better than a enameled cast iron dutch oven, and making a bunch of 'stews'. Stews being basically anything you cook with a lot of liquid, chili-a stew, chicken vindaloo-a stew, beef bourguignon, coq au vin, coconut curry, gumbo, beef stroganoff, etc.

    Because cooking this kind of stuff-unless you like dump the salt into it- will be edible at worse. And while making them you work on your knife skills, plus other basic stuff like searing meat, sauteing, controlling the heat(searing/sauteing/simmer/boil), adding different ingredients and seasonings at different times so you can get a sense of how they effect the flavor and the time it takes for various things to cook.

    "chop stuff up, dump in pot, turn to low, come back in 6 hours" is the worst way to use a slow cooker.

    When I use ours for a stew I'm doing the same initial searing and sauteing that I would for making a stew in our dutch oven. I'm also sometimes adding a seasoning partway through, and often adding something like a bit of cream, or some parsley, or whatever in the last few minutes before serving. The main difference is that I'm not controlling heat, unless I've programmed my slow cooker to go for X hours on high or low and then switch over to Keep Warm if I know I might be late getting back to it.

    There's absolutely no reason to just dump everything in the pot and come back later with a slow cooker unless you are stuck in that mindset for some reason. Any good slow cooker recipe book is going to have plenty of prep work beyond chopping - again, all of the same searing and sauteing you would be doing for other cooking methods.

    It is important to distinguish between "skilled" cooking and "easy" cooking. A newbie will most likely want "easy" cooking, at least at first, so even if it makes skilled cooks have conniptions, "dump it in the pot and eat 6 hours later" is about as hard as a newbie wants to try. They will be working harder than you might expect, getting knife skills and buying spices and herbs. If they try the gourmet recipe that requires a lot of work then they will just get the impression that cooking is a fuck ton of work and decide that McD's ain't so bad after all, especially on days when work wears them out. Baby steps. After a while you get better at cooking and want to try the more involved recipes.

    This was after a big move at a time when I had far more free time to cook than she did.

    I think I picked out the relevant sentence here.

    No, you didn't. Far more free time in our case meant that I had time available to cook at reasonable hours, in comparison to my wife who did 12 hour shifts that ended at 7pm and had her home at around 8pm and needing to be in bed 90 minutes later. And since we had a 2-year old to feed as well, staring to make dinner at 8pm wasn't an option.

    It's also ignoring the recipe example I cited that had about 10 minutes worth of prep consisting only of measure and mix spices, slice pork into 4 chunks, put spice rub on pork, chill, cook in a bottle of store bought sauce. It doesn't get much easier than that. And the recipes I made from the Slow Cooker Revolution book made meals that were so much better than simple baking or broiling and mixing with a sauce that it caught on and stuck with me in a way that no other simple cooking method ever had before.


    Anyway...Kyougu, if you can stick to 2-3 recipes a week you'll git gud faster than you would expect. Stick to things that you know you usually like initially and try not to branch out too much until you're more comfortable with cooking in general. Nothing is more disheartening than putting time in to cooking and then hating what you make. Start off with very light prep recipes, but push yourself whenever you get real comfortable with the level you're at. If a recipe doesn't explain something, Google it. Watch some YouTube videos on vegetable chopping - learn the best way to dice an onion. I'm not kidding, when I started I was shocked by how long it took me to dice an onion. Prep that a book would say should take 15 minutes might take me 45-60. Watch videos, and go "Ohhh, if I make the cuts this way and this way instead, then...." Especially when you do start branching out and working with ingredients you aren't familiar with, but even for the basics.

  • DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    Ketar wrote: »
    Ketar wrote: »
    Crock pots are super nice and convenient, but "chop stuff up, dump in pot, turn to low, come back in 6 hours", only lets you learn so much.

    For starting cooking, I don't know that anything is better than a enameled cast iron dutch oven, and making a bunch of 'stews'. Stews being basically anything you cook with a lot of liquid, chili-a stew, chicken vindaloo-a stew, beef bourguignon, coq au vin, coconut curry, gumbo, beef stroganoff, etc.

    Because cooking this kind of stuff-unless you like dump the salt into it- will be edible at worse. And while making them you work on your knife skills, plus other basic stuff like searing meat, sauteing, controlling the heat(searing/sauteing/simmer/boil), adding different ingredients and seasonings at different times so you can get a sense of how they effect the flavor and the time it takes for various things to cook.

    "chop stuff up, dump in pot, turn to low, come back in 6 hours" is the worst way to use a slow cooker.

    When I use ours for a stew I'm doing the same initial searing and sauteing that I would for making a stew in our dutch oven. I'm also sometimes adding a seasoning partway through, and often adding something like a bit of cream, or some parsley, or whatever in the last few minutes before serving. The main difference is that I'm not controlling heat, unless I've programmed my slow cooker to go for X hours on high or low and then switch over to Keep Warm if I know I might be late getting back to it.

    There's absolutely no reason to just dump everything in the pot and come back later with a slow cooker unless you are stuck in that mindset for some reason. Any good slow cooker recipe book is going to have plenty of prep work beyond chopping - again, all of the same searing and sauteing you would be doing for other cooking methods.

    It is important to distinguish between "skilled" cooking and "easy" cooking. A newbie will most likely want "easy" cooking, at least at first, so even if it makes skilled cooks have conniptions, "dump it in the pot and eat 6 hours later" is about as hard as a newbie wants to try. They will be working harder than you might expect, getting knife skills and buying spices and herbs. If they try the gourmet recipe that requires a lot of work then they will just get the impression that cooking is a fuck ton of work and decide that McD's ain't so bad after all, especially on days when work wears them out. Baby steps. After a while you get better at cooking and want to try the more involved recipes.

    This was after a big move at a time when I had far more free time to cook than she did.

    I think I picked out the relevant sentence here. Don't assume that everyone who wants to cook has enough free time to make a hobby of it straightaway. A lot of people just want something cheap, fast, tasty and healthy. They are trying to avoid making that call to the pizza place, not taking up a rewarding new hobby. Getting too ambitious too fast is a good way to put yourself off for life. If you are a newbie and try a recipe that would take the average cook 30 minutes and it takes 2 hours and turns the kitchen into a war zone, they might well conclude "I suck at cooking, better get a Subway loyalty card."

    I have a favourite cartoon about this issue:

    http://theoatmeal.com/comics/cook_home

    I started out cooking at university because I wanted to save my spending money for beer. My recipes would not have impressed anyone - generally bagged salad and baked potato, or rice & chicken with curry sauce. But you know what? I was building skills that mean I can cook pretty much anything these days. I don't buy bagged salad anymore, but I don't think a newbie just starting out who does buy it is doing anything wrong. After a while you think "I could make this cheaper and better" and that means you just leveled up as cook :)

    I am this person. I'm actually pretty willing to cook, but a 30 minute recipe DOES take me 2 hours, and I will use every pan and chopping board that exists, defying all laws of physics. I'll be fucked if I know what I do wrong, but I do it.

    So keeping it simple is super good. There are so many core skills that some cooks completely lack that someone else might not even realize a person could lack. If you grew up never seeing real cooking done and never doing it yourself, you're learning a completely new thing.

    What is this I don't even.
    CelestialBadgerCalica
  • PaladinPaladin Registered User regular
    Darkewolfe wrote: »
    Ketar wrote: »
    Ketar wrote: »
    Crock pots are super nice and convenient, but "chop stuff up, dump in pot, turn to low, come back in 6 hours", only lets you learn so much.

    For starting cooking, I don't know that anything is better than a enameled cast iron dutch oven, and making a bunch of 'stews'. Stews being basically anything you cook with a lot of liquid, chili-a stew, chicken vindaloo-a stew, beef bourguignon, coq au vin, coconut curry, gumbo, beef stroganoff, etc.

    Because cooking this kind of stuff-unless you like dump the salt into it- will be edible at worse. And while making them you work on your knife skills, plus other basic stuff like searing meat, sauteing, controlling the heat(searing/sauteing/simmer/boil), adding different ingredients and seasonings at different times so you can get a sense of how they effect the flavor and the time it takes for various things to cook.

    "chop stuff up, dump in pot, turn to low, come back in 6 hours" is the worst way to use a slow cooker.

    When I use ours for a stew I'm doing the same initial searing and sauteing that I would for making a stew in our dutch oven. I'm also sometimes adding a seasoning partway through, and often adding something like a bit of cream, or some parsley, or whatever in the last few minutes before serving. The main difference is that I'm not controlling heat, unless I've programmed my slow cooker to go for X hours on high or low and then switch over to Keep Warm if I know I might be late getting back to it.

    There's absolutely no reason to just dump everything in the pot and come back later with a slow cooker unless you are stuck in that mindset for some reason. Any good slow cooker recipe book is going to have plenty of prep work beyond chopping - again, all of the same searing and sauteing you would be doing for other cooking methods.

    It is important to distinguish between "skilled" cooking and "easy" cooking. A newbie will most likely want "easy" cooking, at least at first, so even if it makes skilled cooks have conniptions, "dump it in the pot and eat 6 hours later" is about as hard as a newbie wants to try. They will be working harder than you might expect, getting knife skills and buying spices and herbs. If they try the gourmet recipe that requires a lot of work then they will just get the impression that cooking is a fuck ton of work and decide that McD's ain't so bad after all, especially on days when work wears them out. Baby steps. After a while you get better at cooking and want to try the more involved recipes.

    This was after a big move at a time when I had far more free time to cook than she did.

    I think I picked out the relevant sentence here. Don't assume that everyone who wants to cook has enough free time to make a hobby of it straightaway. A lot of people just want something cheap, fast, tasty and healthy. They are trying to avoid making that call to the pizza place, not taking up a rewarding new hobby. Getting too ambitious too fast is a good way to put yourself off for life. If you are a newbie and try a recipe that would take the average cook 30 minutes and it takes 2 hours and turns the kitchen into a war zone, they might well conclude "I suck at cooking, better get a Subway loyalty card."

    I have a favourite cartoon about this issue:

    http://theoatmeal.com/comics/cook_home

    I started out cooking at university because I wanted to save my spending money for beer. My recipes would not have impressed anyone - generally bagged salad and baked potato, or rice & chicken with curry sauce. But you know what? I was building skills that mean I can cook pretty much anything these days. I don't buy bagged salad anymore, but I don't think a newbie just starting out who does buy it is doing anything wrong. After a while you think "I could make this cheaper and better" and that means you just leveled up as cook :)

    I am this person. I'm actually pretty willing to cook, but a 30 minute recipe DOES take me 2 hours, and I will use every pan and chopping board that exists, defying all laws of physics. I'll be fucked if I know what I do wrong, but I do it.

    So keeping it simple is super good. There are so many core skills that some cooks completely lack that someone else might not even realize a person could lack. If you grew up never seeing real cooking done and never doing it yourself, you're learning a completely new thing.
    Darkewolfe wrote: »
    Ketar wrote: »
    Ketar wrote: »
    Crock pots are super nice and convenient, but "chop stuff up, dump in pot, turn to low, come back in 6 hours", only lets you learn so much.

    For starting cooking, I don't know that anything is better than a enameled cast iron dutch oven, and making a bunch of 'stews'. Stews being basically anything you cook with a lot of liquid, chili-a stew, chicken vindaloo-a stew, beef bourguignon, coq au vin, coconut curry, gumbo, beef stroganoff, etc.

    Because cooking this kind of stuff-unless you like dump the salt into it- will be edible at worse. And while making them you work on your knife skills, plus other basic stuff like searing meat, sauteing, controlling the heat(searing/sauteing/simmer/boil), adding different ingredients and seasonings at different times so you can get a sense of how they effect the flavor and the time it takes for various things to cook.

    "chop stuff up, dump in pot, turn to low, come back in 6 hours" is the worst way to use a slow cooker.

    When I use ours for a stew I'm doing the same initial searing and sauteing that I would for making a stew in our dutch oven. I'm also sometimes adding a seasoning partway through, and often adding something like a bit of cream, or some parsley, or whatever in the last few minutes before serving. The main difference is that I'm not controlling heat, unless I've programmed my slow cooker to go for X hours on high or low and then switch over to Keep Warm if I know I might be late getting back to it.

    There's absolutely no reason to just dump everything in the pot and come back later with a slow cooker unless you are stuck in that mindset for some reason. Any good slow cooker recipe book is going to have plenty of prep work beyond chopping - again, all of the same searing and sauteing you would be doing for other cooking methods.

    It is important to distinguish between "skilled" cooking and "easy" cooking. A newbie will most likely want "easy" cooking, at least at first, so even if it makes skilled cooks have conniptions, "dump it in the pot and eat 6 hours later" is about as hard as a newbie wants to try. They will be working harder than you might expect, getting knife skills and buying spices and herbs. If they try the gourmet recipe that requires a lot of work then they will just get the impression that cooking is a fuck ton of work and decide that McD's ain't so bad after all, especially on days when work wears them out. Baby steps. After a while you get better at cooking and want to try the more involved recipes.

    This was after a big move at a time when I had far more free time to cook than she did.

    I think I picked out the relevant sentence here. Don't assume that everyone who wants to cook has enough free time to make a hobby of it straightaway. A lot of people just want something cheap, fast, tasty and healthy. They are trying to avoid making that call to the pizza place, not taking up a rewarding new hobby. Getting too ambitious too fast is a good way to put yourself off for life. If you are a newbie and try a recipe that would take the average cook 30 minutes and it takes 2 hours and turns the kitchen into a war zone, they might well conclude "I suck at cooking, better get a Subway loyalty card."

    I have a favourite cartoon about this issue:

    http://theoatmeal.com/comics/cook_home

    I started out cooking at university because I wanted to save my spending money for beer. My recipes would not have impressed anyone - generally bagged salad and baked potato, or rice & chicken with curry sauce. But you know what? I was building skills that mean I can cook pretty much anything these days. I don't buy bagged salad anymore, but I don't think a newbie just starting out who does buy it is doing anything wrong. After a while you think "I could make this cheaper and better" and that means you just leveled up as cook :)

    I am this person. I'm actually pretty willing to cook, but a 30 minute recipe DOES take me 2 hours, and I will use every pan and chopping board that exists, defying all laws of physics. I'll be fucked if I know what I do wrong, but I do it.

    So keeping it simple is super good. There are so many core skills that some cooks completely lack that someone else might not even realize a person could lack. If you grew up never seeing real cooking done and never doing it yourself, you're learning a completely new thing.

    Watching videos helps. 90% of delays in cooking are not having the stuff in front of you. Counter space.

    Marty: The future, it's where you're going?
    Doc: That's right, twenty five years into the future. I've always dreamed on seeing the future, looking beyond my years, seeing the progress of mankind. I'll also be able to see who wins the next twenty-five world series.
  • darkmayodarkmayo Registered User regular
    Quick salad (this is one we do all the time)

    Grape or Cherry tomato, wash and cut them in half.
    Cucumber - wash cut length ways in half, then length wise again. Then cut across the length of the cucumber (I don't know cutting terminology...)

    next two are optional

    Take a cured meat sausage of whatever type you like. Do the same to it as you did to the cucumber (which will be harder but you don't need to do the whole thing, just enough for whomever is eating)

    Add cheese that you either shred or cube.. I don't care which

    Lastly
    Mix a bit of olive oil with balsamic vinegar, That's your dressing (if you need dressing.. )

    Mix it all together bam salad..

    if you have red pepper or other veg like that you can slice them up and add them as well.

    CelestialBadger
  • SoggybiscuitSoggybiscuit At the edge of spacetime lies a path with no end.Registered User regular
    Ketar wrote: »
    Ketar wrote: »
    Ketar wrote: »
    Crock pots are super nice and convenient, but "chop stuff up, dump in pot, turn to low, come back in 6 hours", only lets you learn so much.

    For starting cooking, I don't know that anything is better than a enameled cast iron dutch oven, and making a bunch of 'stews'. Stews being basically anything you cook with a lot of liquid, chili-a stew, chicken vindaloo-a stew, beef bourguignon, coq au vin, coconut curry, gumbo, beef stroganoff, etc.

    Because cooking this kind of stuff-unless you like dump the salt into it- will be edible at worse. And while making them you work on your knife skills, plus other basic stuff like searing meat, sauteing, controlling the heat(searing/sauteing/simmer/boil), adding different ingredients and seasonings at different times so you can get a sense of how they effect the flavor and the time it takes for various things to cook.

    "chop stuff up, dump in pot, turn to low, come back in 6 hours" is the worst way to use a slow cooker.

    When I use ours for a stew I'm doing the same initial searing and sauteing that I would for making a stew in our dutch oven. I'm also sometimes adding a seasoning partway through, and often adding something like a bit of cream, or some parsley, or whatever in the last few minutes before serving. The main difference is that I'm not controlling heat, unless I've programmed my slow cooker to go for X hours on high or low and then switch over to Keep Warm if I know I might be late getting back to it.

    There's absolutely no reason to just dump everything in the pot and come back later with a slow cooker unless you are stuck in that mindset for some reason. Any good slow cooker recipe book is going to have plenty of prep work beyond chopping - again, all of the same searing and sauteing you would be doing for other cooking methods.

    It is important to distinguish between "skilled" cooking and "easy" cooking. A newbie will most likely want "easy" cooking, at least at first, so even if it makes skilled cooks have conniptions, "dump it in the pot and eat 6 hours later" is about as hard as a newbie wants to try. They will be working harder than you might expect, getting knife skills and buying spices and herbs. If they try the gourmet recipe that requires a lot of work then they will just get the impression that cooking is a fuck ton of work and decide that McD's ain't so bad after all, especially on days when work wears them out. Baby steps. After a while you get better at cooking and want to try the more involved recipes.

    This was after a big move at a time when I had far more free time to cook than she did.

    I think I picked out the relevant sentence here.

    No, you didn't. Far more free time in our case meant that I had time available to cook at reasonable hours, in comparison to my wife who did 12 hour shifts that ended at 7pm and had her home at around 8pm and needing to be in bed 90 minutes later. And since we had a 2-year old to feed as well, staring to make dinner at 8pm wasn't an option.

    It's also ignoring the recipe example I cited that had about 10 minutes worth of prep consisting only of measure and mix spices, slice pork into 4 chunks, put spice rub on pork, chill, cook in a bottle of store bought sauce. It doesn't get much easier than that. And the recipes I made from the Slow Cooker Revolution book made meals that were so much better than simple baking or broiling and mixing with a sauce that it caught on and stuck with me in a way that no other simple cooking method ever had before.


    Anyway...Kyougu, if you can stick to 2-3 recipes a week you'll git gud faster than you would expect. Stick to things that you know you usually like initially and try not to branch out too much until you're more comfortable with cooking in general. Nothing is more disheartening than putting time in to cooking and then hating what you make. Start off with very light prep recipes, but push yourself whenever you get real comfortable with the level you're at. If a recipe doesn't explain something, Google it. Watch some YouTube videos on vegetable chopping - learn the best way to dice an onion. I'm not kidding, when I started I was shocked by how long it took me to dice an onion. Prep that a book would say should take 15 minutes might take me 45-60. Watch videos, and go "Ohhh, if I make the cuts this way and this way instead, then...." Especially when you do start branching out and working with ingredients you aren't familiar with, but even for the basics.

    Another thing of importance if it hasn't been mentioned is that prep work, or at least the time required for it, is substantially reduced if you have good tools.

    The most important tools are a good sharp chef's knife, a good sharp paring knife, heavy kitchen shears, and a good wood cutting board for vegetables and some nice thick plastic ones for meats.

    Every other gizmo and gadget is secondary besides something to cook in; if you don't have a sharp knife, cooking will be many times harder. You don't have to spend hundreds on this equipment, and avoid sets like the plague.

    And above all, NEVER PUT THE DAMN KNIVES IN THE DISHWASHER!

    Steam - Synthetic Violence | XBOX Live - Cannonfuse | PSN - CastleBravo | Twitch - SoggybiscuitPA
    Ketardispatch.o
  • Mai-KeroMai-Kero Registered User regular
    https://www.amazon.com/Victorinox-Fibrox-45520-Frustration-Packaging/dp/B008M5U1C2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1480538605&sr=8-1&keywords=victorinox+fibrox

    I think this is the one I have. I did some research and a lot of people love it because of how cheap it is while still being super-durable. Keep in mind that sharpening is a big deal too, and pick up a cheap sharpener for like, $9.

    SimpsoniaNightDragonMichaelLC
  • SimpsoniaSimpsonia Registered User regular
    The Victorinox Fibrox and the Tojiro Gyuto are usually touted as the best bang for your buck knives.

    NightDragon
  • CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    Darkewolfe wrote: »
    Ketar wrote: »
    Ketar wrote: »
    Crock pots are super nice and convenient, but "chop stuff up, dump in pot, turn to low, come back in 6 hours", only lets you learn so much.

    For starting cooking, I don't know that anything is better than a enameled cast iron dutch oven, and making a bunch of 'stews'. Stews being basically anything you cook with a lot of liquid, chili-a stew, chicken vindaloo-a stew, beef bourguignon, coq au vin, coconut curry, gumbo, beef stroganoff, etc.

    Because cooking this kind of stuff-unless you like dump the salt into it- will be edible at worse. And while making them you work on your knife skills, plus other basic stuff like searing meat, sauteing, controlling the heat(searing/sauteing/simmer/boil), adding different ingredients and seasonings at different times so you can get a sense of how they effect the flavor and the time it takes for various things to cook.

    "chop stuff up, dump in pot, turn to low, come back in 6 hours" is the worst way to use a slow cooker.

    When I use ours for a stew I'm doing the same initial searing and sauteing that I would for making a stew in our dutch oven. I'm also sometimes adding a seasoning partway through, and often adding something like a bit of cream, or some parsley, or whatever in the last few minutes before serving. The main difference is that I'm not controlling heat, unless I've programmed my slow cooker to go for X hours on high or low and then switch over to Keep Warm if I know I might be late getting back to it.

    There's absolutely no reason to just dump everything in the pot and come back later with a slow cooker unless you are stuck in that mindset for some reason. Any good slow cooker recipe book is going to have plenty of prep work beyond chopping - again, all of the same searing and sauteing you would be doing for other cooking methods.

    It is important to distinguish between "skilled" cooking and "easy" cooking. A newbie will most likely want "easy" cooking, at least at first, so even if it makes skilled cooks have conniptions, "dump it in the pot and eat 6 hours later" is about as hard as a newbie wants to try. They will be working harder than you might expect, getting knife skills and buying spices and herbs. If they try the gourmet recipe that requires a lot of work then they will just get the impression that cooking is a fuck ton of work and decide that McD's ain't so bad after all, especially on days when work wears them out. Baby steps. After a while you get better at cooking and want to try the more involved recipes.

    This was after a big move at a time when I had far more free time to cook than she did.

    I think I picked out the relevant sentence here. Don't assume that everyone who wants to cook has enough free time to make a hobby of it straightaway. A lot of people just want something cheap, fast, tasty and healthy. They are trying to avoid making that call to the pizza place, not taking up a rewarding new hobby. Getting too ambitious too fast is a good way to put yourself off for life. If you are a newbie and try a recipe that would take the average cook 30 minutes and it takes 2 hours and turns the kitchen into a war zone, they might well conclude "I suck at cooking, better get a Subway loyalty card."

    I have a favourite cartoon about this issue:

    http://theoatmeal.com/comics/cook_home

    I started out cooking at university because I wanted to save my spending money for beer. My recipes would not have impressed anyone - generally bagged salad and baked potato, or rice & chicken with curry sauce. But you know what? I was building skills that mean I can cook pretty much anything these days. I don't buy bagged salad anymore, but I don't think a newbie just starting out who does buy it is doing anything wrong. After a while you think "I could make this cheaper and better" and that means you just leveled up as cook :)

    I am this person. I'm actually pretty willing to cook, but a 30 minute recipe DOES take me 2 hours, and I will use every pan and chopping board that exists, defying all laws of physics. I'll be fucked if I know what I do wrong, but I do it.

    The first time I do a recipe, I use every pan in the house and turn the kitchen into a blast zone. The next few times, I use less and less stuff as I figure out how to be more efficient.

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