Want to learn to cook "from scratch" - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 11 Old 09-06-2005, 12:41 AM - Thread Starter
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Embarrassing confession...I don't know how to make anything homemade :

Can anyone please tell me how you learned to cook from scratch...good resources, cookbooks, encouragement? please

I am ready to stop feeding my kids (and me and dh,too!) processed junk, but I just don't even know where to begin without all the "convenience foods".

HELP! I'll be :
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#2 of 11 Old 09-06-2005, 01:51 AM
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Joy of Cooking is a great resource - it has very clear directions for how to do just about anything. Alton Brown has some books on kitchen science that are really useful. He's... pompous, and not *all* of his advice is right. But, I'm nitpicking from the position of real kitchen science geekdom. From a layman's perspective he's extremely readable and understandable, and the places where his scholarship is dubious won't affect what you're doing.

Start by doing some simple things that will really give you confidence. If you eat meat, go buy a whole chicken. Pull out the gizzards, rub it with olive oil, sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper, put it in an uncovered roasting pan and roast it at 350 degrees. After about an hour and 15 minutes, take a meat thermometer and stick it in the fattest area of the thigh. If it hits bone, pull it back out a little. If it reads 165 or greater, it's done. Otherwise, put it back in for a bit. Voila! Roasted chicken! Scrub up a couple of potatoes and throw them in beside it right from the beginning. They're done when a fork pokes in easily and the center feels soft. Depending on their size, they'll probably take approximately as long as the chicken. You could take almost any veggies, say broccoli and cauliflower, or zucchini, or sugar snap peas, drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, wrap in tin foil or put in a dish and cover, and throw that in at the one hour mark. That'll take about 20-30 minutes. Hey, look! You've got a whole meal now!
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#3 of 11 Old 09-06-2005, 09:39 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks, Tara I actually have the Joy of Cooking already...my mom gave it to me and I have never actually looked at it

I guess I'll crack it open and see what's in there :LOL
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#4 of 11 Old 09-06-2005, 09:59 AM
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I'm an x cook now sahm. My husband is an x chef. I can tell you lots of recipies but you relly learn trile and error. I love to cook one of my kids favoret is our home made pizza from scratch(dough and sauce) the first time I made it. It was ok. the second time allright, the thread good, and the forth great awsome ect. I can go on and on with sauces soups stocks meats breads veggi and so on. Between my husband and I we have tons of recipie books if you have any questions or need recipes just write me I check it in every morning.
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#5 of 11 Old 09-06-2005, 10:00 AM
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My current fav is the new, totally oversized Gourmet, collected recipes by Gourmet mag. It's a giant yellow book that you can get at the library. It's fun to read and the steps are pretty easy. There's a lot of info in there. It's notvegetarian, but there are lots of recipes that veggies can eat, or you can adapt. Wonderful stories, too.

My fav veggie cookbook is Laurel's Kitchen. It reads like a novel sometimes. There are lots of editions, so check that out. The later editions have tasty, but more more simplified recipes that just work better, imo. Anything by Molly Kazten is nice as well. Vegan Planet is also an amazing book and filled with recipes even carniores would like.

The Joy of Cooking is a good textbook, but it is very dry and boring.

Julia Child's How To Cook is nice, with lots of great pix. This is where you will learn how to take a part a chicken for chicken soup, how to make a nice white sauce, a pie crust, how to use herbs etc. In this way, the Joy of Cooking is great, but it doesn't have Julia's neat tone or the pix.
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#6 of 11 Old 09-06-2005, 10:19 AM
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The cookbook I turn to most is Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson. The recipes are adaptable to be non-vegan (use actual eggs instead of egg replacements, etc) and non-veggie by adding a little meat here and there. This works the best in my home because I like veggie foods, DH is allergic to milk products (along with corn and a handful of random allergies like cashews and buckwheat ), but enjoys meat a few times a week.

I think a "classic" cookbook like Betty Crocker is good, to an extent, for helping with questions like, "How long do I boil an egg so it's hardboiled?" "What temperature should I cook this roast?" "What's the traditional ratio of ingredients in cookies?" (so you can alter to your own needs). I find Betty helpful as a jumping off point, but not as a follow-through source. It assumes things like you're using white rice and doesn't offer variations, the veggie chapter is pathetic, and some of the timings just seem to be wrong!

The best advice I have about learning how to cook is to find a source of recipes that work for your family. Whether this is Food Network (sigh... I miss this channel the most in my cable-free life!), a website like www.allrecipes.com, or a cook book you give a trial run from the library, if you have a good go-to source, you're more likely to feel motivated to actually cook.

Best of luck!
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#7 of 11 Old 09-06-2005, 10:19 AM
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How to Cook Everything is a great cookbook...No pictures but very basic and organized. It also gives great ideas for using the same basic recipe but gives lots of variations
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#8 of 11 Old 09-06-2005, 11:17 AM
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I agree with the pp that said scratch cooking is mostly trial and error. That said, I taught myself how to scratch cook. Since I was little my mom fed us boxed stuff, but her baking was from scratch, so that helped me learn SOMETHING. As I got older I realized I hated my mom's cooking so I took it upon myself to cook for the family most nights after I got home from whatever activity I was doing that night. It wasn't easy since my mom never had basics on hand- like fresh garlic, for example- but I quickly learned how to adapt recipes to make them more palatable with less ingredients. (FWIW, she STILL doesn't have fresh garlic, I just made lunch at her place yesterday and had to make do yet again...)

Anyway, it's good to follow recipes, at least at first, and once you really get a feel for what you're doing it makes it easier to cook with whatever you have on hand. Kwim? I find that soups are always sucessful, so if you want any good soup recipes, or any recipes for that matter, PM me and I'd be happy to oblige. (And, btw, once you start scratch cooking you'll see how much BETTER your food tastes- it's totally worth it!)
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#9 of 11 Old 09-06-2005, 11:17 AM
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I second How to Cook Everything. It's been my new Joy of Cooking ever since I got it (maybe 4 years ago). One of its features that would help one cook from scratch is that it provides many variations on some of its recipies. I think part of the secret of cooking from scratch is learning a few basic dishes and then being able to mess around with them according to inclination and what you have on hand--and HTCE is pretty good for that.

A very different approach is Nigel Slater's Appetite. If the idea of following a recipe leaves you cold, his book takes a "handful of this and sprinkle of that" approach. In other words, recipes in which proportions aren't so important (this is truer of more recipes than you might think). Plus, there are fabulous pictures to get you motivated, and like HTCE, it gives you a ton of variations on each recipe. It's not as comprehensive, but its recipes go a long way.
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#10 of 11 Old 09-06-2005, 12:16 PM
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book snever helped me because they do not illistrate or demonstrate. But FOod Network is a great source for me! How To Boil Water, Food 911...great how-tos. And trial-and-error is key in cooking. Keep trying until you feel you "got it". Start with basics like sauces, gravies, toppings, etc. You can add those to store bought anything. That start will bring you confidence and help get you thinking about what to make next.

Good luck!
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#11 of 11 Old 09-06-2005, 12:47 PM
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my dh got me the revised joy of cooking, and i love it i havent yet made something that i didnt like, and i substitute sometimes in the recipes. i also pick up those little recipe mags by the check out at the grocery store, and if i see a cool looking cookbook, i'll buy that too.... i agree with the trial and error. im still learning, but i love cooking, so its fun to me.... we eat pretty well, but im slowly moving away from the processed stuff..... dh is resisting tho, and i have my moments too

*~*Ashley*~* newly single mama to Tristan 10/01/2007
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