If you’ve never dipped your toe into the world of cooking, then maybe it’s time to think again and get started. Why? Well, everyone needs to eat and when it comes to feeding a family it can be expensive to constantly buy pre-prepared food that just goes into the microwave. It’s even more expensive to get takeouts or eat out in a restaurant on a regular basis.
The answer is to learn to cook, even if you start from a very low knowledge base. You’ll not only enjoy learning new things in the kitchen but you’ll also be able to eat much more healthily, save money and impress your family and friends with your new-found skills. There’s a lot of pleasure to be had from feeding people tasty, nutritious food, and the chances are you’ll have them eagerly anticipating their next meal planned and prepared by you.
If your kitchen is going to be your temple you need to equip it with the best tools to pursue the development of your culinary skills. Look to getting a selection of mixing bowls, large, medium and small, and three or four pans for boiling vegetables, creating sauces and stews, frying and sautéing and heating up leftovers.
A mix of non-stick and metal pans give you good options and roasting trays are also useful (especially if you get to the stage of cooking the turkey for Thanksgiving).
Have plenty of wooden and metal spoons for stirring, a set of very sharp knives for ease of chopping, a couple of wooden chopping boards and a few electric tools such as a whisk, blender and food processor. A plastic measuring jug and some scales for weighing ingredients will complete your basic kit.
Learning some basics
Learning how to cook is a fun challenge and there is always an end product to enjoy. Not everything will go perfectly to start with – ask any cook – but a lot of the enjoyment is getting to grip with new skills and trying things out.
Many experienced cooks often don’t bother about measuring out ingredients because they instinctively know how much to use for the result they want, but when you’re in the first flush of your cooking experiences it really pays to stick to measuring out accurately.
The more you do things the more you will want to progress. For example, boiling an egg may seem simple but if you’ve never done it before it can be daunting. You don’t want the egg to crack when it goes into boiling water and you want to make sure it’s cooked the way someone likes to eat it. Trial and error can work here, but lower the egg gently into the water – less likely to crack if it hasn’t been chilled – and set the timer for the desired outcome, a runny or firm yolk.
Take advantage of the many recipes you can find online, watch videos that will take you through basic cooking steps so you can build your skills, and also take a look at cookery programs on TV – there are plenty of them – to get more insights into a range of different techniques and ways of producing delicious food.
Another excellent way of developing your cookery skills is to find a cookery class that gets you going from the beginning and with an experienced teacher can help you avoid many of the pitfalls that inevitably happen in the kitchen environment.
Getting more skilled
As you move forward your cooking and become more confident you can aim to develop your skills in more complex areas. These could include making a roux as base for a sauce for fish or a gravy for meat, learning how to make a stock with chicken bones, herbs and vegetables to create a delicious liquid for soups, broths and stews. For stocks, a quality pan from the Copper chef brand will last a very long time and give you ample space inside for all your ingredients to simmer gently, extracting all their flavors.
You’ll also want to get into the art of pastry making for both savory and sweet dishes as your skills develop. Good pastry chefs are worth their weight in gold in restaurants!
However you decide to approach learning how to cook you’ll get immense satisfaction by creating food and, of course, you can teach others, especially children who love to be involved, the secret of your new-found abilities.