My inability to cook is legendary. Want a cake or a pie? I’m good at that- I can bake. But if you want some fried chicken, I am not your girl. That said, I have three kids and I’m on a budget. I have to cook. And in order to save money and try to be healthful, I have to cook from scratch as much as possible.
It’s funny. Some people, I think, are born with a natural ability to cook, and some people are not. The difference, I think, is personality driven. Baking is a fairly exact science. Follow the directions exactly on a good recipe, and you’ll generally end up with a good product. Cooking, on the other hand, is way more subjective. Try getting a recipe from a cook. They’ll normally rattle off a bunch of ingredients, and not much more. Ask for amounts or cooking times and they’ll shrug and tell you they’re not sure.
So what are those of us who are non-cooks to do when we want to actually cook something? First, you have to find some good recipes. We have a ton of good, easy recipes on this site. Also, I love AllRecipes.com.
And here’s a surprising place I found interesting things to make- the game Cooking Mama on the Nintendo DS. Now, the game doesn’t have actual recipes. It’ll teach you to cook in the same way Guitar Hero will teach you to play the guitar. However, it does have a lot of very interesting things that you make, and you get an idea of what goes into the recipe as well. I’ve seen things on there and googled them to get an actual recipe.
Cooking mama has taught me several things about real world cooking. Like the fact that you won’t always get a recipe perfect on the first try, and that’s okay. Like, last night I was making rice pudding (in the real world) and I managed to end up with a bunch of burny bits in it. Next time, I’ll know to stir while I’m waiting for the recipe to boil. See, all your cooking failures are just learning steps to success. And while it definitely sucks to have to throw out food, especially in this economy- at least next time I’ll know the right thing to do.
So, to all you just-learning cooks out there, chin up! Find some recipes and give them a try. I especially find various ethnic foods to be good to start with- many of the recipes are very economical, and since several of them require cooking techniques that are unfamiliar to Americans, they tend to be better explained on the internet, I have found.
Let’s hear it from the experienced cooks- what tips do you have for the newbies?