Learning to Cook - Stove top and oven

Buster O'Keefe

Enjoys offal
True & Honest Fan
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I have measuring cups. Dollar store. Anybody have ideas of how to add flavor to veggies? Broccoli, spinach, greens, etc. Boiling them imo has no flavor.
Salt and pepper. Lemon juice goes well with greens.
Best advice I have would be invest in a good cook's knife a sharpening steel, and a cast iron pan.
My gal Delia can teach you everything you need know:
https://www.deliaonline.com/how-to-cook Start with eggs, seriously. You'll need kitchen scales because she's British and doesn't use the retarded American cup system of measuring. There are also some great recipes on this very board, in the open recipe book thread.
 

Some JERK

I ain't drunk, I'm just drinkin'
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-90% of anything you cook on the stovetop will be on medium to medium-high. So when in doubt, set the burner to medium.
-A little salt goes a very long way.
-Different oils/fats have different smoke points. You have the internet, so take a second to learn them. Butter is delicious but it also burns very very easily and smells like shit when it does.
-Get a fire extinguisher. Never put water on a grease (oil-based) fire.
-Find and print (or copy) a kitchen conversion cheat sheet. (how many tablespoons are in 3/4 cups and shit like that. )You may think you won't need it, but sometimes your measuring cup is gross or otherwise busy and you need to measure what it measures with something else that wasn't designed for measuring that.
-Don't scrape the bottom of a nonstick pan with anything metal.
-Don't preheat anything you're thinking of cooking bacon in. Put cold bacon in a cold pan or oven and let it come up to temperature. Always.
-Buy a flour sifter.
-Parchment paper was invented by Jesus and is made by sweet, sweet angels. Use that shit for everything but especially rolling out doughs and crusts. Put your dough/crust between 2 sheets of paper and roll it out. You'd be surprised how much disgusting shit is on your "clean" counter-top, and it will find its way into your dough.
-You can freeze basically anything and it will be safe virtually indefinitely as long as it's been at or below 0 degrees. It may not be 'good' indefinitely though. Meaning it will taste like shit if it's frozen for too long, but you can basically eat anything frozen at or below 0 degrees regardless of how long it's been frozen.


I could probably go on for some time. These are the first things that popped into my head.
 

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Kiwi Farms Resident Master Chef and Busty Redhead Secret Gamer Girl has recently started posting tips for new cooks.

OK. Another depressing day here. Let's have some positivity. Time for everyone to have some RANDOM UNSOLICITED TIPS ON COOKING FOR YOURSELF!

One of my dozens of back burner projects is I'd some day like to write a book on cooking specifically aimed at the sort of person who has absolutely never once even thought about making their own meals at home with absolutely zero assumptions. Like, start in on how to functionally use a stove and buy groceries and such, so let me dip into my notes on that because I figure at least a few people reading this really are coming from that as a starting point and in a sudden live field test. So! Let me randomly teach those people the real fundamental basics of oh... boiling stuff!

So OK! Boiling is like the most foolproof way of cooking things, because it's all about the scientific properties of water. It's a liquid, so at least at the sort of scale you're going to have in a pot on your stove, any point in a body of water is going to have the same temperature as any other point, and the boiling point of water, where it stops being a liquid sitting in a container and just dump all the ingredients in at the start and set a timer for when it's all done, there are very few ways to screw things up. There are still a couple though, so, again, no expectations tips here: First step to boiling anything is you want to take a pot of some sort over to the sink (pots are the big deep metal things that are kinda like a bowl and a cylinder had a bay), fill it up with cold water, move it to your stove, and crank that burner all the way up. If you're making something super bland like pasta or potatoes or something, maybe pour some salt into the palm of your hand (just enough that it's like, visibly piling up there, not just random scattered crystals) and toss that in. Then you leave that thing alone. Don't add anything else yet. The whole foolproof nature of boiling is all about that constant science-made temperature. Once you have a boiling pot of water, with bubbles roiling around and steam coming out and such, that's going to put a fixed amount of heat into whatever you toss in, but if you just throw stuff into cold water and then heat it up, it's going to be all inconsistent, because now how quick your burner heats up and how much water is in there and... basically the trick to cooking well is to just cut out as many variables as you can so you have a consistent baseline and can just tweak the few you have left next time if you don't like the results.

The next thing to worry about with boiling, and this, really, is kinda true for all kinds of cooking- the bigger something is, the trickier it is to cook evenly. Because again, liquids are easy, all the molecules bounce around all over for even temperatures. Solids need to jiggle that heat in from the outside to the inside, so like, the closer something is to being a big sphere or cube, the more you have to worry about the outside being really cooked and the inside still being raw. So... generally when you're boiling stuff, you chop it up first. If you've got some big long thing like a carrot or a squash you want to chop that into discs. If you're throwing in potatoes, like, cut'em in half, cut the halves in half, and then cut those quarters in half. That's generally enough. Maybe skip that or just cut'em in half with fingerling potatoes. And meat, similar deal. You don't generally want to throw any pieces in that are bigger than like... a AA battery or like, 1/4the size of a can of tuna or something.

Also, hey, just in general, when you're cutting stuff: Put the thing you're cutting on a cutting board, hold it steady by like a tip with your off-hand, maybe a fork (especially for meat), and carefully cut it one chop at a time. If you're getting at all near your fingers, just... stop. Through that big end piece of the carrot or whatever out. It's fine. Really.

And after you're done cutting stuff and transferring it to where it goes throw out any sort of leftover packaging, especially from meat, wash your knife, your cutting board, and your hands. Especially with chicken. Treat raw chicken like it's some kind of scary alien acid poison where you have to totally keep contained so nobody gets infected or touches the goo (and also never serve like, rare chicken). Also there's a hopefully obvious exception to that chop everything up rule for very liquid-y things. If you're boiling an egg, you boil the whole egg, and take the shell off after. Tomatoes are like, the most watery thing you still want to cut up.

So anyway, somewhere in this process, you have stuff to dump into water which is now really boiling. So the next concern is, hey, don't splash boiling water on yourself.

When doing anything even near a stove, you want to avoid any sort of really loose clothing like poet sleeves or something (really long sleeves in general, capes are right out) so nothing touches a heating element and catches you on fire but like... wear pants (or a long skirt), wear a shirt. Don't do the sexy apron thing. If a little boiling water splashes out and hits your clothed thigh, that's a bit warm. If it hits bare skin, that's really going to burn you. Keep pets away form the whole area too. And small children. Etc.

Also don't like, throw stuff into the pot. Just kinda drop everything in from a very low height. If you're chopping stuff, you can kinda slide it off the edge of the cutting board with a knife all gentle. If you're dumping in pasta from a box, hold like a bottom corner and tilt it in slowly. Also! Weird time to mention this, but here's the rough math on how much water you should have in the pot vs. how much food. If you're making any sort of like soup or sauce, the water is one of the ingredients, so, follow that recipe. Otherwise, you want at least as much water as it's going to take for the water level to be higher than the pile of stuff going in there. Halfway or a little over halfway for an empty pot is usually good. You never want to go right up to the lip though, because you're adding stuff, it's going to displace some water and boiling water overflowing from the pot is kinda Bad

Also! When you're making dry pasta or rice or any other dried thing like that that's going to be hydrating in the pot, remember it's going to basically double in volume after absorbing the water, and also consume that water. So like, 1 cup of rice+1 cup of water=2 cups of cooked rice and no water. If you're cooking just rice you actually kinda want that sort of a result, but mainly I'm mentioning this because if you're like, eyeballing how much pasta you're making as you're pouring it in, you need to remember you are actually going to end up with double.

And aside from that rice exception, you don't want to ever go and absorb all that water. Also, once you're done dumping stuff in your boiling water, it's usually good to take a spoon or a fork or something and kinda swirl it up a bit. Get the water really moving to make sure nothing just stuck to the bottom of the pan and it's all moving around. Some people say you need to come back and keep doing that now and then, but honestly you can generally do it once and by the time things would settle again, the water's back up to a real angry boil and doing that for you. So anyway, you boil everything for however long, and then depending what it was, either you have a pot of soup here, or a pot of something to drain. In the latter case, you should, hopefully have a colander. Big bowl full of holes and a couple legs. You stand that sucker up in an empty sink, shut the stove off, carefully take your pot by both handles and carefully move it over, and slowly dump it all into that colander. Then set the pot aside, back on the stove works, grab the colander, lift it up, shake it up and down a little, and tada.

You've got your boiled food, no longer soaking in water. you can either dump that back in the pot and add sauce or whatever, or dump it into some plates/bowls, or do what I do sometimes with like perogies and just let'em cool off and grab'em right out of there. When you can, you do want to rinse that colander off since starch and stuff makes them all sticky. And when you're done with a pot, wash that too. Real awkward to do it all after you eat and have dishes and such in the sink to deal with. Meanwhile for soup, generally you just turn the burner down once the recipe says it's done. Some stoves literally have a big "low" setting, otherwise like, stick it on 1 or 2. You can just kinda take a big serving spoon and ladle everything right from the pot on the stove into bowls. If you're a huge slob and just made a little saucepan full of instant ramen or mac'n'cheese or something and want to lazily eat it right out of the pot, I won't stop you, but you do want to take that pot off the burner first, and either have it on a cold burner or like a potholder or something. The metal is going to stay hot for a good long while. Anyway, that's basically it. It's nice if you have a full teapot handy to just put that on any still-hot burner you might have, either to make some tea while the stove's nice and hot, or just to keep that burner covered with something as it cools. Do always make sure you've double checked everything is turned off when you're done cooking. Wash stuff sooner than later. Oh and there's a thing people encourage people to do especially with like soup and chili and such where you stick a tasting spoon right in the pot while things are cooking to be sure all the seasoning is good. DON'T DO THAT! It's gross and unsanitary, it's a good way to get sick if you're doing something with meat in it, and it's a good way to burn yourself. If you really want to do that taste test thing, get to that point where you turn the stove down to low, get a regular freaking spoon in one hand, and a napkin in the other. Carefully grab a spoonful, hold it over the napkin, bring it away from the stove, blow on it a little because it's still freaking boiling, taste that, wipe up any mess you made, wash that spoon now.

You don't generally need to make corrections to seasoning ratios like ASAP. Soups stay a big liquidy mess and with heat on low they can honestly kinda live on the stove all day. You can come in way late, add extra spices or whatever, stir'em in a little, leave it simmering a bit longer, and it's fine. No reason for anything to ever be going into your mouth then back into the pot. Also don't be too afraid to ever tweak recipes. If something says to add onions and you hate onions, OK leave'em out. If something says to add lemon juice and you think limes are just inherently the better tasting real sour fruit, sub that in every time. Personally basically every time I see "salt" I just mentally substitute "adobo" because everything else in this little jar I think nicely compliments basically everything. And if you're a fan tossing a little shredded or powdered cheese onto like anything right after you put it on a plate/bowl so it just starts to melt a little just kinda classes up most things. Oh and something I was already going to say before my mentions lit up with it- The one thing that's even easier as a cooking method than boiling stuff is using a slow cooker/crockpot/instant pot (these are, I'm pretty sure, all different names for the same thing). You just throw everything in (although you generally want to just do this when there's some water or other very wet ingredient), put the lid on, hit the start button, and come back hours later, and bam, great food. It's kind of a boiling/steaming combo, at a low enough heat nothing is going to burn, and a long enough time that that whole large-solid-bits-don't-cook-evenly thing is a non-issue. I just throw whole freaking chicken breasts in that thing, screw it. The only real catch, especially if you're doing all this cooking for yourself because you're stuck at home, is it's like, minimum 4 hour cooking times, so you want to start your dinner when you're like, eating lunch or maybe even breakfast and then you have to smell something delicious all day long. The ideal use case for them if when you're actually going to be out all day and don't want to have to cook when you get home. Just, dump everything in, make sure you're not leaving it somewhere precarious turn it on, leave, go shopping, see a movie, whatever, come back that night, bam, food's ready and it's like perfect. Now all that said, wash your dishes as soon as you're done eating, seriously. Like sometimes yeah you still want everything to soak in hot water for a bit, but the less time you give food to get all dry and crusty and stuck to everything, the easier it is to just add a little soap, give things a rinse, and have that nice clean kitchen and eating area again.
 

Some JERK

I ain't drunk, I'm just drinkin'
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I just want to add that you don't need to use a fire extinguisher on a small grease fire, that would make a huge mess (though she should still get a fire extinguisher).

Keep a box of baking soda handy to put out small cooking fires safely.
Yeah, for sure, and just about all of the grease fires I've ever seen were extinguished by just putting a lid on a pot or pan.

But yes, still get the fire extinguisher.
 
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Ex Cummunicated Sasser HD

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Why would anyone do that? Its...its not hard to make the actual thing...
He is a 40 year old neet tranny who we believe recently got kicked out of his mother's attic and is cooking for the first time. He's so impressed by his ability to boil eggs and meat that he feels the need to write a book to teach other people. Okay, I'm going to stop shilling Jake's thread. This thread isn't for laughing at idiots who can't cook.

My number one piece of advice for people looking to learn how to cook is to cook with people whose food you enjoy eating. It's easy for me because my friends and family love to cook. It's part of socializing for us. A lot can be learned from doing it yourself through following recipes, trial and error, experimentation. Most of that can be learned more quickly through someone more experienced. I do not mean watching someone else cook. I mean cooking dishes collaboratively under their direction. They'll tell you all the little tricks and pitfalls to watch out for, and it will probably turn out better than what you could have cooked on your own to give you confidence. Be prepared to fuck it up on your own and that's fine. Make it into something edible.

You will not learn how to cook delicious food by watching dozens of videos and reading cookbooks. You will learn by putting fire to pan. Set timers and don't burn your house down.
 

Syikeblade

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Okay. Thanks for the informative food links and YouTube links! This will be a great start to learning basic cooking.

I went to the store for some supplies. I picked up some ground beef and spices for experimental sheet pan nachos. I know ground beef will be tricky to make, so I have a friend supervising me for that. It's starting to thaw so I may as well start now.

I also picked up frozen greens. And some frozen skillet meals. I know I said I would cut back on frozens but I need my greens and veggies. And it'll be a quick recess from preparing complex meals.

If this helps other people, I'm grateful for that too! I may or may not take pictures. (Have to watch the food.)
If you can, get some large bags of frozen veggies like broccoli, etc. You can use them for different dishes like stir fry or curries and more and save money.
 
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Ndnd

It’s not Aspirin...
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I have measuring cups. Dollar store. Anybody have ideas of how to add flavor to veggies? Broccoli, spinach, greens, etc. Boiling them imo has no flavor.
Can’t go wrong with cheese! I often toss broccoli together with oil, salt, pepper and grated Parmesan, and roast it in the oven. For spinach I like cook it with a bit of cream, finely minced garlic and shitloads of grated cheddar cheese.
 

Stoneheart

Well hung, and snow white tan
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Wine is one of the most important ingredience and helps with cooking.

brussles sprouts are also super nice if made right... you boil them first for 10-15 minutes in salt water, then you fry them together with bacon in lard or schmaltz
(spreadable lard is best) and some pepper and salt and you have a very good side dish that can be eaten with potatoes as main dish.
 
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Slimy Time

Read 'em and weep
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Pasta to me is always a great place to start along with eggs. So many recipes that you can try your hand at, from classic recipies like Carbonara, Aglio Olio and Cacio e Pepe, to freeform "whatever you have in your fridge" to slow-cooked meats/sauces like Ragu.

Learning mise en place and washing as you cook is a great habit to get into to start imo. One of the things a number of people hate doing is the prep and washing up, and it deters a lot of people from cooking anything complex. Build good prep and washing habits and then you can start learning recipies.

Tbh, it really is trial and error. Make mistakes and learn from them with cooking.
 

PumpkinSpiceBitchMeringue

I will never expire, my thots
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I'll have to look up the roast broccoli recipe I use, it's super tasty.

*edit* decides to not be lazy and look it up right now, broccoli is 450 for 20 to 25 minutes, you drizzle it with oil beforehand, then toss with lemon juice and salt when it comes out.
Holy shit! This is the absolute best thing ever! This literally can brighten your day.
Thank you so much MxR!
 
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