Instructables
Picture of How to cook (an introduction)
Don't know how to cook? Here's a tutorial. :-)
This instructable is to answer one of life's burning questions.

(The things in the picture are chilaquiles, I don't tell you how to make them in this instructable but they taste great. Link to recipe, here, my aunt makes them :-D)
 
 
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Step 1: What you need to know about cooking/baking

First, cooking is NOT an exact science. Despite what people may tell you, it is, for the most part, not.
You're first step to cooking would be to know how to follow a recipe. Follow, follow, and follow recipes. The only way you will be able to learn to cook is by doing it over and over again. If you come across a term you don't know, Google it, there are dozens of people out there who want to tell you what those terms mean.

Step 2: Basic building blocks

When cooking, you need to understand the basics. Cooking is just like playing with Legos, except not quite. ;-) For example, When I bake bread, I never measure things exactly. I always start out with the same basic "base" though. 2 cups of flour, 2 cups of hot water, 2 Tbs. oil, 2 Tsp. salt, 2 Tbs. sugar, and 2 Tbs of yeast. After I let that rise, I can do just about ANYTHING with my bread. I just add enough flour, usually about 3 more cups (but remember, you didn't measure perfectly for the "base"), and then I can make just about any bread I want. Cinnamon swirl, loafs, braided bread, etc.... And if I add, say, sweet potato's to the sponge (that's what the base is called) then I can make all sorts of fun things. if you make several sponges with different kinds of sweet potato's, then you can braid together three different colors!
See, with the same basic "base", I can make any kind of bread I want!
Some bread that other intructables user have made:
Honey Maple Bread
Butterfly Bread
Home Made Sourdough Bread
Rice Cooker Bread
bigjeff55 years ago
Actually caramelized onions DO contain caramel. Since caramel is simply browned (with heat, not syrup ;) ) sugar, when you "caramelize" onions, you are actually caramelizing the sugar inside the onion, which is exactly the same process for making caramel (there are simply onions involved this time). You just aren't using pure sugar when you do it. You can actually make your own caramel by cooking pure sugar, you have to be very careful and move it a lot though, because it burns easilly, and then it is nasty. For the creamy caramel you add milk. :)
Noodle936 years ago
The best part about cooking is that you'll eventually be able to make it from scratch without a recipe. You'll know it so well and you'll know the sort of consistence of a cake or muffin etc. You learn how wet/dry stuff is and finally: EXPERIMENTATION. Seriously, think of two flavours, example, Caramel & Onions. Voila: Caramelized Onions. Just go for it! I've tried Pizza Bread (pizza toppings in a breadloaf, came out like a doorstop) and my instructable on Caramel Pinwheels was all experimental. But that's how things are created messing around. I'll stop, this is long.
caramelized onions don't contain caramel. It's onions cooked in butter until they turn a soft brown color. I agree with the original point though.
Yes, I knew that. But it's combining flavours, ideas and having fun in general. Remember it's not just about looks. Taste is the most important thing!
I'm going to respectfully disagree with your measuring statement. First, there are some bases (the bechamel roux comes to mind immediately) that will not work properly if you fiddle with them. A bit too much flour, and the whole thing is too thick, and seizes. a bit too much butter and the whole thing won't lock up, and eventually breaks.

And there's something to be said for consistency. If you never measure anything (and by measure, I do mean that eyeballing is ok if you're able to eyeball to within tiny fractions of a teaspoon) your food is inconsistent. If you went to a restaurant once and they made an awesome dish, but the next time they were too heavy handed with the cumin, they served you 2 separate dishes. Personally, I won't eat anywhere that has inconsistent food. It's a pet peeve. Then again, I'm a professional.

I've got a similar one to this.

http://instructables.com/id/How-To-Cook-Like-A-Gourmet/

Takes your concept a step farther.

Personally? I'd add a few things to this.

Be confident. Don't be afraid to cook, it's not very hard and you'll mess up a few times until you get the hang of it.

Read, constantly. I advocate new cooks pick up one recipe, master it, then move on. if everything else is crap from a can, so be it, but for a while take a recipe and keep working at it until you can make it in your sleep, then pick another.

If you like a recipe, ask for it. The easiest way I've found to get people cooking is to give them the recipe when they say they love one of my sauces. They see how easy it is for the effect it gets, and from there they can make it. Obviously if you start with something you enjoy, you're more inclined to keep at it.

Unplug the microwave for a month. 'nuff said, really. If you have the convenience taken away, you're more likely to try to cook something up rather than just nuke a tv dinner.

I'd collaborate on a list like this, totally. I'm already writing a cook book for new cooks to be able to cook cheap, fast, and easy, with a bit of gourmet flair. This'd be good exercise for me.
depayton6 years ago
This will make college girls gain the freshman fifteen much easier.
trebuchet037 years ago
Hrmm.... Cooking is not an exact science.... But Baking is a fair bit more towards the exact side... If you don't believe me... find a recipe with baking soda... then leave it out :p It's not like forgetting to add salt to your split pea soup :p I say this because my banana bread failed on this account. It was edible, but really not chew-able (and thus not bread) :p
My dad graduated from the Culinary Institute of America, and like he always says, "Cooking is an art, baking is a science." I totally agree with step 4. Over the course of about 6 pizzas, I kept changing things, making it better and better, until now I've created my "famous" pizzas that everyone loves, and that I love making. I make it out of standard things you can buy, but I make my own changes to them to make the recipe my own. :D
Post them please.
I forgot to mention.... perhaps this is a good topic to be open for collaboration ;) There's plenty of foodies around here :D
drinkmorecoffee (author)  trebuchet037 years ago
I was thinking about that....
drinkmorecoffee (author)  trebuchet037 years ago
True, but if you had put in 1/2 a teaspoon too much flour it would have still been edible and bread.
Hi to all!!! first time here! hope not the last ;-) !!!
Well, how to cook is not an easy point ah? most of the times you believe that u are the best chef in the world but at the end...the result that you have on the table is NOT RELATED with the recipe you wished to cook!!! (worst if you are preparing something for your couple...!!)
whatever, I will read carefully some comments...apart of this, check here "How to cook" by some masters...I wan to submit my video...hahahaha... check it, I found it in Dubai when I was in there... http://www.table-booking.com/portal/cookingShows.php?mode=mostRecent

regards!!! peace..

ReimersVibes
mikesty7 years ago
I am going to college next year. This might help. <3
bofthem mikesty7 years ago
I have the book: "Off the Shelf." It's ace for cooking. The book is centered around the precept that you can make hundreds of great dishes from a handful of staple items, spiced up with fresh or unique ingredients. I started a few years ago, just playing around with cooking and different recipes. I've tried to make things from a whole bunch of different traditions, styles, and recipes, to see what goes into different brands of cooking. Once you've gotten confident with a bunch of techniques (dough making, mixing, whipping, creaming, etc.) you'll be prepared to branch off making recipesup from the ingredients that catch your eye.
This WILL help in college: understanding how to cook, especially in a crappy on-campus apartment (let alone a dorm room with just a hot plate and rice cooker!) will help in so many ways! -you don't have to eat the horribly nasty stuff they sell you at high prices in the student food halls -you won't get scurvy from just eating the afor-mentioned nasty food hall "food" -you really will save a ton of money, especially if you learn to cook a few things at once: fill up on rice (super super cheap), add a good serving of steamed veggies (if nothing else try tossing on a little garlic salt - that isn't grand, but it adds flavor and, hey, we're talking college cooking... try to learn spices over time, I still am. Lemon pepper is another good basic), then eat a SMALL amount of meat. Much healthier and MUCH cheaper. If you have a freezer consider cooking things like stew that you can freeze. I am far from being a good cook, but I've found you can pull off a decent stew with your eyes closed: kinda sorta follow some simple recipe the first time, cook the hell out of the cheap meat you bought so you can actually chew it (get advice from those who know on that part)... anyhow, casseroles may have been the food of the 50's through 70's, but anything you make a lot of and can eat leftovers of are great. Only make sure to cook at least three different freeze-ables so you don't get sick of one after eating it for a week straight! Lastly, and most importantly, being able to cook means you can get just about ANYONE at your college to come to your place for dinner! It is a wonderful way to socialize and make friends, and yes, impress them. I pulled off crepes stuffed with mushrooms, wild rice, chicken, peas, a little celery for texture, don't recall what else, with a bit of hollandaise and white sauce in and on top, served with polenta and some cheap wine. My guests were convinced I knew what I was doing, but really crepes are super simple (think thin pancake batter) and you just throw anything in them, add some sauce (those two are super easy but hollandaise just takes paying attention and a few minutes of patience), roll them up with the stuffing and put them in a casserole dish and bake until a bit browned and hot... crepes are miracle food because you really can stuff them with anything, you can freeze a stack of them for using later, and your college buddies will think you can actually cook! So yes, please do try to learn. You're talking about a skill that will serve you well your whole life.
valessi7 years ago
Someone should do some stuff on molecular gastronomy (maybe i will . . .). its crazy cool stuff, with some of the coolest sounding foods ever. Best i've ever heard of is "gelatine slices served on a naked women with scented rose water inhaled via gas mask" I'm not joking, i promise. That was on a menu at one point, albeit for a very short period of time, it being very not-healthcode and all. I forget the guy's name who came up with it, but in know he got fired from that place, as well as his next three. I think he's in NY now.
westfw7 years ago
A nice thing about cooking is that there exist MANY books that will show you how to do it, not to mentioned classes, TV shows, magazines, videos, and online sites. Some of these are aimed at kids or beginners, others at experts, but you can learn from all of them. Follow instructions to start with, but don't panic if you're missing a spice or some minor ingredient (however, you'll have to learn which things are "minor" ingredients.) A lot of Indian recipes in particular annoy me. "make 50g of spice mixture A that includes 1 g of spice S, then use 5g of this mixture plus a bunch of other stuff to make 8 servings." That's 0.1g of S across 8 servings; I think you can leave it out... Ignore style to start with. Appearance and fine-tuning hacks can come later, and are irrelevant to taste and nutrition. For instance, you really don't need to figure out exactly what "al dente" means WRT noodles. Be aware that as noodles reach the end of cooking, they go through pretty substantial changes in texture, and figure out at which stage YOU like them. (taste-test to check for doneness instead of obeying some timer...)
ewilhelm7 years ago
There's a ton of recipes and food-related groups here you should include to make this complete.
drinkmorecoffee (author)  ewilhelm7 years ago
You're right. which ones though?
I think Eric is suggesting you should fill it out with links to food-related Instructables. It would help illustrate your points. ie, where you talk about grilling, link to grilling intstructables, etc.
Once you've done that, and perhaps filled it out a bit more with detail on some techniques, I'll add you to the winners list.
drinkmorecoffee (author)  jeffreyf7 years ago
Ok, more details and links have been added. Let me know if I need even more. :-)
drinkmorecoffee (author)  jeffreyf7 years ago
Ok, I'll do that. I posted that pretty late last night, I wasn't fully awake.
drinkmorecoffee (author)  jeffreyf7 years ago
Are there grilling instructables? I couldn't find any..... I get what you're saying though.
the whole ton.... mind you, it's a metric ton -- which is technically "more" :p
drinkmorecoffee (author)  trebuchet037 years ago
LOL, I added it to 4 different groups. I think that might be enough.
lemonie7 years ago
I disagree with following recepies, use them as guides not instruction manuals. This is inline with 'not an exact science'.

And if cooking is just like playing with Lego, it's like playing with Lego and glue.

L
drinkmorecoffee (author)  lemonie7 years ago
What recipes? And yes, it's hard to un-bake something.... My point was that you can have the same pieces but have a different result whenever you put them together differently, like legos...
The recepies you advise to "Follow, follow, and follow". I get the Lego point, but have found playing with chemicals to be a bit closer... L
drinkmorecoffee (author)  lemonie7 years ago
Oh yeah, Use them as a guideline, by all means. But the best way to get familiar with how ingredients work is to replicate what someone else has done before you try your own thing. that's what I meant.
Well we're back to chemistry again. "Always do your research". You're quite correct to start where others left off, and not to waste time "re-inventing the wheel". But unlike chemistry, which does involve exact science, food is a matter of taste. I know people who have a pathological dislike for salt, but I always taste and adjust salt. Some people don't like rare meats, I do. Following a receipe for rare beef will dissapoint if you don't like it that way, but it'll tell you the least amount of time you need.

You've started a discussion here, which is a good thing.

L
drinkmorecoffee (author)  lemonie7 years ago
Oh good. :-P You wont know if you've used too much flour, or not enough sugar if you don't follow the recipe in the first place, and get a feel for how the ingredients work in food in general.