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Old 07-15-2010, 05:53 PM   #1
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Default Can't Cook, Need Help

Short version: I can't cook. Tired of microwave food. Help?

Long version: I spent five years in the Marine Corps, where cooking was a non-issue. I had access to a mini-fridge that was shared with 1-2 other people, and a microwave. Nothing with a heating element was allowed due to fire safety regs. I got out about a a year ago, and spent about 5-6 months staying with family trying to find a job and waiting for school (and my GI Bill money) to start coming in.

During this time, I never really learned to cook beyond ramen and assorted microwave food. And living off that crap for any extended amount of time really sucks. I looked at a few recipe and cooking sites, but they all seem to be geared towards people who already have a large amount of culinary experience and are typically cooking for more than one person. I have yet to find a decent site or book or anything really that focuses on cooking for bachelors. Primarily because most people assume that means take-out and ramen, most likely.

If anyone can point me in the right direction as far as finding an alternative to canned soup and ramen noodles, I'd greatly appreciate it.

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Old 07-15-2010, 05:56 PM   #2
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I saw a recipe book at the library that would be perfect for you! It was called something like, "Five ingredient Cookbook". I also saw one that was designed for single guys at the library, but I can't remember the name of it!

I didn't know how to cook when I first got out of the Army, and I got the "Illustrated Good Housekeeping Cookbook" that explained everything from what ingredients were, to the cuts of meat, to baking. I'm sure you could find all the info online, but I like hardcover books for cooking.

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Old 07-15-2010, 06:00 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KFH View Post
Short version: I can't cook. Tired of microwave food. Help?

Long version: I spent five years in the Marine Corps, where cooking was a non-issue. I had access to a mini-fridge that was shared with 1-2 other people, and a microwave. Nothing with a heating element was allowed due to fire safety regs. I got out about a a year ago, and spent about 5-6 months staying with family trying to find a job and waiting for school (and my GI Bill money) to start coming in.

During this time, I never really learned to cook beyond ramen and assorted microwave food. And living off that crap for any extended amount of time really sucks. I looked at a few recipe and cooking sites, but they all seem to be geared towards people who already have a large amount of culinary experience and are typically cooking for more than one person. I have yet to find a decent site or book or anything really that focuses on cooking for bachelors. Primarily because most people assume that means take-out and ramen, most likely.

If anyone can point me in the right direction as far as finding an alternative to canned soup and ramen noodles, I'd greatly appreciate it.
Find yourself a local class at a community college, cooking school, etc. There are a few things that you really need to learn, like what different terms mean, knife skills, and how to handle different ingredients.

An added bonus... these classes seem to be chock full of women, some single and good-looking.
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Old 07-15-2010, 06:01 PM   #4
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I have found it easier do meal plans this basic premise (rather than worrying about cooking techniques or fancy ingredients):

meat, vegetable, starch

Grill some chicken breasts (marinated in italian dressing), steam some brocolli, and throw some red potatoes in the microwave

Take a pork tenderloin, some potatoes, carrots, onions, mushrooms, dried french onion soup mix and 1/2 cup of chicken broth and throw it in a crock pot and cook on low for ~8 hours.

In fact, there's a great thread somewhere on here about crock pot cooking with dozens and dozens of recipes.

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Old 07-15-2010, 06:02 PM   #5
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I do a lot of Crockpot cooking, there are quite a few simple recipes out there for slow cookers. Along with the rice cooker, it's one of my favorite kitchen gadgets!

Oddly, my wife NEVER uses either of them.

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Old 07-15-2010, 06:07 PM   #6
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Quote:
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Find yourself a local class at a community college, cooking school, etc. There are a few things that you really need to learn, like what different terms mean, knife skills, and how to handle different ingredients.

An added bonus... these classes seem to be chock full of women, some single and good-looking.
I thought about that, but working full time, a full course load at college (plus studying Russian on my own), a puppy, a girlfriend, and a new hobby really don't leave me with enough time for that.
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Old 07-15-2010, 06:08 PM   #7
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here's the thread I was mentioning...

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f56/slow...pe-swap-41515/

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Old 07-15-2010, 06:33 PM   #8
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Start simple, like just making chicken,steaks and chops on the grill. Also go out and buy some dry rubs.

Here's a quick good meal.

If you have a Target close by, go there pick up a boneless pork chop and some Target brand southwest dry rub. Grab some fresh asparagus and a potato.

Get home take your chop throw it on a plate and sprinkle the rub on top of it, rub it in flip over and repeat. Let that sit for a few minutes.

Take your fresh asparagus rinse them under some cold water and let dry. Cut all the bottoms of the asparagus, they will fade from white to green, cut that white part off.

Take some aluminum foil about a foot and a half long, put the asparagus in the center, drizzle with olive oil and season with pepper. Rap them up and throw them off to the side.

Take your potato rinse well under water, rap in foil stab a few hole in it with a fork.

Gril:

Throw your potato on med heat, (350) and cook untill soft. Turning it every 20 minutes or so. Takes about a hour.

At the 30 minute mark put your asparagus on and let them cook untill they are soft, about 20-30 minutes.

At the 25 mintue mark take your chop and put it on the gril, The pink chop will start to turn white as it cooks. 12 minutes in flip and let it cook for another 12 minutes. The chop should be white and some what spongy. Not stiff or super soft.

Turn heat off and eat up.

Over/stove:

Potato in oven for 1 hour at 350 untill soft.

Take a frying pan spray it with nonstick cooking spray, put shop in pan on med heat and cook until done, just like with the grill. 20 minutes or so.

Take asparagus with out foil. Put in annother frying pan, drizzle with olive oil and season with pepper. Stir around untill every one is done. 20 minutes or so.

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Old 07-15-2010, 06:43 PM   #9
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Get yourself a 14-16 inch cast iron pan and two medium size sauce pans.

Starch and water goes in saucepan 1. Pasta and potatoes are easy because you boil until they are done and drain. Rice and quinoa are 2 parts water to one part starch. Get it to a boil then simmer until the water's all gone.

Vegetables (frozen or fresh) go in saucepan 2 with boiling water. Cook them less rather than more, for the most part.

Turn the cast iron on to medium and add olive oil. Meat goes in here and cooks until it's done. Start with ground beef and chicken breast, maybe pork chops. If you do potatoes and undercook them a bit, you can drain them off and fry them up a little next to the meat in the same pan. If there's any "meat stuff" stuck on the pan at the end, hit it with a little beer, wine or juice at the end while the pan is still hot and loosen up all that flavor- cook that hot liquid until it is sauce and pour over.

There is endless variation here. Start with some decent olive oil, kosher (coarse) salt, and a pepper grinder near the stove. I buy olive oil in big cans and keep a wine bottle full of it (with one of those liquor pourers on it) at hand as well.

Learn your spices. Cumin makes stuff taste more or less "Mexican." Garlic is good in just about everything. Use curry powder to make it more of an Indian thing and get some "five spice" mix for an Asian flavor. Salt (especially kosher) is mostly effective at the very end, maybe even not until you get to the table.

Finally, just remember that "acid loves fat" and you'll be golden. That's why grilled cheese and tomato soup are good together, or cranberry sauce and turkey, oil and vinegar dressing, hot wings and blue cheese dressing, etc, etc.

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Old 07-15-2010, 06:43 PM   #10
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Watch cooking shows on TV.

Some are great, some suck. Cookbooks are OK but monkey see/monkey do gets you up the curve much faster.

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