Where did you learn to cook?

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Where did you learn to cook?

Postby Zohar » Wed Jun 23, 2010 6:41 pm UTC

I've been cooking since I was about 10 or so, but only eggs and such. Very simple stuff, sometimes a little bit more complex. When I got to the military I was at a base where we used to make Saturday night meals - every Saturday night, after Sabbath ended each person would cook something - a dessert or a main course. Mostly it was incredibly rich in cream and cheese, but that's basically where I really learned to cook. Cakes, pies, casseroles, pasta etc. After that I just started cooking more and more.

Today I cook for myself, I'm also the person in charge of desserts during family meals (and I'm very good at it). I'd like to take a professional baking class at some point, but I don't have the time or money for that at the moment. I made puff pastry dough for the first time last weekend and it turned out pretty good, I was very pleased. It was a lot of work though, and I don't think I'd try it again.

Where did you learn to cook? Is there anything you'd like to be able to make, a goal of some sort?
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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby Nath » Wed Jun 23, 2010 9:13 pm UTC

I started with eggs as well, in my teens. I started making pasta and such one summer in college, because I was interning without access to a dining hall. I started actually cooking after I graduated and moved to an apartment -- I started with my brother's chili recipe, and diversified from there once I got the hang of stewing and braising. Watching my mother cook on my visits home also helped, particularly with Indian food (which I rarely make, because it's hard to make a one-pot Indian meal).

One thing I'd like to get more experience with is grilling and barbecuing. There's something simple and satisfying about just putting meat on fire. Or even in an oven -- I have one, but don't use it much. Stir frying is also neat, but I'd probably need a better stove and pan than I currently have access to.
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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby blue_eyedspacemonkey » Wed Jun 23, 2010 9:19 pm UTC

I learnt basic skills from 9 upwards. Then I moved to uni and (due to living in self catered halls) started cooking properly then. Now I do most of the cooking at home for me and my boyfriend, mainly because I adore cooking and am quite good at it if I do say so myself.
Hmm...there's lots of things I'd like to get more experience with, for example, I very rarely eat fish, and so would like to get more recipes/ideas for how to get more fish in my diet.
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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby Alder » Wed Jun 23, 2010 10:04 pm UTC

I can't quite put my finger on how I learned to cook, really. I suppose it started with things like baking with my mum - I have memories of standing at the counter in our old house mixing up a cake, and I wasn't quite 11 when we left there. Then I would watch mum make things, and try it myself - it ended up any time she was making lasagne, she'd rope me in to make the cheese sauce. Of course, I now know this was because she *hates* cooking - really doesn't enjoy it, and never did! (Since my dad retired, he cooks quite a bit more often, pasta most of the time, but he's much happier in the kitchen than my mum).

Anyway, I clearly got the gene from my dad rather than my mum, and I love cooking, but really don't have the time for it, since I teach piano from home, which means working from about 4 to about 7 most nights, and after that I'm really not up for cooking anything complicated. I tend only to cook when I have visitors over, and have a selection of decent cookbooks that I can play around with - the first one I got several years back is a Gary Rhodes cookbook, which has lovely colour photographs not just of the finished dish, but of maybe 6-8 of the stages as you go along - reassuring for the newbie cook...
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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby voidPtr » Wed Jun 23, 2010 11:50 pm UTC

I'm not Gordon Ramsay and never will be, no 5-star restaurant is going to be knocking down my door begging me to sign on with them. I completely suck at anything that needs precision or technical prowess. For example, the few times I've tried baking I've come out with marginal results at best, and overall I'm quite intimidated by baking so I just haven't tackled it yet.

However, I at least have a repertoire of dishes I can make efficiently and they come out tasty. Even from a young age, I have always been an adventurous eater and I have traveled a lot giving me the chance to be exposed to ahem, "authentic" and "exotic" cuisines, and I wasn't intimidated by them. I have good taste (or at least I think so) and I'm comfortable with "to taste"-tests -- which a lot of beginner cooks aren't comfortable with . I don't fuss over food, but I do put a little effort into texture and presentation, and it makes a difference.

So where did I learn to cook...my mother taught me a little, the internet taught me a lot.A couple of years ago, I picked up a couple of beginner cookbooks and the recipes from those books are the ones I still use most. One person I've shilled here before is Jamie Oliver because his style and recipes have been very helpful to me and I really like his approach to cooking. Use quality ingredients, give them a little bit of love and care, don't be afraid of a bit of slapdash and making it up as you go along, and you can go a long way with that. It's not rocket science.

Of course, there's so much I could still learn. Like how to bake.
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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby PatrickRsGhost » Thu Jun 24, 2010 12:31 am UTC

I first learned when I was about 13 or 14. My parents wanted me to learn to cook, so once a week I was in charge of supper. Most of the time it was spaghetti, although once it was something we called "Mexican Pan Bread", which was basically cornbread with chili beans, onions, and bell peppers mixed in and baked in the cast iron skillet.

My dad had taught me how to make sourdough bread, which taught me a lot about baking breads in general.

When I moved in with my grandmother to take care of her (she had renal disease), I had learned to cook a lot of dishes. The first couple of times with most were full of fail, but as I cooked them more often, I picked up a lot.

After I moved out of her house, I learned to cook on my own over time. It just took some practice. Sure, the first couple of times it was tough, and the meals were fail, but that didn't discourage me from trying it again, or making another recipe that was similar.
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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby PAstrychef » Thu Jun 24, 2010 1:03 am UTC

I was five or six and I got an ezbake oven. It made almost tasteless hockey pucks by the heat of a light bulb. One day Mom realized that we would have to by more packets of mix, and taught me to make chocolate chip cookies. I made cookies and brownies after that, and when I was twelve or thirteen decided to cook a dinner party from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It went rather well.
I helped cook from when I was old enough to see over the counters-and so did my brothers. When I was in High School I started a monthly pie service by subscription, but it didn't last very long. I always enjoyed cooking and eating and we ate plenty of "exotic" foods while I was young.
I was 30 when I first started baking professionally, and then I went to the CIA and it's been downhill ever since.
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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby meatyochre » Thu Jun 24, 2010 2:33 am UTC

Am actually currently learning to cook decently. My boyfriend has a culinary degree and he is a beast. He grills meat and veggies all the time in the summer (which is now, of course). He makes it look so easy but I know I would flub it up royally if I tried! We've made Korean pancakes together too, and grilled pretty much any meat or fish or vegetable one can conceive of.

I've known how to cook pasta + meat or soup additives since I was in college, but I don't do it often nowadays. Mostly I live off fast food and frozen dinners. But he and I made Indian curry that turned out pretty well. I mean, really he knows everything about everything, having worked in many restaurants of many styles, from fine dining to fast food. And since he prefers to cook, I really don't need to. But I still like to learn.
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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby Bakemaster » Thu Jun 24, 2010 2:43 am UTC

(OOPS: This post was written before meatyochre's reply appeared, and so the following paragraph was directed at PAstrychef.) I was going to give you a lighthearted scolding for leading people to the conclusion that you meant the Central Intelligence Agency rather than the Culinary Institute of America, and then I remembered where I was posting and that hey, why can't someone cook at the Central Intelligence Agency? Even spooks gotta eat.

I think the first thing I learned to do that resembled cooking was boiling pasta. Probably elbow macaroni for Kraft dinners. I also remember being really proud of this garlic spread that I made when I was younger. I really loved garlic bread, and I said how I was going to make it in big batches and sell tubs of it or something.

It's hard to remember what all I learned at home in my mom's kitchen, versus what I learned on my own after that time period. I definitely used my mom's Joy of Cooking from the 70s for a guide in cooking various things whenever we did Thanksgiving, as we would always split up the duties. I learned to make soup from my mom. And the first baking I ever did was brownies from the back of the cocoa box, at something like 10:00 PM one night when I had the munchies.

When I worked behind the counter in a restaurant for a couple years, I learned a lot just watching the guys in the kitchen. I'd grill the boss for tips and tricks, and try them at home. That's the time period when I got most of my basic sauces down. After that, I bought some cookbooks at used bookstores, used the internet liberally, and ended up baking a cake every Monday night for two solid years (I missed only two weeks, once because my sister's car got towed and we had to rescue it, and once when it was my birthday). There's no better way to learn to bake than to do it over and over.

Since then I've expanded in random directions, mostly based on what I've felt like eating. I started familiarizing myself with the techniques of Indian cooking, and now have a handful of dishes I can create with some success and consistency, though only a few I can do completely from memory. When someone mentions something cool in here, I go watch some videos... like the spatchcocking/butterflying discussion a while back.

One thing I like about cooking is that the "professional" level and the "amateur" level are so independent of each other. There are line cooks in dive bars and greasy spoons the world over who can't do much more complicated than frying an egg, and there are grandmas and grandpas who must have sold their souls to the devil for the ability to make the perfect pie or barbeque. The skillsets are overlapping, but distinct; professionals specialize in consistency, speed and volume, whereas amateurs specialize in meals designed for a single family. Recipes that most professionals might not have the luxury of being able to perform in a commercial situations.

My dad used to call cooking "slop chemistry", and as he was a decent cook with a PhD in chemistry, he must have known what he was talking about, right? I call it fun and rewarding as just about anything in this world.
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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby El Spark » Thu Jun 24, 2010 3:11 pm UTC

Mom and dad were both teaching us (my brother and me) to cook from about age five onward. I've always been drawn to food and kitchens, so it was a natural thing for me. I was helping to make the Thanksgiving dinner at age 6. It was strictly an organic thing instead of formalized lessons of any kind, though mom sometimes does impromptu lessons for us ("Okay, this is a turkey. Here's how to cook one."). Thanks to their example, I've never been intimidated by a kitchen or scared to experiment.
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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby Rinsaikeru » Thu Jun 24, 2010 8:09 pm UTC

Not precisely cooking--but when I was 2 I tried to make my mom coffee. All I forgot was the filter.

I helped my mom with baking when I was quite young, she was going through a baking phase that she has never hit upon again. But I have always enjoyed baking since. Cooking has developed more slowly, I learn things as I need to know them. Having a food allergy has made me cook a lot more often and learn new recipes.
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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby Telchar » Thu Jun 24, 2010 11:39 pm UTC

I ordered a cookbook from a bookfair in elementary school and started making basic recipes out of it from a young age. Really basic manicotti, split pea soup in the crockpot....stuff like that. I never really translated that cooking to day to day cooking until I moved out on my own.

Once I got my own place, BBQing at parties was really popular, and it seemed like I had a fairly natural knack for it, so that's where I gravitated. Since then, I've gotten a good feel for cajun dishes, and then for general seafood prep, and now am trying to get better at white sauce pasta.
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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby Zith » Sun Jun 27, 2010 3:55 am UTC

My mom started things off by having us kids help out in the kitchen whenever it seemed appropriate, things like grating cheese, portioning out cookie dough, later slicing vegetables. I always felt it was pretty magical how these delicious cookies, or whatever, come out from mixing up some not so tasty things like flour and baking soda and was just transfixed. From there I guess I just took off with waffles and brownies, mostly, and everything was trial and error up through middle school and high school.
And after a long while, I finally went with what friends, family, even teachers had been telling me for a long time and signed up for food courses at my community college, and got a Baking and Pastry Certification.
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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby gramd » Sun Jun 27, 2010 4:54 pm UTC

I learned first by watching my mom who was a great cook and also one of my aunts.
They both encouraged me to help when I was young and later to do what I could on my own.
I loved it then and I still do. I have to say I am a very good cook.
It's therapy for me to be in my kitchen cooking for people I love. :D
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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby Coffee » Tue Jun 29, 2010 7:16 pm UTC

I learned from my mom, who was in grad school at the time; I'm sure that had nothing to do with it though...
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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby ilokoipi » Wed Jun 30, 2010 8:07 pm UTC

Pretty much the usual story I suppose. Helped my mum and gran in the kitchen from an early age. My mum was a single mum and had to work a lot and as I was the oldest of us three kids I pretty much was the provider of dinner (and desserts) from age 14 up until I left home at 19. I then went abroad to work as an au pair and got to make lunch and dinner for the kids four times a week. Although I didn't make a lot of different dishes all the time, I got a lot of practise in the basic stuff. We also baked very often with the kids, probably at least once a week. The parents of the family also gave me a lot of useful advice and tips.

After that I went to Uni and started cooking only for myself. In a way I like it better than cooking for someone else, I get to mix weird stuff and try new things, or just eat the same thing for a whole week, but I don't get any feedback from someone else. And as I think that good food is sometimes better than anything else in the whole wide world, I love to give someone else the same feeling. When I get together with my friends, it's usually me who gets to make dinner.

I think my only goals in life are cooking related. I'd love to know more about food and cooking, like all the little tricks and other stuff. I'd also like to have a little bit more imagination and curiosity to try new things, sometimes I get a bit stuck and just do the old boring things over and over again. Also as my current financial situation could be described as a 'sticky wicket', I'd love to be able to always buy the best ingredients, instead of the cheapest.
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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby Kendo_Bunny » Fri Jul 09, 2010 4:37 pm UTC

I helped my mom in the kitchen when I was really young, though didn't get very far. When I was about 7, one of the nannies taught me how to make mashed potatoes, which was my favorite food. I also learned how to make brownies and cookies and cake. When I was about 12, I learned to make a traditional family casserole, and was put in charge of making it from time to time.

When I was 14, my stepmother stopped providing enough food for me to eat, or cooked food that she knew I hated, because she thought I was fat and that the best way to deal with that would be to deny me dinner. I started cooking to feed myself, and by the time I was 15, I had taken over most of the cooking for the family.
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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby Mighty Jalapeno » Fri Jul 09, 2010 4:40 pm UTC

Mostly from the Food Network, cookbooks, and my wife's dad. From my own parents, I learned that any quality or expensive ingredients can be rendered tasteless and virtually inedible with the careful application of a complete lack of a skill and a similar lack of any desire to do better.
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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby Zohar » Fri Jul 09, 2010 4:49 pm UTC

My aunt (or more accurately uncle's wife, is that still called an aunt?) told us she'll use her daughter's time out of school to teach her to cook. The daughter has expressed interest, of course. I think that's really cool, I wish I could have had that experience.
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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby MiB24601 » Sat Jul 10, 2010 2:08 pm UTC

I learned baking from my Mom when I was about 4 and then I learned how to cook eggs from my Dad a bit later. I really learned how to cook and bake when I joined the Boy Scouts. My scoutmasters were all able to cook and bake amazingly well and always brought great gear with them when we went camping. Additionally, the scoutmasters also firmly believed that all the scouts should be able to cook, with the scouts only being allowed to eat prepared food we made ourselves.

Being presented with starving or learning to cook, all of us learned how to cook. Since we all wanted to actually enjoy the food we cooked, we learned how to cook well. Once we had learned the basics, the scoutmasters would then start awarding points for the patrols based upon the food, including how it looked, so we learned presentation.

Because of that, everyone who has ever been a scout for a significant length of time in my boyhood troop knows how to cook. Baking was also big, as I said. I remember that the first time I ever made it pie, it was in a dutch oven over an open fire.

Experimenting with recipes wouldn't come until much later. When I moved into an apartment my sophomore year of college, I suddenly was able to mess around with recipes in a way I couldn't when I was camping. Also, I was also taking Organic Chemistry around the same time and suddenly, it was easy to come up with new recipes or to modify old recipes when I realized they could be looked at via the chemical processes involved.

I never sat down and realized all the different steps that were involved in my learning how to cook and bake. If any of those things happened differently, I might not be cooking or baking as much as I do today. And I really do cook and bake all the time. I'm actually baking right at this exact moment. Hopefully, I'll be finished this post before the popovers are done. :)
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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby Mittagessen » Mon Jul 12, 2010 7:17 pm UTC

I learned to cook pretty fast after moving into my first own apartment/starting College (around 8 months ago). At first I basically lived from frozen pizza and Club Mate for 2 months (you'll probably notice the complete lack of any nutritional value in those two products). During one particular long weekend and an empty freezer I decided to actually try out the shiny, unused kitchen (I got an emergency package with non-perishable foods from my mom ^^). So I cooked something out of rice, onions, and generic instant foo. I developed further, but I still rarely cook anything that doesn't fit into one pan/pot.

Oh, and I bake my own bread. I went to the US for a year as an exchange student; because American "bread" is inedible compared to anything produced in Europe I started to make my own. So sometimes, when I'm too lazy to go to the super market I just bake my own bread.
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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby Pansori » Tue Jul 13, 2010 11:04 pm UTC

Mighty Jalapeno wrote: From my own parents, I learned that any quality or expensive ingredients can be rendered tasteless and virtually inedible with the careful application of a complete lack of a skill and a similar lack of any desire to do better.


LOL, this is very true!!! :lol:

Since I was a latchkey kid I started with Top Ramen at a very young age, like 5 or 6. I learned how to cook on my own by following recipes and reading books/stuff online in my early 20s. Baking desserts and working with flour is what I enjoy the most.
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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby Nlelith » Tue Jul 13, 2010 11:05 pm UTC

From my dad and my girlfriend.
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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby dubsola » Mon Jul 19, 2010 12:22 pm UTC

Long winter evenings, and BBC Food.
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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby PatrickRsGhost » Mon Jul 19, 2010 11:32 pm UTC

Pansori wrote:
Mighty Jalapeno wrote: From my own parents, I learned that any quality or expensive ingredients can be rendered tasteless and virtually inedible with the careful application of a complete lack of a skill and a similar lack of any desire to do better.


LOL, this is very true!!! :lol:

Since I was a latchkey kid I started with Top Ramen at a very young age, like 5 or 6. I learned how to cook on my own by following recipes and reading books/stuff online in my early 20s. Baking desserts and working with flour is what I enjoy the most.


Heh, when I was a latchkey kid (especially when I was a lot younger, like 8 or 9), I wasn't allowed to touch the stove or oven. Wish my parents had shown me how to use it. Most of my home alone meals, especially during the Summer months, consisted of sandwiches, cans of Van Kamp's Beenie Weenies, or the microwaveable Chef Boyardee or Hormel canned meals. I remember trying to make caramel popcorn one time but it was fail. Couldn't use the oven, so couldn't do the part about the placing popcorn on a cookie sheet, heat oven to some temperature, and let block of caramel melt. All I read was "place caramel block in popcorn bag, shake." It wasn't a total loss: popcorn-coated caramel block. OMNOMNOMNOMNOM...
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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby jendral_hxr » Tue Jul 20, 2010 12:08 am UTC

My mom's kitchen. :D
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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby Delbin » Sun Jul 25, 2010 8:41 pm UTC

I learned a bit here and there from my mom. I could make spaghetti, boxed mac & cheese, banana bread, and maybe a couple other things. I really got going recently when I met my current girlfriend. Up until then I had been living off typical bachaelor fare like frozen pizzas and takeout. I realized when I started inviting her over that it would be better if I made something for us instead.

I started with chicken stir fry and it turned out really well. My spaghetti has always been good, so that worked well. I later tried burritos, sauteed chicken, mac & cheese from scratch, fajitas, steaks, teriyaki chicken, mashed potatoes, roasts, and chicken parmesan. Everything turned out better than I could hope and I found myself improving constantly. I've learned to really love cooking. Especially cooking for someone else.

Not long after I started cooking I discovered the show Good Eats on the Food Network. If you haven't seen it, it's like Bill Nye made a cooking show. It made me want to try so many new things. The way Alton Brown teaches cooking lets you apply techniques to all kinds of other dishes. I had always watched American's Test Kitchen since it's pretty entertaining and I often had PBS on the T.V. It's still one of the first places I go when I want to try something new.

Cooking shows have a weird effect on me. Not long after I started watching them in earnest I decided that I simply could not live without a salad spinner. A year ago I would probably have listed it on the top 10 most useless inventions, but now I use it every week.

I felt like a real cook a couple weeks ago when I made the chicken parmesan. I realized when I was about halfway through that I only glanced at the recipe and I handled everything else through instinct and what I had learned.
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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby Obby » Wed Jul 28, 2010 1:34 pm UTC

I learned a little from my parents (both are decent cooks), but most of what I know came from my two baking classes I took in high school. I love to cook, and can do pretty well for myself, but I wouldn't call myself a "good" cook, if I'm being honest.

Though, that might be more because I like to experiment. Recently I've been on a north African kick with my meals...
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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby undestinomas » Sat Jul 31, 2010 4:13 am UTC

My aunt used to sit me on top of her counter with something to whisk from the time I was five, at least. My mother never liked to cook, so from her I learned the art of picking up a phone and calling for pizza.
I always liked baking most of all, probably from watching my aunt, and routinely took over the kitchen to try to make something edible. I really started getting into it one time when I went to a friend's house and we made lemon meringue pie. I think it was the first time I really enjoyed the process and the end result. After that, I started following food blogs, found tastespotting, and now you can't keep me away from the kitchen. I like to understand why recipes work the way they do, why exactly I need to keep dough cold when making a pie crust and things like that.
A few weeks ago I sat my two-year-old niece on the kitchen counter while I made coffee and asked her for help counting the spoonfuls. I like to think that could mean something to her later in life.
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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby ArgonV » Thu Aug 05, 2010 11:35 pm UTC

My parents, I suppose. It started with me, age 8 being allowed to squish the garlic in the press. It developed from there. Some things I learned from my parents (both good cooks, might be one of the most important parenting skills), other things I picked up on my own. At this point in my life I can honestly say my parents look forward to me cooking, since I like to try different things or hard recipes. I also have a pretty simple, but tasty recipe for a stew that my sister and her boyfriend have had fights over (who got to eat the last portion :P)
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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby The Milkman » Fri Aug 06, 2010 2:31 pm UTC

My father worked as a professional chef for a lot of his life and for some time from when I was born. So he found it necessary to teach me to cook, which was achieved mostly through me sitting in the kitchen as he cooked, and allowed me to work hands on. Now I'm pretty good in my own right, because of that.
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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby markop2003 » Sun Aug 08, 2010 1:51 pm UTC

I've had home ec classes and cooked with my mum when young but really those didn't really impact how i choose to cook. Most of the time i chuck things in a pan and just hope it's not toxic, creating and following recipes was always more of my sister's kind of thing.
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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby not good at these things » Sun Aug 08, 2010 10:48 pm UTC

My oldest brother actually. My mom is good at cooking but not great, more just to feed us. My brother is an amazing cook so I just watched him. I can make a lot of things just learned or made up from him, I think it's just his style I picked up, just the go with the flow cooking, not really into recipes or exact sciences in cooking, more "hmm...let's see what this will taste like if I add...".
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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby TheNorm05 » Mon Sep 06, 2010 1:57 am UTC

Nath wrote:I started with eggs as well, in my teens. I started making pasta and such one summer in college, because I was interning without access to a dining hall. I started actually cooking after I graduated and moved to an apartment -- I started with my brother's chili recipe, and diversified from there once I got the hang of stewing and braising. Watching my mother cook on my visits home also helped, particularly with Indian food (which I rarely make, because it's hard to make a one-pot Indian meal).

One thing I'd like to get more experience with is grilling and barbecuing. There's something simple and satisfying about just putting meat on fire. Or even in an oven -- I have one, but don't use it much. Stir frying is also neat, but I'd probably need a better stove and pan than I currently have access to.


I love me some barbacoa. I'm from Texas so we do that pretty often(we have an oil barrel smoker we use pretty much whenever throwing in oak logs... mmm.. oak smoke). Just fyi, the secret to amazing brisket is in the onions and the beer you drop in the foil.

As far as general cooking is concerned, I more or less taught myself through trial and error. My mom showed me the basics when I was like 8 or so and then I just kinda ran with it. I'm pretty proud of my cooking since I'm probably the only college student who has eaten Ramen 3 times in 3 years, and I almost never go out to eat. I experimented with tomatoes for a semester until I was able to make a good tomato sauce for Italian food, and I've since learned to make pizza dough from scratch. Home made dough makes a huge difference. I've tried making tortillas with lesser success, and I'll prolly need to bug my grandma to show me sometime soon.
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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby PatrickRsGhost » Mon Sep 06, 2010 2:08 am UTC

TheNorm05 wrote:I've since learned to make pizza dough from scratch. Home made dough makes a huge difference.


Truthiness to the nth degree lies within these words. Of all the things I learned how to cook, homemade bread (sourdough, mostly) was by and large my favorite thing of all. There's just something satisfying about pulling a hot loaf of bready goodness from the oven that you had every part in producing. You know what all went into it, you know all the steps required to get to where it is now. When you cut into that loaf, cut that first slice, see the steam escape, and get that awesome smell that can only come from fresh-baked breads, spread a bit of butter, watch the butter melt into all of the "nooks and crannies" from where the yeast bubbles once were...

Unless you've baked bread yourself (any kind of bread: sourdough, yeast, sweetbreads, etc.), you'll never know the satisfaction described above. Anyone else reading this that has baked bread can probably see it happening themselves. And they can smell the bread as well.

I've done homemade rolls that rival the ones found at any restaurant, especially O'Charley's and Ryan's.

Dammit, now I want to make some homemade bread. It's almost time. Will also be time to do my famous Christmas Spice Cookies, which are basically gingerbread cookies, but better. I'm thinking of doing a version for Autumn/Halloween. Just need to find some spices that would pertain to the season.
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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby Nath » Mon Sep 06, 2010 5:29 am UTC

TheNorm05 wrote:I've tried making tortillas with lesser success, and I'll prolly need to bug my grandma to show me sometime soon.

Look into chapatis. They are Indian flatbreads sort of like tortillas, but with a different texture. They are dead simple to make if you have a rolling pin and a suitable pan.
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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby TheNorm05 » Mon Sep 06, 2010 9:26 am UTC

Nath wrote:
TheNorm05 wrote:I've tried making tortillas with lesser success, and I'll prolly need to bug my grandma to show me sometime soon.

Look into chapatis. They are Indian flatbreads sort of like tortillas, but with a different texture. They are dead simple to make if you have a rolling pin and a suitable pan.


Not a bad Idea. I think my roommate gave me one a week ago, and I liked it enough to eat it quickly. Kinda reminded me of a fluffier pita. I'll look that up in a bit.
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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby Sandry » Wed Sep 08, 2010 12:59 am UTC

Bit of this, bit of that.

I picked up some stuff from my mom growing up, but she's not really much of a cook - her specialties are things like roasted chicken (with really no particularly special flavours involved), meatloaf with onion soup mix in, and lasagne made with sauce from a jar. Additionally, the vast majority of what I picked up from her became completely useless to me when I went vegetarian, though I did retain things like, "boil pasta. Sautee vegetables in some olive oil. Mix." Y'know, elementary junk. I consider just about anything that's quasi-Italian to be heritage of my mom's cooking, though now I tend to make sauces from scratch if I have any time.

When I moved to college, I picked some up from the folks in my dorm. At this point, we didn't have an extensive kitchen, of course, so if we could do it in one or two pots, that was the thing to do. I made a lot of quiche and we had pretty frequent pizza nights (with dough from scratch... I miss actually having any damned time for things like that). I also began to try soups and things, since those were pretty easy and foolproof, given a soup base, some sort of bean/lentil protein and some vegetables (easily stolen from a cafeteria) put in at a timely place. I still try to cook using as few pots/pans/utensils as possible, which I attribute to this era.

After I left college is when I picked up more of an interest and branched out. I had my own kitchen, a housemate who also liked cooking. During this time, I was also working as a cashier at Whole Foods Market, and a lot of what I picked up in cooking was from customers. Job was boring as hell if you didn't talk to anyone, so I'd ask anyone buying something I didn't recognise (particularly produce) what they were making with it, and ended up getting a fair bit of advice on how to do what with which things. People at Whole Foods buy some weird, weird shit, honestly, and many of them know exactly what they're doing. It was kind of fun.

Also, occasionally I'd ask and they'd say something like, "oh, I'm making eggplant parm" and I'd say, "ah, so you have the eggplant at home already?" and then they'd get that "OH SHIT" look and thank me for the reminder. :)

Later when I moved up north, I lived with an Indian housemate who liked cooking, and I spent a lot of time in the kitchen with him, picking up some of his tricks. I consider myself capable of making something passably like Indian fare, though obviously it's not flawlessly authentic. At any rate, it's enjoyable, and I love the hell out of south Indian cuisine in general.
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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby PatrickRsGhost » Thu Sep 09, 2010 2:34 am UTC

TheNorm05 wrote:
Nath wrote:
TheNorm05 wrote:I've tried making tortillas with lesser success, and I'll prolly need to bug my grandma to show me sometime soon.

Look into chapatis. They are Indian flatbreads sort of like tortillas, but with a different texture. They are dead simple to make if you have a rolling pin and a suitable pan.


Not a bad Idea. I think my roommate gave me one a week ago, and I liked it enough to eat it quickly. Kinda reminded me of a fluffier pita. I'll look that up in a bit.


You could also try your hand at naan.
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Re: Where did you learn to cook?

Postby AngrySquirrel » Fri Sep 10, 2010 10:38 am UTC

Learn to cook? I am still learning!

I've sort of always known how to gut and clean fish. Other kids learned to ride a bike, I learned to prepare fish and small game. We also had access to a "farm"-like place where my parents were hired to go pick strawberries, potatoes, cabbage, rhubarb and such things, in return we got a portion of what was picked. However, my dad was old-school, which meant we would cook all our food until it was uniformly gray before we ate it. Que me not being a fan of fish or other traditional Norwegian food items.

When I was around 7 it became my task to help my brother out with making dinner before our parents came home. This was also done the old-school way of cooking things until they were grey, but now we threw in the occasional side-dish like porridge.

Then my brother learned the secrets of pizza. For the first time in my life I was introduced to food that tasted something! And I learned to know my own talent for making dough.

When I was around 15, circumstances made me move in with my uncle, my uncle is married to a muay-thai boxer from Thailand. Hello there delicious foods that I did not know existed before! From her I learned to appreciate spicy things and traditional Thai-cooking, along with delicious ways to deal with rice and wonderful things that can be done to chicken, shrimp (even though I still hate seafood) and pork.

Meanwhile, my two best friends were studying how to be a chef. From them I picked up more info on how to cook and do funky things with salad and meat. However, they live quite far away from where I currently live. So I was forced to look elsewhere for guidance and culinary role-models. Now I've got one friend who is crazy about experimenting with food and cooking shows, and one friend who is just learning how to make food without throwing it in the garbage and ordering take-away instead. We now have epic quests and journeys into the culinary world of taste experimenting. This is an ongoing process that I hope never ends.
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