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What recipes should every high school graduate know how to cook?

So here's the deal: I've told myself on at least 10 different occasions that I was going to learn how to cook. I've either given up or lost motivation on all attempts. Now that I'm living in my own apartment, it's essential that I stop eating hot pockets 24/7. But where do I start? When it comes to cooking, I'm lazy as heck, and I don't know anything. So a good recommendation would be for something that is: a) Incredibly easy to cook b) Tasty (to an average college student) c) Quick

Maybe once I learn to cook a few incredibly basic dishes, I'll be able to move up to something more advanced. Where should I start?


4 Answers 4


What @ElendilTheTall suggests is indeed the usual way, and has worked for countless hobby cooks. But the way you describe it, your problem comes from lack of motivation rather than the difficulty of cooking. So you probably need to change your attitude and discover a side of cooking which is fun for you. Then everything will be easier. I, for example, have always been fascinated by cooking as a creative process, but there are different types of cooks.

A book which is likely to help you is "cooking for geeks". You don't need to fit the media stereotype of a geek to like it. It just has a very systematic approach to cooking, explains things like the way meat changes under heat on pop science level, and deviates into this special kind of experiments a down-to-earth person like my grandma doesn't get, but a typical tinkerer/engineer/geek loves. Prime example: cooking fish in the dishwasher. It starts with the very basic things and is chock full of useful everyday advice. It also has some recipes, although it will probably a good idea to also get a recipe collection book for beginners after you've got started. If you are a stackoverflow user, chances are that you'll like the book. Still, it is a very specific style, so make sure you can leaf through it or have a return right before you buy it.

Of course, the usual motivation advice counts for cooking as with everything else. Start small, with simple things. Promice yourself a schedule, e. g. "Cooking once a week" and stick with that until you have worked yourslef into a habit or enthusiasm. No sense in declaring "I have to cook dinner every day so I can save XXX until Christmas" and then getting tired of it after a week.


I'd start with the basic staples - eggs, pasta, potatoes, simple meat dishes - Any of which give you multiple options without being too challenging.

With eggs, you can learn to fry, poach, or scramble. Whack any of those on toast, add a little grilled bacon and you have a meal.

You can do endless things with pasta. Boil it as per packet instructions, add a little olive oil, crushed garlic and parsley, et voila. From there you can work up to basic marinara sauces etc.

If you learn to make basic potatoes - mashed, baked, fried - you can make an accompaniment to most dishes.

Finally, you've got meat. Perhaps the most basic thing to learn is grilling or pan-frying a chicken breast, though something that sounds more complicated, like slow-roasting a lamb shoulder, is actually ridiculously simple.

There are tons of beginner's cookbooks out there - the Food Network's How to Boil Water gets good reviews. Many recipe sites also sort recipe by difficulty. I'd suggest you get a book, look up some recipes that appeal to you, and get stuck in.


Start watching the cooking channel on TV (if you can). The BBC one is better than the US version (but chances are that's not your choice).

The point is that exposing yourself to folk actually "doing stuff" gives you lots of ideas - lets you learn what sort of things go together - let's you hear and see different opinions (they certainly don't all agree on everything) and so on.

Yes, you'll need to learn a few really basic skills - but you'd be surprised at how little you actually need to know. Most of it you can get with just the simplest trial-and-error.

Start building your collection of condiments and cooking flavors. Next time you're at the market get some balsamic vinegar (mix with a little olive oil, dip bread in it...) Or get a spice. Or a herb. Try it with chicken (pretty much everything goes with chicken).

for example: go get a piece of chicken breast, off the bone. Put some butter, or oil in a pan on the stove. Not too hot. let it sit there for a while. Turn occasionally. Every now an then cut a bit in half to see if it's cooked. (is the same white color all the way to the middle). when it's cooked, eat it. I recommend a splash of balsamic. Or a herb. Or a spice. Even just salt. You'd be amazed at how easy it is to start.

Most off all - risk a few $, and just do it. What's the worst that can happen? (Ok, don't burn the place down). But seriously, you'll have good days, and bad days. There's always hot-pockets to fall back on.

Most of all Have Fun! cooking is fun.


Watch the Food Network's "Good Eats" with Alton Brown.

In his celebrating the 10th anniversary of of his show "Good Eats" Alton Brown stated that his goal when creating the show was "Julia Childs meets Monty Python". Alton's show on the Food Network is both entertaining and educational. Many of his past episodes are available online. Start with episode 1 Steak Your Claim.

In short, Good Eats will not just teach you recipes, but help you to understand as Julia Childs would say, "With scientific certainty" how to cook.


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