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I can't cook, can you help please?



  • DawnW
    DawnW Posts: 7,439 Forumite
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    we all have the odd disaster every now and again. One thing to take into consideration is that ovens vary a great deal, and therefore the temperature / time given in the recipe can only really be a guide. Try keeping a closer eye on items in the oven, and take them out when they seem done, rather than rigidly sticking to the time given in the recipe. In my oven for instance, things regularly need to be cooked at a lower temp and for a shorter time than stated, but because I know this, I adjust accordingly when trying out a new recipe. You might also try a students cook book (the sort sold to youngsters heading off to uni and having to cook for themselves for the first time instead of relying on mum, there were several in Smiths the other day I noticed when I was looking for something else) for some simple recipes to start you off, and give you a bit of confidence.
    Good luck!
  • daysieblue
    daysieblue Posts: 406 Forumite
    Sunday - Roast beef, yorkshire pudding (made myself :eek: ) Roast parsnips and potatoes, carrots and sweetcorn.

    You'll find this in Delia, but with the Roast potatoes if you par boil (I actually steam for 15-20 mins), put them in a mixing bowl with a dinner plate on top, shake to fluff the edges then put in hot oil you get fabulous crunchy roasties that are melt in the mouth soft in the middle. I use a couple of tablespoons of veg oil, so they're reasonably low fat too!

    db xx
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  • belfastgirl23
    belfastgirl23 Posts: 8,025 Forumite
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    wendyl1967 wrote: »
    What about investing in a slow cooker. I don't think it is possible to fail to produce tasty food with one of those!

    Beg to differ, I have produced disgusting food from a slow cooker :)
  • belfastgirl23
    belfastgirl23 Posts: 8,025 Forumite
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    Good for you for trying. You will succeed, it ain't rocket science once you get the hang of it.

    Re your menu plan I'd say think a bit about baby steps. TBH a properly cooked different meal every day of the week would def push me to the max and I'm a happy enough cook. Could you have a pasta day and maybe a 'something on toast' day instead of two lots of cooking? Maybe you're all fired up and ready to go but just make sure you don't burn out all that enthusiasm too soon.

    The other thing is, yes you need to be flexible with ingredients for cooking but you mostly can't be with baking :) Generally the proportions of flour to butter, eggs, sugar etc need to be pretty much right in order to generate the right reaction. The other tip for baking is to keep a constant eye on things when they're in the oven. The difference between perfect scones and burnt scones is less than 5 mins in my oven.

    Finally you will get things wrong. That's part of the process and we all do it! Don't think it's cos your crap, it's cos sometimes that's how things happen.
  • Linda32
    Linda32 Posts: 4,385 Forumite
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    Sunday - Roast beef, yorkshire pudding (made myself :eek: ) Roast parsnips and potatoes, carrots and sweetcorn.

    How does that look? I have recipes for most of these things, and I'm hoping delia might be able to help me out with things like, making gravy, roasting potatoes, cooking beef. The beef scares me, everytime I cook it, the beef comes out so tough you can't carve the meat never mind chew and digest it.

    Hi, it all sounds lovely, just one thing I noticed, I can't get beef right either, the same thing always happens to me, so we have roast chicken when we have roast dinners ;) Its abit easier.
  • Miss_Scarlett
    Miss_Scarlett Posts: 123 Forumite
    Thanks again for all the tips they're really helping.

    I did think about doing a chicken on sunday, but that scares me a bit. With beef you can eat it a bit undercooked, but if I get chicken wrong I could poison the household.

    I think you're right, I might swap and have a pasta day, I can do pasta dishes ok usually. I might be trying to run before I can walk a bit. Off to town now to get my book and a few bits and bobs. I'll let you know how tonights chicken with cous cous turns out.
  • Mizz_Pink
    Mizz_Pink Posts: 756 Forumite
    What an ace thread!!!

    I cook the PERFECT roast dinner, well me and hubby think so :p

    Beef: Go to your local butchers and ask for their best roasting beef (it will be the same joint you get steak from) I pay about £8-£10 for enough for 3 people. It will be about 3lb in weight. WRAP IN FOIL so it cooks in its own juices, cook on about 180deg for an hour then turn oven up to 200deg for the last hour. Beef is best if you cook it slow and for longer. Whilst this is cooking prep your veg. I use a steamer which is really easy, carrots at the bottom, anything else on the top section.
    Roast pots, chop a medium potatoe in half, do as many as you want. Then cook in microwave for 4 mins, in the mean time heat some veg oil on a baking tray, about 4 big spoon fulls. Put pots on the tray and spoon over oil, be careful cos the oil will be hot and may spit. Once you have coated the pots sprinkle rock salt on them , you know like coarse salt. These will take about half an hour to 40 mins to cook.

    So beef in at 12pm (pre heated oven), pots in oven at 1.45, take beef out about 1.45-2pm and let it stand for 20 mins keep it in foil. Veg will take about 15 mins in the steamer so that goes on about 2pm.

    Its all about timing, if you cook veg in a pan you can turn the gas down if it cooks too quick but cant do antying if you dont put it on early enough. I cheat with gravey and use granuals but stir in some meat juice too.

    If you want the best mash buy a potato ricer, like a big garlic press, about £12 from John Lewis!! :)

    Am starving now :D

    BEST OF LUCK !!!!
    Just owe Dad £2500 for a new car

    Paid off car loan 22nd August 2009. :T
  • r.mac_2
    r.mac_2 Posts: 4,746 Forumite
    I used to kill myself almost trying to produce 7 perfect meals for dinner a week. I thought that this was what OH wanted and Loved - plus I enjoy cooking and eating as well. However, with so many other life pressures It was such a pain and made me stressed out. I continually felt i had 'failed' if i didn't produce something fabulous and 'proper' every evening.

    However over dinner one night my OH said that he couldn't believe how i had time to make what we were having and I got upset because i confessed that i had cheated by using ready made pastry. OH just laughed and explained that he had no expectations of me and my cooking and thought it was rather odd that i never threw baked beans on toast at him once a week!!! So now I am much more relaxed - on busy weeks we have a mixture of throw in the oven stews, pasta and quick eats and on quieter weeks I make a bit more effort. But i use ready made pastry and things lots and puddings are now a treat.

    My mum was a great cook and i picked up tips from her - but i find that it s all trial and error. Student basics books were a great starting point for me - and the tips on here are fabulous. I often post 'daft' questions, but everyone is here to help. MrBadexamples cooking thread is also handy. I would chose a couple of easier things to start which you can adapt such as spag bol, chilli, cottage pie base (re: your gravy question a friend advised me to look at deliah shepherds pie recipe - i don't bother with the leeks on top and its veyr tasty).

    I think your meal plan is a great idea - but don't push your self too hard. WHy not try to make two new things a week and build up????

    Sorry this was so long!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    aless02 wrote: »
    r.mac, you are so wise and wonderful, that post was lovely and so insightful!
    I can't promise that all my replies will illicit this response :p
  • wanting2save
    wanting2save Posts: 1,975 Forumite
    newster wrote: »
    PS As to encourage that even seasoned cooks can do daft things. Yesterday I thought I'd save some money and buy some basic choc from Somerfields to make some choclate crispies for the children. The choc came to 78p in comparison to 96p if I'd bought the proper cooking chocolate. I felt very chiffed with myself and went home and proceeded to make them. What I didn't realise was that I'd left a bit of silver wrap on one of the pieces of chocolate. I put the bowl of choc in the mirowave, after a few minutes I smelt this horrible smell. Took the bowl out and there was smoke coming from my chocolate. When I move it around a bit I saw the tin foil (sigh) The chocolate was uneatable, so 78p went in the bin. Also I thought I'd lost my bowl as the foil had welded on it. Hubby was able to fix that :-) Thankfully the microwave was ok (phew!)

    Haha i di this a couple of weeks ago, didnt leave it too long as i was alerted to the foil by the sparks inside my microwave... luckily chocolate was fine:o
    **Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened!‏**

    **Life is not measured by the amount of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away**
  • debtworrier
    debtworrier Posts: 250 Forumite
    Glad that you're keen to learn to cook, it's something that I love doing. But just to echo some of the good advice that others have said already: don't expect yourself to do complicated stuff from a standing start.

    Look, when I was a little kid, helping mum in the kitchen, *anything* I produced would be greeted with "Awwww, how sweet!" even if it was a rock-hard little bit of pastry gone grey-brown from me mushing it up and rolling it out a dozen times.

    Later, my family ate some -er, extremely unusual food while I was getting the hang of things, but because I was a kid, I wasn't expected to get it right every time. Give yourself the same break.

    As for chicken - you don't have to worry about poisoning the family, just cook it for as long as the recipe book says and then test it by poking something sharp deep into the thickest part of the meat (usually the thigh, down in the crease where it joins the rest of the bird.) If the juices which ooze out are clear, then the meat's cooked. If the juices look pink or reddish, then the meat isn't cooked and needs a bit longer. Bung it back in the oven for another 10 minutes or so, and test again. (With ovens, open door, meat out, close door. Don't leave the door open for ages while you fiddle about.) Even if you've dished up and then see the chicken meat is leaking pink juices, you can always bung it back in for a bit longer. (A quick zap in the microwave is good if folks are clamouring.)

    Relax, enjoy your cooking - and if people make jokes about your efforts, invite them to do better!
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