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    Miss Scarlett
    I can't cook, can you help please?
    • #1
    • 3rd May 07, 6:38 PM
    I can't cook, can you help please? 3rd May 07 at 6:38 PM
    Hi everyone. I think I need some help in the kitchen department. I love the idea of making everything myself. I wish so much I could be one of those women who produces wonderful things from a bag of flour but the fact is, I'm awful.

    I try really hard to follow recipes, but things never come out as they should. The other day I tried to make some chocolate brownies, the recipe said cook for 30 mins. I dutifully took them out at the right time, but they were so rock hard DH suggested I sell them to the RAF as weapons of mass destruction.

    I've got a bunch of cookery books and I do keep trying, but my yorkshire puddings are flat solid lumps, my bread is U shaped and welded to the tin. I can usually knock up a spag bol but other than that we live on salads. I did try cookery lessons once but no word of a lie, I set fire to the teachers wooden sieve so I was too embarrased to go back again.

    So, can anyone offer any ideas on how I can become better? I would love to be able to meal plan and become more old style but trying to cook just seems to cost me more because we need to eat something other than the disaster I've produced.

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    Last edited by Former MSE Rose; 11-08-2009 at 6:07 PM.
Page 1
    • Psykicpup
    • By Psykicpup 3rd May 07, 6:45 PM
    • 1,391 Posts
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    • #2
    • 3rd May 07, 6:45 PM
    • #2
    • 3rd May 07, 6:45 PM
    You need to relax - & remember that the food hasnt read the cookery book! - any receipe is just a guide you need to adjust to various things - for instance your cooker sounds like it might be hotter so you may need to cook at a lower temp or for less time - it does come with practice - honest! - just check fairly often & if you think its done before 'times-up', then thats ok
    I THINK is a whole sentence, not a replacement for I Know

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  • ben500
    • #3
    • 3rd May 07, 6:49 PM
    • #3
    • 3rd May 07, 6:49 PM
    I'd hazard a guess that you are not pre-heating the oven perhaps?
    • Rikki
    • By Rikki 3rd May 07, 6:53 PM
    • 20,648 Posts
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    • #4
    • 3rd May 07, 6:53 PM
    • #4
    • 3rd May 07, 6:53 PM
    Take a look at this Mr Badexamples Cooking Index be prepared to laugh and learn. You have been warned.
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    • stefejb
    • By stefejb 3rd May 07, 6:56 PM
    • 1,719 Posts
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    • #5
    • 3rd May 07, 6:56 PM
    • #5
    • 3rd May 07, 6:56 PM
    What I have learned is that the picture should only be a guide to things like how small to chop stuff and should in no way be regarded as an expectation of what the finished result will look like. food photograpy is a highly specialised skill and if you think yours is going to look the same you will be dissapointed
    I'm going to feed our children non-organic food and with the money saved take them to the zoo - half man half biscuit 2008
    • marleyboy
    • By marleyboy 3rd May 07, 6:57 PM
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    • #6
    • 3rd May 07, 6:57 PM
    • #6
    • 3rd May 07, 6:57 PM
    The golden rule of cookery, cook at a slightly lower heat for slightly longer
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    • skintchick
    • By skintchick 3rd May 07, 7:43 PM
    • 14,668 Posts
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    • #7
    • 3rd May 07, 7:43 PM
    • #7
    • 3rd May 07, 7:43 PM
    I think you should ignore the recipe books! WHen I first started cooking, my best meals came from experimenting and tasting. Checking cakes during cooking rather than replying on book timings is a good example - books don;t know how hot your oven is or how big you made your fairy cakes.

    Start with easy stuff like a baked chicken breast (wrap it in foil to stop it drying out) with couscous and boiled veg.

    Next, try wrapping bacon round the chicken and ditching the foil.

    Soon, you'll feel confident about cooking. And of something does go wrong, just shrug it off. We all mess up sometimes!
    DFW Nerd Club member 023...DFD 9.2.2007
    married 21 6 08 Angel babies' birth dates 3.10.08 * 4.3.11 * 11.11.11 * 17.3.12 * 2.7.12 My live baby's birth date 22 7 09 I'm due another baby at the end of July 2014!
  • Fivenations
    • #8
    • 3rd May 07, 8:06 PM
    • #8
    • 3rd May 07, 8:06 PM
    Find a friend that can cook and ask her to show you a few basic recipes then you may find the rest will fall into placeas your confidence grows. Cooking is not rocket science but, as with everything, you need to start with the basics and work your way up to the hard stuff. And dont give up just becuase of a few mistakes. I cant do brownies to save my life and flapjacks always stick to the pan but I can cook choux pastry with eyes shut , sushi and roll out pasta by hand! Delia is much malighned but her basic recipes are good to start with.
    • glitterycloud
    • By glitterycloud 3rd May 07, 8:22 PM
    • 312 Posts
    • 523 Thanks
    • #9
    • 3rd May 07, 8:22 PM
    • #9
    • 3rd May 07, 8:22 PM
    I was exactly like you, couldnt cook anthing without either burning or undercooking it, but i stuck with it and experimented alot OH was very patient!! Now i can follow recipes, chuck in what i have in the cupboard and almost everything comes out ok. My advice is don't worry if it doesnt come out right first time just keep trying and those brownies will be successful!
    • dannahaz
    • By dannahaz 3rd May 07, 8:23 PM
    • 1,069 Posts
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    What would you like to learn to cook?
    • skintchick
    • By skintchick 3rd May 07, 8:29 PM
    • 14,668 Posts
    • 23,339 Thanks
    Ooh yes, Delia is great! Get her original book and use that - she taught me all my basics. And I did yorkshires for the first time the other week and was so proud I paraded them round the living room for OH to admire! lol.
    DFW Nerd Club member 023...DFD 9.2.2007
    married 21 6 08 Angel babies' birth dates 3.10.08 * 4.3.11 * 11.11.11 * 17.3.12 * 2.7.12 My live baby's birth date 22 7 09 I'm due another baby at the end of July 2014!
    • Three Dancing Dragons
    • By Three Dancing Dragons 3rd May 07, 10:35 PM
    • 270 Posts
    • 239 Thanks
    Three Dancing Dragons
    I found Delia went too advanced to quickly (ramekins? forget it!). I am teaching myself to cook starting with student cookbooks which are designed for those with minimal skills or knowledge of ingredients.

    Keep in mind that cooking times in ANY recipe are an estimate as your particular appliance will have it's own character. A bit light aiming artillery - first time you overshoot, adjust too far the second time and undershoot, then get it right third time. You may have to try a few times to get it right

    It also helps if you have the best equipment you can afford. Heavy-based pans with plenty of room/multiple uses and a couple of really sharp knives are a good start.
    If you think reality makes sense, you're just not paying attention!
  • Miss Scarlett
    Wow thank you so much for those ideas. Starting from tomorrow I'm going to cook something every day. I like the chicken breast idea, I have some in my freezer.

    I will certainly turn my oven down a little bit, maybe that is half of my problem, well, that and I expect a disaster before I start.

    I've got most of delias books but I don't have the how to cook one, sounds dumb now I say it, so I might treat myself to that.

    I'll update tomorrow on how the chicken went, I've no idea at all how to cook cous cous though. Thanks again.
    • Pink.
    • By Pink. 3rd May 07, 11:03 PM
    • 17,431 Posts
    • 40,365 Thanks
    Hi Miss Scarlett,

    There are more suggestions on this recent thread that may help:

    Cant cook! Help!

    Cooking, like everything else gets better with practice. We've all made mistakes (well I certainly have) and hopefully learned by them. After a while your confidence increases and you get better at it.

    Perhaps if you were to think of something that you'd like to cook you could post into this thread and I'm sure you'll get lots of help.

    • thriftlady
    • By thriftlady 4th May 07, 6:20 AM
    • 9,089 Posts
    • 28,909 Thanks
    Get yourself an oven thermometer so you can check your oven is reaching the right temperature
  • newster
    When I was at school. Many moons ago, when home economics was still esential to the school curriculum. So much so, I had two lessons a week of it (which, I hasten to add was not my favourite lessons) A teacher I had in these lessons once told me she pitied my furture husband, if, I should be so lucky to get one :-)

    My MIL before I got married said I ought to have cookery lessons with my future sister in law as she was a cook. I said I was perfectly able to burn a tin of bean quite adequately on my own without being shown how !!! Which was very true.

    The first meal I cooked my brand new husband was steak and chips. His brother looked at him anxiously and said "Was it ok"? (Which it was. I was very proud of myself :-) )

    Anyway. Thankfully I had a brillient mother who could cook, and I was for ever asking "how to". After feeling a bit knotted up to start with, once I began to relax I realised I really enjoyed cooking, and things that were total disasters at school became glorious pieces of cookery art :-) My cakes began to rise and were eatable (after a lot of trial and error) and so on.

    So I agree with what has already been said. Just relax. Don't worry if you mess up" just keep trying and soon you will wonder why you thought you could never cook :-)

    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!)
    • mel123
    • By mel123 4th May 07, 7:06 AM
    • 64 Posts
    • 332 Thanks
    May sound daft, but why dont you buy a kids cookbook. I have one for my kids and it gives you nice easy recipes to start with. They explain things step by step and also explain what the cooking terms mean. You might have to ignore the bit where it says "get a grown up to......." Its not all rice crispie cakes either, they have recipes for pasta dishes, fish cakes, kebabs etc. Whatever you do have fun most of all.
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  • Miss Scarlett
    Ok, today I'm off into town, I will get myself delias how to cook book and also an oven thermometer.

    I've planned meals for this week, some of it's a bit scary. I don't cook roast dinners unless M&S do all of the work (even the mashed potato ) I just heat and put together on a plate, which is pretty shameful.

    So, meals for the week look like this

    Friday - Chicken breast with cous cous and oven roasted vegetables.

    Saturday - Cottage pie (I struggle with gravy here)

    Sunday - Roast beef, yorkshire pudding (made myself ) Roast parsnips and potatoes, carrots and sweetcorn.

    Monday - Lamb hot pot (I have some lamb in the freezer)

    Tuesday - Fish, chips and peas

    Wednesday - beef and ale casserole

    Thursday - Chicken curry with rice (not boil in the bag) not ready to make all of the bits that go with a curry which DH loves (naan bread, onion bahji)

    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.

    Sunday I'm going to try to make a cake too, I'm really going to try hard this week and tackle this kitchen issue.

    Some day I would love to bake my own bread and not walk around the supermarket filled with doom at the thought of more salad and ready meals.

    Thanks so much again for all of your help, you're giving me the confidence to try, I probably will fail a bit but that's ok... isn't it!
    • wendyl1967
    • By wendyl1967 4th May 07, 7:42 AM
    • 313 Posts
    • 238 Thanks
    What about investing in a slow cooker. I don't think it is possible to fail to produce tasty food with one of those!

    if you do a search on here there are loads of recipes and tips.
  • Miss Scarlett
    Actually, I have a twin pot slow cooker. I hardly use it though, so I will drag it out this week. I find stuff goes from under cooked to mush in it, I struggle to find that in between stage. I made a spaghetti sauce in there a few weeks ago and the mince beef just sort of disolved into grainy bits. So, I've not used it since, I'll look through the board though and find some recipes for it, maybe I'll have more luck.
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