Fundamentals of Home Cooking featured image

I know I’ve spent a lot of time talking about great getaways and exotic locations, but that shouldn’t excuse the importance of cooking at home. Recently I’ve discovered that cooking has been very therapeutic with so many restaurants and cafes being locked down.

Learning the basics of cooking

man throwing in chooped food in bowl

Preparation

Setting up your ingredients beforehand is a vital part of making any dish. Take all of your ingredients where you can reach them so that you can measure, chop, and mix each of them. This is why you see so many cooking shows with little bowls that containing spices, mixes, and individual items that are combined in the end.

Measuring

A good set of measuring cups is always a great idea, along with measuring spoons that give an accurate amount instead of regular teaspoons and tablespoons. You also need a digital kitchen scale for measuring liquids and solids. These scales have a tare button that removes the weight of your container, so you always get the right amount measured each time.

Using the right cooking utensils

It’s too easy to mistake certain cooking utensils for being the right tool to use, but you might be wrong. This applies to mixing utensils that help blend your ingredients faster or are meant for whipping heavy creams or preparing sauces. The same thinking relates to the basics of cooking in a pan because some utensils can scratch non-stick surfaces and ruin your cooking pans.

Learn how to cut and chop correctly

I have to advise learning the proper way to cut things with any kitchen knife. Buying a good set of knives with a knife stand is also important. But the most important part is learning how to hold the knife and choosing the right knife for what you’re cutting or chopping. I really suggest you watch tutorial videos and DIY instruction guides for chopping and cutting. If you live in a larger city there is likely a knife basics class you can take in-person for about $80.00.

Learn the types of cooking

mother teaching types of cooking  her daughter

Pan cooking

Whether you’re cooking a scrambled egg or pan-frying a chicken breast, cooking anything in a pan needs to have the right cooking utensil. The best frying pans will have non-stick covering so food doesn’t stick so easily. Despite that part, all frying pans will need a little bit of butter or oil to ensure food items from sticking.

Oven baking

Cooking in the oven will always need the right kind of baking container. These can include special metal pots and ceramic containers. Many are made from high-temperature Pyrex glass that is better for making casseroles or baked dishes. The temperature in your oven will often need to be adjusted with some recipes.

Steaming

Steaming your food is a great option for veggies and is tastier than boiling. You’ll need a steamer tray that sits inside a pot filled with water. Vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and many other veggies can be steamed this way. The only other alternative is Sous Vide, which is another technique you’ll find with boiling water.cooking steak with sous vide

Boiling water

Some items are simply very bitter unless they are boiled n water. The most common vegetable you want to boil is potato. It needs to absorb water (which can also be flavored with broth) to enhance the taste of cooked potatoes. Aside from that, it’s much better to learn the basics of how to cook Sous Vide which cooks meat and veggies to perfection.

Learn about the different meats

different types of meat

Meat

Every type of meat that you need to cook will have different cooking times to get the best results. For the most part, when the meat reaches 145F degrees -then it’s done, but other types of ground meat need to be 160F degrees to cook properly. This is not based on color and can be tricky at first to cook in the oven or in a cooking pan.

Fish

Fish is very simple to cook with most types of fish cooking in less than 5 minutes on each side if you’re grilling a fillet. A whole fish will take longer if you bake it in the oven. Then there are certain variants of shellfish that will need boiling or steaming. Take care whenever cooking live shellfish so that crabs, clams, and lobster cook quickly and painlessly.

Chicken

It’s more than possible the easiest meals you’ll master is from poultry. It’s easy to cook and you can see the color change happening as it cooks. When it turns white and starts to brown slightly, it’s done. Grilling a chicken breast is very simple and will take just 6-8 minutes per side. This is when you cook it on the stovetop, so cooking times in the oven will differ.

Pork

Cooking pork is also pretty easy and will make tasty cutlets that are often mouth-watering. It changes from a pink color to white magically as it cooks, but will need careful attention so it doesn’t burn, or dry out… Larger sections of pork including Easter or Christmas hams don’t take much to cook since these are baked in an oven for about 2 hours tops.

Create your own recipe book

recipe book

Copy your favorite recipes

I don’t like pouring through lots of cookbooks to find my favorite recipes, so I opted to make my own journal cookbook. That’s what I found at my local Staples, and is just a small journal that had a pretty cover. I sectioned all my recipes based on what category I felt applied. You can make your own sections as you like, but try to organize dishes based on what food it is.

Make modifications to existing recipes

Sometimes, I find that I need to make slight adjustments to an existing recipe that works best for me. If I like something more buttery or creamy, I make little adjustments. This way, I can keep track of how the recipe is evolving and each little note is helping to perfect baked goods and classic basics for recipes I’ve now learned to make.

Helps you to add notes

Even though you only need one half-page in your journal to make a full recipe, leave the other side of the page blank. This way you can add extra notes on experiments and disastrous results. Sure, it sounds like your ultimate formula book for Dr. Frankenstein-like thoughts, but it will improve your cooking skills by keeping notes.

Allows you to have alternate recipes and versions

Another positive part about leaving an open page is adding an alternate recipe. This is essentially a 2.0 version of your original version. It may switch ingredients and cooking methods, but is a near copy of your first recipe. This is a good idea if you like to have immediate variations to play with.

What’s up next:

  • Sauces
  • Simple side dishes
  • Everyday favorites
  • Creating baking

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