Upgrade Your Cooking Skills

Several days ago I shared my ideas to Find Inspiration For Cooking. Most of us cook at least some although I’ve met people who eat take out almost daily. Home cooking shouldn’t be compared to restaurant food. First most fast food tends to be high in salt, sugar, saturated fats, trans fats, calories, and processed preservatives and ingredients. An occasional takeout meal probably won’t hurt you, but you should make wise choices on what you order. Check out How to Eat Takeout With Ruining Your Diet for more ideas.

Second, if you are dining in a fine restaurant with an excellent chef, you can try new cuisines or a fresh approach to classic dishes. You should not compare home cooking to meals from a trained chef in a restaurant. Unless you are going back to school to spend years developing your craft, you should not compete with a top restaurant’s meals. Many beginning cooks attempt hard dishes they had in a restaurant instead of learning some basic easier dishes. They conclude that they can’t cook when they fail.

Parents need to teach children cooking, cleaning, and banking to name just a few survival skills. I consider cooking to be an essential life skill that can help you save money, eat healthier, and impress your friends and family. One of the basic ways people socialize involves sharing food. That’s why it’s important for a family to gather together to share a meal most of the time. But for many people, cooking can be intimidating or complicated. I’ve been reading articles on elevating your cooking to a new level. I’m not a trained chef, and I cannot put my fingers next to the knife and chop up veggies in uniform sizes quickly. That is one thing that was said to be a necessity in several articles. With the arthritis in my hands, it will never happen. It would be nice to be able to do, but I don’t think it’s necessary. Today I’ll share a few thoughts about improving home cooking.

1) Invest In Good Quality Cookware

Cheap cookware can differentiate between a perfectly cooked meal and a disaster. When it comes to pots and pans, you don’t need to break the bank, but make sure you invest in quality pieces that will last you for years. This will save you money in the long run and make cooking a more enjoyable experience. I remember buying a wonderful set of stainless steel pans with copper bottoms from a co-worker decades ago. She was moving and sold most of her belongings. I got a great dining table and chairs, a vacuum cleaner, and her set of pots. I have used those pans for years and only replaced one pot.

When shopping for cookware, look for pieces made from materials like stainless steel or copper. These durable materials will conduct heat evenly, ensuring that your food cooks evenly. Avoid non-stick cookware, as the coating can break down over time and release harmful chemicals into your food.

2) Learn Basic Knife Skills

One of the most important things you can do to improve your cooking is to learn basic knife skills. A good sharp knife is an essential kitchen tool that will make prep work much easier and faster. Start by investing in a quality chef’s knife and then practice slicing, dicing, and chopping with different kinds of fruits and vegetables. Keep your knives sharpened. I was amazed to learn that you can cut yourself more frequently with a dull knife than a good sharp knife. If you can do that fast veggie chop with the knife, congratulations!

3) Use Fresh, Seasonal Ingredients

One of the best ways to make your cooking more enjoyable is to use fresh, seasonal ingredients. Not only do these ingredients taste better, but they’re also often more affordable than out-of-season options. For November try: (each link gives you a recipe)

For example, if you want to make brown sugar honey glazed carrots, using carrots that are in season will make a big difference. In-season carrots will be sweeter and more flavorful than those that have been stored for months. As a result, your dish will be more enjoyable to eat.

4) Start With Basic Easy Recipes

If you can’t stand to wait by the stove for food to cook, get a crock pot. There are loads of recipes online that require putting ingredients in the pot and turning it on. Easy peasy. For a host of ideas check out one pan dinners on a sheet pan in the oven. Don’t have time to chop fresh veggies before they go bad? Keep frozen vegetables in the freezer. First choice is fresh, second is frozen, and last is canned. Now I must say that having an accomplished home canner share canned vegetables is a real gift. They are so much better than commercial canned vegetables.

Like the idea of a recipe but it contains something you can’t eat? Change the seasonings or meat or vegetable. One of the best things about cooking is that there are no rules. So don’t be afraid to experiment with new ingredients, flavors, and techniques. The only way to improve your cooking skills is to get in the kitchen and try new things.

5) Seek Out Opportunities To Learn

As I discussed on Tuesday, seek out opportunities to learn from more experienced cooks. Cook with a buddy, take a cooking class, or get a mentor to take your cooking skills to the next level. There are countless cooking blogs online, local adult cooking classes, cooking magazines, cookbooks, or cooking shows on TV where you can learn and grow.

Cooking is a valuable life skill that can help you throughout your life. I hope I’ve inspired you to work on your skills. So, get in the kitchen and start cooking!

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I was raised in Tennessee but have lived in Florida for many years. Love my small home in the Tampa Bay area and its developing garden. My decorating style is eclectic - some vintage, some cottage, all with a modern flair. Pursuing a healthier lifestyle. Spent many years in social services but am happily retired.

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