Make a list of all the foods you enjoy eating and what dishes they feature. For each of the dishes, write whether you think that it is easy or difficult for cooking.
When you do your meal plan for the week (you DO do one, don’t you?) include a dish you haven’t cooked before. Use the internet to find recipes for your meals, make your collection, and buy yourself one good essential instructional cookbook or set.
If you don’t know of her, Delia Smith is a very well known and respected UK cook. Her recipes are well tasty, and if you follow them correctly, they will work. This 3-volume series goes right back to basics, and their paperback is not expensive.
Tips And Ideas
Watch every cooking show you can on TV. Listen intently to what they say, including on the competitive ones where they often talk about basic techniques that are part of more complicated dishes.
Get together an essential toolkit. Look for online and offline sales to build it.
If I was starting again, these are the pans I would want.
Get One cast-iron casserole that will go in the oven. This will double as a large saucepan.
Two smaller pans. Buy the best you can afford. Be aware that if you have an electric induction style hob, not all containers are suitable. The lowest should probably be a milk pan with a pouring lip.
Two frying pans – the smaller one should be omelet size — heavy ones.
Useful if they have heatproof handles that will go in the oven.
Measuring cups and spoons.
Accurate measuring is essential, especially for baking!
Few Things To Remember
A couple of large mixing bowls and some smaller ones are good. Pyrex is good. Long ago, I found a set of 5 or 6 vintage mixing bowls at a boot sale (think yard sale if you are in the USA) or a local auction – they cost me a couple of pounds, and I use them all the time. They look like this one – you’ll see what a fantastic bargain they were! The smallest is excellent for a batch of muffins, the largest, you could bath a baby in – or maybe brine a turkey or large joint of meat.
Good knives. The very minimum you need is a good size chef’s knife or Japanese Santoku style knife, which you can use for pretty well everything and a small paring knife. Keep kitchen knives sharp. Keep blades in a block or on a magnetic strip on the wall, so they don’t go dull.
Online Cooking Guides
Now go online and find two things.
1. A table that converts gas oven temperature in ‘marks’ to Fahrenheit to Centigrade/Celsius to ‘cool,’ ‘medium’ etc. Print it out and stick on your fridge or the inside of a cupboard.
2. A table that converts ounces to grams to cup measures for different foods. Some will also have conversions for standard spoon measures.
I didn’t quite start this way. I went from home and a fully equipped kitchen to a tiny bedsit with a single hotplate, but I found a great cookbook that added to the knowledge I had gained from my Mum and grandmother. Over the years and moves to proper kitchens, I built up my ‘batterie de cuisine’ over nearly 50 years. I have gadgets I’ve bought and discarded, and others I’ve found invaluable. I have a big cookbook collection, which is still there.