How you can really learn to cook – Part II

Everyone can learn to cook. Really!

Your living proof is the person writing this.

Hallo, I’m Edie and I was a super picky eater that couldn’t cook. Now I coach people who want to make cooking a more important part of their life.
In this article, the second in a series for beginning cooks, I will convince you that you can become a more creative and confident cook too.

To help you gain more confidence in the kitchen, it helps to make a list. A list with all the things you know about cooking and all the dishes and ingredients you like to eat. Then you want to organize this list into 3 sections: things you know, things that you need some help with and the have no clue list. That was step 1.

If you want to become a better cook, these three lists will each come with their own strategy to become more confident and creative in the kitchen.

Your new cooking strategy

When it comes to learning to cook, you can apply a different strategy for each of these three lists.

* Know it

This is the list with things you know how to make. Some you’re confident with, for others you have the recipe on hand while cooking. You can continue to cook them the same way you always do.

Or you can use your confidence to explore these dishes a bit more in-depth. How do others make these dishes, or cook these ingredients? Do they make everything from scratch, or are there shortcuts you like? Do they have a different cooking technique? Use a different variety (like with potatoes, or apples) or another ingredient? Learn why this is their preferred way (note: I’m not saying the best way).

In short, you can keep making your dishes the way you did, or let them evolve and help you gain more knowledge.

* Need some help

For each item on your second list, figure out what you’re unsure of. Is it the cooking time? How to clean and chop that vegetable? What cut of meat to use? Now go find the answer(s). How do people cook this dish? Find a trustful resource and cook their recipe.

Or take a different approach and look up a few similar recipes and compare them. Try it out the elements in them that speak to you most and combine them in your new version of this dish.

Your goal is to eventually upgrade these items and dishes to the Know it list.

* Have no clue

This part of the list might be the hardest to cover, and probably will take the most time. Unless, you fall in love with the first recipe you try. But the best strategy would be to look up a few recipes and try them all out. One by one. And maybe you want to repeat the first (two) you made, just to gain more confidence in and understanding of making the dish.

Make notes what you liked and disliked about them.

Bring them up to the Need some help list, and eventually your Know it list.

And while moving items up towards your Know it list, you can keep adding new ones to the other two lists.

Don’t forget to track your journey

Whether you’re a pencil and paper fan or love to keep track electronically, make sure you can write your own notes along the recipe.

When I started to cook, I kept a paper note book. It was dark blue and I wrote all my favorite recipes in it. Later I glued printed recipes in it, but I always added my own notes. It’s the one on the picture above.

Now I would recommend to either use a large notebook or dedicate a spread (two pages) per recipe, so you have plenty of space for notes, suggestions for other ingredients or methods, etc. Make sure to write down the recipe in your own words, don’t copy them verbatim.

If I would be starting to cook now, I’d probably explore electronic note taking, just because copying and paste a recipe is so much quicker. ** To track what I’ve learned, I think I would visualize my progress and ordering the recipes in a Kanban style way, moving them up from Have no clue to Can almost make them blind folded.

** Although there is definitely something to say about writing things you learn in your own words.

Yeah, learning to cook takes time

But you definitely can speed up the process by cooking consciously and learning why you do what you do. The more you cook and learn about it, the better you can connect the dots and see similarities between dishes. On this site and in my classes, I will help you with that.

This article is part of a series for beginning cooks. Instead of adding more recipes to the internet or giving superficial tips about stocking your pantry, this series will provide a more philosophical, coaching approach.

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