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How can I learn to become a good cook?

I would love to learn how to cook- from scratch.. I would love to learn how to make delicious, nutritious, healthy , homecooked foods. I love to eat!! As an african-american lady, I love jamaican and other caribbean foods. Over the years, I have bought literally dozens of cookbooks- some basic, others caribbean. Alot of the cookbooks, however, assume prior knowledge and experience in cooking. I have no experince at all..

Can anyone offer any cooking tips, secrets, advice for the novice or beginner cook? Can anyone recommend any BASIC, ILLUSTRATED, COLORFUL INSTRUCTIVE cookbook that can guide me in the rudiments of basic cooking. A cook book that will explain what to do and the rationale or reasoning behind doing it. Is there any basic or/ and caribbean cooking dvd/video? Any suggestions and advice will be greatly appreciated.

Thank You, Dee

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  1. Your request for a cookbook leads me to suggest "The Joy of Cooking", which is basic, but it won't have many caribbean recipes. By asking your question, I think you have taken a most important step. READ AND SEARCH THESE BOARDS, and when you feel like asking a question, do so. I have learned so much from this site! And when you see a recipe you like, DO IT. That should keep you busy until you are a terriffic cook. GOOD HUNTING.

    1. "America's Best Recipe" from Cook's Illustrated.

      1. watch the food channel. Mario, good eats are both great for beginners.

        1 Reply
        1. re: chrisinroch

          I think Mario would be daunting for a beginner. Giada is more accessible (Everyday Italian) even if she is snarly on Next Food Network Star. Her dishes are much simpler to put together, and those that I've tried are great.

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          1. If you have absolutely no experience and already have invested in so many books, probably best to look around for a hands-on class at the community level. Most towns, cities have adult classes for just about anything and I'm sure you could find a very basic class in simple cooking. At this point, books of themselves are probably just frustrating you. You really can't substitute getting help from a real person.

            Once you've worked with someone with some skill either one-on-one or with a group of others at your level led by someone with skills, you'll get an idea of the simple techniques to get started and can quickly progress onto more complicated recipes and techniques.

            Whatever you do, don't give up and don't be afraid to be a complete mess for at least a little while, it won't take long at all to get better. Cooking is really not as hard as it may seem, more so once you've gotten started.

            Good luck and please pester :-) us with as many questions as you like.

            2 Replies
            1. re: kevine

              I'd second the class recommendation. Or if you know someone who cooks the way you'd like to cook, ask that person to show you how to make a few things--maybe you buy the ingredients in exchange for the lessons! There's nothing to build your confidence and make you more comfortable with the basics than learning hands-on from a real person.

              Once you have a little confidence and experience under your belt, you'll find the cookbook recipes much easier to deal with.

              I also agree with the person who said watch Food TV. Or at least check their website. I just did a search there and found a lot of Caribbean recipes. You may even find upcoming episodes that you can watch or tape (not sure if videos are available online). Watching someone cook, even on tv, can be very helpful. And using the internet can save you a bit of money on cookbooks till you're more comfortable in the kitchen. My experience has taught me that the cookbooks that impressed me before I became a good cook are not the same cookbooks I'd want to use now!

              1. re: Kagey

                Dee~ Do not disregard or look down on this method. When professional chefs do it, it's called "staging." Even experienced chefs will work for week in a kitchen along side of another chef for free, just to see what they can see and learn what they can learn.