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Old 11-13-2011, 03:47 PM   #1
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How to get over low confidence in the kitchen?

Hi all.

My husband is a fantatsic cook... I mean major foodie, it's all he thinks about. I've never really been taught how to cook, my mom just showed me to boil pasta and bake cookies. I now have a good understanding of how to cook food and have made some good stuff, but I still can't get to that point where I can look at a chicken breast or pork loin and say (I think I'll do X with it) and it will come out awesome. I also kind of freak out in the grocery store and end up getting the same simple stuff I always make. As a result, my kids eat "kid food", while my friends' kids eat whatever is put in front of them. I try to make them new stuff that's simple, like pork chops or homemade chicken tenders, but they don't eat them (and I abide by the I-am-not-a-short-order-cook philosophy so they literally eat just sides for dinner most nights).

Can someone please point me in a good direction? My husband keeps saying that he shows me all he knows, but I just can't cook to the caliber he does and he intimidates me in the kitchen. Are there any good books for moms of picky eaters (please no "sneaky chef" kind of stuff, they will eat veggies, it's just entrees I'm struggling with).

I'd love to stop buying mac n' cheese! Granted I only serve it once a week, but I'd love to stop.

THANKS!

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Old 11-13-2011, 03:55 PM   #2
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So do you make boxed stuff alot? Your sides? Are they the sort of boil and add flavor things? I'd just start by picking out simple and healthy recipes and start there. Make a detailed grocery list.

I used to be a very simple cook, I still am, when DH is gone. But when he is home, everything is homemade YouTube has alot of videos on how to do things in the kitchen, like using fresh Tyme. U use leaves not stems. But stems in cilantro are edible. I learned along the way, using YouTube!!
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Old 11-13-2011, 03:55 PM   #3
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If you want to make good, basic food without learning to cook, salad dressings and canned soups are your friend. Vinaigrettes = Marinades for pork or chicken, just soak overnight and grill. Ranch = soak for breading Pork, chicken, or white fish, just soak overnight, toss meat in a bowl of breadcrumbs, bake. Cream of Anything = white sauce for casseroles, rice bakes, pasta sauces. Powdered Onion Soup = pot roast, just add to meat and veggies in a crockpot and ignore for 6 hours.
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Old 11-13-2011, 06:46 PM   #4
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Re: How to get over low confidence in the kitchen?

Thank you. We've been pretty good about using mostly whole foods, but I just find myself making a lot of pasta, chicken sausage, quesadillas, that kind of stuff. I'd love to do more meat/veggie types of dishes as well as more soups.
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Old 11-13-2011, 07:06 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by whalvo
Thank you. We've been pretty good about using mostly whole foods, but I just find myself making a lot of pasta, chicken sausage, quesadillas, that kind of stuff. I'd love to do more meat/veggie types of dishes as well as more soups.
Soups are so easy! I make them alot, especially bean ones (cheap) and anything with cilantro.
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Old 11-13-2011, 07:46 PM   #6
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Re: How to get over low confidence in the kitchen?

I started out at around a similar level- I could cook things from a box, make cookies, etc., but I didn't have much cooking knowledge. I guess my best advice would just be to practice! I love reading cookbooks, watching Food Network, reading recipe blogs, and watching the America's Test Kitchen show. I learned a lot of basic things from just watching people cook on TV.

My favorite recipe writers are Cook's Illustrated- they put out a magazine, as well as many cookbooks. What I love about them is that they explain the how's and why's of a recipe. So even if I don't make every recipe of theirs that I read, I'm still learning from them. Also, I love how precise/well written their recipes are. I'm 100% confident that if I follow one of their recipes, it will turn out well.

It has also helped me to have the right kitchen equipment. I'm assuming that since your DH likes to cook, you have good equipment? That helps a lot. Other than that, the only thing I can think of is to practice. Chances are, that'll help you to cook better & become more confident! Good luck, and let me know if you want any recommendations for recipes, cookbooks, etc. I love talking food!
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Old 11-13-2011, 08:11 PM   #7
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Re: How to get over low confidence in the kitchen?

I find that cook books tend to collect dust in my kitchen so I normally wouldn't recommend them but I have 3 that I think would be a great start for someone who wants simple directions but complex taste yet everyone will eat it. First I think everyone should own The Joy of Cooking if only for the fact that there's a chapter on substitutions. It's for when you're in the middle of making something that requires like eggs, buttermilk, condensed milk and the like and you realize you're out and there's no way you're running to the store. Also it has recipes for basic stuff like cooking rump roast, chili or baking a chicken or chicken noodle soup. Main staples that mom never taught you how to cook.
2) The Pioneer Woman Cooks by Ree Drummand. It's got pictures and everything she makes is standard middle America fare.just about everything in the book is a winner with kids and adults both. Fair warning though, this stuff is neither diet nor quick to make (just easy).
And 3) Crock Pot by Rival (the people who make crock pots). If you don't own a crock pot you need one. This book is great because you can throw all the stuff in the pot in the morning, turn it on, and dinner is made that evening. Plus the house smells amazing all day.

The more you make you'll find the more you'll start tweaking. Once you've gotten to that point you know you've crossed a big hurdle. It took me a few years but I managed to teach the dh how to cook. He can tweak now! This was big for him, he used whine, yes whine, about how he couldn't cook. He'd decide he'd want something for dinner, call me from the grocery store, I'd tell him what to get. He'd call me again when he got home and I'd give him directions for the basics (no measurements) and then tell him the spices and say 'add to taste'. I think that helped him a lot. I mean if you'd never made chili you wouldn't know where the flavor came from until you started adding the cumin and chili powder, garlic and seasoning salt and then tasted it to figure out what you needed more of. Practice! Expect failure, it happens to everyone but eventually you'll figure out how to recover and be able to claim the foodie title.
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Old 11-13-2011, 08:40 PM   #8
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Re: How to get over low confidence in the kitchen?

Thanks, mamas. I personally love the Pioneer Woman, but sadly DH does not dig her style of food. Anytime I cook with canned soup he turns his nose up at it (this is from the man who cures smokes his own bacon). I LOVE Americas Test Kitchen. In fact, we used to live a few miles from Chris Kimble in Vermont. I have every ability to sit down and meal plan every week out of the cookbooks we have (and we have a TON), but I just don't. Overall, I think it's just a confidence thing. I'm super jealous of my friends who are stellar cooks. If I want to cook, I have to plan for it. Like, just now DH came home from a camping trip and asked if I had any plans for dinner. I just went to TRader Joes this morning and could not possibly conceive cooking right now... it would take planning and prep and I shudder to think of it. I kind of have to know what I'm making each morning, if I'm making anything at all.

Overall, Mama to DJM was right, I just need to practice. I seem to already have all this stuff that people are suggesting, I don't even realize how far along I already am. It is helpful to hear that I am not alone in going through this phase. Thanks so much for the confidence booster!
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Old 11-13-2011, 09:32 PM   #9
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Re: How to get over low confidence in the kitchen?

You are so not alone!! I think this is the process every good cook goes through. I think anyone with a desire to become a better cook can be successful at it. Really, I have gone from cooking nothing from scratch to cooking just about everything from scratch. I've had no training, I just set my mind out to make something, find a good recipe, and do it! I like to make notes on the recipes while I go, so that if something turns out really well, I know how to duplicate it. Feel free to check out my blog for any recipe ideas. They're all ones I've made and like!
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Old 11-14-2011, 05:28 AM   #10
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Re: How to get over low confidence in the kitchen?

In a sense, you sort of just need to get over your low confidance. I taught myself to cook from cookbooks and allrecipes.com. If you can read, you can cook. Just accept that you may not ever be the best cook. I discovered I love cooking which really made me want to learn it and to dig deeper. And you have a huge advantage in that your dh is a great cook. Ask him to show you. Tell him you want to learn to cook and ask him to help you. The first things I cooked were taught to me by my husband. He cannot cook alot of things but the things he can are very good and I still use his recipes for chili and pot roast. In some ways, my cooking really improved when we moved to thailand as convenience foods were not an option any more. They were hard to find and super expensive so I had to figure out how to cook using whole ingredients. You can do it. Cooking is sort of therapy for me. I really get alot of satisfaction out of putting a good meal in front of my family. That said, I do keep mac and cheese around and other convenience stuff for busy days.
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