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How do you teach cooking?


Greta
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Is there a logical, systematic way to teach someone how to cook, without the expense of formal classes?

 

Classes are an option, but I'd rather start at home. I know how to cook (more or less! :lol:) but I don't know how to *teach* cooking in any kind of systematic way. I learned by the sink-or-swim, trial-and-error method myself. Surely there's a better way!

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I just have them help me, and slowly take over more of the task themselves.

 

My daughter started helping me make mac and cheese. Then she took over the cheese sauce.  At 16 she still is uncomfortable cooking the pasta for it.  I don't know why!  I still do that part. She makes other things too, but that stands out because of the pasta thing.  She also learned to bake watching me.

 

My son learned some in Boy Scouts, so he got some basics there. But he will ask me to help him cook some favorite food.  He'll learn basic techniques that way.

 

You could also get a cookbook that teaches basics and go through that systematically.  I can't think of any titles right now though.   Well, I learned to bake bread using  the King Arthur 200th Anniversary Cookbook which has a great tutorial on yeast bread. 

 

I learned by sink-or-swim.  It worked out OK!  I love to cook!  :-)

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Step 1: Buy original better homes and gardens cookbook (with 3 rings)

Step 2: Go through it section by section, talk about comparison shopping, ingredient selection (freshness and seasonal produce, etc) as you go.

Step 3: Start makin' stuff.

 

We started with knife skills and pantry basics (spices, flours, sugars, levening agents, fats), shopping, then prepped quick breads, veggies, meat/poultry, and then circled back to yeast breads and desserts. DD got to pick the recipes.

 

I love the BH&G one because it explains **all the things**, even candy making, lists common substitutions and measurement conversions on the inside cover, and features all kinds of dishes from easy to complex. DD can mince, dice, julienne and slice with the best of 'em. :)

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Watch Great Courses cooking series and other cooking shows like Martha Stewart and make her your sous chef. When she's ready, assign her one breakfast, lunch, and dinner over the course of each week. Have her prepare shopping lists and the beginning of each week so that she's not scrambling and feeling frustrated. When she's first cooking on her  own, you be her sous chef. Be encouraging but discourage over complicated recipes until she's solid. 

That's how it's worked out for us. :)

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On the hs transcript culinary arts looks like this:

Purpose of course is basic life skills in the kitchen.  Student learned the basics of kitchen safety and food preparation.  Student learned principals of budgeting, weekly shopping lists, and careers in the culinary arts. Topics included but not limited to: Kitchen safety, knife skills, small appliance skills, proper food storage, weekly budgeting, shopping, preparation. Research paper on jobs in the culinary world.

Texts used: List your cook books and recipe websites here. 

 

How it actually happened:

Help in the kitchen from a young age.  Me showing them how to use knives and appliances.  Teaching them how to store food.  Complaints of what I prepare were met with "Fine, you do it.  Here is how much money you have to feed all of us for the week."

We figured out how many meals and what he wanted to prepare, what food we already had, and sat down with the circular. He made a list.  I took him to the grocery store.  He prepared dinner all week.  And he did write the research paper.

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Right now, we are using Marion Cunningham's book.  I like it because it really does cover a lot...but also goes over knife skills, and such.  http://www.amazon.com/Cooking-Children-Lessons-Really-Learn/dp/0679422978

 

Prior to that, we used Mollie Katzen's books.

 

I also let the kids help me in the kitchen...usually to make their favorites, like pancakes or cinnamon rolls or whatever.  

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Seconding the BH&G cookbook. My grandmother used the old one to get me started. A great, standard reference book.

 

Just let them start helping you and learn to make their favorite things. This takes extra time and planning, of course.

Breakfast is easy and everyone should know several ways to make eggs.

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My "plan" starting next week (we are getting another 12 year old troubled foster boy this week) is to have each of the kids be my helper in the kitchen one night week. They can help plan the menu and then help with the cooking and clean up. I figure with 5 kids it should only take me twice as long each night to prepare dinner. :-)

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Thank you all so much for the great suggestions! I do like the idea of doing something systematic, so I really appreciate the suggestions regarding the plaid BH&G book (that one helped me a lot) and especially the Jamie Oliver lessons (thank you Sarah!) and the Marion Cunningham book (thank you, umsami!) which sound like they're really designed to teach basic skills.

 

Also curious if anyone has read or used this: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/how-to-cook-everything-the-basics-mark-bittman/1110767066?ean=9780470528068

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I haven't used that last one you posted. I did want to add that, in addition to the basics in the plaid book, I had DD learn the five mother sauces when we did meat/poultry and veggies. It helped her to see she could make plain ol' chicken fifty different ways just by changing the sauces. We did a "summer cooking intensive" this year. I'm trying to work my way out of a job here.

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My DD has the BH&G cookbook.  We also have the Betty Crocker Bridal cookbook which has loads & loads of info.

 

DD started showing an interest in cooking around 8 years old.  She started baking then. 

 

Now she is 15 and it is her Home Ec credit to Meal Plan, Grocery shop on a budget, and cook dinner for the family one week out of each month.  I assist her with planning the meals (we eat low carb), finding the recipes,  making her list, and putting it all together.  She has gotten pretty good at following a basic recipe and cooks a LOT more than I knew how to at her age!

 

I am a self-taught cook since I didn't become interested in cooking anything that didn't come out of a box until I was 25ish.

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My kids says, "mom, I want to make this..." And I say, "here's the cook book, follow the instructions, see me if you have any questions." It's been quite effective.

 

That's how dd (now 19) learned.  I've had all of mine in the kitchen since the time they were able to stand up on a chair.  All the kids can bake things like cookies, banana bread, and cake.  I'm trying to make more of a concerted effort to encourage the boys to make actual meals.  One of them is very interested.  

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Our older two just helped me in the kitchen from the time they were old enough. If I was making dinner, one or both of them were in there helping. By the time they were 12, they could plan and cook most things we routinely ate.  But it was hard for me- it's so much easier to just do it myself rather than teach someone day in and day out.  Food prep took longer with helpers, at least for the first couple of years. But it paid off. 

 

The younger two...different story. The older kids were capable and they made dinner a few nights a week, and the few nights I cooked, I was burned out from having 'helpers' so the younger two didn't learn to cook very well.  And it shows now that they are adults. 

 

I appreciate the cookbook recommendations because our younger two love to eat and maybe a cookbook or two will make an appearance this holiday season. 

 

 

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I began with salad dressings because they didn't need cooking and are pretty easy to fix if they mistake a tsp for a tbsp. I bought the 'Ultimate Guide to Salad Dressings' or something like that because it sounded rigorous. :lol:

 

Next I taught her shasliks and to use the grill, because grills/ broilers? are easier to use than the lousy electric hotplates we have.

 

The project we'll begin tomorrow is rice paper rolls. She was impressed by the black sesame rice papers in the Chinese grocer last week and I said I'd buy them when she'd mastered the cheap white ones. It's my secret plan to train her to cut veggies for salad into smaller pieces without nagging. She's not going to fit an entire half an avocado and 2/3 of a tomato into one rice paper roll. :lol:

 

After that, we're going to make a start on flatbreads from the Flatbread Bible (it might have even been called that) I bought her a while ago. (We don't have time to cook as much as I thought we would when I bought it.)

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I'm a single mom who works and homeschools and hates cooking. The best thing I did for both my wonderful daughters was to teach them to read really well and google! My older daughter is an excellent cook and my younger daughter is a very good baker. I think both are good in the kitchen because I'm not and they enjoy tasty homemade foods. Both have been able to find and follow recipes for a long time. Can't say I'm proud of my method, but for us it did work. Thankfully.

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Sink or swim here.

 

I plopped my (at the time) 8yo in the kitchen with the BH&G cookbook and told her to yell if she had any questions.  There was a lot of yelling the first few times but she figured it out.  And I may or may not have consumed a lot of wine during those first few "adventures."

 

Now (age 12) she has a friend or two over most weeks to pick out recipes, bike to the store to get any ingredients we don't have, and they cook dinner.  Sometimes this involves imperfectly cut veggies or other small mishaps but they love it and it is usually edible.  I only ask that they avoid recipes that require the Vitamix, deep frying, or the too-heavy-for-them cast iron.  I also ask them to yell for me to supervise the heating of cooking oil or the use of the food processor.

 

Now if I could just teach them to properly clean up the kitchen afterwards.....

 

I did not learn how to cook until adulthood and promised myself that any offspring of mine would not find themselves in that predicament.

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FWIW, I did NOT like cooking at ALL until I had to learn for reasons of allergies.  But when I had a limited diet of 13 foods, 2 of which were water and salt (!!!), I had to learn to cook.  And THAT made me love it.  Because I learned WHY you do what you do in the kitchen.  So instead of following a recipe -- which always was a disaster, because I NEVER had all the ingredients -- I learned how to cook a great meal with what was in the house.  Eg.  The recipe calls for lemon juice.  WHY?  I learned WHY and I found out that I can use almost any acidic liquid to do the job.  So if I am out of lemon juice, I use vinegar.  WHY do I add the salt NOW and not later?  What element do I need to add to a bland soup?  I used to just pour in the salt; now I can identify that it might lack "mouth feel" or that it needs something tart in it.  

 

If your dd is more like I am in this regard, then Alton Brown is a good starting place.  As is The Curious Cook or other books by that author...I can't remember his name.  

 

Frankly, with some of this stuff, I think I could have made a case for this being a lab-based science.  :0)

 

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FWIW, I did NOT like cooking at ALL until I had to learn for reasons of allergies. But when I had a limited diet of 13 foods, 2 of which were water and salt (!!!), I had to learn to cook. And THAT made me love it. Because I learned WHY you do what you do in the kitchen. So instead of following a recipe -- which always was a disaster, because I NEVER had all the ingredients -- I learned how to cook a great meal with what was in the house. Eg. The recipe calls for lemon juice. WHY? I learned WHY and I found out that I can use almost any acidic liquid to do the job. So if I am out of lemon juice, I use vinegar. WHY do I add the salt NOW and not later? What element do I need to add to a bland soup? I used to just pour in the salt; now I can identify that it might lack "mouth feel" or that it needs something tart in it.

 

If your dd is more like I am in this regard, then Alton Brown is a good starting place. As is The Curious Cook or other books by that author...I can't remember his name.

 

Frankly, with some of this stuff, I think I could have made a case for this being a lab-based science. :0)

This is SOOOOO important. Real cooks substitute. Cooking is applied science, chemistry. You have to know what the ingredients contribute to use them effectively.

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I'm really enjoying reading everyone's posts!

 

I've done the interest-led thing up until now, and the result is that my daughter can make some truly excellent cookies and cakes from scratch, and a pretty decent sushi roll. And that's it, because those are her interests! :lol: I realized today that she didn't know the difference between simmer and boil, and she doesn't know how to chop an onion. So, we need something a little more well-rounded that will teach the basic skills. And it's good timing - she is interested right now, because she has realized that she hates frozen, pre-packaged foods and likes everything from scratch - better for your health and your budget too. She knows she'll need to figure out how to do that once she's on her own and Mom isn't there to do it all. :)

 

And apparently I need to fill in some gaps in my own cooking self-education, because I do not know what the five mother sauces are!!! :blushing: So, Sneezyone, if you feel like enlightening me, I would be grateful. :)

 

Rosie, neat idea about the salad dressings! I'm generally too lazy to make my own, maybe I'll put her in charge of that! ;)

 

KungFuPanda, she does really like watching Alton Brown - maybe that's what has inspired her recent interest, and realization that she doesn't want to have to eat ramen all the time when she moves out. :D

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I'm really enjoying reading everyone's posts!

 

I've done the interest-led thing up until now, and the result is that my daughter can make some truly excellent cookies and cakes from scratch, and a pretty decent sushi roll. And that's it, because those are her interests! :lol: I realized today that she didn't know the difference between simmer and boil, and she doesn't know how to chop an onion. So, we need something a little more well-rounded that will teach the basic skills. And it's good timing - she is interested right now, because she has realized that she hates frozen, pre-packaged foods and likes everything from scratch - better for your health and your budget too. She knows she'll need to figure out how to do that once she's on her own and Mom isn't there to do it all. :)

 

And apparently I need to fill in some gaps in my own cooking self-education, because I do not know what the five mother sauces are!!! :blushing: So, Sneezyone, if you feel like enlightening me, I would be grateful. :)

 

Rosie, neat idea about the salad dressings! I'm generally too lazy to make my own, maybe I'll put her in charge of that! ;-)

 

KungFuPanda, she does really like watching Alton Brown - maybe that's what has inspired her recent interest, and realization that she doesn't want to have to eat ramen all the time when she moves out. :D

Lol. Tomato, veloute (brothy), béchamel (white), brown, and hollandaise (eggy). Everything else is basically a riff off of these five with different spices.

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Lol. Tomato, veloute (brothy), béchamel (white), brown, and hollandaise (eggy). Everything else is basically a riff off of these five with different spices.

See, these are the things that you might miss out on with the sink-or-swim approach. On this, I sank. Thank you! I am going to learn how to make all of these!!!

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Salad dressing is super easy.  I can make it in the salad bar line at the grocery store, now...  Pour onto the salad you assemble:

 

Some olive oil.  Some balsamic vinaigrette, a teeny bit of stevia (I have little packets in my purse) or sugar, salt, pepper, and then go get   a small bottle of orange juice and put in a tablespoon.  You just put this on the salad and then stir it up.  Drink the rest of the orange juice.  

 

Voila!  A great salad, and I know what is in the dang dressing.  It misses garlic which I add when I am at home, and of course at home I make a cruet-full.  But allergies have made me very creative!  :0)

 

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And suddenly I'm hungry for salad. :)

 

I used to make my own vinaigrette years ago. Now that I think of it, I don't know why I stopped! I never got any more advanced than that on salad dressings, but that's my favorite dressing anyway. Easy and good.

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When I got married, I knew how to make macaroni and fish sticks -- and that was about it.

 

I am requiring dc to pass Cooking I in our homeschool for graduation.

 

We are just in the beginning stages, so I don't have any final plans (nor do I have results...)  :)

 

I went through my cookbooks (including the bhg red and white book mentioned above) and pulled out the recipes that I use the most.  I took out recipes that seem to be similar to others, but I made sure to keep a variety of tastes and cooking techniques.

 

For instance:  in order to make fried rice, dc will need to be able to cook rice, peel and chop an onion, make a fried egg, in addition to making the actual recipe.

 

To make egg salad, they will need to know how to make hard-boiled eggs.

 

I have a weekly helper in the kitchen.  Tasks vary according to ability.  I tend to keep my more complicated recipes for a week when I have a more able helper. 

 

They start with peeling onions, or cracking eggs into a bowl, stirring rice, etc.  

 

Ds15 recently made scrambled eggs on his own.  I graded him on his technique as his first "lab".  He got an A.  So far, so good.  :)

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Thank you all so much for the great suggestions! I do like the idea of doing something systematic, so I really appreciate the suggestions regarding the plaid BH&G book (that one helped me a lot) and especially the Jamie Oliver lessons (thank you Sarah!) and the Marion Cunningham book (thank you, umsami!) which sound like they're really designed to teach basic skills.

 

Also curious if anyone has read or used this: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/how-to-cook-everything-the-basics-mark-bittman/1110767066?ean=9780470528068

 

That book is pretty "meh".  It's okay, and it does teach the basics, but he also teaches the basics in his other How To Cook Everything books and those ones have SO much more in them.   I like both How To Cook Everything and How To Cook Everything Vegetarian.  I would get both of those over the basics book.

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dh loves to cook. 

 

he's a strong proponent of the "pick up a cookbook and find a recipe you like" method.  find a food they like, find some recipes, and have a day playing kitchen chemistry.

 

I realize that doesn't work for all kids - I have one I may have to drag into the kitchen and force him to start learning a few things beyond hamburgers . . . .

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That book is pretty "meh". It's okay, and it does teach the basics, but he also teaches the basics in his other How To Cook Everything books and those ones have SO much more in them. I like both How To Cook Everything and How To Cook Everything Vegetarian. I would get both of those over the basics book.

Good to know. Thank you!

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Thank you all so much for the great suggestions! I do like the idea of doing something systematic, so I really appreciate the suggestions regarding the plaid BH&G book (that one helped me a lot) and especially the Jamie Oliver lessons (thank you Sarah!) and the Marion Cunningham book (thank you, umsami!) which sound like they're really designed to teach basic skills.

 

Also curious if anyone has read or used this: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/how-to-cook-everything-the-basics-mark-bittman/1110767066?ean=9780470528068

 

In my personal experience nothing takes the joy out of cooking more than a "systematic approach to cooking". This pretty much kills one desire to cook. Like forever. Of course I *had* to take a cooking class because I didn't have full access to a private kitchen growing up. Nowadays, with cook books, youtube, recipees on-line and well equipped kitchens in every home, why to make cooking a chore?

 

Unless, of course, this is what your child wants, but you didn't mention what your child wants.

 

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In my personal experience nothing takes the joy out of cooking more than a "systematic approach to cooking". This pretty much kills one desire to cook. Like forever. Of course I *had* to take a cooking class because I didn't have full access to a private kitchen growing up. Nowadays, with cook books, youtube, recipees on-line and well equipped kitchens in every home, why to make cooking a chore?

 

Unless, of course, this is what your child wants, but you didn't mention what your child wants.

 

Sorry I wasn't clear - I tried to explain that a bit in post 30. She is the one who has expressed interest, it wasn't something I wanted to force. She's pretty busy during the week, but I was thinking that every Saturday we could cook a meal together. I don't want to just hand her a book and say "good luck". I think that approach might work perfectly well for some kids, but not for her! And the reason for the systematic approach is that I don't think my own cooking skills are good enough for me to be the sole teacher -- I'd really like to improve my own skills while teaching her (learning alongside her). I want to teach her the basic skills while also filling in the gaps in my own. I don't know the best way to accomplish that!
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I hear you. I never learned to cook. In fact, my mom was such an awful cook that we ate out at least 3x/week, though it seems like it was almost every night. I have two cooking bibles; The New York Times cookbook and the Joy of Cooking cookbook. I use online recipes frequently. There are videos and tips all over the place. Your dd is old enough that you can give her quality cookbooks, let her pick some recipes, get the ingredients for her and let her loose, but it sounds like thats not something she'd like. What about basing your meal on learning a new technique? The two of you could decide to learn how to do something specific, pick the food to try it on, and come away feeling a concrete sense of accomplishment.

 

Locally the PCC has cooking classes, the community colleges and city have cooking classes. Maybe the two of you could find some in your area and take classes together? I put my kids into YMCA and school cooking classes in the past. 

 

[At this point I do have some basics down btw.  ;)] 

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I just bought this book called The Food Lab.  What a fun book.  It teaches a lot of technique and some basic recipes that are more interesting than the typical basics you find in lots of other cookbooks.

 

I guess it depends on your goals.  For basic basics, start with knife skills.  Learn how to make soups and sauces.  Learn how to read recipes and follow basic techniques such as measuring flour, etc.  Learn about temperatures to cook meat.  Then basic kitchen safety and sanitation. 

 

And you can do all of that by just cooking stuff.  It's really not rocket science. 

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What about basing your meal on learning a new technique? The two of you could decide to learn how to do something specific, pick the food to try it on, and come away feeling a concrete sense of accomplishment.

Yes, that sounds perfect! I guess I was hoping that someone out there had put together a cookbook or program designed to do just that - in other words, that someone had already done the thinking and planning for me. :lol:

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I just bought this book called The Food Lab. What a fun book. It teaches a lot of technique and some basic recipes that are more interesting than the typical basics you find in lots of other cookbooks.

Thanks, I will look for this!

 

I guess it depends on your goals. For basic basics, start with knife skills. Learn how to make soups and sauces. Learn how to read recipes and follow basic techniques such as measuring flour, etc. Learn about temperatures to cook meat. Then basic kitchen safety and sanitation.

 

And you can do all of that by just cooking stuff. It's really not rocket science.

Yes, basic basics are exactly where I want to start! I'd be embarrassed to show you how, just a few years ago, I was chopping an onion in a ridiculously time-consuming and inefficient way. My Mom offered to teach me how to cook, but I foolishly declined, and have had to learn all this stuff the hard way. Since dd is now interested, it seems like a good opportunity to save her the trouble of learning the way I did. :)

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Watch Great Courses cooking series and other cooking shows like Martha Stewart and make her your sous chef. When she's ready, assign her one breakfast, lunch, and dinner over the course of each week. Have her prepare shopping lists and the beginning of each week so that she's not scrambling and feeling frustrated. When she's first cooking on her own, you be her sous chef. Be encouraging but discourage over complicated recipes until she's solid.

That's how it's worked out for us. :)

I finally got around to taking a look at this, and it looks great! I think this might be the way to go. Covers all the basics and then some, like I wanted, and it's in a video format, which she would enjoy a lot more than a book. Thank you!

 

ETA: Plus, my library has it! Might be worth buying to be able to keep it on hand for more than two weeks, but at least this way I can try before I buy.

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