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To find cooking really complicated and stressful?

(192 Posts)
Abbinob Mon 25-Jan-16 13:56:24

When people are taking about simple recipes and they say things like 'then just chuck in some spices'
Wait what spices? How much? How do people know what spices people are talking about? Am I thick and this is some instinctive knowledge people have?
Whenever I look at a recipe for something it seems to have a million ingredients and I get a bit panicky and I give up
I'm sure when my mum made a curry it was just simple like tomatoes, chicken, yoghurt curry powder. But when I try to find a curry recipe it's all coconut milk and a thousand spices I've never heard of.
I want to cook nice fod for DS but all I can cook is bolognaise, pasta bake and shepherds pie confused

ItMustBeBedtimeSurely Mon 25-Jan-16 13:57:32

You just need more practice. And simpler cookbooks - try student cookbooks or similar.

Abbinob Mon 25-Jan-16 13:57:43

Oh and I think the curry had creamed coconut and mango chutney actually, but still if I tried to do it I would have no idea how much of what goes in it and it would be horrible

massivearse Mon 25-Jan-16 14:01:54

Nowt wrong with bolognaise, pasta bake and shepherds pie. Especially all at the same time.

Your base for the curry is similar to your bol, maybe with a little chilli or ginger (think tablepsoons at a time)- use similar measures of your curry powder and you're more or less there. Anyone who tells you different and that normal home cooking is some kind of dark art is a liar.

goodnightdarthvader1 Mon 25-Jan-16 14:02:57

I used to be like this. Definitely practise helps. Now I'm totally cool with it.

I find BBC Good Food has nice simple idiot-proof recipes!

AppleSetsSail Mon 25-Jan-16 14:03:31

Herbs and spices will be demystified in time.

I am a very experienced cook and I sometimes wonder why in the hell I spend so much time doing it.

AnUtterIdiot Mon 25-Jan-16 14:05:12

I am a bit like you, OP, I get very stressed when people start just chucking spices in without thinking about it. I like structure. I suggest that you start with some dependable chefs who use measurements and whose recipes turn out as advertised if they are followed (e.g. Delia Smith for general family food, Madhur Jaffrey for curries) and once you're used to them you'll find that you have a feel for what's needed and can say to yourself "OK, half an inch of fresh ginger will do here" or "actually I think four cloves is enough".

JapanNextYear Mon 25-Jan-16 14:07:10

Get a decent cook book. Jamie Oliver family meals, BBC Good Food or Delia 'How to Cook'. Try a few things that don't have too many ingredients and taste it as it goes along.

I like cooking and can chuck stuff in a pot and it will, usually, come out tasting nice. But that's from years of cooking and trying things and now I know what goes together.

Friend of mine is a really good cook, but has to follow a recipe.

IndridCold Mon 25-Jan-16 14:07:48

Get one of Delia Smiths How to Cook books. You could probably find them cheaply in a charity's shop or Amazon market place. She explains everything at the most basic level.

You will soon build up a store cupboard of spices and other ingredients, and then you will be away!

Muskateersmummy Mon 25-Jan-16 14:08:14

Cooking is a complicated as you make it. Pick a simple recipe. Say spaghetti bolognese. Find a recipe online with few ingredients, buy the ingredients in the recipe and follow the recipe. The more recipes you try the more ingredients you will already have in (herbs and spices) and the more confident you will get in playing with recipes. Good luck. Xx

IcaMorgan Mon 25-Jan-16 14:08:37

I am just like you, I cannot understand anything to do with cooking. My DF is a chef and luckily does most of the cooking. If he wants me to get something started while he's on his way home from work he gas to text exact instructions or it doesn't get done.

I spent years with another chef trying to teach me how to cook an omelette but every time it came out looking like scrambled eggs

hangingoutattheendofmywick Mon 25-Jan-16 14:09:24

I have a selection of Indian spices, a selection of Chinese & Thai stuff and a selection of Italian herbs. Then I just make it up. Like just make it up. Onions garlic go in everything (this is for me by the way - not toddler). Then some I throw in a selection of spices / herbs depending on the dish I want. Then chuck in veg or meat & then cook. Bases always are either tinned toms OR coconut milk and sometimes I do both in one dish. But they're all improvised and always taste nice. Well - I've had a couple of bad ones but generally taste great. I've given up meat lately so now I chick in beans / pulses and lentils. So I'm not a good cook - I just chuck it into a pan and devour. Whereas my cousin is actually a brilliant cook. Some people play the piano by ear - some learn the notes if you get what I mean.

IcaMorgan Mon 25-Jan-16 14:09:59

*has

magimedi Mon 25-Jan-16 14:11:16

Delia Smith is your friend.

See if you can get a copy of her Complete Cookery Course - often found in charity shops.

She will guide you everything from how to boil an egg to producing great roast dinners.

The recipes will say things like: "it will look lumpy now, but after cooking for 2 minutes & stirring it will be smooth". She talks you through it all.

Allalonenow Mon 25-Jan-16 14:12:58

Get yourself Saint Delia's How to Cook books, they are very straight forward and explain every thing clearly.

Also have a look at the Sainsburys website, they have some good basic economical recipes and meal plans.

Don't fret, you only need a bit more experience! wine cake

hangingoutattheendofmywick Mon 25-Jan-16 14:14:11

So many typos in that because my phone is an idiot. And I'm trying to cook. I didn't mean CHICK it in a pan. FYI.

MaxPepsi Mon 25-Jan-16 14:17:40

I enjoy cooking and although 'self praise is no recommendation' I think I'm a good one.

I still like to try something new though and find my go to recipe book is always BBC Good Food online.

Simple and basic instructions, easy to find ingredients and a guide as to how difficult a recipe may be.

Someone recommended the Ainsley Harriot cookbooks to me as well. The meals turn out as you expect when you follow the recipe which isn't the case with all cookbooks.

WtfWasThis Mon 25-Jan-16 14:22:10

If you're interested in curries, Curry Easy by Madhur Jaffrey is AMAZING. Can't recommend it enough. You do need to get a few different spices, but they're quite cheap and readily available. As the name implies, the recipes are fairly simple - no faffing about with making pastes.

BarbaraofSeville Mon 25-Jan-16 14:22:16

Recipes that need spices will specify the particular ones to use. They don't expect you to know already or guess!

For Indian, it will be curry powder, garam masala, chilli, cumin, turmeric and coriander mainly. The best way to buy these is in Indian supermarkets or the World Foods aisle at the supermarket - much cheaper than the Schwartz jars.

Jamie Oliver's Ministry of Food is a good one to begin with but I think he specifiies too much water in some recipes, you could reduce the amount of liquid and add more if it looks dry.

BeaufortBelle Mon 25-Jan-16 14:23:50

It's experience. Practice makes perfect.

theycallmemellojello Mon 25-Jan-16 14:27:34

Why does it matter that you haven't heard of the spices before? You'll get to know them if you follow recipes that use them...

haggisaggis Mon 25-Jan-16 14:31:00

I find the Hairy Bikers diet books are surprisingly good cookbooks. The recipes are clear and easy to follow (and there's a few curry recipes in there too). Delia also very good.

sandythesquirrel Mon 25-Jan-16 14:32:54

I find the BBC website brilliant - especially the 'five ingredients' or less.

When I married, I had never cooked in my life. I grew up overseas and had maids until we moved to the UK. I was absolutely terrified and overwhelmed- but determined.

I remember buying a couple of recipe books that had the words 'easy' and there was one called '4 ingredients'. I have since found internet recipes much better - and use 'easy' ones.

My mistake was always to try a complicated recipes. I soon learned to stick to easier recipes with simple ingredients. At the start, I always thought a garlic clove was one whole garlic bulb - so one of my first meals dh called it a garlic stew! It was a stew that called for 2 cloves of garlic!!!

As for spices/herbs - I don't use many. I stick to. Curry, Paprika, Cinnamon, Chilli, Parsley, Oregano, Garlic Pepper (a god send - i use it in so many things!).

I reckon there are I can get away with just using salt, pepper, garlic pepper and/or paprika.

And for all of my cooking - my ds favourite is still chicken thigh fillets, with olive oil drizzled heavily on it, salt and pepper (more pepper than salt) and fried/grilled 5/6 minutes on each side. It wasn't even a recipe - I made it up.

Within a couple of years, I was able to cater full blown dinner parties for 10 with three courses.

BTW, my curry, is basically a bolognaise with stewing beef (instead of mince) and curry powder, paprika, and a bit of plain yoghurt. My chilli con carne - is usually left over bolognaise with canned kidney beans and paprika and chilli. My beef bourginon is basically a bolognaise with stewing beef (instead of mince), a bit of red wine and potatoes and carrots. My coq au vin - is basically a bolognaise with chicken instead of mince, mushrooms, red wine, my beef stroganoff is a bolognaise with stewing beef, cream and mushrooms!!

Key learning - Once you know bolognaise... you can adapt for lot so of recipes while looking like you can really cook!!!

Pootles2010 Mon 25-Jan-16 14:34:11

Yes delia is your friend - she is very precise and thorough, and everything works. In fairness, your example of curry - curry is one of the most complicated in terms of yards of ingredients.

Jamie Oliver does some nice curries that start with a nice curry paste that you buy ready done - pataks are good.

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