Ever wish you could head into the kitchen and whip up a delicious dinner?
The good news is that if you've read this far, you'll have no problem at all - because if you can read, you can cook! The
trick is knowing some kitchen basics, what kinds of recipes are best, and where to find inspiration for making mouth-watering
meals. Read on for some ideas about how to get started.
Kitchen 101: The Basics
Even world-class chefs have to
start somewhere. Here are some basic tips for getting off on the right foot in the kitchen.
* Choose recipes that
aren't too complicated when you first start cooking. You don't want to be overwhelmed by a recipe that has unusual ingredients
or difficult steps, or that is time consuming. Try one- or two-pot dishes, and be sure to check out our recipe section for
some simple meal ideas.
* Read the recipe through from beginning to end before you start. Do you have all the right ingredients?
* Make sure you understand all the directions.
* Check the clock and make sure you have enough
time to make the recipe. You don't want to spend tons of time in the kitchen - and with the right recipe, you won't need to.
If you have to get dinner on the table by a certain time, figure out when you'll need to start in order to have the meal ready.
Most recipe instructions include the amount of time it takes to prepare the dish. It might be a good idea to add 10 or 15
minutes to that time when you first try to conquer the kitchen - just to be on the safe side.
* Assemble all your ingredients
in one place before you start. Some chefs like to measure out each ingredient ahead of time before cooking. Pull out the utensils,
measuring cups, and spoons you'll be using and keep them handy so you won't need to run all over the kitchen.
* An apron
is a good idea if you want to keep your clothes from getting dirty. (You can skip the chef's hat, but it's smart to tie back
* Always wash your hands with warm water and soap before any kind of food preparation. You may need to wash
your hands several times as you cook, especially after touching raw meat, poultry (chicken and turkey), fish, and egg products.
* Never put cooked or ready-to-serve foods on plates, cutting boards, counters, or other surfaces where you have placed
raw meat, poultry, fish, or egg products without first washing these surfaces with hot, soapy water.
* Don't cook without
a parent's permission.
Recipes: Where to Find 'Em
If you've never actually looked for recipes, you've probably
never taken notice of them. But once you start keeping an eye out for recipes, you'll find them everywhere! Here's a list
of some places you can find fantastic recipes:
* Your family - Does your uncle have a world-famous pasta salad or
have you always loved your grandmother's spicy chicken? They'll probably be flattered when you ask for the recipe!
- try libraries, where you can photocopy them, or bookstores
* Food, fitness, and women's magazines
* Newspapers -
there is a dining/food section in the Sunday edition of many newspapers
* Supermarkets - check at the meat, produce, and
* Food packages - the box or bag may have a recipe on or inside the package
* Mail-in offers - if you
send proof of purchase, some food companies will mail you a small book of recipes
* TV cooking shows
* Online - the
Internet has many recipe and cooking sites (click on the Resources tab for a partial list of such sites)
* Cooking class
* Your friends
Keep your recipes in one place - a recipe box, folder, or notebook is fine. As you start
to collect recipes, you can even organize them by category (for example, salads, chicken dishes, or pasta).
in the Kitchen
Once you get the hang of reading recipes and mastering some meals, you can get creative in the kitchen!
Let loose and:
* Try experimenting with different ingredients - substitute beans for meat, or crunchy green beans
for carrots, for example.
* Learn to use herbs and spices.
* Bring out your artistic side by experimenting with different
colors and textures in meals.
* Focus on one type of dish and learn lots of variations.
* Try recipes from cultures
or ethnicities other than your own.
* Invent your own recipes and try them out on family members and friends.
of all, don't be afraid to fail a few times. Cooking is like anything else - it takes practice. So even if no one likes your
banana tacos, just remember: delicious meals come out of creative (and adventurous) minds.