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How to get into cooking
Cooking is a good hobby: the activity itself is relaxing, it has a product you can enjoy, and it’s one of those core life skills that it feels like one ought to have. But I’ve found that it can also be daunting. There’s a seemingly infinite number of recipes out there, so where do you start? I’ve recently worked out a system that I feel good about, so I thought I would share it. It has three rules: (1) pick cookbooks to focus on, (2) divide foods into categories, and (3) log what you cook.
Pick cookbooks to focus on. I like Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything series because it aspires to provide a broad overview of the fundamental, platonic elements of cooking, as opposed to other cookbooks and recipes that feel more random and quirky. I’m currently relying primarily on Bittman’s How to Cook Everything: The Basics. The two other resources that I’m finding most useful are Bittman’s more comprehensive How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, and the website Budget Bytes.
Divide foods into categories. Another way I’ve narrowed things down is to think of foods in terms of three main categories: veggies, protein, and carbs. And I’ve narrowed things down even further by thinking about veggies in terms of season. In general, I like thinking about food in terms of “atomic” foods (e.g. whole foods) because it feels like there are only so many of those out there, I can learn how to cook them well, and then all the random recipes out there will just be combinations of those.
Log what you cook. I’m currently keeping a bullet card in the kitchen where I log when I’m cooking a new type of food, and each week, I copy that to a spreadsheet. This helps me feel motivated to keep finding new things to make, and helps me feel like I’m making progress. I’m also using cooking as an opportunity to listen to new music, so on the back of the bullet card I also log new albums I’ve listened to.