Too many people I talk to these days complain about how hard it is to cook, or they only make Hamburger Helper since it’s cheap and easy. Guess what. It’s not that hard or expensive to cook and make your own meals that are healthier and tastier. Keep in mind that most of what I know comes from a passion of cooking, trial and error, and watching loads of cooking shows and YouTube videos.
The first step to cooking food is the tools. You will need a few simple things to make meals. At a bare minimum I suggest…
- a decent chef’s Knife
- a paring knife
- some mixing bowls of various sizes
- Some wooden utensils
- a plastic spatula
- a sauce pan
- a nonstick frying pan
- a stainless saute pan
- a cast iron frying pan
In my opinion, the list above is a good starting place. I sort of acquired my gear piece by piece, upgrading and buying new tools as I went. Eventually I had the gear I have today and all sorts of little tools like vegetable peelers, garlic presses, a stand mixer, etc. When it comes to gear, it is also a good idea to buy what you can at the time and upgrade later. A simple thing like a chef’s knife can range from $10-$500+ so starting small and working in better gear when you can afford (and also know better what you want) is always a good option. Plus when you upgrade your tools, you have backups which are always needed.
Now that you have acquired the basic gear needed to cook, I’ll walk you through a really simple recipe using a few basic techniques. As a simple dish that you can throw together with basically anything you have laying around, I think that stir fry is a perfect first step into learning some basic techniques. I will post some pictures below, but here I would like to post a few tips that I have for cooking a basic stir fry.
First gather veggies and meat (If you want to add meat that is) In the images below I chose pork tenderloin, carrots, mushrooms, green onions, red pepper, and carrots. Next you are going to want to prep the veggies by slicing them into relatively small pieces. For stir fry we want to cook the veggies quick and hot so they retain some of their crunch, you don’t want to chop them so small that they get mushy but also don’t want to chop them thick enough so that they are cold and raw inside. Cut the meat into small pieces that will cook fast.
After you have everything prepared (I would also get out some soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, and garlic at this phase too so everything is near by) you are going to want to put a bit of veg oil in a large nonstick pan and get that thing ripping hot. Then, once it is hot enough, drop in the meat. Stir around until mostly cooked then remove from the pan. Give the pan a quick wipe out and then drop in some minced garlic, minced ginger, and some green onions in a bit of oil into the bottom of the pan.
Once this mixture begins to brown, drop in your veggies and some soy sauce and sesame oil and stir them around to coat them in the garlic, ginger, green onion mixture. Once the veggies are starting to soften up just a little bit, drop the meat back in and stir until you are satisfied that everything looks cooked to your liking. At this point you can go ahead and dish up and enjoy.
I really hope this bit of information will help others to make more food from scratch and experiment with new techniques and flavors. I have found that as with most things in life, when learning to cook you might have to make a few bad meals to gain skill. The important thing is to take your failure in the kitchen, don’t get discouraged, and try again. Cooking really doesn’t have to be difficult. With some practice and a little guidance cooking can really be fun.
If you have tried this dish before, go ahead and comment about what you like to throw in your stir fry. I’d also be interested to see if anyone would recommend any other cooking tools that you find necessary that I missed on the list.