Have More Confidence In The Kitchen!

I hear a lot of people say how they aren't very confident in the kitchen and that it prevents them from getting in there and getting their hands dirty. This is an understandable obstacle for new cooks and one I sympathize with wholly. When I first learned to cook, I was downright awful at it.

The feeling of spending an inordinate amount of time cooking something only to have someone tell you it isn't good, well, the feeling is less than ideal. After a couple of times of that, I can see why some people would abandon kitchen efforts and just order in. But before you throw in the proverbial towel, I want you to take minute. Take a deep breath, and read on. Here are some tips for building kitchen confidence!

Start With The Basics

We would apply this to so many areas of our lives, but somehow when it comes to the kitchen, we think it doesn't apply. For instance, when I wanted to start working out, I didn't go to a ten mile marathon and say, well, I've never run before, but I think I can tackle this--that would be insane, right?! So when you are first getting into the kitchen, consider your level of expertise and don't set yourself up for failure.

The best place to start is with something simple so that you can build confidence because this is what it's all about. To begin building, choose to cook something simple that you are familiar with. If you know how a dish is supposed to taste before you make it, you can decide how close you've come to hitting the nail on the head, right?

Follow Directions

I love when someone is like, "I never cook, but I made up this recipe and...." Hold up, wait a minute. I am having a flashback--of myself. Yea, I used to be guilty of this. Thank goodness my husband (many moons ago and before we were married) confronted me and said, "If you don't know how to cook, don't try to make up recipes." Yes, it was a problem. Not to mention, it was gross.

If you are just learning, don't try to wing it. Follow a recipe. Once you have followed enough recipes, you will learn the guiding principles of cooking. I swear. And another tip: don't just follow any recipe! All recipes are not created equal. Some cookbooks don't even test all their recipes and so they aren't foolproof.

My favorite cookbook is The Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. I credit this sucker with teaching me to cook. Seriously.

Know Your Strengths Going In 

People are all good at different things, right? Some people do really well with measuring and the scientific end of the job. Others are better at tasting as they go. You have to know which category you fall into and then you can choose to start with your strengths.

So, if you are a science person who likes weights and measures and precision, maybe you should try baking first. And I am not talking a wedding cake, something simple like muffins (and not from a box, but from, like, flour.) Now, if you are more of a taster and a tester, then maybe you want to go for something more like stovetop cooking. You might want to start with an easier dish like a quiche.

Me? I am not the best baker in the world, but now that I am build up confidence wise on my cooking, I am learning to bake more and more. I can come up with dinner ideas like a mo' fo', but I rarely know baking enough to come up with a twist of my own. Will I get there someday? I sure hope so, but it's all about knowing my strengths!

Don't Do It Alone

One way to avoid the feeling of failure is make someone else help you out. This gives you both a stake in the success of the meal. So grab a friend, pick a recipe and go to it! As they say, two heads are better than one and also, since one if the loneliest number, you can avoid feeling like you screwed up alone (in the event that you do actually screw up, of course), and, when all else fails, just blame it all on your friend!

Also, when I am trying a new recipe, I find it really helpful to have a friend to dictate the directions to me. So even I use this trick when tackling something new. Like the time I made my first cake. It was red velvet and my sister in law helped me. It was great to cook with her and have her helping hands in the kitchen.

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