What Cooking Skills Would You Like to Learn?

| 7/29/2009 9:49:46 AM

Tags: cooking, technique, question to readers,

Just a few generations ago, people knew how to make stock, braise vegetables, fashion a pie crust, julienne a carrot, debone a chicken and roast a turkey. But a peek into most kitchens today finds clueless cooks — if they are to be found in the kitchen at all! Hopefully, this summer's big screen adaptation of the popular book Julie & Julia will go a long way toward inspiring people to get back to the basics of cooking. But we're curious: What are some culinary skills you'd really like to gain? Are you interested in learning how to use knives with confidence, make homemade pasta, choose the rights cuts of meat or prepare vegetables to their best advantage? Do you wish you could put away more food? Maybe it's time to learn how to can and dry foods, and which foods freeze with ease. Please use the comments section below to expound on which kitchen skills you lack. We want to help!

leslie c.
4/19/2010 1:23:47 PM

I would like to know more about preserving food (drying, brining, pickling). Suggestions on sprouting and using sprouts in food. Homemade pasta. Asian cooking is hard for me. Can't get the spices/flavorings right.

steven nielsen
1/28/2010 7:45:17 PM

I would really like to have more on using ceramic grills, such as the ones I own, Big Green Egg. Grilling with a ceramic egg is so much different than grilling on my regular grill. I've had many different grills over the years, and the ceramic grill is my favorite. Finding good articles on them is tough, except on-line at manufacturer sites and Blogs that are associated to them. Thanks, SNielsen

1/11/2010 1:46:30 PM

I would like to learn how to make the things that go into other things. Instead of relying on pre-made items (the best I can come up with is marshmallows - which I do know how to make) to add to recipes. I'd also like to learn to make great stocks and improve my knife skills. I see several things about making tofu so I thought I'd put this link out here. This is one of my very favorite food blogs and this post teaches how to may tofu. It also contains a link to make your own soy milk. Enjoy!! http://www.justhungry.com/2006/03/milking_the_soy_1.html

1/5/2010 12:59:28 PM

KATTYA: I have a link to a fabulous article covering all things about bread, growing wheat, harvesting, storage, making the bread, etc. Its here: http://www.backwoodshome.com/articles2/clay78.html Jackie Clay has some excellent articles about basic homestead style cooking and canning! She is a wealth of knowledge and I would love to hear her as a speaker (if she did such a thing.)

8/18/2009 1:10:45 PM

If you can find an old Blue Ball Canning book it will have a lot of information that isn't in the newer ones. More on pressure canning. It really isn't any harder than water bath, you just have to be patient. DONT EVER OPEN THE CANNER BEFORE IT IS COMPLETELY COOL. What I miss most is my grandmother's summer kitchen. Then the house stayed cool and the stuff was all kept out of the house.

laura _1
8/14/2009 7:29:28 PM

LOL- I obviously need to double check my writing before I hit enter.

laura _1
8/14/2009 7:22:28 PM

I love lots of kinds of foods and want to grow and make most of it, so my list is long! I need to learn to make cheeses, pasta, tahini, salt pickles, brined grape leaves, tofu, miso, soy sauce and soy milk. I'm wondering how to can extra milk (cow, goat or soy). I do simple canning but haven't ever used a pressure cooker- a little scared of them. Elaine- You can train many tomatoes, beans, squashes, cucumbers and some melons to grow up poles, trellises or even wire tomato cages. You get much more food out of a small space that way. Vardo Girl- an average loaf of whole wheat bread takes 2-3 cups of flour. If you want to try growing your own- I've heard a 30 x 30 ft plot can supply enough wheat for a family's bread for a year. You would want the "hard red wheat" seed for baking bread. "Soft wheat" is for pasta or pie flour and does not rise much. pressure cooker- scared

8/6/2009 6:23:59 PM

I would love to learn how to dry fruit/veggies and how to make pasta as well. As for stock, I save all my organic veggie scraps to make stock with. I just clean them and freeze them until the bag is full and make a big pot. @Daniel--for good tofu--you have to freeze it first and then press all the water out to make sure it is 'meaty', then you have to fry it in a pan over high heat. The high heat will make it more crispy on the outside. Hope this helps!

8/5/2009 11:56:16 AM

I dehydrate excess vegetables but don't have a clear idea on how long it should take to re-hydrate them (e.g., okra versus zucchini).

8/2/2009 2:11:20 PM

http://www.backwoodshome.com/blogs/JackieClay/ helps a lot with learning things like canning and small farming. ESPECIALLY canning. I'd like to get a small pressure canner and a pressure cooker, and learn how to use them properly along with the waterbath canner I got from my mom. I'd also like to learn primitive methods for preserving meat.

alice castellano_2
8/1/2009 9:23:53 PM

I'll second the recommendation of NOURISHING TRADITIONS by Sally Fallon both as a cookbook and an information source. Also there is THE HISTORIC AMERICAN COOKBOOK PROJECT with cook books from 1798 to 1922 available free to read and download at http://digital.lib.msu.edu/projects/cookbooks/index.html Many of these have complete How-To instructions on an unbelievable range of subjects and are fascinating! I particularly like "Buckeye Cookery" and "Mrs.Rorer's New Cook Book" of which there are better images at http://www.archive.org/details/mrsrorersnewcook00roreuoft ah! they have many more at that site http://www.archive.org/search.php?query=subject%3A%22Cookery%2C%20American%22 HTH

norm russick_2
8/1/2009 2:03:44 PM

I love cooking with my pressure cooker, but one thing I have never tried is canning. In these economic times I believe it would be beneficial to learn to take abundent in-season crops and can them for when they are out of season. Not only do I want to keep the price down but I want to be able to have foods during shortages and I want to know what is in my food. I am doing as much cooking from scratch as possible so I can stay away from packaged foods with all the chemical additives.

debra martin_2
8/1/2009 6:18:43 AM

Nearly 25 years ago a friend and I wanted to publish a cookbook called "Kitchen Techniques from Grandma". We had so many issues in the Kitchen we both remembered our Grandmothers and mothers doing, but we didn't remember or learn how - and sadly couldn't ask them anymore. Making gravy, "ricing" potatoes, the list is now larger than it was then even though we have eventually figured some thing out! MEN has helped me tremendously - the archives are awesome. This is a good idea - hope someone puts something together before there is no one left to ask!

april _1
8/1/2009 12:42:06 AM

For those who want to learn pre 1950s cooking & cook from wheat grown yourself, etc... I recommend "Nourishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon. It's full of nutritional wisdom, teaches the lost skills of grain mills (etc), and has tons of recipes. Most recipes have several variations. My boyfriend is a total beef & potatoes (no funny business or rabbit food) kinda eater and he's food a lot of recipes I can make for him out of it so we both can eat whole & healthy!

vardo girl
7/31/2009 6:12:09 PM

Oh rats! That URL went to an EBook page and that's not what I meant (that's stuff I plan on ordering! LOL). Just go to www.hillbillyhousewife.com. Sorry about that folks.

vardo girl
7/31/2009 6:05:04 PM

Oh, I have so many things to learn still, but then don't we all? :-) Living alone in an RV and not one for large meals, I'd really like to figure how how to make as many shelf stable items as possible since the fridge and freezer are small. I have access to a shared freezer but I don't want to hog it. :-) I also really need things that can be made ahead of time ("make a mix" type stuff) and easy to cook since I have chronic pain and don't always feel up to cooking a meal for myself and then I grab stuff that isn't necessarily the healthiest. I've made a commitment to myself to only allow whole grains in my new home and NO WHITE PROCESSED JUNK! I pretty much need to learn EVERYTHING about that, though. So, bottom line for me would be shelf stable whole foods. I've often wondered just how much home grown wheat it would take to make a loaf of bread or other baked goods that we take for granted. I have found a website called Hillbilly Housewife to be tremendously helpful over the years. I've referred many people to it and they always thank me and tell me its saved them so much money and offered them a healthier way to eat. They recently started a members section but all of the original stuff is still FREE. Lots of good "cook from scratch" stuff there: http://tr.im/hillbillyhousewife. I also really like the books "Making the Best of Basics" by James Talmage Stevens and "The New Passport to Survival" by Rita Bingham. Both are available through Amazon.

7/31/2009 5:59:13 PM

I have learned to cook some basic meals through books, but I don't have the ability to take what I have on hand and make something edible and filling with it. I often have to run to the store for a dinner I have planned to cook to pick up ingredients. What sorts of things do successful cooks keep on hand at all times?

7/31/2009 5:52:58 PM

Is there anyway to learn how to freeze dry food? I'm a big fan! Would I need special equipment or...??? I would ALSO like to learn how to cook with a dutch oven. Oh, and in the old days the butchers used a process to prepare meats, something like slow drying them? I love to learn that method.

vardo girl
7/31/2009 5:19:18 PM

I'm new to the idea of voluntary simplicity and looking for great ideas for being a single person living full time in a stationary RV (i.e. I'm not on the road--I'm permanently parked).

7/31/2009 3:58:29 PM

I would love to cultivate wheat to make bread and pasta. And because I'm mexican, I feel like I must learn to use corn. I love tortillas and hate the bagged kind. I would make tamales every weekend if I had a succesful crop.

larry snyder_1
7/31/2009 3:57:27 PM

I would love to learn to cook with as dutch oven outside. That would help reduce summer heat in the hgouse.

7/31/2009 3:33:00 PM

I'd love to know how to can meat, make jerky, and how to dry fruits and veggies. Last year, I tried making leather britches (dried green beans). I rehydrated them a few months later--about 1/2 were totally inedible; the other 1/2 was only edible if you were very hungry (I wasn't). Surely there's a better way? Thanks! Mary

7/31/2009 2:39:06 PM

I was very fortunate to have a Grandmother who had the patience of a saint when it came to teaching me how to cook things from scratch. I've known how to make pasta from scratch since I was 5 years old! It's great to know how to do make stocks, soups, breads, and noodles all from scratch, but I'm not a great baker. I can't make a dessert to save my life! I know that stems from not knowing which tools and pans to use, and that may be half my battle, but making desserts has always scared me... perhaps it's the thought of flour ALL over my kitchen lol!

7/31/2009 2:17:37 PM

three authors should help this thread: Michael Ruhlman (Ratio) Peter Reinhart (Bread Baker's Apprentice, whole grain breads) Alton Brown (how to crack an egg) These three are beginning to define the difference between a recipe book and a cookbook- they let us expand beyond the recipe to be able to use what we have instead of making a special trip to the store.

alice rockey_1
7/31/2009 1:42:05 PM

I'd like to learn how to use a pressure cooker. With the cost of a simple can of white beans going for $1.29, I know I can do better with dry beans. My mother always chased us out of the kitchen when she used the pressure cooker, so I never learned.

char scroggins
7/31/2009 12:40:51 PM

I would really enjoy learning to cook in any style prior to the 1950's. These were the times before processed foods and if we went back to those years, our grocery store shelves would be practically empty. Those were the days when we were eating fruits and vegetables as the main dishes, with meats being the side dish. We now know that this is the correct way to eat. Also, I would love to learn how to make a really flaky pie crust.

7/31/2009 11:13:25 AM

Would love to find some recipes and techniques of dehydrating meats and possibly pre-made casserole type dishes to take on extended camping and/or backpacking trips. We would much prefer to know that we are eating organic meals that we had grown ourselves or at least know what the ingredients are that are in them!

7/31/2009 11:02:03 AM

I'd like recipes for cooking for one, or recipes that the extra portions can be easily frozen.

7/31/2009 10:58:09 AM

I would love to learn how to make that perfect wheat bread that is soft on the inside and not dry. I'd also love to learn how to dehydrate bananas so that they look like the ones in the store, not brown. I've tried lemon juice, fruit fresh and they always turn out delicious, but brown. We also would love to know how to grow and store our own dry beans. Your magazine is a favorite! Thanks!

7/31/2009 10:25:05 AM

My husband and I are new to your fantastic magazine, so there may already be articles on the cooking items we want that we haven't found yet. We would like to know how to make our own bread, how to can and freeze foods, and how to utilize dried beans. We also VERY MUCH second Daniel's want about making and using tofu. Tofu from the grocery store is expensive, and even when you press and marinate it, it doesn't come out like it does at restaurants. We would like to make our own and have it be flavorful and have a meaty, chewy texture. An article on that would be wonderful. We live in a townhouse, so any information on making/growing food that can be done in a small yard and small house are also welcome. We don't have the space for a pressure cooker for canning, or a vegetable prep table for our small raised beds.

b miller
7/31/2009 9:57:37 AM

I love to learn more about cutting primal cuts of meat - well really just butchering. Everything from fish to bison. Then learn some of the artisnal curing of meat. Dry aging, smoking, salting, etc.

jen keating
7/30/2009 2:09:52 PM

My husband and I have found that we can learn to do just about anything we're interested in. We've done some canning, made pasta, smoked and dried a few different types of meats. It's not always successful, but it is always a fun learning experience. The one thing that we've been hesitant to try without well trained guidance is processing our own meat. We're experienced with dispatching and cleaning an animal. But to butcher and process anything bigger than a chicken without hands on training seems a tad overwhelming. We're constantly on the look out for classes or people that can help us learn more about it. I have every bit of faith that we'll get it figured out one of these days, and am looking forward to it!

7/30/2009 11:49:06 AM

I'd like to get more comfortable with low-acid canning. I'd also like to learn to use a solar food dryer. Making good pasta would be nice, too-- I can do egg noodles OK, but spaghetti would be handy and my kids love ravioli.

7/29/2009 4:17:52 PM

I'd like to learn how to make 100% rye bread. I love bread, but I find I don't do very well with wheat anymore. I'd also like to learn other things to do with 100% rye flour (meal?) that I've ground in my own mill.

7/29/2009 12:56:21 PM

I would like to learn to cook good tofu, like they serve in a Chinese restaurant. I know to press it before I cook it, but it still doesn't turn out well. Please help!!!

mother earth news fair


Oct. 21-22, 2017
Topeka, KS.

More than 150 workshops, great deals from more than 200 exhibitors, off-stage demos, inspirational keynotes, and great food!