I always dreaded the day when I would have to learn to cook for myself. In fact, I was adamant that I would avoid it for as long as possible. Then, at the ripe old age of 21, I could no longer delay the inevitable. It was sink or swim. Cook something or starve (not literally, but you catch my drift).
My journey to becoming a confident cook took me by complete surprise. Once I had mastered the basics, I found myself really enjoying the process of making my own food. Not that it was all smooth sailing. Regardless, cooking is now one of my favourite pastimes and according to my family, I am not half bad at it either.
Where On Earth Do I Start?
Getting yourself started is probably the most difficult hurdle you will face. Not to sound cheesy (pun intended), but all you really need is a little self-determination and a general interest in food. Make a list of all your favourite dishes – whether they are childhood favourites or restaurant picks. Note the style of cuisine you are most drawn to as well.
Now, before you master your list of favourite dishes, you will have to learn the basics. These include all types of egg dishes, pasta dishes and roasts.
Eggs are one of the most versatile ingredients. They are also one of the most personal food items – everyone likes them a certain way. Pick your favourite egg dish and learn to make it just the way you like it. Finding a recipe book only on cooking eggs could prove tricky, so rely Google for tips and tricks on how to cook your egg to your liking. Do not crumble into despondence if it doesn’t work out perfectly the first couple of times. It takes intuition and practice to get it right.
Fun Fact: It takes one minute longer to boil an egg to the desired consistency in Joburg than it does in Cape Town. This is because of the higher altitude of the Gauteng province. Click here for a guide on how to boil the perfect egg.
Pastas And Stir Fry
Everyone can cook pasta – yes, everyone. If your parents neglected to teach you this basic cooking skill, get right on learning it. After a long day of work or university, whipping up a speedy pasta dish is the ultimate comfort.
Television cooking series often give great tips on making delicious pasta dishes. Watch as many as you can possibly stomach to broaden your knowledge. Make notes if that’s your way of learning, or simply try to absorb as much new information without becoming ravenously hungry. Another easy way to learn to cook pasta dishes is to stock up on recipes. Food magazines regularly feature these type of dishes, as they are a fan favourite. But, if you are looking to start a collection of recipe books, we recommend visiting Exclusive Books during their quarterly book sale season. Pricey recipe books are often marked down by up to 50% during these sales!
Stir Fry is a good alternative to pasta, although slightly more complex to master. Learning to balance Asian flavours may prove overwhelming, so follow recipes closely. Once you have grasped the basic flavour bases – ginger, garlic and onion – play around to suit your tastes.
Roasting your food offers you the chance to pack in loads of flavour without too much effort. Whether it be vegetables or protein, this method of cooking delivers a wholesome, warming flavour to any dish. When starting out, it is generally advised to set the oven temperature to 180°C. As you gain confidence and expertise, you can play around with cooking temperatures to achieve crispy skinned roast chicken or crackly melting potatoes.
For your next birthday, ask a friend or family member to gift you with the perfect foodie gift – personalised oven mitts! These quirky kitchen accessories will have you roasting up a storm in no time. Order them online from Custom Gifts.
Social Media Is Your Friend
We know you use social media for networking, keeping in touch with friends and to stay up to date on daily news. Why not use it to learn how to cook for yourself? Instagram and Pinterest offer a world of food knowledge, with millions of recipes and a vast online community of food lovers. Our favourite online cooking platform is the Foodies of SA Instagram page, which regularly features easy to make recipes with a South African twist.
Good luck and happy cooking!