Help anti-net learn how to cook

anti-net

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So in 64 days as of Sunday, 20th July I _should_ be moving to Birmingham to go to University to study Computer Science (yay! - Dream come true!) but I can't really cook properly, I can basic stuff like pasta dishes and so on but despite best efforts I can't really live on that alone and getting take out or going out for a meal will just drain me of money quickly

So any advice on how I should go about learning how to cook? I'm not really sure where to start!
 

Ironlord

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Practice makes... if not perfect, then close enough. First of all, keep it simple. There's a billion and one student cookbooks out there, and the ones I have are:

Grub On A Grant - Cas Clarke
The Really Useful Student Cook Book - Silvana Franco

These are fast, easy and cheap, so if it goes wrong you haven't wasted too much cash. Try them all... except the ones that are just lentils and stodge, and you'll soon learn how it's done.

Then, move on to this:

Meals in Minutes - Ainsley Harriott

Say what you like about Ainsley Harriott as a person, and most people do, but I will not hear a word against his cooking. The Double-Quick Cassoulet and Jazz & Spice Shepherd's Pie come highly recommended.
 

Koenig

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I think what most beginner cooks are afraid of is that the stuff they cook won't taste good. You have to realize that most flavor combinations you can imagine WILL work......though some work better than others. Whenever you cook, just give yourself an extra 20-30mins to cook tiny portions of whatever your making and just experiment with random flavors. You'll be surprised with what you can come up with. However, the most important piece of advice is still maintaining good cooking hygiene, and to clean as you cook.
 

h-p

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Enough salt and butter makes anything taste good.

(and makes you fat really fast)

edit: But I'm from Finland, so I don't know anything about food. Any italian or french in here?
 

teeb

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So any advice on how I should go about learning how to cook? I'm not really sure where to start!
There's a million student cookbooks. A good one is probably a decent investment.

Right, student cooking. It depends on where you're staying. I assume you'll be a first-time student and that you'll be living in uni halls. That means a fair few of you sharing a kitchen. It would be cheaper if the lot of you (or at least one or two of you) pooled together for a Big Weekly Shop. That way you could buy en masse stuff that the lot of you will eat - meat, veg, fruit, juice, booze - and then the specialised stuff - weird breakfast cereals, dietary requirements, sunflower seeds - you buy yourselves. This saves you money overall!

Student cooking part two. Frozen meals are the enemy! Yes, they are quick and easy. But I promise you you can make similar dishes that taste better for less, fresh. Plus frozen ready meals tend to be full of chemicals. Fresh beats frozen. One example - I bought bags of frozen chips when I first came here. I learnt since that I can make homemade chips that taste better and cost less, and are better for me.

Student cooking 2.5. There are some basics that you should always keep in reserve. Salt and pepper, for example, and some butter. A few spices, some cooking oil. These could be bought (and shared) by everyone there.

Student cooking part three. If you can, and if you're really short for cash, go home for lunch. Big bag of salad and some dressing will do several lunches and is perfectly adequate. Or make a cheese toastie or soup. Doesn't matter what, it'll be cheaper than fast food or the uni restaurants. However it is nice to socialise with friends, so budget for eating at the uni refectory if you can.

Student cooking four. Experiment with things. The worst that can happen is you don't like it and don't make it again. Get an idea of something you like and then depending on what veg and meat you like change the recipe.


Cooking is a skill that will do you for life, anyone can learn the basics and most people learn it as students (well, I did). So give it a go - try different recipes, be it from a student cookbook or here, or just from googling a recipe name.

Think of it as "avoiding eating Tesco value pasta for life"*.

*Actually, being honest, as a student you do eat a lot of pasta, especially at the end of months when the money runs out. The trick is making it vary - with stirfry, with cheese, with sauce etc.
 
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Cobol74

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Zero in the girl who looks like she knows her way around a kitchen and ask her nicely if she would help you to learn how to cook.

"perhaps we could pool our resources on ingredients?"

BTW turn back the clock to 1979 and Cobol74 (sic) was in the same boat but at Portsmouth Polytechnic (yes, I am thick!). After 30+ years in the business I can tell you that without a shadow of a doubt you have picked the wrong course - all the technical work is going to India and (in my case) Vietnam (go figure!). The rates are dropping and it will not be a highly paid job in future - sorry to drop that bomb. For instance my pay rise this year (total) was 2% up but 2% extra to pay for my pension so a net zero. What is inflation at the moment 4% do you think?

I would advise anyone with any sense to only train for and get a job that can never be done elsewhere - because we are too expensive and otherwise it will be done off shore.

Good luck with the course anyway. Karnaugh maps for the win - er, wot?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karnaugh_map
. ...
 
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DarkReaper

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Cooking is far too much work for me, so I rely on lots and lots of pizza, rice and canned stuff for sustenance. Served me well for 2 years now.

But seriously, the "food" in the uni cafeterias isn't that expensive when you factor energy and water costs into the equation. The cheapest food option in my Uni costs 1? and usually gives you a nice plate of various rice or pasta dishes, and nearly always with meat.
 

anti-net

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Ironlord - Cheers for the links, I'll look into getting them

Deviate - Cheers for the obvious but perfectly valid advise :)

teeb - your right I am a first time student and I will be living in halls, I like the idea of getting together with someone but I guess its all about how much can you trust them (or they trust me) to eat there fair share but hopefully I can find someone for that to work with. I want to avoid wasting money on food so I will avoid frozen foods at all costs.

Cobol74 - Yup if I can find someone who can cook I will ask him/her to give me a hand. and on the IT Industry thing, yeah sadly its going very much so aboard hopefully I can specialize in something that won't get out-sourced but I think I'm been quite optimistic. Still, looking forward to starting my degree mainly just so I can get out of Cornwall, its shit here.
 

Ironlord

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Incidentally, there's a BBC series on at the moment called "Chinese Food Made Easy" - so if you're into your oriental nibbles, then this could be worth a look... once you've had a crack at the basics. I should also mention that Ching-He Huang is quite welcome to grease my chopsticks any time, innuendo very much intended. Although I remain to be convinced that her shouts of "WOK ON!" every three seconds won't get annoying to a Rachael Ray level.

Final advice for this post: you're not leaving for university for another couple of months, so get the practice in NOW before you have to fend for yourself on a daily basis!

EDIT: Final Final advice is: don't listen to a word Delia Smith says about scrambled eggs! Hers are far too runny and look like they've been made using the powdered egg that we imported from America during WWII. She was publicly berated by Anthony Worrall Thompson who showed how to do it properly - so follow his advice. To this day I still do, which means I make the Mercedes S-Class of scrambled eggs. Delia's, by comparison, are a Lada Samara.
 
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teeb

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teeb - your right I am a first time student and I will be living in halls, I like the idea of getting together with someone but I guess its all about how much can you trust them (or they trust me) to eat there fair share but hopefully I can find someone for that to work with. I want to avoid wasting money on food so I will avoid frozen foods at all costs.
If you get lucky enough to find someone you trust and eat fairly similarly to, take turns making dinner (if timetables work). That way, it's sociable and you don't have to cook as much. Plus could learn.

Oh, as for now, think about what you eat. I presume your parents cook for you. Now's the time to ask how certain things you like are made.
 

LP

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I think what you need...is my wife. She'll be over shortly. :p
You know my mom is so mean to my poor dad. She and him argue and discuss and debate all the time (intelligent stuff mostly, and sometimes really dumb simple things). Sometimes I think my dad's still in it for my mom's incredibly delicious food :p

As for you Anti-Net: If all else fails, order out. Yeah its unhealthy at times (esp if you order pizza) and yeah it can get expensive, but if you manage the portions and find the good cheap places it can be a great thing to fall on if you don't want or cannot cook for yourself.

Pick up some indian cookbooks as well. A lot of the stuff can be bought premade in shops (naans and curries), and you can just heat em up in the microwave (curries) and in the oven (naans). Some stuff you can prepare easily at home like dosa, upma, fried rice. I always made dosa and upma whenever I didn't want to get burgers and pizza and lard on a stick.

The Indian stuff I mentioned is fairly versatile so you can always make them plain, or vegetarian (in my case) or whatever you want. It'll still be good.

Since you guys came over to India decades ago and when you left we followed you going "wait wait come back, I'm still making curry", you'll have no trouble finding ingredients for indian food :p
 

Interrobang

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So in 64 days as of Sunday, 20th July I _should_ be moving to Birmingham to go to University to study Computer Science (yay! - Dream come true!) but I can't really cook properly, I can basic stuff like pasta dishes and so on but despite best efforts I can't really live on that alone and getting take out or going out for a meal will just drain me of money quickly[...]
... :blink: if you can cook pasta, rice and souce with fresh veggies and varieties of meat ... you don?t really need to learn much more to get through university, don?t you? You don?t really have to learn to cook beforehand ... just make it up as you go. You?ll easily get to stuff like goulash, casserole, risotto ... it?s not rocket-science ... and it?s not like you?re going to have the time and nerve to stand in the kitchen some hours after you?ve had a buisy day at university, trust me on that.
 

teeb

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I thought of something today, vaguely related.

Don't sign up for a student bank account now!

Wait until Freshers' Week, as 1. you can see what banks are near the uni and 2. they'll ply you with offers.

I missed out on a free ?100 because I was prepared and got my bank account during the summer.
 

Matt2000

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EDIT: Final Final advice is: don't listen to a word Delia Smith says about scrambled eggs! Hers are far too runny and look like they've been made using the powdered egg that we imported from America during WWII. She was publicly berated by Anthony Worrall Thompson who showed how to do it properly - so follow his advice. To this day I still do, which means I make the Mercedes S-Class of scrambled eggs. Delia's, by comparison, are a Lada Samara.
Are you Gordon Ramsay hiding behind the internets? Oh wait, you can't be, no swearing. :D

Probably useful to get plenty of different table sauces, so if the thing you make tastes crap (it's bound to happen, it's called learning) you can disguise it and not grit your teeth.

Another useless reply. Right, what's next?
 

Ironlord

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Are you Gordon Ramsay hiding behind the internets? Oh wait, you can't be, no swearing.
Never met me in real life, have you? I'm fluent in obscenities in a vast array of languages and have a habit of switching depending on what country I'm in. I lost count of the number of times I shouted "Merde!" at French speed cameras... over the border into Germany, old man in a Rover pottering along at 30... "Schei?e!"

If I could drive as fast as Gordon Ramsay I'd be happy. Unfortunately, that last karting session proved I was nowhere near. I am not the next Lewis Hamilton. In fact, I'm not the next Jean-Denis D?l?traz either.
 
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