Eat. Home. Live.

In depth ramblings about cooking, homekeeping, and whatever else I decide to write about.

Learning to Cook? Best Cooking Show to Watch.

I know lots of people who are trying to learn to cook from scratch. One mistake I see new cooks make is that they want to just be able to open a cook book and make any recipe, then they get frustrated when things don’t come out right. The problem there, is that in order to really be able to cook, you have to learn proper cooking techniques. It’s like driving a car–you don’t just get in and drive, you have to have a bit of education first. You have to start with the basics and work you way up from there.

I have been cooking since I was 12. I am basically self-taught. It took me about 15 years to really master all of the basic techniques. But, that is because I had to teach myself. I know of an amazing teacher who can teach you many great basic techniques in just a few sittings. Her name is Julia Child.

The series is called “The French Chef.” The first season is the best to watch for learning simple dishes and techniques. It is in black and white, but it is fun to watch. You can stream it on Amazon (free for Prime members.) You can check out the DVD’s on Netflix (it isn’t available on instant.) My local library has it as well, so you may be able to check it out at your’s.

The best thing about this series is that Julia generally makes one dish or focuses on one ingredient and goes into extreme detail about it. She shows every technique in depth. She is a natural teacher. Even just thinking about the first few episodes, she shows you the basics of stew making, several different ways to thicken sauces and soups, knife skills, talks about using wine in cooking, shows you how to roast a chicken, how to carve a chicken, making stock from scratch, tarting-up store bought stock so it tastes fresh, how to make an omelette, how to make a basic French chicken and rice dinner (this recipe can be done so many different ways, and you can use the sauce for other dishes), and basic ways to cook fresh veggies. She also teaches you to apply what you have learned so you can make other dishes in a similar way. Her show really is cooking 101. I will admit, that I have skipped several episodes that were of no interest to me, but just remember, that even if an episode doesn’t seem too interesting, you may learn a great basic technique from it.

What cracks me up, is that when I watch Julia, who was trained at the finest cooking school in the world, is that she does things that go against advice given many of the famous celeb chefs. She browns things in non-stick pans (which she calls no stick-em-pans.) She uses mostly dried herbs instead of fresh. She uses an electric stove. She uses cheap knives with plastic handles/shallow tangs and sharpens them herself with a steel. She serves her food straight from the pot at the table.She also has an incredibly simple kitchen and uses only the most very basic tools, which is refreshing to see.

Julia really knows how to boil things down to the basics and make cooking approachable.  I hope you give this series a go. Even the most seasoned of home chefs can benefit from her wisdom.


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This entry was posted on January 1, 2012 by in Cooking 101, Eat.