Perhaps in this semi-vaccinated world we’re currently living in you’re thinking that you’ve missed the boat on learning how to make that sourdough starter or Chrissy Teigen’s Spicy Miso Pasta but I promise you are sorely mistaken. Anyone can start learning how to cook at any point in time. You just need a little patience and imagination.
1. Start thinking about a dish you love
Or that someone you care about loves! For me, it was my husband’s deep desire for a blueberry muffin that was a little healthier than what you would get at Starbucks (and a heck of a lot cheaper too!). So, I found this recipe from Ambitious Kitchen and voila! I modified it over time to make it work better for us (we are not gluten free, so I started using a combination of oat flour and whole wheat flour instead of almond flour, for example).
2. Look up recipes!
Now, you can be fancy and buy a bunch of books if you want but I just used good ol’ Google and largely still do. For a long time, I followed recipes to the letter and when it comes to baking, there’s less room for creativity unless you really know what you’re doing. Not all of us can be Rahul from The Great British Bake Off. It took me a long time to get comfortable with cooking, so I didn’t substitute or veer from the recipe at all for a while (which kind of drove my husband nuts). But I needed to feel competent before I felt free to add, modify, or riff. Ina Garten is known for her accessibility, so there is a good place to start. If you’re wanting to explore more veggie recipes, Minimalist Baker has a fantastic blog.
3. Start small
I literally just started by trying out those blueberry muffins. For a long time, we ate chili (because that’s the one thing I knew how to cook) and we ate muffins. But slowly, I started trying one or two new recipes a week and it became an exciting part of my day. It took me a couple of years before I ventured into Bon Appetit or NY Times recipes, but if you’re feeling feisty have a go at it! The worst that will happen is you’ll have a messy kitchen and probably learn some things regardless of how edible the finished product ultimately ends up being.
4. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good enough
If you’re familiar with the 10,000 hour rule, it can easily ruin trying anything new. But you can relax, because the whole concept is a myth. Secondly-this is a hobby, so have fun with it! I promise that you don’t have to become Amy Adams from Julie&Julia to get a handle on cooking and baking. Just do what you can, when you can and if that means popping in a frozen pizza sometimes that’s ok! Don’t burn yourself out. You’re doing great.
5. Consume food media!
For me, it started when I became a member of Linoleum Knife’s patreon community. Their free podcast is about film, but they also have one on their patreon that’s entirely dedicated to food. Dave, one of the hosts, who was once a beginner home cook is now thoroughly advanced (he will not say this about himself, but ignore that). He and his husband Alonso break down all things cooking in a fun, easy, and extremely relatable way. Another great food podcast is Home Cooking hosted by Netflix’s Salt Fat Acid Heat star Samin Nosrat. Selena + Chef is a new show on HBO Max starring the one and only Selena Gomez who makes it clear that while she is an international sensation, she is also an amateur in the kitchen which makes it adorable, entertaining, and approachable.
So, there you have it. Now, get in the kitchen and start imagining what beautiful entrée or dessert you want to manifest into existence!