A How-To Guide for Beginner (and Expert) Cooks
One of the most intimidating things about cooking to me is trying something new – a new cooking technique, a new vegetable, a new recipe.
I say that knowing full well it’s literally my job to do this. So if I’m feeling this way, I’m wondering if you all might also feel like this sometimes, too.
The truth is – trying something new is risky. If you’ve had a bad experience before when a new recipe didn’t turn out – maybe you ended up throwing the dish away or having a screaming match with your kids – it probably doesn’t sound fun to try other new things.
So if you’ve found yourself stuck in a rut of the same 5 meals (or vegetables) you make over and over again, I want to show you HOW I go about making a new vegetable (or recipe or protein) I’ve never made before.
There are a few tips to make this process easier and make your chance of success increase exponentially.
Step 1: Phone a Foodie Friend
The first thing to do when you encounter a vegetable, cooking technique, or recipe you’re not familiar with is to reach out to someone you know who has experience in this area.
When I find a new vegetable, I reach out to a gardening friend who tells me how to know if the veggie is ripe. For a new cooking technique I call up my friend who used to work as a cook in a Thai restaurant. And a new recipe? I talk to my friend who is simply a home cook with a lot of experience telling if recipes are good or not.
Don’t know a Foodie Friend? Reach out to one of these folks who can help:
Farmer at the farmer’s market: the farmer’s market is where I’m usually introduced to new vegetables – which is the perfect place, because the farmer who grew the veggie can tell me all about it! Don’t be afraid to ask; farmers love to talk about their produce.
Produce guy at the grocery store: a friend of mine used to work in the produce section during college and I discovered he had a wealth of information I never would have thought to ask about. It turns out grocery store employees are usually trained in one area of the store, so the folks in the produce section can usually help you out.
The Interwebs: I’d love to be your Foodie Friend! Tag me @peasandhoppiness on Instagram or Facebook with a photo of the veggie you’re trying to figure out and I’d love to connect. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll reach out to my Foodie Friend network.
Step 2: Google It
Now that you know a little about the food or cooking technique, it’s time to do your own research. Luckily, Google’s search engine is very helpful.
Type into Google exactly what you want to know. Here are a few examples of phrases to use:
“How to cut a delicata squash”
“How to cook corn on the cob”
“How to make asparagus taste good”
“Difference between frying and sauteeing”
Next, pay attention to the “star” rating next to recipes that pop up. Make sure to pick a good one!
Find recipes or advice from bloggers or websites you know and trust; you don’t want your experience to go badly because the recipe you used wasn’t any good.
Step 3: Have FUN!
The most important step when trying something new is to relax and have fun! Everything doesn’t have to be perfect – and it probably won’t be – so the ability to laugh along when something goes wrong is so important.
Even better – get your family or a friend involved! Let the kids pick out a new veggie, research it with you, and practice cooking. Make a new recipe for date night with your spouse: turn up some music and make it a themed dinner for fun!
In order to make cooking easier, less stressful, and take less time, it’s important to try new things. The more you try, the less scary it is, and the easier it becomes.
If you’d like a source for tested, tasty recipes to help you try new foods and get you out of the rut you’re stuck in, sign up for a free trial of the Peas & Hoppy Meal Guides. Every week you receive a meal plan, recipe packet, grocery list, and prep guide for all cooked recipes.
Membership includes access to a private Facebook group, where you can find lots of Foodie Friends (including me) to help you out with new cooking techniques you might not be familiar with.
Next time you try a new veggie, make sure to let me know!
Ann from Peas & Hoppiness
P.S. Want to see a demonstration of how I approach cooking a new veggie for the first time? Watch how I figure out how to cook a buttercup squash for the first time.