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So I know there have been threads about cookbooks before, but lists of cookbook names don't really help, as I'm looking for something specific.

When it comes to cooking, I'm a stereotypical single guy. I can handle basics, and the few times I've experimented have actually turned out fairly well. But for me, looking at a bunch of recipes in a book (or web site) is kind of like giving a pro sports team's playbook to someone who doesn't know the rules of the game.

There are plenty of cooking terms I don't know. I'm sure there are plenty of standard ingredients and kitchen equipment that I've never even heard of. So what I'm looking for is something that will teach me basic cooking skills, not just give a bunch of recipes that are too intimidating for me to ever actually try. Any suggestions?

--Fromper

 

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Well, first of all, if you have any specific questions about terminology, you could always ask around here. I'm not an expert chef, but I like to think I know my way around a kitchen, and I'll help if I can.

Having learned cooking with my mother (omni, but like plenty of vegetables), I'm not really the best person to help with cooking-for-beginners advice books, but I've heard positive things about How to Boil Water (it's an omni cookbook, but besides that I've heard it's good). I also have The Starving Student's Vegetarian Cookbook. It has some good recipes and tips, but I wouldn't honestly recommend it. For example, it recommends the use of worcestershire sauce without noting that it usually has fish in it, and it recommends stocking up on red bell peppers when they're in season then freezing them for when they're out of season, without noting that this will cause the cell walls to break down and make the pepper a mess. Your mileage may vary, though, and it is pretty basic.
 

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I know you said you didn't want recommendations, but when I was clueless just like you a few years ago, I came across this book (also called the Students Vegetarian Cookbook) which has some great idiot-proof recipes and a lot of explanations and tips. I like the book because it focuses on easy, quick, cheap, and healthy recipes.

When I started out I had one small pot, one frying pan, and a knife. You don't need anything more than this to make most of the stuff in this book.

http://www.amazon.com/Students-Veget...6353183&sr=1-1

As far as learning how to cook, the best way is to just do it! Using your sports analogy, you can't get good at a sport by just watching it and reading about it.
 

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For the how-to's of cooking, I gave my dad this cookbook: http://www.amazon.com/Dads-Own-Cookb...6382777&sr=8-1 The drawback is all of the meat stuff in it, but it is super basic in terms of "here's what you look for when you buy a _____" to "when a recipe says to do X, this is what it means." I like the book because it assumes you can learn and that you can read and are reasonably intelligent - but you just haven't learned THIS yet. (My dad is the sort of cook who once asked me over the phone what he should do with some cooked beans my mom had left him. He ended up heating them on the stove and eating them plain.) I have yet to see a similarly basic vegetarian cookbook. (I found Vegetarian Cooking for Dummies at Amazon, but I can't tell if it the same sort of information as the Dad's cookbook.)

Once you get the basics down, I like The Student's Vegetarian Cookbook and the Five-Ingredient Vegetarian Gourmet for good basic pretty easy vegetarian cooking.
 

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A good beginning (although not vegetarian) cook book is I'm in the Kitchen! Now What? It explains what things are and even has pictures of equipment. Even if you don't buy it you might want to check it out from the library or look through it for some hints.
 
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