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Terrible cook!

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  • Terrible cook!

    I have been paleo for a little over 2 weeks. The biggest problem I have encountered is simply that I am a terrible cook. Everything I touch in the kitchen turns to garbage. Before starting the paleo diet, I usually ate fast food or frozen dinners, therefore there was no need to ever enter my kitchen.

    So far I have tried to cook a steak, meatballs, chicken and meatloaf and all these attempts have failed. I am living on bacon and eggs and really wanting some variety at this point.

    Does anyone have some simple tips or tricks that I could use during this learning process or are there any good websites that contain simple recipes with simple ingredients?

    Thanks for the help.

  • #2
    the free cookbook has some great recipes. I was a veg*n for 5-6 years, so I know nothing about cooking meat! but my favorite no-fail recipe is one for spicy chicken drumsticks!

    you just get a number of drumsticks and/or wings
    melt about 3 tb pasture fed butter and in a large bowl mix with 2-3 tsp of chili powder, 1 tsp of garlic powder, 1 clove garlic minced, a sprinkle of salt. mix in the chicken so it gets covered with the spices, bake at 375 for about an hour, turning once halfway. out comes beautiful, tender, juicy chicken pieces! soo delicious!

    btw, that recipe is in the free ebook! definitely try it!
    Last edited by JennaRose; 11-07-2011, 06:27 PM.


    • #3
      Are you using recipes? Are you following them to the letter? If not, you might want to try that. Start with basics you know you can do without failing (ie: browning ground beef), and build dishes up from there. From browned ground beef, you can make shepherd's pie, spaghetti, and chili.
      --Trish (Bork)


      • #4
        You can check out my website, all my recipes are pretty basic and easy to make. Nothing fancy. Congrats on your first two weeks.
        My Blog: Healthy Living How To


        • #5
          I learned a lot of what I know about cooking from reading and using cookbooks. There are quite a few good paleo cookbooks out there now, so invest in one or two and start reading!

          One thing I see beginners doing a lot is cooking with high heat. Are you burning what you cook? Turn the heat down and be patient! I only use high heat to boil water.

          Any specifics on what you're having trouble with? I firmly believe that cooking is a skill anyone can develop, but like anything else, it takes practice. You have to cook to become a better cook
          My Primal Journal with lots of food pr0n


          • #6
            I used a few recipes that I found on different websites. I thought I was following them to the letter, but maybe I wasn't or they were just bad recipes. I went out of my way to find ones that had limited ingredients and seemed easy. I just figured when it turned out inedible I was the problem.

            I am going to have to keep practicing and hopefully I will get better.

            Does anyone know a good resource on how to cook a steak. Somehow I cook them partially raw, partially med well and chewy all over.


            • #7
              I cook pretty much everything the same way. Frying pan with a lid in tallow and coconut oil on low to low-medium heat. (The temperature that will cook a 2" pool of egg without burning it.) Sweet potatoes, slice thinly, cook on said low heat for about 40 minutes. Broccoli, just dump it in from the freezer with tallow and coconut oil (but use at least medium temps to shorten the wait). Meats and organs? Medium usually does it.

              Don't be afraid to pick up that lid every few minutes and play with the food. It's how you learn about your oven's hot spots and the way different foods cook at different rates.

              Never walk away from the stove. Do you drive with your eyes closed? No! Neither should you cook if you aren't watching. Grab a chair if you're lazy, but stay at your food no matter what! Mom served us more than regular servings of char for dinner because of this.

              Use salt and herbs for kicks if you want to, but for now it's best to just get the food through the process and perhaps season it after to avoid complicating things.

              And just what made the food inedible? Even close is usually good enough. Did you overcook it?
              Crohn's, doing SCD


              • #8
                A super easy and really yummy recipe I've used lately is to wrap chicken tenderloins in bacon and put them in the oven for abourt 10 mins at 350, then draining the grease, turning on the broiler and broiling each side until the bacon is crispy. Then I add some Primal BBQ sauce from the recipe I found here and ta da! Super easy and really fast. With chicken you just need to cook it until the juices run clear. With white meat it is easy to tell, dark meat is a little more tricky, but I don't eat dark meat often. You could also buy a meat thermometer, they can help in determining whether the meat is thoroughly cooked.

                I suggest google-ing cooking basics for beginners or looking through youtube videos. is a great website for tutorials on how to cook meats, eggs, and really anything. Unfortunately they don't have a lot of paleo/primal recipes, but the tutorials do help!


                • #9
                  My food blog (link in sig below) has step by step photo instructions if that helps you at all. I like my meals to be ready in 30 mins or less. Anything much longer and either I don't cook, or I make the hubbins cook.
                  --Trish (Bork)
                  TROPICAL TRADITIONS REFERRAL # 7625207
                  FOOD PORN BLOG!


                  • #10
                    Ive been doing a lot of reading about meats and meat cooking, one because I'm interested in more unusual cuts of meat, and two because my parents taught me very little about proper meat cooking and what they did teach me was mostly wrong. Here are two books that I got and enjoyed that talk about meats from the ground up and help you develop more of an instinct for them:

           The Butcher's GUide to Well-raised Meat. Simple, approachable, an entertaining read. It will give you a lot more understanding about what the cuts of meat are and how to cook them, but also where they come from and how to talk to a butcher. Big proponent of grass-fed meats.

           The River Cottage Meat Book (9781580088435): Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall: Books The River Cottage Meat Book. This is the place to go if you want to take it up a notch from the butcher's guide book. Its a lot thicker and more detailed, but the writing is clear and its still an entertaining and fascinating read. He also definitely takes the time to explain many meat cooking techniques; not only what they mean but WHY you do a specific technique for a specific cut. I have purchased this book as a christmas present for not just one but TWO couple-friends of mine who have gone paleo, and they all love it.
                    "Since going primal, I've found that there are very few problems that cannot be solved with butter and/or bacon fat."

                    My amusing take on paleo-blogging:

                    Are you a Primal in San Francisco, or the SF Bay Area in general? Join our facebook group!


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by ErinF View Post
                      ..You could also buy a meat thermometer, they can help in determining whether the meat is thoroughly cooked.
                      I love my meat thermometer. I've had enough experiences spending the night with the toilet that I'm paranoid about undercooked poultry and pork. A meat thermometer saves me from having to slice everything open about 37,000 times as it cooks.

                      As others have said, follow the directions exactly. It's easy to get confused in the heat of the moment, so read the entre recipie first, then gather up the stuff you need. When a recipie says something like, "1/2 c onions, chopped" it expects those onions to be already chopped when they mention them next. So if you have to stop to chop the onions, it may cause problems. It creates more dishes, but I like to have everything in bowls or dishes in a row on the counter 100% ready to go. I even have little dishes for sauces/spices.

                      Lastly, I agree with others who have suggested to turn the heat DOWN. My MIL is a classic case of in a hurry and often serves things that are burnt on the outside and raw/cold in the middle.
                      My Primal Journal


                      • #12
                        I feel your pain, OP. I was a wretched cook (I have quite literally burned water and exploded eggs onto the ceiling). But now I'm pretty darn good, if I may toot my horn. But the bad cooking/no cooking thing was also my biggest obstacle when I first became Primal, no doubt about it.

                        I learned to cook, at 40, by watching Racheal Ray on The Food Channel. I didn't even know how to cut an onion, but Rachael taught me how.

                        First thing I did was buy a crockpot. I had a lot of crock'd meals in the beginning, because that was all I could make and not destroy. I remember quizzing someone here on this board about how to make a curry (easiest thing ever!) ::: blush ::: Fortunately, the woman I asked was gracious and helped me as one would a Kindergartener.

                        Then I graduated up to a Dutch oven, and learned to brown meat. LOVE my Dutchie!

                        So, yeah:
                        1. Watch The Food Channel.
                        2. Crockpot.
                        3. Move up to a Dutchie once you've got the hang of #2.
                        "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food." -- Hippocrates


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by BeckaSki View Post
                          Lastly, I agree with others who have suggested to turn the heat DOWN.
                          This one is huge. Me not knowing any better and cooking everything at the highest temp. was the root cause behind most of my early disasters. That, and the utter lack of any spices. Now I use the 6 setting (medium high) a lot.

                          Another thing I'd recommend is to do all of your prep beforehand rather than trying to multitask once you've got some of the food on the fire. That way you can focus and go slowly.
                          "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food." -- Hippocrates


                          • #14
                            Ann: Here is one of the earliest recipes I made that I recall turned out well. (So proud of myself, I gave some to my neighbors!)

                            A Year of Slow Cooking: CrockPot Indian Curry Recipe

                            Just omit the chickpeas. The chicken doesn't even need to be defrosted -- you just plop it all in.

                            This website is your friend.
                            "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food." -- Hippocrates


                            • #15
                              Learning by doing. I initially sucked, too, but now I'm dishing up food that even my dad approves! (And he's quite hard to really satisfy :P)
                              I'm horribly at following recipes as I often don't have the required ingredients, so I usually just end up making whatever I can think of with what I've got.

                              Experiment, find out what works and what doesn't