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In the Kitchen: A Beginner’s Guide

Learning how to cook is one of those experiences that seem scary and overwhelming until you give it a try. Believe me, I understand how daunting it can be to navigate something new, especially when you do not know where to start, which is why I want to share my knowledge on how to get started in the kitchen. I am optimistic that I can inspire at least one person to give home cooking a try and explore skills that are outside their comfort zone. 

A small backstory 

I was a very picky eater growing up, but to my parents’ surprise, I had no problem cooking up strange creations by myself that I would genuinely enjoy. My parents left it up to me to explore rather than force me to eat food that I did not like. Overtime, my self exploration with food allowed me to build my palate and I began to enjoy all types of food that I previously disliked. As a result, I was inspired to try cooking with new ingredients more often and found how much I loved food now that I was given the opportunity to explore on my own. With trial and error, I learned how to cook food that I loved and truly savored, which is one of the beautiful aspects of cooking at home. 

Now let us begin 

The essence of cooking starts with the appropriate tools. A good knife, cutting board, vegetable peeler, pan, pot and cutlery are just as important as the ingredients of a recipe, at least in my opinion. These items do not need to be fancy or expensive, as long as the tool serves your needs that is all you need. 

Two Gray Frying Pans Hanging On Wall
Niki Nagy / Pexels

Finding recipes

When beginning any new project it is helpful to look for references or advice from others to set up how you would like to begin. I first look at my pantry and refrigerator for inspiration in the hopes that it will spark a craving I had in the back of my mind. I look at Pinterest for recipe inspiration and I observe the comment section as well for pictures and references from other people who have tried the recipe. After my Pinterest search, I go to YouTube and search up recipes because I find that watching another person cook the food gives me inspiration on how I should approach the recipe with my own unique spin. If I have not found a recipe after my Internet searches, I seek help from my family, friends and cookbooks. I recommend starting with simple recipes. They have fewer ingredients so it is not as overwhelming. 

Invest in seasoning 

I cannot stress this enough, seasoning will make or break your dish, and that is a fact. Salt and pepper will not cut it. There is so much versatility when you have the option to use a variety of seasonings in your cooking. I recommend, at the least, garlic powder, onion powder, all purpose seasoning blend and paprika. Once you are accustomed with cooking then I recommend branching out with your seasonings since some of them can be complex to work with, such as star anise.  

wooden ladle and chopping board with ginger during daytime
Chinh Le Duc/Unsplash

Cleanliness is important 

Always keep your kitchen clean. It makes the cooking process easier since the kitchen will be less cluttered and ensures that your food is prepared in a clean manner. Once your countertops, sink and stove are ready to be used I recommend thoroughly washing any fruits or vegetables you will be using to get rid of any dirt, bugs, or pesticide residue on them. In my house, we always wash meat before cooking it, so to avoid spreading bacteria everywhere, I recommend washing meat in the sink then cleaning the sink afterwards. 

Patience and Practice  

Cooking is a process. It will take trial after trial after trial before you figure out your unique strengths. I truly stand by the quote “anyone can cook” from the film Ratatouille; however, it will take time and patience to develop those skills for some while others will have a natural knack for it. Once you learn and grow you can reap the benefits of your labor with delicious food to fill your stomach. 


Happy cooking! 

Anusha Nayani

UC Irvine '22

Anusha is a third year double major in Business Administration and Psychological Science. She wants to pursue a career in digital marketing or early childhood education. Her hobbies include cooking, baking, creating digital art, arts & crafts, and binge-watching comedy tv shows.
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