What is an easy system for learning how to cook?

Thanks for the a2a.

Im not sure that I had an obvious system when I learned to cook. I was motivated to learn by the fact my mum was a dreadful cook. She'd put pineapple in spaghetti bolognaise. Though she did make a good pudding.

Anyway, I just thought about dishes that I liked or ingredients I enjoyed and went from there. I have always had a good understanding of and memory for flavour combinations which helped a great deal. If I ate something I liked or disliked a lot I'd analyse the experience and break down the components of the dish - reverse engineering if you like.

I'd think about each aspect of the dish/ingredient. For instance, flavour, texture, temperature, moisture, colour, smell and so on. I'd then think about how the dish/ingredient had been prepared and how it might be improved on. I was about ten years old when I realised that getting a bit if colour on braising steak before it was stewed added incredible depth of flavour. Then I'd experiment (where possible) to try perfect my discovery.

One thing I did find helpful was to perfect a stock dish and then add things to it for a bit of variety. Like with a sausage casserole (where I might vary the vegetables used, or add spices or maybe add some legumes) or bolognaise base (that I might adapt to a chilli or keep the meat and sauce separate for meatballs). I'm not reinventing the wheel by any means but by making small variations to a dish you do well end up with something that is hopefully edible but a bit different so you don't get bored. 

I've been trying to teach my partner to cook for the past 16 years and have developed  a few tips for novices. When you are creating a dish think about how long it will take each element to cook and vary the size that you cut your ingredients accordingly. It's no good making a veg curry and adding soft vegetables like courgettes or cauliflower right at the beginning with your carrots as they will be mush by the time your carrots are cooked. Also prepare everything in advance. Sometimes there's a lot that needs to happen in a short space of time and you don't want things to overcook or burn because your still peeling the next ingredient.

Don't be afraid to get it wrong. You've got to break a few eggs to make an omelette.

Good luck!
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