forum: Food & Drink

#1 Mon 05 Feb 07 9:21pm


Member since Mon 05 Feb 07

help for a useless cook / fussy eater?

Hi everyone,
You lot might find this insightful, and possibly shocking. Hopefully some of you can help me as well. I apologise for the very long post in advance, but I am unfortunately quite difficult.

I'm about to turn 25, and for the most part of the last 7 years of living alone, I've been eating takeaways, biscuits, toast, biscuits, almost zero fruit/vegetables, biscuits, and god only knows how much sugar/fat. I lived alone so there wasn't really anyone to complain or comment about this.
That was on the nights when I could be bothered to cook - I have also perfected the art of visiting friends/relatives on nights when I can't be bothered to cook, and either getting them to cook something for me, or convincing them they can't be bothered to cook either, and going to a pub/takeaway.

I recently moved into a shared house, and seeing my new housemates regularly cooking what looks like very complicated and interesting dishes is starting to depress me.

It also drives my girlfriend crazy, but I've never really liked vegetables - I like peas, carrots, green beans, parsnips, baked beans, potatoes, yes.. but the ones I know are good for you - like spinach, lettuce, broccoli, cabbage..etc.. I just don't really like.
I like meat - chicken, pork, lamb, beef, duck...anything. I'm yet to discover any meat I don't like (which is lucky, given the vegetable situation).

I don't mind fruits - I like orange, apple, pineapple, mango, coconut. I don't like strawberries or bananas, but I like strawberry and banana artificial flavourings. Probably because they taste nothing like the real ones.

I don't like tomatoes, but if its in something, I seem to be able to cope with that. Barbeque sauce is a taste I have acquired in the last couple of years, and I could happily put it on everthing.
I really don't like garlic, and anything even vaguely hot has me testing a few pints to see the difference a Brita filter really makes.

I really don't know if I like pasta. I tried cooking some supernoodles about a year ago that were vile, but a microwavable lasagne I bought a few months back wasn't that bad.

I don't like eggs but obviously I eat them when they're in cakes - or I'd be starving.

For about the last month, when I go out for a greasy chicken-burger (with barbeque sauce), I've been forcing myself to eat the one piece of lettuce they include with it (instead of removing it and binning like I used to). I still don't like it. It really doesn't work with the combination of all those herbs and spices in the supposedly secret recipe.
As far as I know, I'm not allergic to anything.

At school I did a year or so of home ec - I can remember making apple crumble, some form of biscuits, and scones. Even *I* try not to eat these for evening meals.

So despite my very little confidence in the kitchen, for some reason I decided to cook a sponge cake yesterday. By some miracle, a lot of coaching via the phone from a relative, and following the instruction-sheet I was clinging onto for life, it was actually edible.
I was so shocked, that I've eaten very little else except sponge cake for the last 24 hours.

If any more proof is needed of my general cooking ability, here's the sorts of things I'll eat in an average week during the evening:
toad in the hole - prepackaged, 30mins in oven.

chicken and vegetable (peas, carrots, and possibly green beans) pie - 30mins in oven
- usually the above with oven chips - 20mins in oven

pizza (usually ham and pineapple) - 10mins in oven

cheese and bacon pasty - 15mins in oven (usually served with baked beans)

fish and chips (fish 30mins in oven, chips 20mins as above). Sometimes I substitute potatoes - which I have learnt to boil just about - but my main supermarket only seems to sell them in whopping great 1.5kg bags. I then have no idea what you put on them to make them more interesting - its barbeque sauce generally.

a roast dinner - usually cooked for me, through the relative/friend trick, but I can/have done it for myself. It consists of Aunt Bessies roast potatoes and parsnips (30mins in oven), fairly fresh but pre-cooked chicken breast (30mins in oven), peas and green beans (boiled), and yorkshire puddings courtesy of Aunt Bessie again.

One night I usually accidentally-on-purpose miss dinner, one night I generally go for a greasy chicken burger, and I try and make sure at least another two nights a week - someone else cooks for me in some capacity, be it a restaurant or a relative.

Anyway - I've decided to try and do something about my uselessness.
I have no imagination where food is concerned, and from looking online, the first thing I am is completely confused.  The vast majority of food recipes is for 4-6. Even the things that should be for less. On the website of a popular supermarket, in the "romantic meals" section, the third recipe it suggests serves 6. How many people do a romantic meal for 6? I can only guess that a lot of swingers shop in Sa..err..the supermarket in question.

I think I'm alright lowering the amounts of things, but anything involving eggs seems to cause a problem with this. I don't know how to put 1/3rd of an egg into something?

I never really enjoyed my parents' cooking, and since leaving home - have realised that some of the food they cooked me that I thought was dry and tasteless - is actually surprisingly nice if not left in the oven that final 5minutes.

So does anyone have any suggestions on somewhere good to start for someone as awkwardly fussy and generally useless in the kitchen as me?

Last edited by hopelesscook (Mon 05 Feb 07 9:29pm)

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#2 Mon 05 Feb 07 9:23pm


Member since Mon 05 Feb 07

Re: help for a useless cook / fussy eater?

And just to add to my own already-far-too-long post.. I will say I did try something new recently. I went to a chinese restaurant (frankly terrified the whole time that I would find nothing I liked and be embarassed by the people I was with, noticing), and surprised myself by finding mostly all of it was nice. Pork was odd, and I wasn't too keen on the prawn crackers, but the rest was pretty nice.

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#3 Mon 05 Feb 07 11:08pm


Occupation ady=warehouseman, deb=powerhouse/godess
From nr Heathrow , London
Member since Thu 12 Oct 06

Re: help for a useless cook / fussy eater?

Welcome to the forums,
      First, you are not that fussy, there are a lot worse. Well done, on trying new things. Sorry mate I think you have got into a "lazy" rut.
      I think you are really brave asking for help. I am sure others will give you advice, but here's mine. Try going to charity shops/boot sales etc and finding cookery books for beginners. I know for a fact that Delia Smith has done one. The pots/pans/ utensils/ ingredients will seem expensive.
      Don't worry, just buy a few things at a time. 6 months later you will have so much stuff you will be amazed !!.
      Keep smiling,

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#4 Tue 06 Feb 07 12:44am


Occupation factory worker
From in the middle of no where
Member since Tue 24 Oct 06

Re: help for a useless cook / fussy eater?

to add to what ady said i found jamies new book amasing it tell you everything you need to know and takes you step by step explains how and why things work. have a look you will be amased.
good luck  gav x  wink

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#5 Tue 06 Feb 07 6:40am


Occupation Mom
From Canada
Member since Thu 18 Jan 07

Re: help for a useless cook / fussy eater?

Hi hopeless cook,

OK this may sound weird, but you may want to try making pizza. I know you don't like tomato, but you can make it with barbeque sauce, chicken, peppers, pineapple, etc. If you use a whole wheat crust (frozen or from the bakery section of the market) it can be a pretty healthy meal. To be really blunt, it's dead easy, and if you serve it with a basic salad you can even impress your girlfriend...

On another note, I would suggest you invest in a very basic cookbook. As much as I adore Jamie's stuff, you may even want to start with something geared towards students - they tend to be really simple and use brand name ingredients, etc. Now, before anyone gets up in arms at this, I am only suggesting it as a first step to get your feet wet. When you get comfortable, by all means jump into Jamie.

Good luck!

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#6 Mon 12 Feb 07 1:48am


Member since Mon 05 Feb 07

Re: help for a useless cook / fussy eater?

Thanks for your advice.
I have been leant 2 books (one cakes, one general), and bought 2 more (one of Delia's and one of 1000 general recipes).
I'm sure Jamie's are great, but I really did need a complete idiots guide to the kitchen, and to start with some easy stuff.

I've discovered my housemates have a lot in the way of utensils, pans, etc.. which is good. Although I need to buy some proper scales...its hard to measure when theres all of about 1mm gap for every 10g.

I discovered we had a bread machine hiding in the corner of the kitchen too, so made some bread tonight.
Am improving slowly, and I'm going to try and allocate some time each week to try and cook properly..and use the pre-packaged stuff to fill the gaps.

Again, thanks for your advice

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#7 Mon 12 Feb 07 3:30am


Forum champ
From Sydney, Australia
Member since Tue 22 Jun 04

Re: help for a useless cook / fussy eater?

Thai Stir-Fry

1/2 cup chicken broth
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1/2 sweet onion, sliced
1 small head broccoli, cut into spears
1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
1 (12 ounce) package shredded coleslaw mix
3 cups bean sprouts
1 (9 ounce) package diced cooked chicken breast meat
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds (optional)
Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, onion, and broccoli; cover, and steam until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in tamari, peanut butter, and pepper flakes until smooth. Add the coleslaw mix, bean sprouts, and chicken; cook until heated through. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds to garnish.

Pork Chops and Beans


6   1" thick pork chops
2 cans of baked beans (28 ounce size)
3/4 cup chopped onions
3/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup water

In frying pan, brown pork chops on both sides
on medium heat.  In large casserole dish, combine the beans, onions and ketchup and water.  Place the browned
pork chops on top.  Cover with foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour...If needed, add additional water while baking

Beef Stew
1-1/4 to 1-1/2 pounds good stew meat   Cut pieces into bite size
Carrots (depending on size..3-5 carrots) 
Onions (one large) Chopped
Celery (about 2 stalks..Chopped)
Mushrooms (about 4 large ones, chopped)
Potatoes  (about 5 medium potatoes) Chopped,  peeled, but big pieces
Paprika  (about 1/2 teaspoon)
Garlic Salt  (about 1/4 teaspoon)
Onion Salt  (about 1/4 teaspoon)
Salt  (about 1/8 teaspoon)
Oregano (about 1/8 teaspoon)  (optional)
Pepper (about 1/8 teaspoon)
Flour (enough to roll the beef in)
oil, about 2 tablespoons)
Ketchup  (about 1/4 cup)  More if needed
Mild Tomato Salsa  (about 1/2 cup)  More if needed
V8 Juice (about 6 ounces)  More if needed
Marjoram  (optional

Place oil in pan, Add the beef that has been floured, and then sprinkled with salt and  pepper.  Let the beef brown on all sides. Takes about 10 minutes.  While beef is browning, prepare vegetables.  After  beef is browned, add water..I usually add enough water to bring the water level to 1/2 the pot.  Then, add the  rest of the ingredients in no special order. Once you add all the ingredients, you can add more water, so that the pot  is a little more than 3/4 full.   Bring the stew to a boil, then reduce heat to a little below medium heat.  Take a  taste test after 15 mins cooking.  You can than tell whether to add more seasoning.  After this time, reduce heat again to  low.  The stew is ready in about 2-1/2  hours. Stir every 30 minutes with wooden spoon.

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