Basic cooking for Republicanchick1.

I got to thinking about RepublicanChick1’s request for help and decided to start a thread geared to doing just that for her and others in a similar position. I don’t really know how proficient she is in the basics and hesitate to ask her directly because I am a much older married guy who doesn’t live that far away from her and doesn’t want to be taken wrong. So I figure something a bit generic which assumes little or no real knowledge is the way to go and maybe educate some others in the process as well.

RepublicanChick lives here in the South, so why not start with some basics on southern style and invite others who might want to contribute to do so as well? Basically, most cuisines have some basic recipies which any good cook in said cuisine would want to know. I will finish this post with one I learned courtesy of my mother, Southern style baked beans.

One thing to realize about this recipie is that although it will make a nice pot of beans all by itself, it is a *foundational *around which one can build many nice baked and barbeque bean dishses.


1 28oz can of pork and beans.
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon of your favorite mustard.

Combine ingredients and place in a baking dish or pot and place in a 350 degree oven and bake for 45 minute to an hour, stirring occasionally. Then take out of the opven and let cool a few minutes before serving.

Okay, the amounts of the ingredients are approximate. I personally don’t measure them anywhere near so precisely and know about how much I want from experience. The point is to experiment until you get the taste you like best.

As I wrote earlier, this is a foundational recipie. Many cooks toss in some chopped green bell pepper. Most common is to add some pulled BBQed or Roast pork butt. And many who do that will also add a little or their favorite BBQ sauce and cut back the ketchup a little. Others put in a some bacon. And some add a little bourbon wiskey for flavor. Chopped and sauted onion goes well in it as well. In other words, the variation is almost endless.

My next recipie will be for cornbread.

Anybody else want to have a go at it?

My family really likes baked potatoes with ingredients on them. All you do is bake some potatoes and put stuff on them, whether it’s cheese and sausage, or you do it like a pizza with mozzarella, pepperoni, mushrooms, olives (my personal favorite is mozzarella and pepperoni). But they are delicious and actually very filling (they fill up my teenage brother :eek:).

OH this all sounds so yummy!! I will have to try it out.
Thank you guys so much(:

Hi RC, just wanted to throw my two cents in.

I don’t know what level you would like to achieve in your learning to cook quest, but I have a few pointers that I learned through my own experience. Like many people I started out by getting a big old book of recipes, looked for ones that seemed yummy, and dove right in. Nothing like learning to swim by jumping in the pool. Some came out good, others well, not so good, in fact quite bad. :sad: I bought good ingredients, followed the recipes, thought I did everything right, but still, they just did not come out the way they should have. :angry26:

What I came to realize was that recipes are a road map for people who already know how to drive. Well I just got my learners permit and was not ready for the open road. So I tried a different approach; I bought a good book on how to cook, not what to cook, and boy did that change everything. I learned some BASIC techniques in the beginning and started to apply them while following my good old recipe book, and all of a sudden my creations started to look better, taste better, and I actually got some compliments.:grin: That motivated me to keep learning and soon I found that I did not even need that clunky ball and chain road map anymore, I was free. I could be at a friend’s house and just whip up whatever we desired, or at least whatever they had at hand, not having to go online, or run home to get a book. That was really cool, and felt really good, to have people tell you that you rock ! :slayer:

All kidding aside, you don’t have to read a book on techniques from cover to cover, nor do you have to learn everything a chef knows, to get your feet wet, but learning some basics makes the whole process more fun and the results so much more yummy. For example, just learning how to properly use a knife, stops the constant running to the bathroom for a band aid, allows the food to cook more evenly, and even makes it look better. Remember we eat with our eyes before even taking a bite. Learn why certain ingredients go together, like why lemon goes well with very rich dishes, how to use the textures of foods to create interesting variety, and so on.

I think the investment you make will pay you back many times over. Then feel free to experiment with your own creations, nothing like your own signature dishes to boost the old ego. The only time I would advise to strictly follow the directions and measures is when baking. Always remember cooking is a recipe, but baking is a science, and unless you truly understand the chemical reactions that go on during baking stick to time tested formulas (recipes).

There are many great books, videos, and even software that can help you along the way, but one book I think that every amateur and professional cook should have on their bookshelf is, “The Art of French Cooking” by Julia Child.

Good luck on your journey, and never be afraid to ask for help, I am sure there are many people here who have traveled this road, and will have some great tips and advice for you.


RepublicanChick1…what kinds of foods do you like? I will contribute if I know.

Remember we eat with our eyes before even taking a bite.

This is what changed the way I make my cranberry relish. I grind the ingredients up in an old food grinder, and as soon as I would grind up the nuts & stir them in, everything turned gray. It tasted just as good, but looked unappetizing. I started chopping the nuts, while still grinding the cranberries, apples & oranges. Now I have a nice red appetizing cranberry relish. In recent years, I have also started adding unflavored gelatin - a packet per bag of cranberries (I usually use two), and instead of a sloppy mess you have to eat with a spoon (if you want to get it all), you have a nice firm dish. In case anyone is interested, my recipe is - for each bag of cranberries, one apple, one orange (rind included), all ground up (I supposed chopped in a food processor would be OK, and in that case, it would probably be OK to chop the nuts in the processor), chopped nuts, sugar to taste; one envelope of unflavored gelatin.

For the oranges, I sometimes pare of some of the rind, so that the relish doesn’t have a bitter taste. Depend how how much you like the flavor of orange peel, also if the orange has a very thick skin, you get an awful lot of peel for the size of the orange.

I don’t measure the nuts; I use the *TLAR method.

I make it the day before, so that the gelatin has time to set.

*TLAR = “That Looks About Right”

I like hot sauce in my baked beans…with lots of bacon.

Are you going to tell them how to season the cast iron before you do the cornbread? And aren’t you supposed to be wearing your pearls and drinking a glass of Iced tea?


pardon me?

Since you already mentioned it for me, no.

I am a big fan of cast iron pots and pans. Right now I have a nice little collection of cast iron frying pans. One thing to remember is that you have to clean them promptly after cooking and serving your meal. My wife not doing so cost us both a dutch oven and a wok. Clean them with water only. Soap can get into the pores in the metal and mkake the next meal taste bad.

Here is a basic cornbread recipie;

Two cups self rising cornmeal.

One egg

One and one-third cup milk.

About a teaspoon or so of sugar.

A couple of tablespoons of butter, margarine, or equivalent in bacon grease if you like the taste that brings to the dish.

Heat the oven to 450 degrees with the cast iron pan you plan to use in the oven. If you don’t want to use the pan, then skip heating the pan and use any oven proof baking dish of your choice, greasing the inner surface with the butter, etc… Mix the other ingredients together. Plce the butter or grease into the pan and let it melt, covering the inner surface. You may have to swish it around, that is one place mitts come in handy. Pour leftover butter into the batter and mix in then pour batter into the pan and place in the oven for 20-25 minutes.

I like to check my bread at about 20 minutes. You will know it is done when you see the edges of the bread draw away from the surface of the pan. Do not go over the 25 minutes until you are experienced enough to guage things. You shouldn’t need to go over it anyway. Remove the pan from the oven, let stand a few minute then slice the bread into pieces. Put a little butter on the bread and serve.

For the iconic cornbread use the yellow cornmeal. If you are making it for a turkey dressing, Then the white cornmeal will be fine and cheaper as well.

Now, one of the iconic Sothern dishes is Cracklin cornbread. There are two ways to make that dish. You can mix some cracklins in with your batter before you pour it into the dish, or you can soak the cracklins first in water for a little while. Both make a fine cracklin cornbread.

A Southwestern cornbread is made by adding some corn kernels, diced red bell pepper, diced onion, and diced jalapeno peppers to the batter. Some folks add some shredded co-jack cheese in as well for that variation.

Once again, this is a basic recipie which is only limited to your imagination.

By the way, if you cast iron pan is new, then coat it with cooking oil and place it into a heated oven for a short period. You may have to repeat the step a few times for good measure. The only American company which makes cast iron pots and pans pre-seasons their cookware. But since I haven’t purchased their ware yet, I don’t know how effective their pre-seasoning is.

You can buy cast iron pans which are molds for cooking corn bread into corn cobb shaped servings. The molds aren’t big enough for breads like craklin or southwestern, but they are popular for regular cornbread.


Another piece of info on cornbread.

Many cooks don’t like to use just cornmeal in their cornbread. I think one of the reasons is that it isn’t easy to get a pure cornmeal bread which isn’t very fragile. I don’t have a problem with it, but many do. If you do, then you might want to cut-back on the cornmeal by one cup and replace it with a cup of self rising flour. Stick with the recipie for cornbread you plan to use for dressing since you want it to crumble easy.

My mother-in-law is an old Southern cook who insists that one must use some regular flour in the mix. But she does like my cornbread, which doesn’t have any regular flour in it.

Jiffy muffin mix has cornmeal and flour in a fifty-fifty mix.

I have been using cast iron cookware nearly all my life, and I have always used soap to clean it, and never had a bad taste from it. I even scour it with steel wool soap pads. And I don’t think I’ve ever cleaned it immediately after use.

i like pretty much anything in general. there are certain foods i won’t eat, but i wouldn’t catagorize them as really popular foods. : )

Do you suggest anything?

I will have to try the cornbread. :biggrin:

Hey RepublicanChick,

I’ll share with you my vegetable (beef) soup recipe.

I make it every Sunday to eat for lunch Mon-Fri. This recipe is pretty large, and can feed a family of 4 for lunch for a week if you eat small bowls, or 2 people for a week with larger bowls, or 1 person for a week if you really like chunky soup (even 1 large serving has less than 250 calories). Cook it in a huge stock pot and you can freeze leftovers. It freezes very well without losing taste.

Anyway, I’ve been making this soup so long, I really don’t have a strict recipe, but I gauge by what my tastes are for the week.

This can be a vegetable soup or vegetable-beef soup. Just add the beef if you want it! :slight_smile:

Anyway, here goes:

1 small head cabbage
1 medium onion
1 large potato (or sweet potato if you like, or both)
1 large turnip
3 large carrots (or you can get frozen)
3 large stalks celery
3 medium parsnips (optional)
1 - 28oz can stewed tomatoes (chopped or halved)
1 can lima beans (or you can get frozen)
1 can green beans (or you can get frozen)
1 can wax beans (or you can get frozen)
2 boxes chicken or beef stock/broth (I get low-sodium kind)
2 garlic cloves
3 tbsp basil
3 tbsp oregano
3 tbsp paprika
3 tbsp parsley
4-5 bay leaves
salt/pepper to taste
bouillion cubes (if you like saltier flavor)
1 lb. stew meat (beef or lamb)

Directions: chop up all the vegetables. Put in stock pot. Pour chicken stock in stock pot. Add beef if desired. Add spices. Fill with water to where the water just covers everything. Cover, cook on high until boiling, then reduce heat to simmer for 2-3 hours, or until ingredients are cooked to your liking.

The nice thing about this recipe is the versatility, believe it or not. You may choose not to put a certain ingredient in or add different spices. Or play with the spice amount. When I have a taste for garlic, I up the amount of parsley. I don’t really measure with spoons, but use the palm of my hand.

The one thing I do not suggest is substituting beets for turnips. I had to do that today and the soup is not as good as with turnips. (the store didn’t have the turnips)


Thanks, Peapod!!! I’ll definitly have to give that one a go!!
It sounds yummy! I love stews and soups : )

OH - I just want to clarify, when I wrote boxes of chicken stock - I meant the cartons of the stock already made in the soup aisle :slight_smile:

I love cornbread. My mom always used one of her cast iron skillets for it. That’s the only way I think it’s required to be made. Although, for some reason i ahve been making her recipe into muffins instead. She even gave me the cast iron skillet that she used to use for it. I can’t remember why I resorted to the muffin tins.
Oh, and baked potatoes. Mhm.
I like twice baked potatoes.
After they’re baked scoop them out making little “boats”. Then add whatever you like and mash them really well. Then put the mashed potatoes back in the skin “boats”. top with all the junk you wnat then broil for a couple minutes.
Repubchick, I learned a long time ago to broil the heck out of everything. It has a way of making it look better and covers up any mistakes or boring things I made. I am lucky though because my family and I like crispy broiled stuff. Of course this has caused quiet a bit of smoke in my house many times…just set a timer for a couple of minutes to remind you there’s something broiling! And don’t always broil on high, sometimes low is good enough, and not too close!:angry26:
My kids tell some funny stories about my kitchen issues. I deny all of them. I don’t know what they’re talking about. :no:

I broiled chicken in the apartment I lived it when I was working in Ohio, and it set off the smoke alarm. Apparently, there was a great deal of fat in the chicken, and it was an electric stove, and the fat kept popping up on the heat unit.