Computer is still being fixed so this will be short.
Here is a good place to start. Honestly, just reading about how to cook, you gain a lot of info. http://www.wikihow.com/Cook
A good cookbook -- or several -- is important.
I have the traditional standby by Betty Crocker (for that I seriously double all the spices, but that was after learning how to make things from it).
Silver Palate Cookbooks really kick things up in taste and variety. A friend gave me their cookbook as a gift and it's a much better option once you have a bit more comfort.
Another tip: WRITE IN YOUR COOKBOOK. Did it come out OK? Did you drop an ingredient you don't care for? Make notes so you know what you liked or didn't like for next time.
Spice Charts: (I used these for a long time, and could probably stand an update. Helped me learn what to use for what and together)
Find a website you like with recipes or come up with things you like to eat and I am willing to help you. There are lots of short cuts you can learn.
Things I've learned over the years:
- Don't leave the kitchen. the fastest way for dinner to be ruined in my home is for me to walk out of the kitchen. I now bring my tablet in to half watch something or I listen to the radio or a podcast.
- Read the entire recipe all the way through and make sure you understand it all
- Have all ingredients ready before starting (ex: chopped, washed, measured)
- Don't cook everything on high (I know it seems faster, but it cooks food uneven and often burns food)
- Remember that food continues to cook after you remove it from the heat. Especially important in baking.
- Always let meat "rest" before cutting it (10 mins, to allow the juice to reabsorb)
- Start with only what the recipe calls for. (as you learn how to cook and what you like, you can change things up, but you don't want to "break" the rules until you understand them.
- Baking is chemistry. What you use is important. There is a balance of oil, sugar, flour, etc. And know that baking soda and baking powder are not the same thing!
- Most cookbooks have a "how to" section. Read it. They actually know what they are talking about. (imagine that!)
- Have at least one good sharp knife. Know how to use it.
- Personally, I don't cook using much oil, I prefer cooking spray just because it cuts on the grease.