Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Overwhelmed by Recipes

I'll be the first one to admit that I have 0.1 out of 10 creativity points when it comes to cooking. I'm just not adventurous enough with putting flavors together. When I do try, it's usually a complete miss. Mind you, I've only been trying to be good at cooking for about 6 months, before that I didn't care and before the not caring I lived with my family. I don't love to cook, but I like to cook and I need to cook. 

When I try to look up a recipe on the internet, the results are endless. The first 10 web sites in the search contain completely different ingredient lists and measurements. Way too much information for me. Even just surfing the food web in general is very overwhelming. There is so much out there that I wouldn't even know where to start. I've tried random people-submitted recipes and most of them weren't that good. So how do you find a place which you can trust?

Cook books are a similar story. I bought a couple pretty ones in the beginning of my cooking journey. When I flipped through them I realized that there is nothing I can cook in there! Most of the recipes contained ingredients I've never heard of, too expensive, hard to find or too many ingredients in general. I didn't bother with any more books until I randomly checked out a couple Donna Hay cook books from the library. I learned about her from watching Masterchef Australia (possibly the greatest cooking competition show). Her cook books turned out to be a gift from heaven. Easy to follow, easy to cook, short ingredient lists and good to great results. Since then I swear by her recipes, but I haven't been able to find any other good authors.

Where do you go for recipes? Do you have trusted sources or authors?


Matt and Leah said...

I was totally you when I first got married, so I know how you feel!

Personally I love Jamie Oliver because he uses 99% fresh ingredients. The ingredient lists are usually long but I leave out anything that's expensive or hard to find unless it will drastically alter the outcome. When I eat his food, I totally feel like I'm doing something good for my body.

I like to go on,,, and, and type something simple in like "chicken" or "mushrooms"... and sort it by rating. If 5000 people gave a chicken recipe 5 stars, there's probably a chance it's pretty good!

Some of my favorite food blogs are,, and I just look through and find what sounds good. Even if you don't LOVE what you made, you're still learning different techniques and flavors which will benefit you in the end. Good luck!

Jen M said...

Thanks for your response. I haven't heard of some of the sites you mentioned and will definitely check them out.
I haven't tried Jamie Oliver's recipes yet. But I did order Gordon Ramsay's Family Fare Cookbook, he also like fresh ingredients. Just scared that it will be too complicated! I'll look into Oliver :) Seen his shows, very nice guy.

Amy said...

I hate to cook. But because I would feel guilty feeding my kids nothing but cereal and frozen pizza, I must. I recently found a website called You can select your meals, scale them for the size of your family and it will make a grocery list for you. We haven't loved everything, but at least its gotten me out of the taco/spaghetti/hot ham and cheese rut.

Jen M said...

Sounds interesting Amy! I'll check it out. I can never make a proper shopping list and end up with more snacks than meals...

Natalia said...

My favorite is Straightforward ingredients, very large database of recipes and you can set serving size. Rating system is a good addition. Member's leave their own modifications in the comments. Check it out :)

wendysue said...

I was born into cooking, I think! My mom pretty much cooked everything from scratch because my brother was hyperactive so she didn't want any chemicals in his diet. Then I lived in Africa for 10 years where I had to cook if we wanted food that we liked - i.e. if I wanted lasagna, I made the noodles, made the ricotta cheese, and made the sauce! One of my favorite cookbooks which is a great reference and has easy to follow instructions is the Joy of Cooking book, you can usually find a used one reasonably priced.

Jen M said...

Natalia, I like allrecipes, but do find it overwhelming at times as well. Too many variations and modifications :) But it is one of my go to sites.

wendysue, what a great story! I like that if you wanted something, you had to make it yourself. That must have been hard, but so healthy & fresh. I'll check out the book.

Rachel R. said...

I basically taught myself how to cook in college by watching the Food Network and using AllRecipes is still my go-to website because they have very helpful user reviews. I look for recipes rated at least 4 stars and read the most helpful reviews before making the recipe, and they usually turn out well.

Jen M said...

Rachel, I LOVE Food Network. But I find that I love watching it more than actually following anything they do! I guess I'm still learning theory :D

SusieQTpies said...

Stopping in to say HI and thanks for following me and entering my Handmade giveaway! G'luck! I'm your newest follower! Susie at Scraps of Life

As for recipes and cooking, it takes time to get your feel for everything! Just pick something that looks good and make it! I alter recipes all the time and you'll get a feel for what you need to ad or change.
Not to toot my own horn but I have great recipes on my blog! Stop over and look around and check the recipe tab. Some in the tabs belong to other bloggers who I have asked for them to link up.
As for cookbooks I love Gooseberry Patch Cookbooks. I've been using their books for over 20 years. You can check out their recipes on my blog, too! I have 2 of their books that I will be giving away this month.
I also love the Everyday FOod magazine put out by Martha Stewart. It is a small magazine that is usually at the check out!
Feel free to ask me anytime about food questions! Susie

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