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Clueless in the Kitchen
A Survival Guide for the Cooking Challenged

By Mary Moss

Tired of eating fast food and pre-packaged meals. Not courageous enough to try meal preparation on your own? Read on!

Many cookbooks have diagrams and step-by-step instructions for meal preparation and presentation (serving it in a visually appealing way). If you decide to buy a cookbook that will provide everything you need to know about cooking, check out Cooking for Beginners: Did Your Mother Teach You How to Boil an Egg? at

For now, here are some basics that will help you get started.

Abbreviations for Measuring:

Tsp. = teaspoon
Tbsp. = tablespoon, which equals 3 teaspoons
C = cup.

  • Measuring spoons are generally sold as a set, as are measuring cups.

  • Sometimes you can purchase them as part of cooking “starter kit” that also includes a few basic utensils and tools.
  • A measuring cup for liquids is usually glass and displays ounces and cups as well as metric measures.

Cooking and baking tips:

  • Baking powder and baking soda are not the same. Some recipes call for both ingredients, some only for one or the other (or neither).
  • Brown sugar should be packed tightly in the measuring cup.
  • Confectioner sugar and white sugar should not be packed.
  • Brown and white sugar may be substituted for each other, but Confectioner may not.
  • An unopened bag of flour can be placed in the freezer immediately after purchase. Freeze 48 hours. It will keep for months in your pantry without worrying about mealworms or other bugs.
  • Liquid egg substitutes are great. One egg is equivalent to ¼ cup egg substitute. If a recipe calls for two eggs, use ½ cup measuring cup—No sticky mess to clean up and no egg shells in your food.

Shopping tips:

  • Ask for help. The produce manager can help you calculate how many potatoes you need for a particular recipe. Ask the butcher what cut of beef is best for your recipe.
  • If you can’t find an item or ingredient, ask where to find it.

Literally millions of recipes are available online, whether you’re a beginner or a gourmet. One great link for help in the kitchen offers not only how to boil water, but how to rescue cooking disasters: Recipelink. If you visit Virtuowl you’ll find amazing facts, money saving tips and some great information about almost any food you can think of!