Attempting to Cook—Round One

January 5, 2015 in Uncategorized

So if you recall on my last blog post, I told you my New Years Resolution is to learn to cook.  And by that I mean mostly meat and vegetables in a healthy way.  While I do know how to cook—my repertoire is limited to things like Easy Chicken Casserole mixed with canned chicken,  sour cream, Ritz crackers and other things of that nature.  Trust me–it’s good.  It just isn’t that healthy.  I have tried multiple times to learn to cook over the course of my life with no success.  Yet I find myself in a battle now that is mine to lose.  The battle to lose all this weight.  To not regain it.  To change ONCE AND FOR ALL the way I am living my life with food.

I have always believed that food is pretty much evil.  Like inherently evil.  A necessary evil—but evil nonetheless.  At least FOR ME!

I love it.  It loves me.  And we are abusive to one another.  It draws me in.  I fall back in love.  I gain too much weight.  And we break up.  It’s a never-ending love story of twisted proportions.  I truly believed that for me the best thing to do was stay away from it as much as possible.  Spend little time and little thought.  I am after all the person who had 80% of her stomach cut out in an attempt to break free from it.  Nothing good could ever come from me spending time around food I had decided.  Honestly if I could I would just hook myself up to a feeding tube where I could continue to stay alive but not have to actually interact with the food in any way.  And not because I don’t LOVE FOOD.  But because I love it too much.  And I felt that some version of that was the best way to lose weight.  By just limiting what I eat to a few very simple things and trying to get the nasty job over with as soon as possible so I could move on and remove it from my mind.

To be honest, this worked pretty well for quite awhile.  I did after all lose 240 pounds.   And I did it eating a small rotation of about 5 things.  I kept it simple.  And it worked.  So if it was just me in the world, I could live off my Atkins shakes, microwaveable fish and Rotisserie Chicken.  But I have kids.  And that’s not doing it for them. After many more efforts of attempting to make healthy meals that we could ALL eat, I just gave up.  I decided I would cook for my children separately from myself.  Luckily my kids don’t really have a problem with overeating.  I guess I was a lot more careful with them in this area than I was with myself.  So I would continue to serve them the things I could cook.   And I just wouldn’t eat them.  Like hot dog and nachos pie.  Some kind of casserole concoction I learned a long time ago that sounds terrible but is actually pretty good.  Easy to make.  And terribly unhealthy.  It’s all mostly from cookbooks and recipes that limit everything to 5 ingredients or less.

But I realize now that I have a problem which must be solved.  I cannot cook these things for my children and not eat them.  I cannot buy them frozen pizzas without downing a few slices myself.  If there is any chance at all of me winning this game, I am going to just have to learn to cook.  And for me that is scary.  I don’t like engaging with food.  I feel it is dangerous.  And yet by not having ever learned to cook well, I am essentially handing over my power to others.  McDonalds.  Pizza Hut.  And whatever “recipe ready” or frozen foods I can locate.  It’s all a big mystery still and due to that fact I am left vulnerable.  Easy prey for whatever easy recipe or conveniently frozen but unhealthy food comes my way.  If I want to win the war with food, I may have to find a way to make friends with it.  And then fill my head with enough knowledge and skills that I can finally become in control of it.  Instead of it having control over me.

So my New Years Resolution is to learn to cook some things in a healthy way.  And I cannot tell you how enormously grateful I was for all the feedback you gave me!!  It was absolutely wonderful.  I filled up my amazon cart with several suggestions and I can’t wait to try them out.  But in the meantime I decided to start with Round One–Broiling Steak.

I want to tell you first of all that in researching, googling, and you tubing methods to cook steak I found one thing to be true—-cooking steak is almost religious to some people.  I can’t tell you how many different opinions, arguments and discussion forum battles I found on the subject!! People were arguing over everything from whether you should flip it once or multiple times in a pan to whether you should have it sit out for an hour before cooking it.  That only adds to my confusion but that’s ok.  I have found in the last few years especially that the topic of food is quite personal to people.  They all have opinions and they will battle people to the death over it!  So what’s new there, right?

I finally stumbled upon what I felt was the absolutely easiest video ever on how to make steak.  It did not involve multiple steps . It did not require me to both cook it on the stove in a pan and then also in the oven.  I watched it probably 6 times before trying it.  Here is the video that I used:

Seems easy enough, right?!

I also decided to attempt to cook a baked potato.  My daughter LOVES baked potatoes.  She gets them at school (of course) because surely  not here!! But I finally found this website which I thought was awesome.  It’s called Start Cooking and it’s extremely simplified.  Perfect for me.  I intend to hang out there a lot and learn how to boil an egg too.  So here is a video where she tells you how to cook a potato in the microwave.  I figured that was probably too simple to screw up so I decided to try it.

I’ll tell you right now that this was the most exciting part of the night for more reasons than one but more on that later.

Back to the steak!

So it told me to put it on a broiler pan.  What that is I have no idea.  I’ve heard of them before but I’m still not really sure what they are or how to use them.  I found this in a drawer though.  It came with the smart oven.  I think it’s the broiler pan but I still really don’t know if that’s what I should use.

broiler pan

 

 

I decided to just go with what the video said and throw down aluminum foil over a cookie sheet instead.  Because broiler pans I don’t know much about.  But cookie sheets?! Oh yes! Those I am intimately familiar with!

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This is the meat that I bought.  It said it was good for broiling so I just went with it.

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By the way, I never realized that you could cook something with the “broil” button.  For some reason I thought broil was more like toast.  The only times I have used “broil” in the oven was to cook the top of something.  Like the onion cripsy things on a green bean casserole.  Or to make a cheese puff on toast.  You know….a piece of bread with a slice of cheese on top.  You put it on broil for not very long and it becomes a big brown toasty bubble.  Yes–I’m fancy.

So as much as I hate to admit this—I just thought broil was like toasting things.  Not cooking them.  Evidently I was wrong!

It said I needed to place it so many inches from the broiler  I didn’t get out my ruler and I wasn’t sure so I was hoping I got it right.

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I had no clue what to season it with so I picked up what looked like steak seasoning at the store

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I followed the directions and put them in the oven.  I waited the allotted time before flipping them.  Now here is where it gets interesting again.  I read a whole thread on how you should never flip your steak with a fork.  I found this thread because a different recipe had said three times NEVER put a fork in a steak.  It didn’t say why though.  It just said don’t EVER EVER do it.  It was so scary and ominous sounding that I had to google what would happen.  As it turned out it was not dangerous but rather a way to let the juices out I guess.  So I was instructed to use tongs.

Tongs?

Believe it or not I had some.  The only reason is no doubt because when Amanda and I went shopping to stock my kitchen with some things she probably threw them in the cart.  It’s also the reason I found a peeler in the drawer too.  Or whatever you might call it.  Something one would use to peel potatoes for instance.  Amanda probably thought these were standard things one should have.   So surprisingly there they were!! I will say that the tongs were plastic though and I think I was probably supposed to use them for salad maybe??  At any rate, I set out to use them regardless.  And that is why my son came into the room to see what was happening.  Why the oven was on.  And why I appeared to be trying to cook something other than a casserole or something microwaveable.

More than likely my kids enlisted him as the little man of the house to put out any fires as well.  By this time I’m sure the kids had all discussed where the best emergency exit would be and were prepared to drop and roll in the case of a disaster.  Mom is trying to cook again.  Let us pray.

Since he had involved himself, I gave him the job of trying to flip the steak over as the directions had told us to do.  Here’s a little video of him laughing when I told him why all this was happening.

By the way, I have no idea why You Tube automatically plays every single video from my channel after you watch the one I post.  That is probably really annoying and I don’t know how to fix it.  Sorry about that.  So back to the steak….

When we took the steak out, it was strange.  Parts of the steak were black and burned looking . Other parts seemed ok.   It wasn’t evenly done.  Over all it was edible.

SCORE!  But not any more edible than anything I’ve tried to cook before in this department.  It was too chewy.  Way too chewy.  I didn’t want to eat it to be honest after having to work so hard for just a few bites.  Annabelle almost choked at one point so that’s probably not a good sign.

As usual this was frustrating because I followed the instructions.  Yet something was lost in translation YET AGAIN.  Story of my life with cooking.  It takes money, time, effort and usually ends with me heading back for something frozen like a hot pocket because it failed.

Here is what the kids thought of it:

 

 
However, I decided that the microwaveable potato HAD to be something I could manage.  So Charlotte and I set out to make this happen.  I even learned something.  I learned that there is a baked potato setting on the microwave!!!!  Who knew?!  We used that and it worked out perfectly.  Charlotte was very happy with the end result.

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It went SO well in fact that it gave everyone hope.  That maybe….just MAYBE….Mom could follow instructions and cook something.  I didn’t even explode the potato in the microwave!  So at this point, CJ decided maybe we could slice a potato up and put it in the oven too.  Like a healthier version of potato chips or french fries.  I figured why not? So we googled doing that and by this time I was really feeling happy.  I mean sure the steak was the equivalent to eating a tire.  But I had tried.  And as I said before, I am determined this time.  It was my first attempt broiling steak and at least it was edible.  The baked potato went well so maybe there is hope yet!

CJ even got creative and decided to peel the potato.  This is when we amazingly found the peeler in the drawer.  Thanks Amanda!! We had no idea how to use it but figured it out. And here he is peeling the potato

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But this is when it all took a serious turn for the worse.   CJ noticed his potato was GREEN and he asked me what I thought about it.

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Since I don’t have any remote clue AT ALL about things like this….I googled it.  And you know what it said!!!

TOXIC SUBSTANCE!!!!!!!!!

That is what it said.  I googled several other pages and they all said the same thing.  Someone even commented that their sister had DIED from eating a green potato!!! What the heck???!?

Now everyone was in an uproar.  And then all attention turned to Charlotte.  Who had already eaten her entire potato.  Silence ensued as no one wanted to say out loud what we were all thinking.  We hadn’t peeled Charlotte’s potato before cooking it.  What if her potato had green in it too??? Is she going to die now?? Is she going to get sick??

Have I poisoned my child by once again trying to COOK?!

All the potatoes were tossed out and paranoia set in.  We decided to monitor Charlotte and make sure nothing happened.  Aside from some brief panic episodes she lived.  No one died.  And another day dawned.

But seriously.  THIS is what happens when I cook.

I start out just trying to make a healthy dinner for my kids and almost kill my child with a toxic potato.

I had no idea potatoes could be TOXIC??  I’n not sure I’ll ever touch one again.

And that’s round one of me trying to cook.  The children are traumatized yet again.  But no one died and I didn’t set the kitchen on fire.

So…..mild success?

I’ve ordered a cast iron pan for my next effort at broiling a steak but I’m going to take a few days off.  The kids are still pretty worked up about the potato incident and don’t want to die young.  So I think I’ll give them a few days before I try again.

You know….and maybe therapy.

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{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

Shannon January 5, 2015 at 6:35 pm

Wow girl! 🙂 I’ve commented before about slow-cooker recipes, but seriously, the slow-cooker is your friend! It’s so easy and it’s great for cooking meat. It’s almost impossible for meat to come out chewy or messed up in any way when you use your slow-cooker. 🙂 I like allrecipes.com and I just look for the recipes with the highest reviews so I know it’s going to be fairly decent. Also, there’s a FANTASTIC non-slow-cooker recipe that I’ve made several times now called “easy oven fajitas” – just google it and it’s the first one that comes up. You can eat just the meat and veggies and your kids can eat them taco style! 🙂 Good luck… learning to cook sometimes takes time; I’ve had my share of fails! 🙂

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Jenn@slim-shoppin January 5, 2015 at 6:53 pm

I have cooked my whole life, so I feel bad that you are just learning now, but you can do it! A little green on a potato is not toxic. It’s like when you get a bag of potato chips and there is a random green one in there. If you are peeling it, just peel it off. If you are eating a cooked potato and see a little green on the skin, just don’t eat it. It won’t kill you. http://www.snopes.com/food/ingredient/greenpotatoes.asp

You can also cook baked potatoes in the crock pot. I’ll wash a potato, leave the skin on, take a piece of foil, set the potato on the foil, drizzle a little olive oil and salt and pepper and just put it in your crock pot on low all day. You can’t over cook it. I’ll cook maybe 6 like this every week to just keep on hand.

Another easy recipe your kids might like is what my family calls goulash.

1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 green pepper, diced
1/2 white onion, diced
1 box elbow macaroni, (the box should say it serves 8)
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp pepper
pinch of salt

In a big pot, bring water to a boil. Add the pasta, and cook 10-11 minutes, drain and put back the drained pasta into the pot.

Meanwhile, in a smaller pot, add the diced onion and green pepper with a little olive oil for several minutes. Add the ground beef and cook until no longer pink. If you use a 96% fat free ground sirloin, no need to drain any liquid from the meat, if you use a fattier meat you can drain some of the fat off. Add the can of crushed tomatoes and spices. Add the cooked pasta and stir. It’s ready to eat!

I would be happy to create an easy and affordable meal plan for you to help you with what to make. I have 3 kids who are teenagers and I work full time and do most of my grocery shopping at Aldi. Do you have an Aldi near you or what store do you shop at? Looking at the sales flyers can help you too as to what to buy each week.

Great job though trying to navigate the kitchen – with practice you will be great in no time!

Jennifer

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Beth January 5, 2015 at 6:54 pm

I started learning to cook healthy a few years back and while I’m no master chef, I have gotten better and better over time. You will too. My favorite healthy go to meal is some sort of meat with mixed cut up veggies, all stir fried with a little garlic in pecan oil. The pecan oil makes the difference. I have used boneless skinless chicken thighs, leftover hamburger patty cut up, leftover pork loin…whatever.

My big thing is that I try to do all of the prep work possible on the weekend, because I’m not big for spending time cooking after work. Just keep at it and you will start finding your way!
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Kathy January 5, 2015 at 7:12 pm

My favorite thing in the crockpot is boneless skinless chicken thighs, I throw them in frozen and then pour in a quart of chicken stock and taco seasoning. Cook it all day on low, and then shred it for chicken tacos (drain the chicken stock off first, after shredded if its not “tacoy” tasting I put a bit more taco seasoning on it.)

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Melinda January 5, 2015 at 8:07 pm

Green potatoes are just sunburned potatoes. Not toxic at all. Urban legend.

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Mrs Abella January 5, 2015 at 8:37 pm

AMEN!

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vicki January 5, 2015 at 8:45 pm

There is nothing wrong with a slighly green potato, just got too much sunlight after it was picked.

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vicki January 5, 2015 at 8:48 pm

cooking is just about finding what you like and running with it. Everybody does it different. So just keep tryimg. Chicken might be easier than steak. Not so fussy.

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Rachelle January 5, 2015 at 8:48 pm

First I want to say that I love your blog and you inspire me alot. Secondly I think I can help you with the steak cooking techniques. You can buy a cast iron skillet if you want but it’s not necessary. Here’s how I cook my steak and they come out perfect every time.I preheat my oven to 450. I season my meat with steak spice. Then I warm a pan to medium high heat and sear the meat. I then transfer the meat to a foil lined cookie sheet and cook them in the over for 15-20 minutes depending on if you want your steak rare, medium or well done you will have to adjust the baking time. I use a meat thermometer to check my meat to it’s done to what my family likes. And the most important part of cooking your steak is once its reached the temp you want loosely cover your steak with tin foil to let the juice redistribute. Hope you don’t mind the cooking advice 🙂
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Holly from 300 Pounds Down January 5, 2015 at 8:59 pm

Ok I have a few questions. First…what is sear? How do I know when I’ve done it? Does it matter what kind of meat I get? Apparently there are lots of different kinds of steak. Second when you put it in the oven is it on broil or bake? Also how far from the top should it be? Do you flip it during that 15-20 minutes? And finally, If you did use a meat thermometer would you stick it in the middle and what should it say? Thank you!!!!!

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Marianne January 6, 2015 at 1:44 am

Hi Holly,
Another great post. Was holding my breath hoping you didn’t hurt yourself. My first meal was steak and baked potato too. Pre microwave era!

You can get an instant read thermometer at Wal-Mart for $10 to stick in meat to tell you when it’s done. Right on the thermometer it says the temps for different meats. More advanced technique is do it by feel. Raw steak is mushy and well done is firm. Don’t try that til you’ve cooked a lot of steaks.

You put the meat in on broil, not bake, and it should be on the top rack, unless you have a broiler drawer.

People saying to use a skillet instead of the broiler are giving you good advice. You can see what’s happening and the cleanup is easier.

Keep trying, don’t get discouraged.

Marianne

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Rachelle January 6, 2015 at 9:05 pm

To sear it means to brown the outside at a high temperature but not actually cook it thru. I put my rack at the highest knock in the oven and I don’t broil it I bake it. I find if you put the broiler on the steaks can be quite finicky so you end up burning the outside and having the middle raw. I have a digital thermoter that I got at Walmart for about 10$ and I put it in the thickest part of the steak.

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Lauren H. January 5, 2015 at 9:14 pm

I love reading your cooking posts. I grew up cooking so it’s normal for me, but coming up with stuff I could eat after lap-band surgery sucked. I have a great recipe (of my own creation) for Enchilada’s if you think it would be something you/the kids would like. I use turkey slices instead of tortillas to cut carbs and because tortillas don’t agree with me.

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Holly from 300 Pounds Down January 5, 2015 at 9:59 pm

yes please post it!!!!

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Lauren H. January 5, 2015 at 10:02 pm

It’s looking like I will need to rewrite it. I will for you – do you need photos? I can do a photo blog of it with steps, might be easier 🙂
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Lauren H. January 5, 2015 at 10:07 pm

I found it. let me know if you need pictures or help

Turkey Black Bean “Enchilalas”

Makes 5 2 enchilada servings, but I could only eat 1 enchilada. You can probably use less cheese.

I can’t eat soft, mushy tortillas. So I made up this recipe with turkey slices.

I put in all of the ingredients on myfitnesspal.com to get the calories etc. I used all store brand items except the enchilada sauce, that was El Paso (medium sized can)

258 calories per serving (again, using less cheese would affect this)
21 Carbs
12 fat
18 protein
5 fiber

1 can rinsed and drained black beans (I put them in a colander and rinse, then drain for 5-10 min. you don’t want the extra water)

1 can enchilada sauce

4 tbs light sour cream

1 3/4 cup shredded cheese (1.5 cups cheddar 1/4 cup pepper jack – or use what you like – use less for firmer enchiladas)

10 slices deli turkey (I use a Great Value turkey slices from walmart because they are like rectangles)

1/2 onion, diced and separated (you can use green onions, or no onions, I just like onions)

Pre-heat oven to 350

In large bowl mix –

1 can rinsed and drained black beans
a few tablespoons Enchilada sauce
3/4 cup shredded cheese
4 tbs sour cream
1/2 of diced onion (save the other half for topping)

Stir well.

in 9×13 glass dish, spread 1/2 can of enchilada sauce.

Place a few large spoonfuls of bean mix in turkey slice, roll up (no need to make like a burrito)
Place in dish. Repeat 9 more times.

Pour rest of enchilada sauce over enchiladas and top with remaining cheese. Sprinkle with onions.

Cover dish with foil. Bake 20 min covered. Remove foil and bake 5-10 more minutes until heated through and cheese is melty.
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Wendy January 5, 2015 at 10:01 pm

Hi Holly – great job, lady! Good for you for jumping right in.

Can I tell you, please, that your steak being tough (chewy) has NOTHING to do with how you cooked it! Sometimes meat is tough. Every piece of meat is different. I learn what stores I get tough cuts at, and what stores sell tender meats.

Also, when shopping for the steak, poke it gently in several spots (not enough to damage the plastic wrap though). The meat should feel soft – that means it’s tender. If you poke around a couple packages, you should be able to find some with less softness than others – those steaks are more tough.

One way to reduce toughness is to rub the steaks with oil before seasoning them, and just kind of massaging the steaks a little with the oil. You can give them a good hard rub, and how soft (or not) they are will tell you how tender they will end up being.

I’d suggest cuts like ribeye, sirloin, or NY strip for a more tender steak. Some cuts are known to be tough. I won’t mention them here as I don’t want to confuse you 🙂 But in that video (great share, BTW), it looked like he had some nice, marbled ribeyes.
Oh, that’s one more thing! Look for steaks with “marbling”, which is very thin white streaks of fat running through them. The more little white streaks you see, the more tender and juicy your steaks will be. The ones you bought don’t look like they have much marbling, from the photos, so that will also explain the toughness. But be aware, they’ve been trying to breed cattle to be leaner and leaner, so well-marbled steaks are harder to find (they’re the ones that other shoppers pick first!).
Again, though, congratulations. I hope my steak advice helps. I KNOW you can do this!
Wendy
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Lori January 6, 2015 at 3:45 am

I agree with Wendy– it all depends on the cut of steak, and marbling is very important. I usually buy ribeyes or t-bones and just cook them in a pan with a little butter or olive oil and steak seasoning. To me they’re even better than grilled because you keep all the juices. The better cuts are usually expensive, but I personally have never had any luck with cheaper cuts of steak.

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Sarah January 5, 2015 at 11:06 pm

http://www.amazon.com/Sandra-Semi-Homemade-Cooking-Made-Light/dp/0696232669

Start with some Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade cooking recipes. It is semi-homemade because her recipes start with prepackaged or easy to use things. Her instructions are simple and easy to follow. She also has some recipes that can make you appear like a gourmet chef with very little work.

For understanding the basics of cooking, Alton Brown is the best. Good Eats comes on in reruns on Food Network and on the Cooking channel. He does the best job of explaining why cooking works the way it does and the proper steps to take. There are some videos on the Food Network site (http://www.foodnetwork.com/shows/good-eats.html) and you can usually catch reruns of Good Eats on Food Network or the Cooking Channel.

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Taryl January 12, 2015 at 4:43 am

Yes, AB is so good. Good Eats and Mark Bittman’s book “How To Cook Anything” are wonderful resources. Just be aware they can be triggering if you’re sensitive to mental cravings and easily swayed by visual stimuli.
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Barb January 5, 2015 at 11:23 pm

Honestly I only like steaks cooked on the grill! In the winter I use my crock pot all the time and in the summer I grill out!

About boiling an egg..here is how I do it. Take how ever many eggs you want out of fridge and put in a sauce pan that is large enough that water will cover the eggs and still have room to boil. Put enough water in pan to cover eggs. Put on stove and turn on high. Once water starts boiling set a timer for 10 minutes (keep temp on high). After timer goes off take pan off burner and immediately run them under cold water. Your goal here is to quickly cool off the eggs so they peel easy! For the next 10 minutes I run themunder cold water and let them sit in cold water for 2 minutes and keep doing that. Sometimes I have just dumped ice on them and let them sit formsybe 20 minutes. That’s it. I make them a lot and they peel easy.

Proud of you for attempting the steak and potato!

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KD January 6, 2015 at 3:19 am

Hooray cooking!! And the baked porato worked! I have cooked many in my microwave and I haven’t had one explode yet…although to be on the safe side I do tend to poke holes in it with a fork before hand. I’m pretty sure that pan is a broiler pan. Advantage is it allows airflow under whatever you are cooking which can help things along. Sounds like the whole family learned something, very impressed with how you dived right in!!!

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PaulaMP January 6, 2015 at 5:25 am

Have you ever thought about taking cooking classes, where there is an actual teacher there? I think that might help you a lot.

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Terri in BC January 6, 2015 at 6:17 am

Hi, Holly: I’ll try to answer some of your questions here. Also, try wikihow.com. Here’s a good link for beginners on how to cook a steak, from choosing the right cut to the tools, to how to tell it is done. http://www.wikihow.com/Broil-Steak

The grill-looking thing you show in your picture is a broiling rack, it usually has a drip pan that it sits in as well. If not, you can place it in any metal baking pan that you may have on hand (line the pan with foil for easy cleanup.

Sear means to cook the meat in a hot fry pan on the top of the stove to seal the outside of the meat. This keeps the juices in.

Instead of using steak spice on the meat just before broiling, you may want to try a marinade for a overall flavor addition. A marinade is like a juice or sauce that you soak the meat in over night (in the fridge) in a Tupperware container. It adds favour and usually tenderizes the meat as well. Look up some good low-cal ones on allrecipes.com or on weightwatchers.com. Watch your ingredients list because many marinades have sugars that I know you don’t want.

If you like a rare to medium steak, take it out of the fridge about 20 minutes before you cook it, to bring it to room temperature. If you prefer a medium to well-done, put it in the oven cold. Be sure to hrow out the marinade after the steak has been soaking, don’t use it as it can cause illness.

When you broil, you were right to put the tray on the highest rack in the oven. Make sure you turn the oven on about 15-20 minutes before you put the meat in, as it cooks quite rapidly once it is up to temperature. Start with 5 minutes on each side, and then you’ll know whether you need to cook it more or less the next time.

Get a set of metal tongs for the oven. Get them a little longer (I like tongs made for barbequing) so that you are less likely to get burned and be sure to wear oven mitts.

When you peel a potato, just make sure to peel the green off as well. It can be toxic in large doses, causing you to be sick but won’t kill you (unless you eat a bunch of potatoes. When you’re buying potatoes for baking, avoid those with a greenish cast to the skin. Russet potatoes are usually the best for baking and have a thicker skin, so tend not to be green inside.

Good luck with your cooking adventures! I think it’s great that you are getting the kids involved, it’s a great family activity and will give them the tools they will need later in life. I look forward to hearing more about them.

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Tempi January 6, 2015 at 4:30 pm

i really think you need to try and find a cooking class to attend. It would give you hands on instruction which I think would really benefit you. Does your friend cook? Could she give you some basic lessons?

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Beth M January 6, 2015 at 5:07 pm

Lots of advice here, but I’d say that broiling meat is more complicated than other options. If your steaks are quite thick, they can get burnt on the outside before they’re well cooked on the inside.
Do you have a crock pot? If you do, that might be an easy way to start. You can put almost any kind of meat in a crock pot, cook it “low and slow” for hours with a sauce, and it’s really hard to go wrong. It’s also a good option for less expensive cuts of meat that might end up tough or chewy using other cooking methods. Search for “crock pot” and recipes, and you’ll find a ton of suggestions.
Don’t give up – you can do this!

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Colleen White January 6, 2015 at 5:14 pm

Hi Holly,
Well I have to tell you, sweetie, that at 65 years old I have eaten many, many, many potatoes with green under the skin. In fact, one of my sayings before my WLS was, “I never met a potato I didn’t love!” because I loved them baked, fried, scalloped, creamed, mashed, etc., etc, lol! They are part of why I was obese so now I kind of stay away from them but as many people have said, they are not toxic. Here’s another link: http://foodserviceblog.idahopotato.com/qa-why-are-my-potatoes-green/
Keep up the good work. I got married when I was 16 and my mom was an awful cook. We lived on mostly Swanson tv dinners growing up. When I eloped with my honey I had no clue how to cook anything but I was kind of like you and just started plugging away. There were many, many disasters but I kept at it and now, 48 years later, he would tell you I am a great cook. And there is still an occasional disaster or at least a malfunction of sorts with some recipes. It just takes practice, over and over, like your turtle, slow and steady wins the race. And you will be able to feed those beautiful kids of yours much more healthy as you figure it out! Praying for you often, honey. 🙂

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John (Daddy Runs a Lot) January 6, 2015 at 6:50 pm

Ok – any food can be toxic — yeah, any “eyes” or green parts of the potato should be discarded, but that’s, really, no different than cooking meat that’s turned . . . if you cook it, it’s not going to hurt you — it’s just going to taste funny. If you eat it raw, well, maybe you shouldn’t have done so.

Do you watch Brooklyn 9-9? I’m not one to usually advocate television watching, but there is this fun little side-story with the police department chief, who is a model of efficiency and one of his detectives, who is an absolute foodie, where the detective is trying to teach his boss how to cook. It reminds me of you.

And I hate to tell you this, but broiling is toasting. Toasting is broiling . . . but that’s not to say that either isn’t cooking . . . you make something hot, you cook it.
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Anneli January 6, 2015 at 7:20 pm

You crack me up!! Score one for you and the kids! I think the main thing to remember is that you’re only trying to please yourself and the kids–not open a 5 star restaurant in Manhatten. Don’t worry so much. As you say, everyone has an opinion. There are many better ways to cook steak than I cook it–but what I do works for me. Here it is–throw whatever steak (any kind) on the grill on in any random pan that I have. Cook anywhere from medium to high–flipping (with a fork or tongs or whatever) until I think it looks good. Stab it in the middle with a knife and take a look to see if the middle is well done enough for me. This technique will not get me a spot on the food network, but it pretty much keeps us happy. Here’s a “bonus” healthy french fry recipe that I make all the time.

Pre-heat the oven to 425. Take some potatoes (as many as you want to eat–I usually use about 5), wash them. Then slice them up skins and all so they look like french fries. Spray a cookie sheet with Pam, then arrange the “fries” in a single layer on the pan. Spray the potatoes with either Pam or even better, a canola oil spray. Sprinkle as much salt as you like to eat on them. Bake for 20 min. Flip them over (using a spatula or whatever utinsel you like) and bake for another 20. Eat them just like fries with ketchup and all.

Happy Dining!
Anneli
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Bonnie January 6, 2015 at 7:49 pm

If it makes you feel better, I have been cooking since I was eight years old and still haven’t mastered steak. Sometimes it turns out, sometimes not so much. If a steak turns out chewier than you intended it to be, slice it thin across the grain (you’ll see how the muscle in the meat runs in one direction–the grain–slice it the other way).

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Margaret January 6, 2015 at 7:51 pm

I’m considered an ok cook and I think broiling steak is HARD. Shoe-leather-express pulling into the station. Don’t give up Holly, you just started with a tricky thing.
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Jessica January 9, 2015 at 7:11 pm

I agree! They are so, so, so hard to do and rarely turn out yummy. I hate cooking steaks, or eating someone else’s home-cooked steaks, and will just save my $$ for Ted’s Montana Grill if I want one!!!
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Carrie January 7, 2015 at 12:08 am

You had me literally laughing out loud! Green on potatoes is not toxic.
Great job on trying something new! Stick to it! It will get easier and easier to cook. Keep blogging. You make me smile. 🙂

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Alison C. January 7, 2015 at 5:26 pm

Oh my dear! I am loving your posts on learning to cook. When my mom passed I was 23, and I really didn’t have much in the way of cooking skills. By using very simple cookbooks, watching A LOT of cooking shows, taking a few cooking classes at my local community college, and some trial and error, I consider myself…well, not a cook, but at least able to follow most recipes and make some tasty dishes!! That said, please know that cooking a steak is NOT an easy task! In fact, I’ve never cooked a steak! I give them to my husband to do on the grill. That doesn’t mean you can’t cook one – it just means to give yourself some slack – you didn’t start out with a super easy project!

Can you cook with Amanda sometimes? My friend and I did this thing once a month where she would come over for dinner and we’d cook something new for dinner. I was the more experience cook at the time, so I taught her how to mince garlic and what cookbooks were referring to with various instructions and so forth. And it was fun for me and I tried new things!

And like I said, if your local community college or library or something offers a cooking class, maybe you could take it. Even if it doesn’t teach specific dishes that you want to make, it will teach you skills that you can apply to your other cooking endeavors.

Best of luck, and remember – it’s only food! 😀

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Danna January 9, 2015 at 3:26 am

Okay. So the pan you pulled out and didn’t know what it was, the one in the picture…that is a broiler pan. It is your best friend for low fat meat cooking. Spray it with Pam or use a basting brush (like a paint brush) and brush a thin coat of olive or canola oil on it. Pam will make it discolor (but really so what) oil won’t, both just make it easier to clean. Your steaks were probably chewy for one of 2 reasons, either they were the wrong cut of meat, or they were overcooked. As a general rule of thumb, the more marbling (or fat in the meat) the more tender it is, the leaner the more chewy. There are ways around this (marinating and slow cooking) but that’s beside the point. So when broiling, I use the top rack position in my oven – unless that makes the meat touch the heating element or come within and inch or two of it (the fat from the meat can sizzle up and catch of fire if too close). So broiling is just bbq in reverse. In a Bbq the heat comes from under the meat. In broiling it comes from on top of the meat. The broiler pan allows the fat to drain off the meat down to the lower pan for leaner meat on your plate. As far as steak seasoning, salt and pepper should be fine. You can through a little garlic powder on if you want, but other wise salt and pepper is good. If your steak(s) is very lean, you might want to put it in a gallon ziplock bag with 1/2 cup or so of Italian salad dressing (light is fine) for 2-24 hours in advance of broiling it. It’s a great way to add flavor and to tenderize the meat. When shopping for a good broiling steak, a ribeye will be very tender. A sirloin or NY will be a little less tender, top round quite a bit less tender and should be marinated. Okay so once your steak is on the broiler pan and in the over, plan on about 5 min a side for medium doneness. So cook, 5 minutes, then flip. I use a fork to flip frequently. Honestly I use whatever I’ve got handy, tongs, fork, spatula, whatever. When the steak is done in the oven, let it sit on a cutting board or plate for 5 min or so to “rest”. If you cut into it right away all the juices will run off and your steak will be dry. If you are at the grocery store and not sure what to buy, ask the butcher he or she will be a great resource.

Now if you’d like to do pork chops, here’s how I do them: Get your broiler pan out. spray it with Pam. Put your pork chops on it, plop about 1/2 tsp or so of butter on each pork chop (margarine will work, but butter tastes better), then sprinkle with some garlic salt, then pour a splash of Worchesteshire sauce on each chop and then a splash of soy sauce. Put the pan in the oven with the rack in the top position (unless this touches the element) and broil 5 min, then take the pan out of the oven, turn the chops over, put 1/2 tsp butter on each on, garlic salt, worchesteshire sauce, and soy sauce and put it back in the oven for 5 min or so. Leave the oven door cracked open when you broil and if it looks like the food is burning, pull it out early. Again let the chops rest 5 min or so before you serve them. I’m serious, if you e-mail me directly ddlockerby@gmail.com, we can set up a time and I’ll Skype with you while you are cooking and walk you through it real time.

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Holly from 300 Pounds Down January 12, 2015 at 4:19 pm

This is great advice!! Thank you so much for taking the time to give me these details. It has helped me a lot!

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Danna January 9, 2015 at 3:27 am

BTW the green on the potatoes if fine. It’s not toxic.

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Taryl January 12, 2015 at 4:40 am

Raw it can be, but not cooked 🙂
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dianne January 10, 2015 at 12:48 am

also, whenever you cook meat, make sure it is room temperature. basically sit it out 20 minutes before you cook it. if you throw cold meat on a hot stove, it will make the meat tougher.

searing meat before putting it the oven/crockpot/dutch oven will help keep the juices in.

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Taryl January 12, 2015 at 4:39 am

Oh Holly, I feel badly laughing at this but I had many kitchen disasters when I was learning to cook as well!

Can I make a suggestion, one mom to another? One of the best and simplest cookbooks I own is by Sheila Pereyra – Sugarfreesheila. They are very simple and tasty low carb dishes (and not overly expensive or with tricky cooking instructions). The kids will eat it without complaint and you’ll like them as well, I think. She is wonderful and an Atkins girl through and through.

http://www.sugarfreesheila.com/cookbooks-products/

You might find the dessert cookbook too tempting, but the Super Simple Induction cookbook is the winner for crowd pleasing. I have several LC cookbooks but all are a little too complex, pricy, or finicky for me to use with any regularity. Her recipes on the site and in the book are not.
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Holly from 300 Pounds Down January 12, 2015 at 4:18 pm

I’ve never heard of her. I looked at the site and it’s great! I am so happy you linked me to her!!!!

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Shay from Trashy Blog January 13, 2015 at 3:14 am

HILARIOUS!! Keep trying, Holly. You’ll get it!
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LuckyMama January 18, 2015 at 1:45 pm

I just saw this link on my facebook page and immediately thought of you. It’s all about cooking and has plenty of helpful hints:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/christinebyrne/cooking-charts#.qdXQLrAadd

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Holly from 300 Pounds Down January 18, 2015 at 8:15 pm

OH MY GOSH!!!!!!! This is totally awesome. I am so happy and excited that you sent me this!! I am going to print it out. It’s better than some of what I have in cookbooks. Thank you thank you!!

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