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Nicole Masika shares her cooking expertise and lays out what online resources are available for the both new and experienced working-from-home chefs. 


Judging by the rapidly expanding KitchenQuarantine group on Facebook, more and more people are interested in cooking from scratch while they #StayHome. Everyone from inexperienced cooks asking about basics, professional chefs sharing their cooking videos, and all the others that fall somewhere in between! As for me, I'm solidly in the middle with my institutional food service background and a lot of home cooking experience. I used those experiences to sift through some resources that might be helpful if you are one of those trying to ramp up your home cooking skills. 

Checking out a regular cookbook or DVD isn't an option for most of us now. If you have some of the older cookbooks as seen in the photo, take a look inside. Editions from the 1950's often have more detailed directions than later editions, though they lack information on microwaves and other modern conveniences.  However, I did find a few member libraries that have ebook editions of the big red Betty Crocker Cookbook. While there is not a single link that will direct to you to all of them, I recommend doing a broad title search and filtering by ebook or computer file format to see if your system has it. Despite the title's current surge in popularity, I was able to check one out for a quick look (and promptly returned it!) . I was pleased to see many of the recipes had slow cooker conversion tips. The slow cooker is still the working person's best friend (even if you are navigating your working situation while at home) since you can start it in the morning or at lunch and let it do its magic for hours while you concentrate on something else. 

There are many more cooking resources of varying styles and quality when you take it to the wide and wild online frontier. Cooking Light's Fundamental Techniques has videos and slideshows that give clear and succinct explanations with an emphasis on healthy cooking. For more a more elegant - yet still easy -  approach, there is a YouTube channel with some of Ina Garten's (the Barefoot Contessa) older shows. If you are up for something a little more challenging (and have access to PBS or Amazon Prime) you can go with the ultimate classic, The French Chef with Julia Child (my personal role model).

To minimize trips to the grocery store. plan a menu for a whole week (or even two). Go through the recipes on the plan and check which ingredients you need to buy while not forgetting your staples. Is there an app for that? Yes there is! I use BigOven now and have also tried MasterCook in the past, both of which I recommend. 

So what are you waiting for? Stay-at-home-cooked meals are just a few clicks away!

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Nicole Masika
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