It was in the first year after college that I realized every piece of chicken, every steak or slice of roast I'd eaten growing up had been overcooked. Without a reference point, I didn't know that chicken wasn't always so dry in the middle. I didn't know that a piece of beef with pink in the middle was safe to eat.
While my did cook, and most of it was not bad, she lacked the sense of craft to make it stand-out good. The details like doneness or freshness of ingredients were missing from her cooking, and so from my young life.
My dad, on the other hand, had a cooking style from Mars. Random ingredients thrown together, the most important criterion the lack of ANY butter, salt, or anything else that might aggravate our hereditary high blood pressure. A common lunch for my dad was an onion, microwaved. (I did not partake).
I only occasionally cooked with my mom, not enough to learn the small bits of tradition that had been passed on to her.
So, like many other Chowhounds, I'm sure, I've been teaching myself to cook for the last two years, since I graduated college.
My primary teacher has been Julia Child and "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." I find it's great for a novice because it's doable without being overly easy, it's comprehensive and usually explains why a step is taken, and how to do it just right. An added bonus is reconnecting with the French heritage my family has lost in their four-or-so generations in America.
I've had to do a bit of experimenting and have eaten some unappetizing meals, but have fortunately had successes to even things out.
I wonder who else here has taught themself to cook, and what methods you all used to go from someone who can boil water to someone who can perform culinary fireworks?