Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Getting Started -- A blog for inexperienced cooks

I'm Barry Beacom and I'm starting this blog for a multitude of reasons.  The main one, however, is to help the inexperienced or new cook to grow in confidence and to enjoy the art of cooking.  This blog will cater to mainly young people just getting started on their own.  Hopefully the blog will also help other more experienced cooks too.

My plan is to blog once a week on a variety of cooking subjects and related topics.  After the main subject has been covered, I will also touch base on the following items.  Each week we will talk about a piece of equipment, small-ware or utensils that are used in the prep or cooking process.  We will discuss the need for the item and how to best use it and how safety and/or sanitation come into play with the item.  We will cover a process or technique that can be done with the item.  Then we will have a recipe that uses this item, process or technique.  The recipe may be simple and easy to more complex.  I will try and vary that as we work through the blogs.

I will try to have a question that may run for a few blogs to get feedback from followers of this blog.  I will be looking for questions or comments from you on where you would like help as we go through this process together.

Blogging is new to me.  I plan to continue to learn about the blogging site and all the tools they offer to help me put forward a first class site.  As that happens the "Cabana Boy Cooks" blog will continue to evolve.  Any suggestions on things you would like to see are welcomed.

It is my intent to try and help or give advice in what I call life lessons.  I want to help you to be the very best person you can be throughout your life and to also help you be successful and happy in your career or field of endeavor.  I want to see you have a rewarding and enjoyable personal life too.

Another reason behind the blog is a cookbook.  I am in the middle of the publishing process right now on a cookbook that I have written.  The cookbook is again for young people just getting started on their own and need help with learning to cook.  The cookbook is titled "More Than Your First Cookbook" and covers many things pertaining to cooking as well as 125 recipes.  My intent is to keep you updated on the cookbook's process as it works its way to release.

I guess the next thing to tell you is "Who is Barry Beacom and what gives him the experience on this subject". I retired in 2009 after around 40 years of managing, owning or working in the food industry.  I worked for national chains, independent restaurants and companies that manage the food operations on college and university campuses all across this nation of ours.  Over 25 years of the experience was working with young people.  That is where I saw a need for the cookbook that I have written.  So I'm taking my passion for cooking and my desire to pay forward the things that were taught to me in regards to cooking and life.

Hopefully, what I have written above will get you interested in following this blog.  I will use the above as my main piece of this first blog.  Below I will continue with the equipment, safety, sanitation, process, technique and recipe.

Equipment, Small-ware or Utensil:

For our first blog, we will talk about something that has more than one name.  It is referred to as:

Frying Pan, Omelet Pan, Skillet or a Saute Pan.

This pan comes in various sizes and shapes.  It also comes made of various materials.  Typically the size ranges between 7 and 12 inches.  If you only have one of these pans, make it towards the larger end.  Three is probably the ideal number.  You want to have one of 7 or 8 inches and another in the 10 inch area.  The third one should be a covered saute pan and it should be in the 12 inch or 4 or 5 quart size.

I mentioned shapes above and by this I mean the sides of the pan.  When I think frying pan, I am usually referring to a cast-iron pan with basically straight sides.  The skillet or omelet pan comes with sides that slant out and make it easy to slide food out of the pan.  This type of side helps you run the egg mixture of an omelet a little ways up the side or wall of the pan.  A covered saute pan usually has the more straight side walls.  This type of pan is great for one pan meals because of it's lid.

Note:  A Wok pan could also be used for many of the same functions as the pans mentioned above.

All of these pans can be made from different materials and have different coatings.  I already mentioned the cast-iron skillet.  Other materials include stainless steel, aluminum, copper, hard anodized and enameled cast-iron.  They can come with a nonstick coating which is helpful for many.

I use hard anodized cookware with a nonstick surface.  I would recommend this for everyone just starting out in cooking.  There will be more about my recommendations in a future blog when we talk about buying the equipment, small-wares and utensils.

As I mentioned above this blog site setup is new to me.  It is a work in progress and as soon as I figure out how to add some photos of equipment, I will.  The plan is to master it by the next blog.

Safety and Sanitation:

When using this type of pan the first thing that comes to mind for safety is burns.  Because you typically use butter or oil when using these pans, one has to watch out for splattering hot fat while you cook.  Some of the causes of splattering fat are having the heat too high, placing product in the pan or even the removing of product.  Pouring any excess fat from the pan when you have finished cooking.  Another way to get burnt is using a pan that has a handle that conducts heat.  The cast-iron pan will do this and so you need to use hot pads or gloves.  There are a lot of different ones on the market.  So pick what works best for you and looks good in your kitchen too.

One of the best ways to be safe, no matter what you are doing, is to pay full attention to what you are doing and give it the respect that it deserves.  Remember that and you will keep accidents to a minimum in your life.

I state it in the cookbook, but it is good to have an Aloe Vera plant in your kitchen.  They are great for burns.


To saute is to cook in a small amount of fat while stirring the food used often.  This is usually done on heat that ranges from medium to high depending on what you are sauteing.  You want to preheat your pan and fat to be used before adding the food to be sauted.  If you are using a solid fat, it needs to melt completely before adding the food.  If you are using a liquid fat, then make sure you have a sheen on the fat before adding the food.

You need to pay attention to your heat and adjust the heat source as needed during the sauteing process.  Butter, which is a solid fat, burns at a much lower temperature than liquid fats.  It helps in the process to sometimes combine a solid fat (butter) with a liquid fat (olive oil) to give you a higher heat point for burning.  It also can help with flavor compared to just using a liquid fat.

I am just giving you the basics on sauteing.  You need to learn what works best for you as you gain more experience in cooking.

The layout of the recipes in the blog are very similar to the layout in the cookbook.  I will give you a name of the recipe, estimated servings, ingredients (in order of use), directions, notes (covers other things you can do in the recipe) and lines for your own person notes on a recipe.  Your notes may be changes you made to meet your own personal tastes, that you like or dislike the recipe or measurements needed to double of half the recipe in the future.  They are there to give you some flexibility as you cook.  Enjoy!

I hope that you enjoyed this first blog for "Cabana Boy Cooks".  Have a great day and best cooking.

Cabana Boy


  1. Good job, good idea, everyone thinks they know how to cook. but few take the time to learn. I was the youngest of five by 6.5 years, so my mother kept me in the kitchen and kept me busy. I learned enough from her to get a job on a Salmon boat after high school and that prodded me to actually spend some effort learning to cook. A few seasons on the boats and some years as "Mr. Mom" added to my knowledge. Loving to cook is helpful. My thought on pans, better to have one good one than three crappy ones. Garlic salt, I do powdered garlic and salt to taste, hey, keep on blogging and I will keep on learning, thanks, Miles Beacom, Tijuana,Mexico

  2. Great start, Barry! As someone with an unbridled passion for gardening, cooking and eating I think this fantastic. During my 15+ years as a registered dietitian I have worked with people of all ages, cultures, and socioeconomic levels and one of the most common things I learn about them - whether admitted or not- is that they don't know how to cook. I am astounded by this as I learned to cook at just over 5 years of age thanks to my wonderful father. I see cooking as both a means of pleasure (creativity, enjoying the food, etc.) and also as healing - choosing foods that are healthful but yet taste delicious. I saddens me to think how many 30 and 20-somethings have no idea how to cook for themselves and that they their perception is that it's hard to do or their isn't enough time in their day or it's too expensive so I hardily applaud your effort. As for general site critique - a couple of punctuation/capitalization errors and the body of the blog would be greatly enhanced (i.e. keep readers attention longer and drive home your point) by adding photos. Photos of the types of pans - so they can compare the sides of the pans - if you haven't been in a kitchen much you can't picture those things in your mind. Remember the principle K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Stupid!). If it seems like a no-brainer for you it's probably a mind-bender for a reader. Besides - who doesn't love pics of tasty food (sauteed mushrooms, anyone??). Recruit Claudia to snap pics of you cooking and using the tools you blog about- keep your head/face out of the shot if you'd like to remain anonymous. It lends eye-appeal to your blog and makes your readers feel like they "know" you. Just some thoughts - I love food blogs. Ones I've been following recently are Pinch My Salt, Breadtopia, Smitten Kitchen, and EllieMoon (the last one is more crafts but her recipes are fantastic as well). Hope that helps! Good luck in your blogging endeavor - can't wait to see this cookbook!!

  3. Barry,

    Love the blogs! You ae doing an excellent job with all of this. I know that the blogs and the cookbook will defintely help me with my cooking skills. It is perfect for someone like myself who is just getting started in the cooking world. An idea for a future book would be a recipe book of 15-20min recipes for busy families. I know that as families grow, times gets harder and harder to come by. Great job.