How social media became my cooking mentor

I have heard the saying many times before, from rich pasta sauces to sweet banana breads to decadent chocolate cakes, that “it’s my grandma’s family recipe.” The secret to delicious meals passed down through generations, all teaching the next how to mix, chop, sauté, and bake. My friends would learn from their mothers, their mothers would learn from their mothers, and so on and so on. Bon Appétit!

I, on the other hand, was raised by a proud non-cook. My mother did not – and still does not – cook. I grew up on frozen meatloaf, frozen chicken nuggets, frozen fish sticks, frozen french-fries… you get the idea, slaving over a hot stove is not my mom’s idea of fun. But she is only carrying on the tradition in her family, as her mother is also a proud non-cook– there are no recipe cards to pass down, no secret pasta sauces or warm banana breads… And it seemed like I would carry on the family legacy when I went to university and proudly survived four years without turning on the stove.

It wasn’t until a few years ago when I moved in with my boyfriend and his (then) nine-year-old daughter that this all changed. I felt responsible to help provide a healthy, tasty meal for my family and, after burning grilled cheese for dinner one night, I resolved that I would learn how to cook.

My social media-inspired meals


Where to start?

  1. Find recipes

Learning how to cook with no prior experience feels overwhelming, but there are lots of great resources available on social media.

Facebook: Facebook features fantastic videos of mouth-watering dishes that will take you through the recipe step-by-step. Tasty, a cooking site by Buzzfeed, is one of my favourites.

Pinterest: When I first joined social bookmarking site Pinterest, I used it to scroll through pretty outfits, pretty homes, and pretty food pictures. Little did I know, those pretty food pictures led to pretty great step-by-step instructions on blogs. I started small and kept my search to “easy” or “slow cooker” recipes with minimal ingredients. Nothing too complicated, because I didn’t want to get discouraged. I also explored the “Food and drink” category for great ideas and organized pins into boards so they’d be easy to find later.

  1. Ask questions

I found great blogs through Pinterest pins, complete with photos, ingredient lists, and simple step-by-step instructions. One of the first recipes I made was this slow cooker chili, which is still my go-to for camping and ski trips because you can make it in advance and warm it up later.

“The best thing about blogs is the interaction between the blogger and readers.”

But what happens when you’re unsure of a step or your recipe is turning out wrong? The best thing about blogs is the interaction between the blogger and readers. The comment section allows readers to ask any questions they may have and, as a brand new cook, the comment section was really helpful to me—I felt like I had a wise cooking mentor over my shoulder!

  1. Stay motivated

Learning to cook can be discouraging, because not every recipe turns out like you hoped. One of my first fails was a one-pot meal that turned into a one-pot mess; I added the chicken to the sauce too early, so everything around it burned while the chicken cooked. But making mistakes is how you learn (and I’m starting to improve on timing!)

To stay motivated, I move forward from the failures and highlight the accomplishments. Every time a dish is a success, I take a photo and share it on Instagram using the #learningtocook hashtag. My friends, family and followers are able to see it, and hearing their positive feedback really motivates me to keep trying.

Although my family may feel like we’re in this Ikea commercial, I do often wonder if previous generations would have felt more pride and accomplishment in their meals if they had the opportunity to share it with the world?

While I have a long way to go to being Julia Child, I have come a long way from burning grilled cheese. This past Christmas Eve, I hosted a small dinner with family and made turkey breast with gravy and stuffing, apple and brown sugar pork chops, veggies and potatoes, and a chocolate fudge cake for dessert. I think my father nearly fainted with surprise! But while learning how to cook may seem daunting, everyone has their own cooking mentor thanks to social media.

What is your worst #Pinterestfail (or recipe fail)? Share in the comments below

— Social media posts —

Facebook: While I have a long way to go to being Julia Child, I have come a long way from burning grilled cheese. Learn how I broke free of my family’s tradition of not learning how to cook to pave my own #Pinterest perfect path. Read “How social media became my cooking mentor” here:

Twitter: From burning grilled cheese to #Pinterest perfect meals, learn how social media became my cooking mentor

6 thoughts on “How social media became my cooking mentor

  1. This was beautifully written, hopeful, and hilarious! I would say my worst Pinterest fail was the rag curls (I know for a fact I did it wrong) I thought it would help define my sometimes frizzy but curly hair. After meticulously wrapping my whole entire head with torn up towels (this took hours by the way) I fell asleep and woke up looking like Shirley Temple at the age of 19.

  2. Over the years I’ve become a decent cook, but I still struggle with the timing of getting everything onto the table at the same time, LOL. I think that my favourite part of cooking via social media is the shopping part – I tend to buy the same groceries, so no matter what I cook, I use the same ingredients. Therefore, pasta, stir-frys, roasted veggies, pizza and casseroles all end up kind of tasting the same as they’re all made of the the same food in different combinations. Shopping for new spices, or throwing in a can of coconut milk into the mix really mixes it up!

    • I remember when I first started cooking, every meal felt so expensive because I had to buy every ingredient in the recipe. Now, it’s so nice to have a stocked cupboard/fridge that meets most recipe requirements, with a few added items to mix it up for flavour 🙂 I’m starting to get into casseroles lately, mainly because the cold weather makes me crave comfort food– what is your favourite go-to simple casserole?

  3. I remember when I moved to Ottawa and I had no clue of cooking. My only source of cooking inspiration or cooking recipes was youtube. I have learned so much about cooking Indian food and my parents doesn’t believe that I can cook. Great recipes out there!

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