Alton Brown, who has a cooking show on the food channel has some
excellent books. He explains a lot from the chemistry/how it really
works perspective. I think the title is "I'm Just Here for the Food."
Master the basics, then go on to more elaborate stuff. Anything with
more than 5 ingredients is suspect! <grin>
Also, my favorite for basic stuff is the Better Homes and Gardens
Cookbook.. The one with the red and white plaid cover. I think it also
come in a loose leaf version, which opens flat. The New York Times
cookbook is also excellent. Again, all the standard stuff. Do some
reading. Talk to experienced cooks. Watch some of the cooking shows...
You can download their recipes from their web site. Ina Garten is
especially good, IMHO.
Google is also your friend. Put in the name of the dish, print it out,
and keep what you especially like, with notes, in a three ring binder.
Generally, the first time through, follow the recipe, then feel free
to experiment a bit.
The right tools are important... knives, pots and pans, etc. Stove
doesn't have to be fancy, just check the oven calibration. The modern
convection/microwave ovens are especially nice. A rice steamer takes
the pain out of steaming rice and vegetables, for example. An electric
fry pan is handy for cooking for one or two. Doubles as a griddle for