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If you want to learn how to cook/bake/make _______ – S2, E45

on July 30, 2023 by Jami Balmet 0 comments

In this final episode of Season 2, we’re going to talk about learning to cook, bake, and make all sorts of things. Listen in!

Listen to the Podcast:

Right click here and save-as to download this episode to your computer.

When @jasonbalmet and I got married 14 years ago, I had ZERO cooking skills.

No, seriously. My skill set included top ramen (which we use to eat uncooked with the seasoning sprinkled on top as kids. 😂 Anyone else do that??)and microwaving frozen burritos.

I didn’t know how to cook anything, meal plan, meal prep, grocery shop, compare prices…you get the idea. But when we got married, my domesticity snapped into place and I knew I needed to figure out how to cook and manage my kitchen.

I knew that the time we had before kids was the most free time we would likely ever have again (and did I mention we were both working full time and finishing college full time). I’m not sure how I had that wisdom back then, but I’m so glad God gave me that mission to take it seriously to learn how to cook. But it was a sloooow process.

For the past 14 years, I feel like I’ve had a crash course in cooking, but in tiny weekly baby steps. For about the first 3 years of marriage, Friday night was my night to experiment with cooking. For years, I consistently picked one new recipe a week to cook. Many recipes failed. Some burned. Some were inedible. Some were fine. And some were surprisingly good. But persist I did. And the failures became less and less and the winners became more and more.

I still have a looooong list of things I’d like to learn. And really, that list now more just stuff I want to get into a regular habit of making since my skills in the kitchen have grown so much (Praise God)! I’m a very simple cook. I cook a lot of just real foods. I’m not fancy but I’ve learned how to feed my family 🙌😍I want to encourage you: if you feel a huge desire to take control of your kitchen, there is hope! Start with one small task at a time. Pick one new recipe and go from there.

What I’m going to be tackling next: I’m finally ready to jump back into sourdough. But this time, I’ll be tackling sourdough from freshly ground whole grains. It’s a whole new challenge 😅 But I’m ready for it 💪

So on Instagram, I asked what items you guys wanted to learn how to make/bake/cook and today I’m going to share the responses with some advice from me on how to get started. I asked them to fill in a box that said “I want to learn to cook/bake/make _____” 

Just using my pressure canner: This is such a fun goal! Pressure canning is really fun but can also feel totally overwhelming. My go to cookbook for pressure canning is The Complete Guide to Pressure Canning: https://amzn.to/3YbSVis 

For anyone who really wants to learn how to can but you are a total newbie, I highly recommend learning first how to water bath can. It’s like low stakes canning. All you need is a big pot (as opposed to an actual pressure canner)! But it will help you learn the basics of sanitizing the jars, canning the food, checking the food, checking that it seals, etc. Then when you venture into pressure canning, it’s a lot easier! 

And I have a new book that is one my wish list currently! I got to interview Melissa K Norris recently, her interview will be here on the podcast in a few weeks. Her new book looks so good Everything Worth Preserving: https://amzn.to/43PmSWK 


Kombucha is so fun!! It’s scary at first. But give yourself time to get the hang of it and then it’s so simple to keep it going weekly. 

Last year we did a fun experiment and brewed Kombucha and Jun tea at the same time to test out all the flavors. My favorite resource: The Big Book of Kombucha: https://amzn.to/3OxHheK

And I binged watched this YouTube channel when I was first starting out and watched all her episodes: https://www.youtube.com/@YouBrewKombucha 

Farmhouse teas is where we get all of our kombucha flavorings and tea for making kombucha!! 

Sourdough: It’s so intimidating: 

Ooh I get it. Here’s my recommendation: sourdough combines several different skills. You are combining the art of bread baking with the science of fermentation and trying to keep a starter alive. Many people decide they are going to learn how to bake bread, they jump into sourdough and then give you because its so many different skills needed. Learn how to bake really simple breads first. Get those down, understand HOW bread should look and feel. Learn the process and then when you start sourdough the entire bread baking process won’t feel hard at all. Sourdough is the GOAT but regular bread baking skills are so much easier to learn first. Then you can step up that next level with sourdough once you understand basic bread baking. 

I have about 12 cookbooks on sourdough, maybe more. They all offer different help or methods, and I’m a professional researcher. These two are my favorite on the subject: The Art of Baking with Natural Yeast: https://amzn.to/3YfnwM9 and Beyond Basics with Natural Yeast: https://amzn.to/3OB5TU0 

Fermented Vegetables: 

Fermenting veggies are so fun and super easy! The great thing is, once you understand the fermenting process and do it once or twice, it’s really easy. My favorite book is Fermented Vegetables: https://amzn.to/43NLEGI 


I tried pasta once by hand and quickly realized it was a not a project for the season of life I was in/am in at the time. I still would love to do some more advanced homemade pastas one day. But I got a terrific refurbished pasta maker many years ago now (and It has more than paid for itself). I use freshly ground grains for it and it’s amazing! The Philips pasta maker goes on sale frequently and you can often find refurbished deals: https://amzn.to/3O6e6he 

Peanut Butter: 

Peanut butter is sooo easy! And seriously will be the best peanut butter you’ve ever tasted! The easiest way to try it, is go to Costco or Walmart and get a rub of dry roasted peanuts. Throw it into your food processor and turn it on…wait until it turns into peanut butter!! Add salt if using unsalted peanuts or just salted ones. 


Jam is so very satisfying to make. You can make really simple jams for the fridge or freezer. Or do the next step and learn how to can jam (I recommend this as the first thing you try to learn to can as it’s so simple)! My #1 go to jam cookbook is Preserving with Pamona’s Pectin: https://amzn.to/3rP7z38 

With Pamona’s pectin, you can make the jam and have it jell properly without a ton of sugar. You can do it with zero sugar, or use natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup or even stevia! 

Links and Resources:

  • Join our private community to chat about this podcast episode: FindingJoyCommunity.com
  • Keep an eye out for Baking School with Jami coming in August: youtube.com/jamibalmet
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