There are a lot of people out there that go around and do cooking every single day yet they were never taught the simple basics of cooking and baking. A lot of this is because we are part of a huge fast food culture and the art of cooking has simply been put on the shelf. So for some people even the idea of cooking or baking is a daunting task. But with a few tips on the basic anyone who is a beginner can be a successful cook.
All beginners in the kitchen need to start with a recipe. Note that cooking a recipe is far different than when you are baking a recipe. When you are cooking you can use substitutions and it's very common to do so and generally encouraged. For example if a recipe calls for both red peppers and green peppers and you don't like green peppers then you can substitute the green ones with all red peppers. This is perfectly fine and it's not going to ruin the recipe. However, in baking, the foundation of baking is actually chemistry and substitutions can actually lead to disaster. For instance Baking soda is chemically different than say baking powder and you can't use one for the other. Even the slightest change up in the amount of salt you use will ruin a baked item. Even if you use a different fruit in a particular pie recipe could end up being awful. This is because different fruits have different amounts of water in them and they can ruin the pie crust. So when you bake it is important that you always follow those recipes to the “T”.
Another very important element in baking and cooking would be the ratios of the amounts of food to each other in any recipe. There are some cookbooks out there that devote their content to teaching all about ratios. After you know some of the basic ratios for different foods then you'll be able to make them even without a recipe in front of you each and every time. For instance, if you know the flour to water ratio to the oil ratio of a loaf of bread you will be able to make any quantity of that bread without referring to a recipe. The same thing goes for knowing the ratio of vegetables to protein to rice in a stir fry. Knowing this will enable you to create different varieties of stir fry dishes without a recipe.
All cooks need to know their tools and this is especially true for the beginner. Some beginners will follow the recipe and still end up with a disaster at the end. This has a lot to do with the tools they used. For example a thick bottomed pot is going to be less likely to burn something than a thin one and will have to be watched less than a thin one. If the oven the cook has doesn't warm up correctly to the right temperature is never going to produce good baked goods. So always research the cooking and baking items you own and make sure that you test your oven when baking. You need to be informed about things in order to be able to be successful at baking.
Like anything else, if you want to get good at cooking and baking then you need to practice. This is the key to be able to remember and grow with your abilities in the kitchen. You need to repeat recipes over and over again until you feel comfortable with cooking them without referring to the recipe often. Instead of practicing cooking by cooking five totally different entrees say in a week, try making five different casseroles in that week instead so that you get plenty of practice at making casseroles. Repetition and practice is the best way to learn.