Cookbooks and TV shows can take you far, but for some skills—think folding a samosa or knowing what consistency a piecrust should be (and when to stop the food processor and start using your hands)—a demonstration where you participate is the only way to really get it. Adult education centers, cooking stores, professional cooking schools and even Whole Foods offer recreational classes, from
Hors d'Oeuvres Boot Camp
to Springtime Soufflés
, whether you want to spend one afternoon or a series of Saturdays or weeknights studying a particular cuisine or technique. A class size of 10 to 12 is best; you'll be able to ask plenty of questions, but it's less expensive than a one-on-one session. Once you get to the kitchen, turn off your phone, pull out your notebook (one with a waterproof cover is best) and take lots of notes. When you get home, make a concrete plan to use your new skills: Pick a day to cook for friends or teach your family members what you've learned.