3 Shows to Unleash Your Best Spring Cooking

It's the best time of the year. Not only does spring give a chance for our backyards to thaw out, we get the spirit to cook some new spring dishes to celebrate the new season an enjoy some fresh air in our house again.

Cooking shows are a dime a dozen. According to www.direct.tv, cable and satellite have handfuls of channels dedicated to nothing but food and cooking. So what are some unique choices that refine our spring skills? I like to avoid the standard-recipe shows and go straight to the sources that teach me something more than just about many teaspoons of olive oil to use.

'Good Eats with Alton Brown' (Food Network)

When it comes to food, Alton Brown is a scientist. Not only does he know how to cook, but he understands the history and composition of foods to the point where he knows why a dish is delectable when he whips it up. And if you follow him on "Iron Chef," you know he has a fierce passion for food and is great in front of the camera.

Just watch him walk us through this recipe for pan friend chicken. He walks us through why we should ignore seasoning the flower, why fried chicken is better cooked 10 degrees hotter or why it's a golden rule that we eat with our fingers. Alton Brown is a great break away from the monotonous step-by-step shows that we see so often.

'Cupcake Wars' (Food Network)

When spring sets in, I love to bake with my windows open. The wind from outside carries the smell throughout the house and there's just really nothing like it during any other time of the year. One of my favorite baking shows is "Cupcake Wars," which takes bakers from across the country and puts them through a gauntlet of timed contests in the pursuit of a cash prize to help fund their bakery back home.

Why would a race against time to make a cupcake be a good model to follow in my own kitchen at my own pace? The restricted time the bakers have forces them to focus on the most important details. I pay attention to where they put their effort and give my own cupcakes the same priority. The results really are something else.

'Worst Cooks in America' (Food Network)

I like to think I'm the best cook on the block, but the wishful chefs on "Worst Cooks in America" give me a humble dose of a reality to see these cooks and I make some the exact same mistakes. Celebrity chefs Bobby Flay and Anne Burrell find of some of the worst in America when it comes to culinary arts, put them put through a boot camp and split them into teams led by each chef in a fight to the title of mediocre.

Watching these chefs guide their teams through each task really is a miracle. This is one of the best cooking shows on TV that really re-teaches me some basic skills that I thought I always had, but was doing completely wrong.