As I was sitting next to my husband, Ron, this evening during dinner and discussing my blog he asked me a question to which I had no immediate answer. He asked “What are your 5 rules for cooking?” (I know- it sounds like one of those questions that I just made up & pretended that he asked it so that I could have a good excuse to tell you my rules. Well it’s not. He really did ask me.) I had no idea where this question came from so I asked him why he asked it. He told me that it seemed to him that such a thing would be a good topic for a post before I really got into posting recipes & such. I had to think about the answers for a bit. I don’t often explain the methods to my madness in the kitchen- even to myself. I just do- my actions are more instinct than thought out processes. So I grabbed a pen & paper and Ron and I discussed 5 things that are “rules” in cooking. Well… My cooking anyway. So for here goes…
Rule 1: NEVER, ever use margarine. There is only one reason margarine will ever find it’s way into my house and that will be because someone has gotten their head stuck in a railing of some sort and the margarine is for greasing said head so it will slip out of said railing. I know butter is expensive. I get that. So to make up for that fact I make just about everything from scratch. (This makes up for the expense of a large number of thing- not just butter.) I don’t buy frozen dinners, packages of cookies, and a list of other things that could fill a whole other blog post- and might yet in the future. In this way I can afford things like butter. And no- margarine is NOT interchangeablewith butter in baking recipes unless you buy one that is clearly marked “good for baking” and has the proper oil ratio. The baked goods will be different in taste, texture, and quality. It’s easier- and better for you- to just buy butter. And so ends my rant on margarine. I shall let the offensive fat die in peace.
Rule 2: Always taste frequently. This should be obvious but not everyone does it. Go into the kitchen of any fine restaurant and you will find a container of small spoons next to each chef’s station. Those are tasting spoons- and the head chef expects to see a pile of them. It’s the only way to ensure consistent quality. No, I don’t have a pile of spoons next to my stove each time I cook. I’m also the one who does the dishes! I have one spoon that I taste with. The main stirring spoontransfers (with no actual contact) a small amount onto the tasting spoon. Voila! Consistent quality!
Rule 3: Never cook while your mind is elsewhere. I’m guilty of this from time to time (aha! A flaw! Told you I had those!). I will be angry, anxious, stressed, or excited and ruin at least one component of whatever it is I’m making. So just don’t do it! Take a minute to calm yourself or eat leftovers. Or maybe the pizza fairy would like to pay your house a visit. Sometimes there’s just no calming down and Lord knows you don’t need the stitches that always seem to happen when sharp objects mix with inattentiveness.
Rule 4: Always think ahead. Read your recipes all the way through and gather and measure out all ingredients before you start. Take time to put the parts of a new idea together. Figure out what’s for dinner well before dinnertime. Your life in the kitchen will be infinitely happier! (And you will avoid the painful stitches mentioned in Rule 3 that you would end up with because you’re stressed.)
Rule 5: “Semi- home made” is not cooking (or baking). It’s putting stuff together. I’m not saying that I don’t use the occasional cake mix, boxed, or canned item that I could make perfectly well from scratch because I’m low on ingredients or just too darn tired to do it right. I’m saying that when I do I don’t call it cooking. “Cooking” and “baking” to me are synonymous with “creating”. However, you will more than likely see some such boxed or canned item in a recipe on this blog. If such a thing should happen they will be an ingredient because to me those things are just the jumping off point. Just another piece to the puzzle. So no Sandra Lee nonsense on this blog.
So there are my 5 rules. Question answered. I hope I have been informative without boring you to tears; I want you to come back & visit me! Especially since my next post will be an AWESOME recipe for Italian food. Incredibly simple & better than anything I’ve ever had in a restaurant!