>My Top 8 Golden Rules of Cooking

>Everyone has got certain things that they always do when they enter their kitchen to cook. Some things are not for everyone, but there are always some “golden rules” so to speak that I try to do to make my cooking life easier. In no particular order…

Read the recipe all the way through before beginning. 

This should go without saying, but a lot of times we only get as far as making sure we have all of the ingredients and then we jump right in. This causes a couple of problems, we may start cooking a part of the recipe before we should. We realize that the recipe needs to simmer for 45 minutes before moving on to the final step, but now it is six-o-clock and dinner is supposed to be on the table, not simmering. Marinating ahead of time always gets me! Bottom line is that reading the recipe ahead of time avoids any timing issues, and we know exactly what to expect.

Use multipurpose kitchen tools.

Anyone that has seen Alton Brown knows this one all too well. What this means is that instead of buying one tool that only does one thing, try to buy tools that have multiple purposes. What this does is keeps your kitchen clutter free (giving you more cabinet space) but also keeps your countertops available while you are cooking. Not to mention less cleanup when it is all over. For example, instead of purchasing a flour sifter that, lets face it – only sifts flour, use that fine mesh sieve you’ve got hanging out in your drawer. Get a multipurpose food processor that chops, dices, and purees.

Buy quality ingredients.

Do I really have to expand on this one? Quality ingredients lead to quality dishes that taste fabulous. Don’t skimp. At the very least try to get some great fresh ingredients and quality spices.

Buy quality equipment.

If you are cooking with crap, you will notice it. Get some good quality cookware, bakeware and cutlery and you will never turn back. Sure, your food will probably taste slightly better, but my reasoning is that it just makes it so much easier to cook! Ever try to cut a tomato with a dull knife? Use a non-stick pan that everything seems to stick to? You get my point. Get the good stuff and you won’t spend as much time in the kitchen.

Cook seasonally.

Produce looks better, it tastes better and it costs less. It’s not always possible, but try to cook seasonally – your next best bet would be [quality] canned or frozen produce. If you don’t know what’s in season, check out my handy “What’s In Season?” page.

Replace spices each year.

There are some spices we use so much that this rule does not apply. Kosher salt, black pepper, paprika, etc. But some spices we may not use as frequently and they need to be replaced yearly because they loose their flavor or strength. This goes back to my “use quality ingredients” rule. Just keep it fresh.

Set up your mis en place before getting started.

Mis en place. French for Everything in place. It is exactly what is stated. Not only do you read your recipe before hand, prepare (chop, measure, clean) your ingredients before you start. It may seem kind of redundant, but have you ever started cooking and the recipe says “sweat the onions for five minutes, then add spices and diced carrots.  Quickly add broth and bring to a boil.” What happens if your spices aren’t measured and your carrots aren’t chopped? Well, after you realize your heat is too high on the onions, you are frantically trying to get the next steps ready and they burn. Case in point: be prepared.

Use a garbage bowl.

I love her, as many people do and Rachael Ray taught me to use a garbage bowl. That was the first place I heard of it and I thought in was ingenious. Another way to make things simple, just throw your scraps in and make one garbage run at the end.

I hope these tips help you make your cooking ventures a little easier and I hope you learned at least one new thing today. I know there are lots of other golden rules out there, so share some of yours with me and the other readers!


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