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What are the biggest mistakes cooking?

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posted on Apr, 9 2019 @ 02:19 PM
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I've compiled a brief list of a several mistakes people make when cooking which are easily corrected.

So many times you hear all this misinformation about common mistakes people make. Most of these things are dreamed up by marketers trying to sell you some crap you don't need in the kitchen. Rarely do any of these things really make your cooking any better. I thought it might be fun to throw out some common things which actually will make your cooking better. Some will be obvious, some maybe not so much.

Often you'll hear things like it takes good knives to make a good cook. Well, good knives are nice, but they won't make you cook any better. They're safer than cheap knives, but they don't make your food any better. That's just an example. Clever little gadgets won't make you cook any better either. But here's some stuff which will make your dishes better...

1. Cookware - Oh sure, there will be a life long debate about non-stick vs. other materials. There will be debates about steel vs aluminum and thousands of variants in between, and there are some credible elements to these discussions, but they won't save the day. But here's one which will improve your results immediately...no matter what you choose for cookware, choose something which is oven-safe, always. If a pan is not oven safe, regardless of type it's not worth having, IMO. Something which can't go from the stove to the oven is not something you want in your kitchen. It doesn't have to be some space age alloy or coating, but it needs to be able to go in the oven. You will notice dramatic improvement in recipes where you don't have to transfer something from one pan to another just because the one you used on the stove can't go in the oven.

2. Uniform ingredient size - Nothing to buy here, just make sure whatever your ingredients are are cut or portioned evenly. Cuts of chicken or pork should be uniform thickness, and if they're not then make them that way. Same goes for any sliced or cut ingredients. This is kind of a no brainer, but you'd be surprised how many times this trips people up with all sorts of things. Carrots and potatoes are easy, but things like green pepper and oddly shaped ingredients are often not cut uniformly and the whole dish suffers as a result.

3. Preheat cookware - Again, nothing to buy here. Unless a recipe specifically calls for putting ingredients in a cold pan, don't do it. Preheat a pan with some oil or whatever to the temp required for cooking before putting the ingredients in it. Remember, most recipes assume you're doing this anyway and the times are based on this. Ironically, starting with a cold pan usually leads to most things being "over" cooked, not under cooked, because people wind up adding way too much extra time to get the consistency / doneness they are shooting for.

4. High/Low - There's more than two settings on a stove. "Low" and "High" are not the only two settings on the stove, and most people try to cook things with too much heat. The "Hi" setting on your stove is best for boiling water, and that's about it.

5. Tomatoes - Tomatoes (any kind) catch and burn, and they burn fast. If you're using tomatoes, watch the heat and stir frequently on stove top.

6. Onions - Everybody loves onions, right? But did you know onions absolutely HATE you??? That right, every time you touch a raw onion remember it is your worst enemy in the kitchen. Better than 70% of kitchen injuries are suffered by cooks cutting onions. Want to spoil a great dinner? Lop off part of one of your fingers cutting onions during the prep! Cutting onions is dangerous (so is using a mandolin). This one will make your dishes better because you'll actually get to eat them, and not go to the ER for stitches instead. Be careful will onions and by all means...keep your thumbs behind your fingertips!!

7. Salt - If it needs just a little bit more salt...don't do it! If it needs a LOT more salt, okay, but if just a little...resist the temptation. Let it cook some more. Too much salt can ruin anything and everything. (No, I am not a salt Nazi, but I do love salt, and I've learned to hold back).

8. Melted/broken/dented/scratched - If it's in your kitchen, and it's a tool or piece of cookware, and it's damaged...throw it away! Now! Want to flip that beautiful crepe, but all you've got is a spatula which got the end melted in bacon grease? Toss it before hand and replace it. Same for any badly scratched non-stick pots and pans. Ditch 'em. Not only do they no longer work properly, they may also be hazardous to your health.

9. Clean as you go - No, I'm not a tidy Nazi either, but guess what happens to that perfect dish on the stove when you all of a sudden have to hurriedly clean up a jar of spilled honey or something on the floor which you just knocked over (one you used 20 minutes ago for something)? Something is going to get burnt, scorched or overdone. I know it sounds like your mom, but keeping a clean cooking and prep area will improve the quality of your dishes.

10. (I'll leave this one, and any more for you guys).

These are just some of my suggestions. Hope these help.

P.S. Ginger is an awesome spice/ingredient to use in a whole variety of dishes, and only fresh ginger will do (candied isn't really ginger (mostly sugar) and jarred is just not the same). But many people hate to use fresh ginger because it's such a bear to peel. Not any more. Just use the edge of a teaspoon and the skin will peel right off!


edit on 4/9/2019 by Flyingclaydisk because: (no reason given)




posted on Apr, 9 2019 @ 02:29 PM
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a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

Great list FCD!

People, don't forget, smash your garlic, it will make life easier when it comes to chopping and cooking (personal preference, you don't have to).



posted on Apr, 9 2019 @ 02:30 PM
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I'm surprised you didn't mention mise en place. Really. Ever see how all the cooking demos on TV have all the ingredients prepped and measured/weighed, ready to go?

Do it. Don't make your cooking wait on you.



posted on Apr, 9 2019 @ 02:34 PM
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a reply to: ketsuko


Don't make your cooking wait on you.


Good point ketsuko... Also, if you're too pressured to prep while you cook, that means you won't have time to sip your wine. This is key to open you up and put extra love into what you cook, also boosts confidence.



posted on Apr, 9 2019 @ 02:37 PM
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a reply to: ketsuko

True, prep ahead of time should have been on my list. (not too far ahead of time though, because some things like onions get really nasty if you cut them too far in advance).

I usually prep my ingredients first, but I do so just before cooking them.

Yes, and cooking shows leave so much out it's comical! That's why they're really not "cooking" shows at all. They're really just food shows with some illusions of cooking.


edit on 4/9/2019 by Flyingclaydisk because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 9 2019 @ 02:38 PM
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a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

How about overcooking?
Overdone steak, veggies cooked to mush, overbaked anything....
Anything that you caramelize gets better up until it burns. But oh when you crass that line... yuck.



posted on Apr, 9 2019 @ 02:42 PM
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a reply to: butcherguy

Well, overcooking is really one of the underpinnings of the OP. When you get there is when the buzzer sounds and the light starts flashing...

"Game Over! Thanks for Playing!"

It's too late then, the dish is ruined.



posted on Apr, 9 2019 @ 02:46 PM
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a reply to: CriticalStinker

I almost mentioned the smash the garlic thing, but I figured everyone knew this.

Smashing the garlic also makes it easy to peel if need be. (just don't smash it with the side of your $400 Wusthof blade!...use a cup or something!)



posted on Apr, 9 2019 @ 02:46 PM
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a reply to: Flyingclaydisk


It's too late then, the dish is ruined.


If you catch it right before it happens, you can stop the cooking and de-glaze by throwing a splash of wine or other liquid that will go with the dish.

edit: Not saying you didn't know, just throwing a tip out there for people starting to cook
edit on 9-4-2019 by CriticalStinker because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 9 2019 @ 02:47 PM
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a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

Love the list and agree 100% I'm always amazed when I see people use rusty spoons or scratched teflon.

Here are some of my suggestions.

Learn how to butcher your meats, start with chicken

Balance flavors, sometimes sugar or lemon is needed to enhance other flavors in a dish.

Learn to marinade properly.

There is also a big difference between cooking a meal and assembling food. To me, buying a Costco chicken and throwing it on a salad is not cooking!



posted on Apr, 9 2019 @ 02:51 PM
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a reply to: Flyingclaydisk




It's too late then, the dish is ruined.

Seems almost like it is an important thing not to overcook your food, the way you put it there.



posted on Apr, 9 2019 @ 02:55 PM
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a reply to: butcherguy

It's a pet peeve of mine when people think al dente means underdone or under cooked.

The literal translation is firm to bite or to the tooth. It is about preserving some of the natural textural differences for specific ingredients (mainly pasta and veggies) so you don't come out with everything the same texture/flavor.
edit on 9-4-2019 by CriticalStinker because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 9 2019 @ 03:00 PM
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a reply to: CriticalStinker




It's a pet peeve of mine when people think al dente means underdone or under cooked.


What about totally overcooked pasta. Like people who think it is ok to leave pasta in a slow cooker for 9 hours and think that is edible.



posted on Apr, 9 2019 @ 03:05 PM
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Cooking can be dashes and pinches, but baking is precise.



posted on Apr, 9 2019 @ 03:07 PM
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originally posted by: JAGStorm
a reply to: CriticalStinker




It's a pet peeve of mine when people think al dente means underdone or under cooked.


What about totally overcooked pasta. Like people who think it is ok to leave pasta in a slow cooker for 9 hours and think that is edible.



I'm traumatized from spaghetti, not because the noodle itself is always bad... But because often it's not cooked properly IMO.

I cook all my pasta underdone, then finish in the sauce to make sure it's still firm.



posted on Apr, 9 2019 @ 03:07 PM
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I always burn the cereal.



posted on Apr, 9 2019 @ 03:45 PM
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a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

Leave my tasty onions alone would you!!!

Agree though, cut my finger more the once chopping them... Or the best one, touch a raw onion then itch your eye



posted on Apr, 9 2019 @ 03:47 PM
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a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

Hi FCD.
Great idea, and good list so far.
So here's some personal ideas:

Olive-oil is not a cooking-oil. Use butter for low-temp, and don't let it brown. Add the maximum possible amount of butter that you think would be pushing it, then double that amount.
For higher temps: use ghee; coconut-oil; or avocado-oil.

Well-seasoned, cast-iron cookware.
Mainly wood, with some steel utensils.

Stewed dishes, sauces, soups, etc: are usually better the next day. So plan accordingly.

Try some blue-cheese on a tenderloin steak.

Use boat-loads of onions. Lotsa garlic. Add some shallots and leeks.

Freshly-squeezed lemon juice on salads and fish, and experiment on other foods.

Secret ingredients?
Parsnips: for stewed dishes, sauces, soups, etc.
Worcestershire sauce: when the dish needs a little 'smack'. (Sometimes mustard too.)
A dash of cayenne pepper, to a non-spicy dish, adds a little 'something', somehow.



posted on Apr, 9 2019 @ 04:01 PM
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Improperly stored garlic can kill you.

People who fry with olive oil.

Steaks grilled to well done.
a reply to: Flyingclaydisk



posted on Apr, 9 2019 @ 04:05 PM
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LET THE MEAT YOU JUST COOKED REST AT LEAST 10 MINUTES !!!!

Any steak is better, brisket,chop,chicken,burger or roast let it rest, I usually wrap in in aluminum foil, rest 10 minutes and it holds at a nice medium rare juicy not bloody.



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