This One Habit Will Take Your Cooking Up Several Notches
If I could encourage anyone to ingrain one habit so deeply that they never lose it, it would simply be this- read the recipe all the way through. More than once, and at least a couple days before you plan on making it.
This seems pretty obvious- and yet, I bet you’ve been guilty of it ;). We get lazy, we’re in a rush, or we’re just confident! And really, reading a recipe all the way through, days in advance and multiple times is so much easier said than done.
But you can avoid 2 of the biggest kitchen problems when you do this simple habit.
- You can avoid the dreaded scenario of when you start baking a recipe and realize halfway that you’re missing a crucial ingredient.
- You can avoid that pit in your stomach when you realize that the bread you were planning on making with dinner is actually supposed to rise for a total of 4 hours, not one (or any recipe that requires preparation, whether it’s hours of marinating, chilling in the refrigerator, etc).
As an experienced home chef, I always read the recipe all the way through so I can avoid this critical mistake; I never begin a recipe without making sure I have everything ready beforehand…… (Read in a very sarcastic voice…..)
Ok seriously, I’m so guilty of this. Like ridiculously so. This is probably the number one way to ensure your cooking goes up a notch- read the whole recipe through!
And not just once. At least twice- maybe even 3 or 4 times. That may seem like overkill to some of you, but I have had experiences where I have read a recipe 3 times through and STILL somehow manage to miss a critical ingredient.
For instance- about a month ago I was making a cheesecake for my family. My son chose to help me make an Oreo cheesecake for his cooking day, so I read through the ingredients, added them to my shopping list, and assumed I was ready to go!
(Side note- This is one reason why Cook’n is so fabulous, and why it’s best practice to get all your recipes in Cook’n, even before you’ve tried them! It puts together the list of ingredients in a shopping list for you- which is definitely going to make sure you have all the right ingredients on hand! I unfortunately did not yet have this recipe in Cook’n, otherwise I could have avoided this mishap!).
Anyway. I bought our list of ingredients, and the next day was ready to begin mixing our cheesecake- until I realized I had bought ONE block of cream cheese, and actually needed THREE. (*BIG facepalm to the face*). In hindsight, I should have caught this much sooner- I have made cheesecakes before, and I remember thinking at the store that one block of cream cheese seemed really meager for a cheesecake. I blame this lapse of judgement on my one year old’s serious lack of sleeping through the night ;).
If I had read through the recipe more than once, I probably would have caught that much sooner. And that would have saved me another trip to the store, and the disappointment of my 8 year old after telling him we would have to wait to make the cheesecake until another day. The moral of the story- it’s never a bad idea to read through the recipe more than once.
And of course, you avoid similar problems with rising/chilling/marinating times. Nothing is worse than when you begin a recipe and realize you actually have to wait to eat it several hours because you didn’t realize it needed to marinate or chill overnight, or that after you punch down the dough it actually requires an additional 2 hours of rising, or that your cookie dough needs softened butter, not melted-in-the-microwave or straight-out-of-the-fridge butter. If you read through all the ingredients AND directions a few days beforehand, you can plan accordingly and ensure you’re eating all your recipes on time!
By avoiding these two simple problems, you really do take your cooking up a few notches. No longer do you have to throw a substitute ingredient together last minute. No longer do you have to serve warm cheesecake that hasn’t had time to set, or chicken that hasn’t had sufficient time to soak in the marinade flavor. You can serve your recipes with the best that you have- both in time, and in ingredients.
Do you read through recipes before you begin cooking? Any funny mishaps you’d like to share? I’d love to hear them in the comments below!
Monthly Newsletter Contributor since 2014
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