5 Important Tips for Using Recipes
Tips for Cooking with Recipes
• Have you ever failed to succeed with a recipe and had no clue why?
• Does the thought of trying to follow a new recipe make you a little jittery?
• Would you like some very simple, no-fail tips to help you use recipes when cooking new dishes?
• How would you like to know about some easy ways to increase your skills with recipes and thereby make life easier in your kitchen?
Developing Skills for Cooking with Recipes is the Key to Success
If it had not been for a short Home Economics course in junior high I would have been in bigger trouble in the kitchen than I was when I married. As it was, it was bad. I knew so little, but I did want to cook.
There was no internet to Google recipes or videos from, and my Wendy Ward summer charm school did not cover cooking. Our local library had good air-conditioning but they were focusing on outer space. What can I say? It was barely 1970s Florida.
I’m not sure I had ever seen a recipe book apart from that Home Ec textbook. Hand-written “receipts” floated around family kitchens, I’m sure, but if I read them I did not know what they meant. I didn't even get a recipe book as a wedding gift.
Knowledge really is power, though, and I began to learn a little bit, then more. Now I can do a decent job in the kitchen. How to follow a recipe was the first important lesson I needed to understand.
5 Important Tips for Cooking Recipes Skillfully
1. How many times I started a recipe before I read it all the way through back in the day would be difficult to count. Though I'm not sure when I finally learned it, this first tip is easily learned by experience, and I did, finally, but it would have been nice to know it ahead of time--like the month before eleven extended family members came for Thanksgiving the first time I ever cooked a turkey or its trimmings. To save time I'll answer the question now. Yes, it was awful.
• Well ahead of time, read a recipe completely through before you decide to use it, then decide whether it will be on your menu.
2. The number of servings that a recipe would make did not matter much to me at first. It was what it was. Then kids, then their friends, then their friend’s families made it start to matter. Questions like, “Do I have enough basmati for 49 people?” or "Will this make enough avocado coated potato wedges for 42 college students?" came up frequently.
• Think through how many servings you need and check the recipe's yield, then do that again after considering who you will be inviting.
3. You might think that this tip would automatically go with the first one, but it needs a spot all for itself. Just because Chef Canapay Entray can prepare a 60 pound ostrich stuffed with fresh-from-his-kitchen-garden herbs and an assortment of sauteed vegetables, including mushrooms he foraged the forest for that morning, all to go in the oven in time for dinner, does not mean that I can. We live in the south and dinner is lunch!
• Give serious consideration to the shopping and prep-to-cook time for each and every step of the recipe, not just the overall preparation and cooking time.
4. Making double sure that I have all of the ingredients for a recipe is a skill I learned early on. Someone who shall remain unnamed has a tendency to eat up all the chocolate chips without telling me. It is nice that he does not mind running to the store when we are out, but that takes time, while that is one way for me to learn patience, it is not a way to get a recipe done quickly.
• Set out all of your ingredients well before it is time to start the recipe. (Hide goodies like chocolate chips under a note that says, “DO NOT TOUCH". You might even make up several of this type of note on a sticky-note pad so your are ready for that need ahead of time.)
5. Getting ingredients ready for prep time beforehand also deserves its own note. If you don’t know how long it takes an egg to safely become room temperature, you will need to find out in time to get that part of the job done. If you need to cut several foods into itty-bitty pieces, sure, you will want to do as much of that ahead of time as possible, but remember, from nuts to carrots and rosemary to barley, foods can play time-consuming tricks on you when you begin the calisthenics of processing them.
• Advance prep before beginning to cook a recipe is your Secret Weapon, um, that's Pal -- Secret Pal. This particular secret pal will serve you well with every recipe.
How to use a recipe is the first and most important step in successful cooking.
Finishing a Recipe
As with most things in life, doing your best at the time with what you have to work with has to be good enough. If you follow these tips and your recipe still fails, well, you will know you have done your part.
Perhaps a failed recipe was written wrong, or aliens abducted one of the ingredients after it went into the oven. Who knows how these things happen?
Just say c'est la vie and order Italian take out. Ciào for now, ya’ll!
A Pecan Recipe, Ya'll
Student's Culinary Garden
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