- Never bake after 9 p.m. It never turns out well.
- Clean as you go. And I’ll add to this by saying, clean before you start: having a tidy kitchen with all of your gadgets and cookware ready to go can save so much time and frustration along the way.
- Check 3 times, measure twice, and pour once. (This is a play on the carpenters’ rule of “Measure twice. Cut once.” It means to be quadruple sure that you have the right measure of an ingredient before you throw it in a mixing bowl. I’m a little obsessed with this because often times you’re cooking for an occasion, and you don’t have time to redo it. And secondly, ingredients can be expensive [or hard to come by if you’re almost out and would have to run to the store to continue with a second try]. I also run down the entire recipe before I start and throughout the process to make sure I haven’t missed anything.)
- Never try out a new recipe or technique for the first time with guests or any other time when the stakes are high. Always (and I mean ALWAYS) do a trial run first. Mr. J never minds this as he gets to be the guinea pig for tasty treats.
- Use the real thing. Butter that is.
- Know when to sift and when to forget it. Sometimes you can cut corners, but others it’s a disastrous no-no.
- It always takes longer than you think it will.
- When in doubt, throw it out. I’m a little OCD about food safety. It only takes one bout of ER-worthy food poisoning to do that to a person. Familiarize yourself with the basics:
- Meat temperatures
- Refrigerate within two hours
- Be mindful of expiration dates
- Label leftovers and open containers to know when they were put in the fridge
- Know substitute basics. Learn to roll with the punches with recipes through experience.
To be continued…