I think it is appropriate to address some common cooking misconceptions to avoid making some potential rookie cooking mistakes. Notice I said avoid making some potential rookie cooking mistakes. Some. Others will still be made because you’re human. Setting the record straight for the following misconceptions is going to create a good basis for you to start wowing yourself and hopefully the people you cook for. So read through these and throw away whatever misguided information you thought you had regarding these topics.
You always need to own the expensive cooking utensils mentioned in recipes.
Wrong. You do not need the $50 food processor that the recipe mentions. I do not own a food processor and I get by just fine. Do I want a food processor? Absolutely. But life happens and there are more important things to use your money for first than the newest ultra convenient kitchen appliance that just does the otherwise somewhat tedious chopping for me. Guess what? One day I am going to get a food processor. But for now, I live without one and my meals still get made. There are plenty of alternatives to using a different kitchen gadget for every task. To the right you will see my own personal food processor alternatives 😉
You should check on your food frequently.
No you shouldn’t. Stop opening the oven to see if the lasagna escaped. It didn’t. The recipe tells you to bake it for 25 minutes. Don’t start checking on it periodically at minute 15. Give it some time to do food stuff, like cook in peace.
Recipes cannot be altered.
Yes they can. I do it all the time. Just the other day I was baking cake donuts and the recipe called for 1 teaspoon of ground nutmeg. I can only take nutmeg in small doses, so I only put a 1/2 teaspoon in the batter. And my cake donuts and I lived happily ever after.
Cooking is an exact science.
No it isn’t. And baking only is when it comes to certain ingredients like baking soda or baking powder. But cooking even more so is a liberal art. Do whatever fries your egg. Add that extra pinch of salt if you think it’s necessary. No one is around to judge you.
Speaking of salt.
You can never use too much of it. Some think that salt makes everything tastes better. Others think that half a pinch goes a long way. Whatever your opinion, use it at your own discretion and stand by your decisions. Haters are gonna hate. Just keep their waters full and everything will be fine.
I’ll sharpen my knives later.
No you won’t. So just do it now. Not sharpening your knives is not only going to make your life so much easier, but it will make your life so much safer too. Dull knives require you to hack at and saw your way through whatever you’re cutting making it very easy for you to cut yourself. Sharp knives slide through whatever they are cutting with ease. And, so long as your are practicing proper cutting techniques, you have a much better chance of not getting nicked.
You don’t actually need to wait for the water to boil.
You actually do. If the recipe is telling you to “boil the water then…” do something then there is a reason that the water is to be boiled first and you should absolutely be waiting for the water to boil. Don’t believe me? Make two different pots of pasta. In the first one, put the noodles in while the water boils, and then proceed with the cooking instructions. In the second pot, put the pasta in the water AFTER it has started boiling, and then proceed with the cooking instructions. Your first one is likely to render mushy noodles while your second one should provide you with some prime al dente noodles.
You don’t need to read the recipe all the way through first.
You definitely should. This is especially important if you are a) making a recipe for the first time or b) new to this whole cooking thing. Reading the recipe through first gives you the opportunity to iron out your kinks before you are too far deep. You can watch a couple of quick cooking tutorials to teach you techniques that may come in handy while preparing the dish instead of having to stop mid-act and type in “how to…” while your hands are covered in butter.
Tasting as you go is unnecessary.
It is very necessary. We have already established that recipes are subject to change per the maker’s discretion. To decide whether you need more or less of something, like salt or pepper, you need to taste your concoction. If you don’t, you can’t get mad when your guests complain that their Alfredo kind of just tastes like cream. Taste, and tweak, as you go. Your final dish should be your own anyway! It is more fun that way 🙂
Also, tasting as you go means more food for you 😉
The type of cooking oil I use doesn’t matter.
It absolutely does. Different oils have different smoke points. Either believe what the recipe tells you to use or do some research on various cooking oils first. But don’t think the vegetable oil you have stashed above the stove is going to qualify for every recipe. Your kitchen and possibly home, will fill with smoke if you are not careful. PLEASE BE CAREFUL. Oil fires are a real hazard.
Dry measuring cups and wet measuring cups are the same thing.
They are not. And thinking that they are can make a huge difference in your recipes. If you measure your flour in a wet measuring cup, your dish is gonna end up thicker than you were aiming for. Cooking is a liberal art. But soup and sauce are very different things.
Now you know.
You are well on your way to making more impressive dishes already just by debunking some of these misconceptions. Hopefully you feel more prepared to execute some home-run dishes using some of your newly acquired knowledge. Maybe the next time you are with a friend or family member in the kitchen, you can share some of your neat tidbits with them. Do this especially if they are cooking for you. Because your meal will ultimately be positively affected. And narcissism is okay when it culminates in more delicious food. Right?
Did you learn anything? Let me know down below!
Find out more about me, the author and founder of The Slow Cooker Life, here.
Personally, I wasn’t always capable of staying upright on a bicycle. Similarly, I wasn’t always comfortable in the kitchen. To be fair, I did start cooking at a very young age (probably around the same time I was learning how to ride a bike without training wheels.) So the cuts and burns I had could have, at any moment, been from a pancake flipping incident or from when I was trying to catch mad air off a bike ramp my parents did not know that my brother and I had built on the Haro my cousin gave me. My point is, we all have to start somewhere with every new skill we try to learn.
I Was A Beginner Once Too
I have worked in the restaurant industry for over ten years at this point. While I primarily worked as a server or bartender for all of those years, I have worked in kitchens as well. Between always being around food prep at work, and constantly reading recipes and making my own creations outside of work, I do not consider myself a beginner in the kitchen. While I am not a seasoned (pun!) chef, I have industry standard credibility. I am here to help you make your way through these recipes. And I will be sharing my own experience making some of these recipes so you can see that mistakes can and will be made by even those of us who kind of know what we are doing.
Follow these simple rules I have laid out to help slow cooking for beginners not be so daunting.
Rule #1: Don’t Be Afraid to Have Fun
Slow cooking for beginners doesn’t have to be scary! Cooking should be fun and gratifying. Notice that I said fun. This is my most important rule. Do not forget to keep having fun. Especially if you are new to cooking, it can be very frustrating. Keep reminding yourself that at the end of this experience, you will be rewarded with a delicious meal!
I like to have a lot of fun in my kitchen, and I strongly encourage you to do the same. Put on some music and let the juices flow. (Note: Food puns are strongly encouraged as well.) Personally, I like to bump country while I slide around and dance my way across the kitchen. The trick is to not spill food, drop anything, or trip and fall on my face while I dance around the dogs (I have 3 and they only sometimes listen to “out of the kitchen”.)
The good news is, slow cooking was practically made for those lacking any sort of culinary artisticness.
Part of the fun in cooking is the mistakes that will be made, if I am speaking from my own truths. Maybe you will burn soy sauce until it turns into tar. Maybe your peanut sauce doesn’t thin out and your final dish will resemble a peanut butter topped chicken breast. Both of these maybes actually happened to me. The tar made for some funny stories. And the peanut butter chicken didn’t taste all that bad. Because it had peanut butter on it and that makes everything taste better. Unique and fun peanut butter recipes here.
Rule #2: Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
That being said, I am not going to hold anyone here to any sort of standard. Cook whatever recipes make you comfortable. If you don’t know how to do something, feel free to leave comments at the bottom of the recipes so I, or someone else, can help you out.
If you are someone who simply has no idea what they are doing in the kitchen and would one day like to be able to eat something well…edible then let’s just start with you going to the store and buying a slow cooker.
Go ahead, I’ll wait.
The sooner you buy a slow cooker, the sooner you will be able to stop telling yourself, and everyone around you, that you can’t cook. Because you can. Everyone CAN cook. Now, whether you are going to want to eat what your “cooking” results in is another story. But here at The Slow Cooker Life, we are going to help you cook something that you WILL want to eat. Which is ultimately the whole point, isn’t it?
Rule #3: Don’t Be Afraid of Imperfection
This is not a slow cooking for beginners boot camp. I am not here to turn anyone into the next Iron Chef. I just want to have a judgment free zone where recipes and cooking stories can be shared. I want the cooking rookies to know that they are not alone and to shake off the first-day-in-the-kitchen jitters. I want you to be okay with failing. Because if you are not, then what motivation do you have to even start trying in the first place?
I can tell you with the utmost confidence that when you make your first successful dish, you will feel so proud and gratified that you may even be willing to give this whole cooking thing another shot. Not to mention, if you are truly a terrible cook, your family is probably very aware of this as well. Imagine the surprise on Aunt Barbara’s face when you manage to bring a near-perfect green bean casserole to grandma’s 92nd birthday. Your dish will be a hit. And your family will think that your turned over a new leaf towards independent adulthood. So congratulations for being a star!
Cooking is an essential life skill. People should know how to cook for themselves. Especially people that are not financially set up enough to eat out every day. The $40 you are gonna spend on that one meal with your SO could be turned into several days worth of groceries. Or maybe you were just gonna spend $10 in a drive-thru to order a bag full of greasy, fatty, foodstuffs. That $10 could be used to for a couple of home cooked meals instead that are likely much healthier than the mystery meat you have in that brown paper bag.
Rule #4: Keep Cooking
“Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.”
There is so much truth to this old proverb. Like I previously stated, my goal is not to turn you all into gourmet chefs. My goal is to acquaint each of you with your
I do honestly believe that many people lacking confidence will instead decide to not make an attempt at something rather than run the risk of failing. That is why I will be openly discussing my failed attempts with you. And I ask that you all share your experiences with these recipes, good or bad, as well. Embrace human error. Gain confidence. Keep cooking!
Have any fun cooking stories you’d like to share? Leave them in the comments below 🙂
Find out more about me, the author and founder of The Slow Cooker Life, here.