Everything can seem kind of overwhelming when you are starting out on your journey as a home cook. What equipment do you need? What kind of ingredients should you buy? How do I find quality recipes to try? What if no one likes my cooking? And so on. Added to all of that, there are fundamental things that many new home cooks don’t get quite right that can add to the frustration level. Here are nine of the most common mistakes that new home cooks make, and how you can avoid them to give yourself the best chance for success. Listen to the episode for my complete thoughts on these 9 cooking mistakes and how to avoid them.
You don’t understand the most simple fundamentals
This is a technical one, and It’s a bit tricky to explain in a basic post just what the fundamentals are. Suffice it to say you should understand the techniques and equipment that the recipes you most often make call for. Understand the difference between a boil and a simmer, a saute and a sweat, and a dice and a mince, for example. Also take some time to learn how your equipment works and how it best functions when cooking (like preheating your oven and pans before use, for one example).
You don’t read recipes through before starting
You don’t “mise en place”
You try to make overly complicated dishes
You like to attempt a huge variety of recipes, but try to master none
You expect that your food will turn out looking like something from food network or top food blogs
You don’t give your complete attention to the process
You fall too in love with the equipment
You don’t take food safety seriously
I wouldn’t say that cooking is the most dangerous activity out there, but let’s face it, you are working with flames, blades, and even potentially nasty little microbes. Food safety is so simple to master that there really isn’t any excuse not to take it seriously. Trust me, spending the night in a hospital because you ended up with a knock-down case of food poisoning is no laughing matter.
Take a little time to learn the basics like proper cooking temperatures, safe ingredient storage practices, knife safety, and so on, and you’ll stay one step ahead of the safety problems that can derail your cooking joy. The US Department of Health and Human Services food safety website is an excellent resource!
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