I wasn’t sure what I would write about today but when my 21-year-old son managed to burn some chicken fingers in the toaster oven 10 minutes ago, my inspiration was born.
I’m not a great cook, so obviously I’m not a great chef, either. What’s the difference between the two? Without going to google, I’m gonna take a stab at this. A COOK is anyone who can prepare a decent hot meal without destroying the food or the surrounding area. A CHEF is someone who has gone to cooking school, knows all the terminology, speaks enough French not to be embarrassed when ordering food, and uses ingredients I’ve never heard of. Now that you understand the difference between what a cook is and what a chef is, we can continue.
I like Ina Garten because her cooking doesn’t intimidate me, and the name of her book is, “How Easy Is That?” Except for the barefoot part, she’s my kind of gal!
There’s something defiant in my personality that causes me to think I know better than the makers of Pillsbury, Betty Crocker and Duncan Heinz. If you don’t mind ending up with results that are slightly off, if you consider food to be fuel for the body and nothing more, if you’re impatient or lazy, read on. I think you and I might agree on the following:
LESSONS I’ll NEVER LEARN DUE TO INSTRUCTIONS I’ll NEVER FOLLOW
- NEVER PRE-HEAT – The idea of pre-heating is one big annoyance and completely unnecessary. I have yet to taste food that knows the difference between a slowly warming oven and one that is immediately hot. The food doesn’t really care. It’ll cook either way. If you wait for the water to boil when making spaghetti, you needn’t bother. Just throw it in the pot when it’s semi hot. Trust me, it will cook. It may be a little stuck together, but after you sauce it up, you’ll think you’re in Italy. Mangia!
- DON’T LET THINGS COOL TOO MUCH – I don’t know about you, but I usually have time constraints, namely, I want to taste my cooking immediately. If you want those brownies or cookies when they’re gooey, go ahead and eat them right after you pull them out of the oven. Mmm, delicious. (Take caution not to burn your fingers or roof of your mouth!) Cake is a little trickier. If you don’t mind big chunks falling off resulting in a crumby frosting, then go ahead and enjoy your warm cake! I always do.
- PAY NO ATTENTION TO COOKING TIMES – Microwave cooking aka, my best friend, is so easy. All you have to remember is 2 minutes and 5 seconds for popcorn, 5 minutes for frozen entrees — 6 minutes if they’re slightly bigger and really frozen (meaning they have freezer burn) and 3 or so minutes for a hot beverage. Easy, right? As far as oven times… just check on it when you smell it wafting through the house. That means it’s almost done. You can also tell if something is done by its shade of brown or if it’s bubbling, that also signifies it’s done. It’s best to choose your method based on whether you have a keen sense of smell or if you’re more of a visual person.
- BISQUICK IS YOUR FRIEND. Any food that only requires you to add water or maybe an egg and promises to make lots of different foods out of dough is, in the words of Martha Stewart, “A good thing.” (Okay, I know, the only time she might have said that about Bisquick was when she was in prison — whatever.)
I hope these creative tips and tricks will help you save lots of precious time in the kitchen and not cause you to get too sick. Cheers!