Preparing to make a recipe!
The first lesson in learning to cook is the most basic of all. It deals with preparing to make a recipe. Step one. Sit down (or stand up, walk in place, move on your treadmill) and actually read the recipe from start to finish. You need to absorb the instructions. Don’t assume just because you see a long list of ingredients that what you’re going to do is flop them into a bowl and stir them. Au contraire. For example, with my cheesecake recipe, you will get much better results if you beat the eggs with the Splenda first, then add the softened cream cheese. Read the recipe and absorb the flow. Gain an understanding of the steps you will be following and the order in which they are to be tackled.
Grab the ingredients
Next, grab all the ingredients. That may sound like a little thing, but it is a huge timesaver. Open your refrigerator once, recipe in hand, and pull out everything you need. Then raid your cabinets. Place everything in front of where you’re going to do your magic. If you’re going to be baking something, start the oven preheating before you gather your ingredients (unless it is one of those rare recipes, such as with bacon cooked in the oven, where you actually put your pan into a cold oven!). Most ovens take 20 to 25 minutes to preheat. You want the oven to be ready when you are.
Pull out the utensils and appliances
Pull out all the utensils and devices the recipe requires, from measuring cups and spoons to egg separator, immersion blender, can opener, whatever, as well as the appropriate bowl for mixing (if there is mixing called for) and containers for baking or chilling or whatever comes next.
One of the advantages of marshalling all your resources in this way is that you discover at the outset if you are missing a key ingredient. At that point, you have a decision to make. Either trot to the store (or a well-stocked neighbor) to cure the deficiency, make appropriate substitutions, or abort the mission and choose a different recipe.
A little story…
Which leads me to a small diversion. One of my friends is good friends with the elder Bushes. He told me about once when Kevin Costner and Don Johnson were in Houston visiting George and Barbara. One of Barbara’s neighbors was a big fan of both actors and was not aware of their visit. Barbara sent the stunningly handsome men to the neighbor’s house holding a mug. They rang the doorbell. When the astonished woman answered, they asked if they could borrow a cup of sugar. It makes me smile to think of how it must have made her day! I keep a little sugar on hand, just in case someone sends them to visit me one day…
Stay tuned for the next lesson!
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