The title is not backwards. It is so important to me that it is the first part of the title. After my own experience with a pepper I will tell you the secret to not chopping your own hands (or other vital parts) off after your pepper gloves have failed: Hibistat/ Hibiclens.
I’m lucky enough to come from a family of medical professionals where this surgical scrub was readily available in my first aid kit, which is how I learned that it’s the only remedy that always works. For the rest of you spice lovers, I advise you to spend the $10 now so you don’t have to go to the pharmacy with your hands swaddled in yogurt (true story).
As for the other things I have learned about cooking thus far:
a. The secret ingredient to nearly anything is butter. Paula Deen’s love affair with butter is absolutely understandable. While you can and should substitute it in some recipes, don’t even try subbing it in baked goods unless your goal is to have mediocre- gross food-like substance as your end product.
b. Think beyond salt and pepper. Yes, ensure you have enough salt, but there are so many other fantastic flavors out there! Where would we be without rosemary or basil?
….McDonalds, I suppose.
c. Taste your food as you go. This has never ever been an issue for me, but it’s surprising how many people I’ve met who think that it’s considered unclean or they’ll ruin their food or… well, I don’t know what they’re thinking. You shouldn’t be surprised by how your food tastes when you serve it.
d. If you use fresh ingredients, you will get purer flavors and better meals. Don’t trust Semi- Homemade Sandra… I don’t think she cooks for herself very much anymore now that she’s dating Cuomo.
e. Apples, tomatoes, watermelon, et cetera all taste infinitely better when they’re in season.
f. When baking, you should mix all of your dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately before combining them. Sugar is a wet ingredient, despite what you might think.
g. Espresso (not expresso, despite the fact that it makes you express-o at everything you do… bad joke, sorry) makes the chocolate in chocolate more chocolatey. Yes. Add some mocha to your life.
h. Citrus zest often complements berries/ berry desserts.
i. Eggs are delicate things that must be pampered and fussed over, but they give back too. I think there have been books written exclusively about eggs and their behavior. I will just give you this instruction though: when you crack them, do it on a flat surface to avoid getting egg shell in your food.
j. Generally speaking, the recipes in cookbooks have been published for a reason. That is, they’ve been tested and found to be pretty good. There are exceptions, of course, and not everyone keeps grand marnier in their
freezer liquor cabinet to add to their whipped cream.
k. Some cheeses are really not meant to be fat free. Ex: Feta without fat is salty rubber.
l. Searing meat before you cook it all the way through can make a nice crispy outside and lock in the juices and flavor.
m. Kosher salt is different from sea salt is different from table salt. But they all have their uses.
n. If your smoothie is missing something, add a banana.
o. When in doubt with your vegetables, roast them. Trust.
p. Be adventurous! If something seems like it would taste good, try it out. I’m certain that’s how chocolate covered bacon was born.