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25 Common Cooking Mistakes You May Be Making

25 Common Cooking Mistakes You May Be Making

Whether you’re a novice or an accomplished chef, there’s one thing all cooks have in common: we all make mistakes in the kitchen. But you can avoid many cringe-worthy moments with your foodie friends if you steer clear of these common cooking mistakes:

1. You don’t let meat sit after cooking.

This is a cardinal sin in the culinary world. Whatever you do, fight the urge to cut into that beautifully-marbled piece of meat after you take it off the grill. Wait 5 minutes for the juices to distribute. Your taste buds will thank you.

2. You don’t taste the food as you’re cooking.

While it’s good to have confidence in your cooking, not tasting your food is a big no-no. Even if you’re following a recipe, taste early and often.

3. You put too much food in the pan.

Overcrowding your pans means more uneven heat distribution. Instead of stuffing the pan with food, make two batches.

4. You flip the meat on the grill constantly.

You know how many times you need to flip a good piece of meat? Once. That’s all it takes to get a nice, beautiful sear.

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5. You cook beef, chicken, or fish directly after you remove it from the fridge.

Let meat sit in the sink for about 30 minutes before you cook it so it reaches room temperature. This allows for even cooking, so you don’t get a medium-well steak when you want a medium-rare one.

6. You try and save a bad dish by adding more stuff.

Sometimes kitchen experiments go horribly wrong. It happens to the best of us. Don’t be afraid to scrap a bad dish every once in a while. It’s part of the creative process of cooking.

7. You take the lazy way out.

It’s easy to choose the “ready-made,” highly processed junk. But nothing makes up for the real thing. Buy all natural, real ingredients (from local farmers whenever possible).

8. You overseason.

It’s easy to get aggressive with the salt and other seasonings. When this happens, use water or an acid like lemon juice or vinegar to dilute it.

9. You under-season.

The only thing worse than over-seasoning is under-seasoning. That’s why you should always taste your dishes before you serve them (see number 2).

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10. You overcook the meat.

There’s a simple solution for this one: use a meat thermometer.

11. Your food sticks to the pan or grill.

Buy a plastic bottle and fill it with olive oil. This will help grease the grates on the grill or pan so food doesn’t stick.

12. Your breading doesn’t stick to the food.

Try this no-fail process for getting your breading just right: first dredge in flour, then dip in liquid (like beaten eggs or buttermilk), then coat with bread crumbs.

13. You don’t know your kitchen appliances’ cooking times.

Hey, we’ve all been there. Sometimes it takes some getting used to your appliances, especially if they’re new. Practice makes perfect.

14. You added too much heat.

Spicy foods are great but it’s easy to overdo it with the spice. If possible, add a little water, lemon juice, or salt to neutralize the heat. Or grab an extra glass of water, some tissues, and eat it anyway.

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15. Your egg whites won’t whip.

There’s an easy fix for this one: let the eggs sit in the bowl on your counter for at least 15 minutes. Eggs whip easier at room temperature.

16. Your salads are soggy.

Green leafy vegetables are among the healthiest foods you can eat but they’re also some of the most delicate. To decrease the odds of a soggy salad, rinse your greens under cold water then dry them in a salad spinner.

17. You forgot to thaw the meat in the refrigerator.

Here’s a quick fix to thaw frozen food: put in a plastic bag and let it sit in a bowl of cold water for an hour.

18. You’re using the wrong cooking oil.

Certain cooking oils have lower smoke points, which means it helps to know which oils to use at various temperatures. Use olive oil and butter for low-temperature cooking; olive oil and coconut oil for medium-heat cooking; and peanut oil, avocado oil, and ghee for high-heat cooking.

19. You don’t follow the recipe.

If there’s one common cooking mistake I’m personally guilty of the most, it’s this one. For those of you who like to “make it your own,” this can often lead to disastrous results. Sometimes it’s better to just follow the recipe, especially for traditional and complex dishes.

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20. You don’t heat up the pan properly.

Your cooking surface needs to be hot before you place anything on it. Give your pan or grill at least 5 minutes to heat up.

21. You overcook your veggies and they taste mushy.

“Shock” those veggies when they’re done cooking, which means tossing them into very cold water after the allotted cooking time is up. This works particularly well for green beans, broccoli, asparagus, and corn.

22. You burn the bacon.

Cooking bacon in a pan can be a greasy debacle in your kitchen. Bake your bacon instead at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

23. Your guacamole turns brown.

Guacamole has a tendency to oxidize, which turns it an unappetizing brown color. If you’re serving guac, just squirt a little lime juice or lemon juice on the top periodically to prevent browning.

24. Your eggs are tough and dry.

If you struggle with eggs, lower the cooking temperatures. Lower the heat and cook at low to medium heat until the eggs are still moist. Remove them from the heat source immediately and serve.

25. You remove the crock pot lid.

Using a crockpot can produce some of the most tender, memorable meals you can eat. But taking the lid off every half hour means heat escapes, which can affect the cooking time and ultimately the taste of your food. Check on your crockpot creation a maximum of once every 2-3 hours.

So what did we miss? What are other common cooking mistakes you’ve made?

More by this author

Scott Christ

Scott Christ is a writer, entrepreneur, and founder of Pure Food Company.

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Last Updated on December 2, 2019

10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

Plato knew that the body and mind are intimately linked. And in the late 1800s, the Mayo brothers, famous physicians, estimated that over half of all hospital beds are filled with people suffering from frustration, anxiety, worry and despair. Causes of worry are everywhere, in our relationships and our jobs, so it’s key we find ways to take charge of the stress.

In his classic book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie offers tools to ditch excessive worrying that help you make a worry-free environment for your private and professional life.

These are the top 10 tips to grab worry by the horns and wrestle it to the ground:

1. Make Your Decision and Never Look Back

Have you ever made a decision in life only to second-guess it afterwards? Of course you have! It’s hard not to wonder whether you’ve done the right thing and whether there might still be time to take another path.

But keep this in mind: you’ve already made your decision, so act decisively on it and dismiss all your anxiety about it.

Don’t stop to hesitate, to reconsider, or to retrace your steps. Once you’ve chosen a course of action, stick to it and never waver.

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2. Live for Today, Package Things up in “Day-Tight Compartments”

You know that feeling: tossing, turning and worrying over something that happened or something that might, well into the wee hours. To avoid this pointless worrying, you need “day-tight compartments”. Much as a ship has different watertight compartments, your own “day-tight” ones are a way to limit your attention to the present day.

The rule is simple: whatever happened in the past or might happen in the future must not intrude upon today. Everything else has to wait its turn for tomorrow’s box or stay stuck in the past.

3. Embrace the Worst-Case Scenario and Strategize to Offset It

If you’re worried about something, ask yourself: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Could you lose your job? Be jailed? Get killed?

Whatever the “worst” might be, it’s probably not so world-ending. You could probably even bounce back from it!

If, for example, you lose your job, you could always find another. Once you accept the worst-case scenario and get thinking about contingency plans, you’ll feel calmer.

4. Put a Lid on Your Worrying

Sometimes we stress endlessly about negative experiences when just walking away from them would serve us far better.

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To make squashing that worry easier, try this strategy, straight from stock traders: it’s called the “stop-loss” order, where shares are bought at a certain price, and then their price development is observed. If things go badly and the share price hits a certain point, they are sold off immediately. This stops the loss from increasing further.

In the same manner, you can put a stop-loss order on things that cause you stress and grief.

5. Fake It ‘Til You Make It – Happiness, That Is

We can’t directly influence how we feel, but we can nudge ourselves to change through how we think and act.

If you’re feeling sad or low, slap a big grin on your face and whistle a chipper tune. You’ll find it impossible to be blue when acting cheerful. But you don’t necessarily need to act outwardly happy; you can simply think happier thoughts instead.

Marcus Aurelius summed it up aptly:

“Our life is what our thoughts make it.”

6. Give for the Joy of Giving

When we perform acts of kindness, we often do so with the expectation of gratitude. But harboring such expectations will probably leave you disappointed.

One person well aware of this fact was the lawyer Samuel Leibowitz. Over the course of his career, Leibowitz saved 78 people from going to the electric chair. Guess how many thanked him? None.

So stop expecting gratitude when you’re kind to someone. Instead, take joy from the act yourself.

7. Dump Envy – Enjoy Being Uniquely You

Your genes are completely unique. Even if someone had the same parents as you, the likelihood of someone identical to you being born is just one in 300,000 billion.

Despite this amazing fact, many of us long to be someone else, thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. But living your life this way is pointless. Embrace your uniqueness and get comfortable with who you really are: How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

8. Haters Will Hate — It Just Means You’re Doing It Right

When you’re criticized, it often means you’re accomplishing something noteworthy. In fact, let’s take it a step further and consider this: the more you’re criticized, the more influential and important a person you likely are.

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So the next time somebody talks you down, don’t let it get to you. Take it as a compliment!

9. Chill Out! Learn to Rest Before You Get Tired

Scientists agree that emotions are the most common cause of fatigue. And it works the other way around, too: fatigue produces more worries and negative emotions.

It should be clear, therefore, that you’ve got to relax regularly before you feel tired. Otherwise, worries and fatigue will accumulate on top of each other.

It’s impossible to worry when you are relaxed, and regular rest helps you maintain your ability to work effectively.

10. Get Organized and Enjoy Your Work

There are few greater sources of misery in life than having to work, day in, day out, in a job you despise. It would make sense then that you shouldn’t pick a job you hate, or even just dislike doing.

But say you already have a job. How can you make it more enjoyable and worry-free? One way is to stay organized: a desk full of unanswered mails and memos is sure to breed worries.

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Better yet, rethink about the job you’re doing: What to Do When You Hate Your Job but Want a Successful Career

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Featured photo credit: Tyler Nix via unsplash.com

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