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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?

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Scott Christ

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

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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