From the Office of Cooking Experiments

We at the Office of Cooking Experiments are proud to once again offer you, the home cook, the benefit of our experience and knowledge. “We make mistakes so you don’t have to” is our motto. So read on, cooks of America, and do as we say, not as we did.


Always cook from a recipe. That way, nothing is ever your fault. You can always blame the recipe, like so:
I don’t know why it’s taking so long. The recipe said half an hour and it’s already been in the oven forty-five minutes.
I wasn’t sure about the amount of salt, but it’s what the recipe said.
The combination of anchovies and peanut butter sounded weird, but the recipe had a four-star rating.


When making meatloaf, you should add either oatmeal or bread torn into pieces. We prefer oatmeal. It’s easier.


Everything needs salt. You wonder why this is, why even chocolate cake and strawberry lemon zest mousse need salt? We wonder, too. We don’t understand it. But put the salt in, like the recipe says.


Do not use celery. There is no purpose to celery, except to maybe exercise your jaw muscles. We have left the celery out of many, many recipes that called for it and never noticed the difference.


Do not try to make any recipe with more than two ingredients you have never heard of.


If a recipe calls for buttermilk, you can buy the buttermilk at the grocery store, or you can whip up an easy substitute, taking normal milk and mixing in one tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice for every cup of milk. Or you could take the normal milk and just pour it right in. We at the Office of Cooking Experiments project that adding vinegar or lemon juice will make the milk sour, and who needs sour milk? We recall the old Irish song about drinking buttermilk through the week, and we judge this to be one of the reasons so many of the Irish ended up in America. There are many Irish-Americans, but you’ll notice that none of them drink buttermilk through the week.


The experienced cook evaluates recipes for three things: flavor, cost, and ease of preparation. As a general rule, each one comes at some cost to the others.