From the Office of Cooking Experiments

We at the Office of Cooking Experiments (motto: “We make mistakes so you don’t have to”) have compiled a helpful cooking guide for all of you who always wanted to cook but never could find the spatula. These are some insider hints, some tips to get you started:

Stir in the flour gradually – yes, gradually; it really does make a difference.

What is the difference between baking soda and baking powder? Whether or not your cookies get eaten, sometimes.

Red pepper is lethal.

Everything your mother ever told you about separating egg whites is true.

Read the labels of everything you put in, before you put it in. Cinnamon and cummin bottles look remarkably similar, but if you put cummin on the frosted cinnamon breakfast rolls, someone is going to notice.

The bottom of the pan is always hot.

Bacon goes from “nearly done” to “done” in exactly seven seconds.

Deliciously seasoned, tenderly cooked meats can be easily had by calling your local deli. For home-cooked meals, salt the meat and stick it in the oven or the crockpot, which is our personal favorite. We forget for hours running that we are cooking anything.

When boiling vegetables, do not let the water boil all away, or your vegetables will burn.

If you read the labels on spice bottles – put there by the manufacturers, we note – they will tell you that the spice you are holding in your hand is good for everything, except maybe ice cream. Do not believe this. In reality, spices are color-coded. Green spices, such as basil and oregano, go with red foods, like spaghetti and lasagna. Paler spices, like ground mustard and garlic powder, go with lighter foods, such as noodles and macaroni and cheese. Brown spices – cinnamon, cloves, and allspice – go with sweet foods, such as pie, cakes, and the breakfast rolls we mentioned before.

“Cream of tartar” is not good for fish. We don’t know what it is good for, but it’s not fish.

Nothing is as easy as the cooking books make out.

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