Fixing the common mistakes most beginner cooks make

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For some veggies I tend to err on the side of caution: green peppers make me fart up a storm if I don’t cook them long enough, so it’s either soggy peppers, or flatulence.


A few other thoughts:

  • Either pull stuff out of the fridge early & let it warm a bit, or adjust cooking times. If your eggs and meat and veggies are all fridge-cold when you start they will take longer to come to temp than the recipe suggests.
  • Don’t leave stuff out. When you’re just staring out, recipes are intimidating. You see ingredients you’re unfamiliar with, and you think “oh whatever, it only needs a tablespoon,” decide to save a few bucks and skip over the gochujang or fish sauce, and then wonder why your recipe seems lacking.
  • Preheating is important. It seems silly but there’s a reason that recipes have you do it.
  • Get a good instant-read kitchen thermometer. When it comes to meat, don’t wing it.
  • Neither olive oil or butter are universally good for all foods. I know, it seems goofy to buy multiple expensive oils. But if you stir-fry in butter your guests will know.

“Don’t overcook veggies”

To: Percival Dunwoody
From: Lolipop Jones

On your next trip, please visit 1966 Chicago and share the above guidance with my mom.



See also: “Don’t get your vegetables out of cans.” Years of soggy canned vegetables served to me as a kid in the seventies is why I have to force myself to eat green stuff now.


You will be forever judged by your cooked rice, and the quality of your egg preparation. Let it be known through out the land!


I think the best way for beginner cooks to start is to make eggs. Make a lot of eggs! They’re cheap and pretty consistent and cook quickly, so when you screw them up you can toss the burnt eggs and try again. Make good scrambled eggs, make a good omelet, make over-easy fried eggs without breaking the yolks, then move on to other things.

I also think eggs are a wonderful way to learn flavors – they’re a nice neutral canvas. Try making scrambled eggs with just marjoram, or just thyme, or just paprika. Once you know what all of those herbs & spices taste like you’ll know how to use them.


The first thing I was taught to make were baked chicken leg quarters. They are pretty hard to mess up and you can try lots of different spice combinations.


Omelettes, oh god, omelettes…

I really need to take your advice and just practise. I can’t make an omelette to save my life.

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Get a kitchen scale and learn to use it.


For baking, sure, but how often do you really need to have ingredients measured to the tenth of a gram when cooking?


I’m waaaay out of practice, honestly. I grew up learning to make American-style folded-over omelets and need to learn how to do it like Julia Child.


Not this?

My scale is only good to a gram. It’s good enough.


On the other hand always use butter for your eggs! I tried olive oil… once. Never ever again.


Ot just add a stick of butter to the bacon grease and go from there :wink:


I save that for beef stew and pan fried chicken.


But do you measure ingredients down to the gram when cooking? (this isn’t a criticism, by the way, you do you; I’m just curious about why you think its a valuable tool for ordinary cooking vs. baking)


I spent a long time tackling complicated recipes without a foundation in the basics. It made for a lot of expensive ingredients wasted and very little learned. At some point, it dawned on me that I needed to start over as a beginner. Made a big difference.

My mom bought my son a cookbook called, “How to Cook Everything: The Basics” by someone named Bittman. He and I are working together on one meal a week, using the techniques in the book. Is good stuff.


Which reminds me: there are three eggs in the fridge that need using. Time to use the Ring of Egg Frying.

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