I’m one of those people who likes to know “why”. Unfortunately, that gets me in trouble sometimes, especially when I’m cooking. There are so many random rules in cooking but there’s rarely an explanation. So sometimes . . . okay, maybe often. . . . I decide the rule is dumb and I don’t follow it. I can only think of one time when it turned out okay. Every other time I learned there’s a reason for the rule. So I’m amassing a very large collection of rules I now know are true!
- Lots of recipes call for you to alternate the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients – most of the time that’s the case with quick breads or muffins. I was making Banana Scones one day and decided I didn’t want to bother with alternating the ingredients so I threw them all in together. Guess what. I had a big, clumpy mess that wouldn’t mix up. It seemed like it took forever before it was mixed. So now I know. You alternate the wet and dry ingredients so it mixes quickly and easily. Lots of those quick bread and muffin recipes aren’t supposed to be over mixed or it makes them tough. My Banana Scones were definitely tough that day.
- Of course, only recently I learned why you don’t beat cool whip. I decided one day I was going to try beating instead of folding. Beating doesn’t work and you can read more about that here: Cool Whip – Folded But Not Stirred
- You can’t be in a hurry to melt chocolate chips. Years and years ago I put a batch of chocolate chips in a pan on the stove and didn’t really pay attention. They quickly turned into a hard, unusable mass. Not learning from the first time, I did it again – same result. I tried again but in the microwave – still a hard mass. I finally figured out that chocolate chips have to be melted slowly. You can’t hurry the process and you have to pay attention while you’re doing it. I usually melt chocolate chips in the microwave. I put them in a glass measuring cup for one minute and then 10 second increments until they’re melted – same thing with almond bark. Melt slowly and gently!
- Have you ever made homemade pudding or a pudding filling for a pie? You know the part where it says to take some of the hot mixture and slowly incorporate it into the egg yolks? Don’t rush that. I rushed the process once and ended up with scrambled eggs. You really do have to do it slowly!
- How about pasta. Years ago I was making spaghetti and was in a hurry. I threw about 16 ounces of spaghetti into the hot water and then did some other things while it cooked. That doesn’t sound so bad except that I didn’t stir it even once. I ended up with a mass of cooked pasta that couldn’t be separated. You really need to stir it at least a couple of times to separate those noodles.
So most of the time the rules are there for a reason. However, that being said, I’m not sorry I tested the rules because now I know and I love knowing!
Next week I’ll share more of my Cooking Methods Learned theHard Way– there are plenty of them!!!