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28 August 2007 @ 03:06 pm
Cooking mistakes we made when we were newbies  
What errors did you make as a newbie or what things did you learn as you gained more cooking experience?

For example, it never occurred to me and no recipe I'd seen at the time told me, that I should let my lasagne rest for a bit in order for the cheeses to set. So for the first several years I made it my lasagne was served immediately (I was impatient!) and each piece ran all over the plate. I didn't care that much but I wondered if I was using too much sauce or something!

I also didn't understand that the term confectioner's sugar meant powdered sugar, so for a few years I made a recipe called "simply wonderfuls" or "sweetballs" from ISKCON with granulated sugar and wondered why the texture just wasn't like those made in the Hare Krsna temples. (scratches head)

I didn't know until last year that tomatoes shouldn't be stored in the refrigerator. (I heard this on foodtv and it made sense when I thought about it.)

No one ever told me not to salt beans when cooking them from scratch, until they were done cooking. But somehow it worked for me anyway so while they might have cooked a bit faster, they got cooked in the end.

When I first made muffins no one told me about over mixing and why that makes them heavy and flat rather than light and fluffy. Finally I stumbled on a recipe that mentioned this.

The first few times I made corn on the cob, I had no idea how long to steam the corn. It seemed so firm, and coming from the land of the midwest where my family boiled vegetables to death, I went ahead and kept them steaming for a good 45 minutes.

In fact, since I was self taught and had only one cookbook for the longest time, I had many misses as a new cook and could really have used a guide. These days there are books out for new cooks to explain cooking terms and basic techniques, but I didn't know about anything like this when I started out. There are still things I've never made--souffles, for example.

So--what are some errors you made or things you found confusing? Or do you have questions about a term that either I or some of my cooking friends can help with? Would you like to suggest a title of a cookbook you found very user friendly?
Mari Adkinsmariadkins on August 28th, 2007 10:57 pm (UTC)
You should repost this at OC. ;)
Angiextremeroswellia on August 28th, 2007 10:57 pm (UTC)
Haha, well I once made a pie and didn't bake the crust. I was like, 16. And then I was like...er, what's wrong with this pie!? LOL.
Tapatitapati on August 29th, 2007 03:27 am (UTC)
Oh, my, that would taste weird! I decided to try to use maple syrup to make muffins, except I had no recipe so they just sort of ran over the muffin tin and tasted like crap. I was 11 or 12 I think. My mom was mad about the mess.
(Anonymous) on August 29th, 2007 04:07 pm (UTC)
One day when I was just learning to cook, I wanted some Cream of Wheat. Mama was busy doing laundry in the cellar and said not today. So I headed upstairs into the kitchen to make it myself. I was seven. Learning which abbreviation means teaspoon and which abbreviation means tablespoon is VERY important. So I over-salted the stuff. My solution was to add baking chocolate to balance it. Another important lesson to learn - just because it's chocolate does not mean it's sweet. About then, Mama came in and I had to eat what I'd made instead of throwing it out, as you don't waste food in a single parent household,.

But our extended family was a family of cooks and I've always wondered why other people found cooking so difficult. Guess I know now.

crushednchurned on August 30th, 2007 07:29 am (UTC)
Well, one thing I found out via trial and error is that frozen fish, scallops, shrimp, etc. are horrible compared to fresh.

I remember this one time I made this bake-free chocolate peanut butter cookies, I was supposed to boil the chocolate and later add the peanut butter. I boiled the peanut butter.

Also, another time, I mixed my frosting for my cupcakes into the batter and poured it into the muffin pans. Baked them, made some more frosting, slathered it on and wa la, sickening over-sugared muffins.

I know there were many more and I can't remember them. I don't cook that much anyway. I'm still a novice, probably.