Ten Things Every Cook Should Know

Every discipline has rules. A writer needs to know the rules of English; a driver needs to know the rules of the road. And cooks and bakers need to know the rules of the kitchen. These ten rules are what I consider most important in the kitchen. Learn them and you'll be able to master every kitchen creation you attempt!

  • 01 of 10

    Know How to Read the Recipe

    Recipe Cards
    Recipe Cards. Linda Larsen

    Whoever said, "if you can read, you can cook" had obviously never cooked anything. Recipes are written in a special language you must understand before you start cooking. In fact, the grammar in an ingredient list specifies how you are to manipulate that ingredient! So learn How to Read a Recipe before you even set foot into the kitchen.

  • 02 of 10

    Understand Terms

    Beat. Linda Larsen

    In one of my favorite books, Betsy & Joe, Betsy takes Home Economics in high school. She is told to baste the turkey. Her friends frantically gesture to her, using hand signals. She thinks it means to sew the turkey, so she blurts out, "I can't! I don't have a needle and thread!"

    Do you know how to baste a turkey? How about the difference between baking powder and baking soda? A good glossary is essential to good cooking. Browse through a glossary or two to make sure you understand the terms and the language of cooking.

  • 03 of 10

    Pay Attention to Food Safety

    Lavatools Javelin PRO Digital Food Thermometer
    Courtesy of Amazon.com

    If your food makes someone sick, it doesn't matter how good it tastes, how expensive the ingredients were, or how complicated it was to make. All of that effort has been lost. And the consequences of foodborne illness can be lifelong. Read all about how to keep your food safe, including the proper way to cook hamburgers, safe final temperatures for meats and eggs, and how to avoid cross-contamination and food spoilage.

  • 04 of 10

    Know How to Measure

    How to Measure Flour Step 3
    How to Measure Flour Step 3. Linda Larsen

    Measuring really is the key to baking well. I get so frustrated when I see supposedly experienced TV chefs measuring flour incorrectly. Read on and learn how to get the best results by measuring accurately. It's simple when you know how!

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Learn How to Use a Knife

    Knife. Linda Larsen

    A knife is the best tool in the kitchen (apart from your hands). Learn how to use a knife correctly and you will cut your prep time down to mere minutes. And you'll know how to prevent injury.

  • 06 of 10

    Understand Doneness Tests

    Coffee Cake
    Coffee Cake. Linda Larsen

    When it a cake done? How about cookies? If you don't know how to judge your foods for doneness, they can be ruined in the oven. Learn about all the different doneness tests to make every baking adventure a success.

  • 07 of 10

    Learn Substitutions and Equivalents

    How to Measure Flour Step 6
    How to Measure Flour Step 6. Linda Larsen

    Part of the fun of cooking and baking is changing recipes to make them your own by substituting foods you like. But there are still rules to follow. Learn good substitutes for cheeses, spices, and other foods. And equivalents are an important part of cooking. How many crackers should you crush to make a cup of crumbs? How about the number of bananas you need to make one cup of mashed fruit for a banana bread? These charts will tell you what you need to know.

  • 08 of 10

    Learn Kitchen Safety

    Cooking Pasta
    Cooking Pasta. Linda Larsen

    The kitchen can be a dangerous place. Do you know how to make yourself and helpers safe? These fifteen rules must always be followed to the letter. When you know how to stay safe and how to be careful, you can enjoy your time in the kitchen.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Learn About Food Science

    Flour Measuring
    Flour Measuring. Linda Larsen

    Understand a bit about food science will make anyone a better cook. It will also help if you want to experiment and try your hand at inventing recipes. Read through these articles that grab your interest to have more fun in the kitchen.

  • 10 of 10

    Learn Meal Planning

    Any Can Chicken
    Any Can Chicken. Linda Larsen

    Finally, planning a meal is an integral part of cooking. Learn which foods go best together, why some food combinations are so good for you, and how to plan the cooking so everything arrives at the table at its peak of perfection.