By this I mean be in the moment while you are cooking. Be aware of the cooking process. Forget
the timers and pay attention by listening and watching and smelling, feeling and tasting. Definitely taste as you cook.
There are four burners on a stove, when was the last time you used all of them at the same time? Possibly with something baking or roasting in the oven. This is a cook that knows how to get something done.
Think of an orchestra leader. Everything is going at once, yet you know when the individual
quality of something in particular…is ready to go. You have to take control by tasting, looking,
smelling and touching.
If you are going by a recipe and miss something, and then you don’t taste it as you cook, you are
SOL. I taste my batters and sometimes even bread dough as I have forgotten things like, well, sugar
and salt—very important ingredients when baking.
You must learn cooking techniques and the differences that these techniques produce as far as
the quality and desirability of the food. Especially when it comes to temperature and heat. Slow is
slow and even and fast is hot and quick and crisp.
Know your oven and stove well. You’re cooking a lot now and your relationship with this appliance
is very important. What burners throw out more heat? Does the thermostat work in your oven? Do
you live in high altitude? Do you have to turn your baked goods in order for them to bake
evenly? How long does it take to preheat your oven?
Even if your cake has been baking for the amount of time required by the recipe and is nicely
browned, you still must test it with a wooden skewer or toothpick—it may need a few more minutes.
Learn when baking and measuring to be precise. When cooking you can easily adjust and substitute to your taste after tasting.
Allow your pan to heat properly before you add food to it. Do not disturb meat that is browning or
crisping in fat. You will ruin it if it’s touched and turned too much. Let it rest once its done cooking so the juices can be redistributed. Give food the time it needs to attain its true flavor.
Follow the recipe as much as you can and remember that you are going to have mistakes; Eat them.