My Top 5 Worst Cooking Mistakes

Top 5 Worst Cooking Mistakes

Cooking mistakes! We’ve all done them. I’ve been cooking and baking since age 10. That has given me a lot of years to make mistakes. Learn from my cooking mistakes to become a better cook. I list my top 5 below, starting with number 5.

#5 Worst Cooking Mistake – Not Enough Salt

Perhaps your doctor has suggested you reduce your salt intake. Do more research and switch to sea salt, instead of the processed, iodized salt in the grocery. The fact is this: you need salt. The fluids in your body are all 0.9% saline and need to be at that level to maintain life!

Several years ago, as a treatment for my vertigo, a doctor told me to reduce my salt intake. As a result, I attempted to do so in all of my cooking. I even bought a cookbook on the subject. Foods did not always turn out so good, though.

When you’re making a sauce, such as a pasta or tomato sauce, you can’t just eliminate the salt from the recipe. Salt plays a role in bringing out the flavors in the spices you add. The result of omitting salt is a very bland sauce. You need to have salt and it needs to be there from the beginning. Adding it after cooking results in a salty, bland sauce. Trust me on this one, I’ve tried it.

If you’re baking, it becomes even more important. In baking, salt is an critical part of the chemistry of your baked goods. Leave out the salt and your bread or cake may not rise!

#4 Worst Cooking Mistake – Not Heating the Pan

This is something I learned from my sister, Conni. She approached cooking and baking the way she did most things: by learning all she could on the subject. It turns out that the instruction in a recipe that says “Heat oil in pan” (or butter or any other fat), really means to heat it until hot. If you don’t, your foods will not cook as intended and they’ll take longer and they likely will stick more. I actually set a timer for four minutes and then test with a drop of water. If the drop sizzles, the pan is hot enough.

I actually had this problem recently. Our cooktop is a bit quirky and I inadvertently set the burner to 4 instead, of my usual, 5.5 while heating the butter. Even though it heated for 4 minutes, the pan and the butter were not hot enough. My eggs took longer to cook AND they stuck to the bottom of the pan! I should listen to my own advice, right?

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#3 Worst Cooking Mistake – Not Reading the Recipe Before Starting

It has been a while since I’ve done this, but I have done it. You need to read the recipe for planning purposes. If you only have an hour and the recipe’s total time isn’t listed but the steps add up to 2 hours, you’re in trouble. You also don’t want the surprise ingredient showing up in step 7 that you didn’t know about and you don’t have on hand!

#2 Worst Cooking Mistake – Not Separating Eggs Properly

There are many tools availble for separating egg yolks from egg whites. You run into problems when you separate the egg and allow the white from the current egg to drop into the bowl with the previously separated eggs. All you need is one or two drops of yolk in with your egg whites and they will never beat stiff like you wanted. Separate them into a separate bowl and then add the clean whites to the final bowl. That way, if a yolk breaks, you’ve only lost the one white.

Worst Cooking Mistakes - Remember the Eggs

#1 Worst Cooking Mistake – Leaving Out the Eggs

I told this story when I wrote about my favorite cookbook but it bears repeating. There used to be a recipe in that cookbook for “Half Hour Chocolate Cake” and it was a family favorite. Early in my cooking career, when I was about 10 or 11 years old, I made that cake all by myself. I was so proud of myself. Except that it was terribly dry. As in inedible. It was really bad. Eventually, I thought back through the making of the cake and realized that I forgot to put in the eggs. Never do that. The results can never be good without the eggs!

What’s your worst cooking mistake?

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Barbara

Hi, I’m Barbara McNeely, author and publisher in San Antonio, Texas. I coach authors who have a personal story they want to share in a book. And I consult and guide authors through the process of self-publishing their books.
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