Rookie mistakes to avoid when you cook

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Cooking can be difficult, even for those of us who have mastered the art of “cooking” Cup Noodles using residence hall microwaves. Sometimes, it’s hard not to wish for one of those Easy Bake Ovens for Christmas. While determination, hard work and a solid fire safety plan are the only ingredients you need to cook up a great meal, it’s also important to avoid some of these common cooking failures:

1. Overloading on oil


We tend to assume that “fry” means  to drown in oil and stir around, which leads to greasy food and oil waste fit for BP. If you need to fry something, use a small amount of oil, and take turns switching the raw food into and out of the pan. It takes longer, but it’s definitely worth the crispiness.

2. Stirring up a storm


Contrary to popular belief, there’s actually such a thing as stirring too much. Stirring batter can be the best part of baking — you can swirl around with the batter, and if people judge you, tell them it’s all a part of the gourmet baking process. Just make sure you don’t go overboard, because stirring too much can lead to a thin, watery batter that won’t bake well in the oven.

3. Overheating the oven


Speaking of ovens, working those things is the rocket science of cooking. Every oven is different, and it’s important to test out your oven a couple of times to get a feel for its heating levels. If you want to bake brownies, set the timer to go off a little early before they get burned in the oven. If they’re not done yet, you can always increase the baking time in increments.

4. Pasta problems


Boiling this stuff is easier said than done. If you don’t cook it enough, it tastes like plastic. If you overcook it, it tastes like a soggy sponge. The Goldilocks conditions for boiling are nearly nonexistent, so just stir frequently and make pasta sauce your best friend. Pro tip: Extra spaghetti makes for a great game of pick-up sticks.

5. Sticky pan problems


Ah, the beauty of nonstick pans. We never think our food will get stuck to anything, but somehow it does, and World War III begins right there in the kitchen. PAM is a wonderful thing — use it.

6. Dipping in before you’re done


This is one “mistake” that is OK to make. We all do it. This is a judge-free zone. If that batter is even remotely palatable, eat it by the spoonful. If you avoided all these other fails, you’ve earned it.

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Contact Nitisha Baronia at [email protected].