Here are some small home cooking maxims and considerations. Some may seem obvious to you, but you will see what you need to remember ;)
1. Cooking at home is fun
Cooking should be enjoyable for everyone: you, your family and friends.
2. “To double the pleasure of cooking, it must be shared”
That’s what French chef Joel Robuchon said in one of his books. Indeed nothing is better than seeing how your friends and family appreciate what you’ve done, especially when you’ve worked hard.
3. Don’t be too ambitious at first
Start with fairly simple recipes to learn the basics, and then progress. Simply put, this means avoiding sophisticated recipes. It might be tempting to try macaroons, but it might make things difficult if you just started cooking.
4. Relax! Cooking is flexible
When the recipe says “let sit for 15 minutes,” if you leave a few minutes longer or less, nothing will explode. Similarly, if you do not have a particular ingredient at hand, don’t panic. You can often substitute something else. But be reasonable, though: if you don’t have any flour, there is no point trying to make a pound cake!
5. Allow yourself to work in the best conditions
Do not invite guests for the first time you try a recipe, as you will put yourself under unnecessary pressure. Try and experiment a while with a recipe before making an “official” entrance.
6. Mobilize support around you!
You have invited friends, so get them to work. Cooking together is fun. Simply assign tasks at the beginning. You remain in charge (the “head”, which simply means that you are the boss!). And you can all laugh and chat while cooking – it’s always a great time. Regarding the roles, there is one that should not be overlooked: the “glass filler”, who could also be responsible for opening bottles. It is a noble task, which has a huge influence on the mood and morale of workers.
7. Stay calm
Everything went wrong, it burned, it’s too salty, inedible, you have completely ruined you plan despite following the recipe carefully… damn! It happens, even to the great chefs! You could weep tears of rage, but that won’t get you anywhere.
For bad times like this, you need a survival strategy: get out of the kitchen right now and order pizza for everyone, or go out and eat – even something simple – if you can. This is the best way to get over your disappointment. Later, with a cool head, you will have time to analyze what went wrong, give it another shot, and this time (or the next one…) it should be fine.
8. Let the children participate
If you have children or grandchildren, make them feel welcome in the kitchen (except of course when handling something dangerous such as hot oil, hot caramel, or something very delicate).
Encourage them to get their fingers in and handle everything (not knives or dangerous utensils, of course). Let them stir with a spoon, mix with hands, dip a finger into the chocolate to crumble, and especially taste the food, even if it is not cooked! It’s now or never to get ready to try new things, new tastes and new combinations. In short, help them open their eyes and minds.
9. Be scrupulously clean
Sometimes we tend to forget this in the rest of the home, but tcleanliness in the kitchen is vital. Without going too far and becoming obsessive, remember to:
Wash your hands before starting, and regularly during cooking time.
Clean the countertop with soap, especially if peeling muddy vegetables on it.
Change the tea towel when you need to.
10. Cooking is not a sacred art
… nor an exact science, so you can try anything that comes into your head. You can have a flop, but never mind; you’ll do better next time!