Take notes as you go.
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Did you love Ina’s perfect roast chicken recipe but hate the onion-to-garlic ratio? You won’t remember that when you pull the recipe back out a year from now—but the Post-It you left on the page reminding you so will help.
Read the recipe all the way through before you start.
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If nothing else, it’ll prevent you from keeping a very hot oven on for too long.
Save bacon fat.
There is no limit to how many things you can do with your leftover bacon grease. Fry your eggs in it. Fry your potatoes in it. Make a damn bacon candle! The possibilities are endless.
Put a damp paper towel under your cutting board.
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This prevents it from swiveling around while you’re trying to do something with a very sharp knife.
Set your timer for a few minutes less than the called-for time.
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Not only do all ovens heat differently, but you’ll also never really know how yours handles a new protein or veggie at first. That’s all to say you can always fix an undercooked situation—there’s nothing to be done once you go over.
Season and taste as you go.
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Never just season at the end. It’ll be too far gone.
If something doesn’t look quite right, it probably isn’t. You know more about the food you’re cooking than you think.
Add a little salt to everything. Yes, everything.
One editor explains you should even salt dessert: “It helps to bring out, accentuate, and deepen all sorts of flavors and will help your sweet treats taste more complex.”
If you bake, buy a scale.
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Baking is a science, after all. Would you mess with what’s called for in a science experiment?
Clean as you go.
Rather than allowing a mess to pile up as you go, take little breaks to clean the surfaces and tools you’ve already used. Even though it might not feel like it in the moment, it’ll save you time and stress later.
Never use damp oven mitts.
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Unless you’d like a fresh layer of skin, that is.
Mince garlic by hand.
Pull cookies out before they’re done.
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Again—it’s always better to undercook than overcook. And cookies will continue to cook on the tray after you take them out of the oven.
Put a paper towel on your cutting board.
If you have more than one thing you need to chop, this saves you an immense amount of time cleaning.
Print out your recipes.
Because no one wants raw egg all over her iPhone.