Tips for Cooking/Baking

1. Start with good quality ingredients, that in itself will lead to good food
- In my opinion, the biggest obstacle to cooking good food is starting with good ingredients. Once you have that, you're more than halfway there. Some of the best dishes are great quality ingredients prepared simply.

2. Season and taste as you go
- You can't expect other people to be your taste testers. I still can't believe it when people don't taste their food and are then surprised when it ends up overly salted or under salted. It's always best to under salt and then add if you need to. At the same time, don't be afraid of seasoning heavily if the dish needs it. Lastly, season as you go. You can season at the end, but you won't have the same depth and roundness in flavor.

3. Use good quality baking/cooking equipment and utensils, this doesn't necessarily mean expensive
- It's important to use the right tools and equipment for specific tasks. You won't be able to whip cream to the right consistency without a whisk and you can't bake an airy chiffon cake in a nonstick pan. The most expensive equipment also isn't always the best, so research what really seems to work well for other people and then see what works best for you.

4. Learn good techniques
- In this day and age, you can learn so much simply by browsing the resources available online that there's no reason not to do so. While there are many so called "right" techniques for doing certain things that should be followed, there are also techniques that seem wrong, but work. So, I would say learn good techniques and practice them.

5. To be a good cook/baker, cook/bake often
- As with any skill, the more you do it with intention and a determination in improving, the better and more familiar with it you'll become. You can, of course, cook all the time and never get any better if you don't think about what you're doing wrong.

6. Read and follow the directions of a recipe the first time around, then adapt once you are familiar with it.
- My sister made a batch of cookies that didn't turn out well and wondered what she did wrong, turns out she left out some of the ingredients and didn't follow the proper technique for creaming the butter and sugar. Recipes are specific for a reason, especially in baking, so don't add and omit what you like and expect it to turn out the same. Words are also used for a reason, so if you don't fully understand a specific term, look it up.

7. Don't be afraid to make mistakes
- I have had more cooking/baking disasters than I care to recall, but you can't improve if you're afraid to even try.

(To be continued)

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