Your kids probably hear a smoke alarm and head for the exits. Mine, if it's around 6PM, head for the dinner table. Yep, I have burned yet ANOTHER dinner. My mishaps in the kitchen are legendary. My husband calls it the House of Horrors and my kids are afraid to invite friends to dinner.
I have made almost every mistake in the book and know how to lie about...errrr...fix most of them. Allow me to share with you my 10 best fixes for kitchen mishaps:
- Problem - The food is cooking unevenly in your oven.
Solution – Do the Bread Test. After many years of my food burning, I finally performed the “Bread Test” on my oven and in my toaster oven. I arranged bread slices so that they covered the middle oven rack and then baked them at 350° for about 15 minutes. Then I checked to see which pieces were browner than the others. Since I now know that the front of my oven runs hotter than the rear, I set a second timer when I'm baking to remind myself to rotate anything in the oven accordingly.
- Problem – Food is soggy and doesn't brown when I cook on
top of the stove.
Solution – Give it some space! I tended to overcrowd French Toast, meat, etc. so I'd be done cooking faster. This didn't give the moisture in the food time to escape. Now I cook in batches. Yes, it takes more time, but it also looks better and no one says “ewwwww” when it gets to the table.
- Problem – The smoke alarm is going off a LOT and I
had to open the windows in the dead of winter to let the smoke out
of the kitchen.
Solution – Lower the heat. Again, in an effort to get my keister out of the kitchen, I was cooking things at a too high a temperature. Once I lowered the heat, the Fire Department stopped making nightly visits.
- Problem – Mushy pasta. This is especially
embarrassing and wastes times when your kids are Carb Loading and
only eating pasta.
Solution – Make sure your water is actively boiling, not just bubbling a little, before you add theAlso, use a big pot and lots of water. Pasta needs to expand and breathe. In addition, I set the timer for one minute less than the box indicates because pasta continues to boil even after you take it off the heat until you douse it with cool water. If I want to skip running it under water, sometimes I'll add cold tomato sauce and toss it. The cold sauce stops the pasta from getting any softer and the pasta's heat warms up the sauce.
- Problem – The bread coating didn't stick to the meat.
Solution – Cover each piece in flour, then dredge in egg and follow through with bread crumbs. Also, making the cutlets ahead of time and refrigerating them for about 30 minutes before cooking helps. Lastly, pre-heat the pan before putting the meat in.
- Problem – My veggies stick to the pan and turned out
Solution – Preheat the pan for a minute or two before adding oil or butter. The exception to this is if you're using a non-stick pan because non-stick pans release fumes into the air when they're heated up while they're empty.
- Problem – The meat didn't cook evenly.
Solution – First, do the Bread Test before you cook another dish in your oven or toaster oven! Then, make sure you bring the meat to room temperature after taking it out of the fridge for at least 10 minutes before you cook it (source: www.cookinglight.com); if it's a roast or thick cut of meat, you may need to bring it out 15 to 30 minutes before cooking.
- Problem – Dried turkey burgers that resemble hockey
pucks and make your kid's braces hurt when he chews them.
Solution – Add a tablespoon or two of olive oil to the pound of turkey meat before you cook it. I'll also add some onion soup mix for extra flavor.
- Problem – My lasagna turned out petrified on the edges.
Solution – Spread the sauce all around the noodles, especially to the edges of the pan, before cooking them to add moisture and cover with foil until the last 15 minutes of cooking.
- Problem – Diva really wants hard-boiled eggs, but the
package says they're no longer fresh.
Solution – I know that sometimes eggs last longer than their expired date. According to the website The Kitchn (www.thekitchn.com), here's how you can tell how fresh eggs are:
- Place an egg in a bowl of water.
- If it lies on its side at the bottom, it's very fresh.
- If it lies upright on the bottom, it's still okay to eat but
either eat it today or hard boil it.
- If it floats to the top, discard it.
Cooking doesn't come easy for me, so I've had to adapt and learn. It's getting easier as the kids get older because I'm able to take more time in the kitchen, but mishaps still occur. Fortunately, the above tips have saved me countless times. I hope they do the same for you!
Thanks to my cooking, I've learned a few things about masking the odor of burned food in the house. Please check back in with me this weekend when I'll share my favorite tips for getting your house to smell nice, even when you've, um, cremated dinner. Ta-ta!
Photo Source (except for the photo above of my cat): Wikimedia Commons (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Main_Page)