HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


How do YOU cook/bake?

There is nothing I love better than having the kitchen all to myself on a Sunday afternoon.

Radio on and tuned to either my favourite jazz station or 70s rock station, depending on my mood.

My favourite green apron on and cooking all afternoon.

Fresh pasta, paella, mussels, cakes, fresh bread, stews, anything and everyting etc. etc. etc.

This got me thinking...how do other people do it? What is your kitchen routine?


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Hair up, nails clipped, comfy shoes on, something dumb on the TV for background noise.

    If you see all four, it means I'll be cooking most of the day. SO's been too busy and exhausted from work lately to help me much, but when we're together in the kitchen we're a pretty lean mean cooking machine. I've been told we're almost frightening to watch because we're so in sync there's really not much talking...er, or just that he's very good about letting me boss him around.

    1. After work, exhausted, doing a million other things at the same time. Thinking about other stuff, distracted, maybe talking on the phone. Snacking, keeping up with the dishes as I go, running out to clip some fresh herbs or vacuum the bedroom while the chicken browns. Now that I think about it, it's amazing things come out edible and I don't lose a finger.

      1. I love a dedicated day to cooking. I choose recipes the night before, shop early in the morning, come home to put on comfortable cloths, and I'm ready!

        1. I also love to spend an afternoon cooking, baking especially as that is always a new adventure for me. :)

          I wear comfy clothes, usually jeans and a tee shirt and flats/sneaks. I can't stand aprons, if I'm careful I rarely spill on myself.

          I like back ground noise, usually music or TV, now it's the chatter of SO.

          I adore help! SO doesn't mind cooking and so more often than not, he's helping me somehow.

          I have to have EVERYTHING out. I'm not crazy about mis en place, but I like to have all the tools and ingredients out. Then, I put them away after I'm finished using them.

          And finally, and most importantly, I always taste, taste, taste!! I never get hungry cooking all day! :)


          1. Apron on for sure, answering e-mail, cruising CH....the laptop is where I can see it at all times and is always on, letting the dogs out, letting the dogs back in repeat, repeat. If DH around the television might be on but not when I am by my self. I may have a CD going Dixie Chicks, 60-70's rock, jazz, old Broadway musicals, quite a gamut there. Constantly wiping down counters nad washing my hands. seems like I deal with a lot of dough and raw meat. Always cleaning as I go.

            1. Yesterday was one of those all-day cooking days. I'm still tired!

              My routine is pretty much the same as yours, although I never remember to wear an apron. I always have the radio on (classic rock when I get home from work, NPR on the weekends). I wear comfy clothes (usually workout shorts and a T-shirt or tank top) and I like to get all my prep work done before I actually start cooking.

              I also try to keep up with washing dishes so I'm not left with a huge mess at the end.

              I love making spaghetti sauce and freezing it. Casseroles are a big hit in the fall/winter. I can't wait for the weather to get cooler since doing a marathon cooking day isn't as much fun for me when I'm sweating to death.

              1. For All Out Cookin: I wear a pair of mephistos that are both very ugly an very comfortable. I also wear a pair of horrid saggy-butt knit pants and exchange my apron for a clean one at least once over a long cooking session. I can't cook without an apron. I take a shower right before our guests arrive so I can relax.

                1. I'm in old baggy clothes, usually shorts and tees if it's hot, sweats if it's cold. I almost never wear aprons. All surfaces in the kitchen are covered with food, appliances, pots, cookbooks etc. When the pile in the sink starts to topple over, I'll wash up, otherwise it stays there until I've finished.

                  I have the TV on mostly for background noise. The laptop is up and running because that's where my online recipes are stored. Finished dishes are put into the dining room to cool. In between cooking, I'll take a break and pick up my knitting which relaxes me. Then it's back to the sink and stove.

                  At the end of a marathon session, I'm exhausted. Fortunately DH is a great cleaner-upper.

                  1. Usually in clothing that I would be just totally embarrassed by if someone dropped by, either with the TV on Food Network or Al Green or Marvin Gaye on the CD player, food and dishes strewn about (I'm definitely of the messy cook variety,) sometimes my 50's grandma apron, sometimes not. Sometimes it's marathon cooking, (usually when my fiance is out of town) sometimes it's just a quickie dinner on a weeknight, but the routine is usually the same. I usually bake a lot when I do the marathon cooking, and there's usually a chicken stock on the stove too.

                    1. A bit anal, perhaps, but I have to clean up the kitchen before I start anything. No dirty dishes or clutter allowed. Radio a must.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: doctor_mama

                        As am I. And I clean as I go so when cooking/cleaning is done, it's a snap to clean up the kitchen. When DH cooks, it's a near-disaster post-meal. (He cooks well; cleans terribly.)

                        I also like being in the kitchen alone.

                      2. If I'm going to spend a lot of time in the kitchen cooking, I like to get anything I'm going to use out and readily available. Music playing is usually blues music, or ethnic music depending on what i'm cooking.
                        I have a large white board on one of my walls that I write down steps I'm going to follow and estimated times vs actual time to complete dish. Next to the white board is cork board where I can tack up recipes, instructions, photos, if I need to. No apron, but plenty of dish towels. Beer and wine is always within arms length.

                        1. Comfy pants and t-shirt, barefoot, no apron and yes, I'm a mess. "If" I wear shoes, it's Birkenstocks. Very organized, mis en place as much as possible but fluid at the same time.

                          Kitchen is kind of small, no tv or music in there, but background noise from room next door. I have a great view to my yard tho, which is very peaceful and I enjoy looking out as I'm cooking.

                          Actually, I guess I prefer it to be quiet if I had a choice. I like to concentrate on the task at hand.

                          I try and clean up as I'm going along - put things into the dishwasher or even wash by hand those items which I'll probably be using again shortly.

                          I do not like others in the kitchen with me for the most part. The kitchen is too small, and located in an awkward place (smack dab in the middle of the house). Unfortunately this makes it a central stop-over for everyone, and there is really no place for them to comfortably rest without getting in my way so I'm forever shooing them away. The only people I allow in there are my siblings, possibly my sister-in-laws. Definately NOT my MIL - she makes me too nervous because of her age.

                          I'm exhuasted by the end - but very self-satisfied too. Big mess, thankfully DH is quite good about helping w/the clean up!

                          1. For some serious cooking - my normal clothes (polo shirts and shorts this time of year), and my tie-around-front apron. KUSC playing in the background, unless Tania's cleaning house at the time, in which case it'll be a classic-rock cable channel. If I'm really on top of things I'll have the kitchen all clean, my cutting/butchering surfaces out where I can get to them, and empty sink and all my stuff readily at hand. I have neither the space nor the equipment to let used vessels and utensils pile up, frequently use the same bowl two or three times, for instance, so I wash periodically as I go along. Nobody's in there with me, unless we have a visitor who's willing to stay out of the way and pour me some wine once in a while...or unless the visitor is our buddy Jerry from Nashville, who's the only person I really enjoy cooking with, and then we ROCK.

                            For the most part, though, I just enjoy some calm, contemplative puttering. Spending the whole afternoon inventing and producing a gumbo, or a new variation on posole, or something like that. It's therapy, and then we get to eat it.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Will Owen

                              "It's therapy, and then we get to eat it"

                              Very well put. Usually I'm outside in front of the smoker, splitting wood, sipping beer or bourbon, listening to some Bill Monroe and the trains echoing in the distance, the occasional pop or sizzle from inside the barbecue, a deer clicking past or something rustling the leaves.

                            2. Comfortable clothes, including one of three roomy, old flannel shirts and rubber-soled clogs that get me a couple of inches higher in relation to the counter. Music is great, but that depends on what DH is doing. This time of year, I often cook accompanied by the ballgame on the radio.

                              Then, there are all the small-space issues. When the cooking starts, the kitchen has to be clean and clutter-free as I need as much room as possible from the beginning. No one else is allowed in the area, but that's an unenforceable rule -- between DH and the elderly dog, I just have to try not to hurt anyone. Most of the time, dishes get washed as soon as two or three things accumulate in the sink, except for knives, which are treated with reverence and washed and dried immediately after use.

                              1. Wow. I wish I could do all day cooking marathons w/ lovely aprons and a clean kitchen and music and ambiance 'n' all, but I've got a phone tucked under one ear, a kid clutching one leg and one screaming in the background, I have a kitchen towel jammed into the pocket of whatever I wore today and an oven mitt, for some reason, clutched in my armpit, one hand is making a pre-dinner snack for the screaming kid and the other hand is stirring sonething on the stovetop, the other hand is washing vegetables and I need another hand.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: MollyGee

                                  I SO relate to this and miss the time when my days were my own, and I could fully devote myself to cooking (or anything) without being interrupted. Parenting is BY FAR the most difficult task I have ever undertaken. Being an executive was so easy...as I reflect back.

                                  1. re: Funwithfood

                                    Gosh, you still seem to get a ton of stuff done FWF despite the parenting tasks! I feel lazy when I read your posts!! :-)

                                    1. re: Funwithfood

                                      But then they grow up. They really do, and it only SEEMS like it takes forever, and then here's this big man who comes to visit once in a while, and you remember when he was hard to burp because there wasn't room for your hand between his head and his butt...

                                      I had just the one, and he was never that much of a distraction to either his mother or me, but there's a very good reason why lots of people develop their fancier cooking skills in middle age. My mom had three of us, and we were really poor, so it was Better Homes & Garden recipes wall to wall. By the time she was 60, she was doing a great boeuf bourgoignon.

                                      1. re: Will Owen

                                        I know what you mean, time goes by simultaneously too fast and too s l o w...as it relates to children.

                                        Will--I tried your "bean salad", easy to put together even with small children!

                                        (Katie Nell--thanks for your comments--being a tad obsessive-compulsive helps me get things done, despite my frayed nerves--the evening martini has become imperative after having kids! :)

                                  2. I almost always have a bunch of cd's playing. Sometimes, if I have a big cookathon going, I pull out the big gun - a Whitney Houston cd (yes, I've admitted it - let's keep this between us, shall we) - the one with "I'm Your Baby Tonight" -and I bop around the kitchen. I first heard the cd (back then it was a cassette) on a little island off the coast of Malaysia and to this day, it puts a smile on my face. I only ever play it when I'm cooking.

                                    Armed with my tunes and a dish towel over my shoulder (I got that from my mom), cleaning as I go, I'm a happy camper.

                                    1. On Sunday afternoons, cooking four dishes at the same time for the week ahead in a kitchenette... Still very enjoylable, as I am by myself and have TV on the background, sometimes with a glass of wine or lemonade depending on my mood... Baking is also the same way, although I would have to start earlier, I am still a novice so it takes time.... I love it...

                                      1. Essentials:
                                        --Glass of red wine (if it's before 11 a.m., maybe something sparkling).
                                        --Being the only person in the kitchen (it's very small, and my wife has a way of accidentally sneaking up on me usually when i've got a large knife in hand).
                                        --Having good tunes on. Either blues, jazz, or something really cheesy and retro. been known to sing along to abba.

                                        1. What fun to get to be a fly on the wall in all of your kitchens. It is nice to know that there are so many of us in comfy shoes, listening to the radio and cooking. For me it is with ponytail and apron, listening to NPR or KPFA on weeknights, Car Talk or Wait Wait Don't Tell Me on weekends and wishing I got the place clean before I started!

                                          1. - Do all my food shopping previous to Cooking Day (except for fresh breads).

                                            - When I go to bed on Cooking Eve, I mentally review the Order of Battle for the next day.

                                            - Clean kitchen, all dishes put away.

                                            - Keep the wife out of the kitchen.

                                            - Organize recipes.

                                            - NPR on the radio.

                                            - Tee shirt and flip flops.

                                            - Set the table early on so I'm not rushed when the food is ready. I even set the table on Cooking Eve.

                                            - Do all of the tedious mise en place chores early on while I still have energy (mincing garlic, cleaning/ chopping cilantro, etc.)

                                            - Keep pace with cleaning dishes and stay organized.

                                            - After I get the majority of the food prepared, I open a bottle of my favorite wine - Cheap Red Wine

                                            - Push! Push! Push! I through the bullsh*#t flag on all these recipe steps that say "just before serving, blah blah blah". Finish the dish so you won't be in a frenzy at service time.

                                            - Sit back, bask in the glory of a well prepared meal, and solicit faint praises from your guests. Me: "I think I salted the duck too much." Reply: "Are you kidding me, it's delicious!"

                                            - Drink more wine.

                                            1. It depends. I have two modes of cooking:

                                              Mode #1 is Sunday dinner mode. I go to the farmers' market in Studio City, I plan the meal as I walk amongst the stall, then I go to Trader Joe's to get whatever I need for the week that isn't available at the market. Then I go to Vallarta for everything I couldn't get at TJ's.

                                              Typically I'm wearing jeans (if it's cold) or shorts, and a T-shirt or polo shirt.

                                              I get home, wash up, turn on NPR to "Car Talk", or maybe K-Jazz, get out all the things I need, and start just working. Having done this so often (every Sunday for two and a half years) I have learned the economies of movement necessary for my somewhat bizarre kitchen. I can stir a sauce while chopping herbs; I can open my oven with my foot if need be.

                                              About fifteen minutes before people (including my wife) come back from their weekly hike, I set the table, turn off the radio and prepare to put things into dishes.

                                              Then there's weeknights. I get home -- sometimes (rarely) at 17.30, more usually 18.30, sometimes not until 20.00, call my wife from the road, and dictate the mise en place and, if necessary, the oven preheat. I get home and, if it's likely to be messy, throw a huge old t-shirt over my work clothes, wash my hands and start ruthlessly preparing food. I plan meals that don't require a lot of prep during the week, because I don't want to do a lot of cooking during the week. I throw it onto plates and we eat in front of the television.

                                              1. I shop daily. Find something that looks good, get excited to cook it. A good walk to the market then back home, get my exercise in; good for the food/wine that was consumed the previous evening no doubt.

                                                Plug the iPod into the stereo and shuffle all the funk contained within it.

                                                Bottle of red wine. Exaggerate to the SO how much of the empty bottle really went into the food.

                                                Cook at my usual leisurely pace. Very enjoyable.

                                                Stall! SO: "Ummm when is dinner ready?" Me: "Dammit, dinner is ready when it comes together! Have another beer".

                                                Serve food, more wine, enjoy seeing SO go for seconds and thirds :)

                                                1. I love to spend a good Sunday afternoon doing nothing but cooking and drinking a bit of good wine or scotch;)

                                                  Usually I will put on a good, long dramatic movie like Godfather to get me in the mood.

                                                  Since I'm busy during the week I use this time to make Bolognese sauce, bechamel, stocks, soups, chili, curried chicken, jambalaya, pizza dough and so on.

                                                  My wife does the baking and desserts during the night, typically muffins or cookies for the week.

                                                  Our kitchen is very small, so we have to clean as we go and we don't work at the same time.

                                                  I can't wait to drive to the US and get that 36" John Boos kitchen island that I've been dreaming about.

                                                  1. Crank some tunes, sharpen the knives, get out whatever cookbooks I'm using, and get down to it.

                                                    Music is the key, because it helps me tune out the noise and focus in on the slicing, dicing, and sauteeing at hand. Usually its some loooooooooooong Dead concert to get me in the right groove; other times I just shuffle through the rest of my music collection. If the tube is on, you'll likely find me boppin around the kitchen with the ipod strapped to the back of my belt, headphones on, and REALLY tuned out to everything but the task at hand.