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What mistake do you always make when you're cooking in a rush?

What cooking mistakes have you made when trying to get dinner on the table when you're pressed for time (i.e., every night of the week in my house)? For me it's opening the oven too often to see if the darn chicken legs are done roasting yet--I know I shouldn't do that because it lets out the heat, but when I'm rushing I'm so anxious to see if they're done...

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  1. Once I sliced off a piece of my thumb with my chef's knife when I was in a hurry. The docs at ER admired the clean cut. Fortunately, I do not "always" make that mistake.

    11 Replies
    1. re: GH1618

      I did the same thing many years ago in the 70s. Sliced off about a third of the thumbnail and the flesh underneath. My friends said, "Save the cut off piece, they'll sew it back on at the hospital." But my cat had already snagged it & run off! Anyway, I was a guitarist and couldn't use my thumb for a month. That was the summer I learned to play slide guitar. The experience left me with a match head sized scar and a humorous (in retrospect) memory.

      1. re: eclecticsynergy

        I don't know which irresponsible relative let me near a mandoline when I was 12, but years and years ago I was slicing tomatoes for salad without using the vegetable 'hat' -- and, predictably, I lopped off the end of my baby finger. My mother drove me to the hospital but I had to carry the finger piece in a zippie bag (on ice, natch). They didn't end up re-attaching the nub, but I sure wouldn't eat sliced tomato for ten years or so.

        And I only accepted a mandoline back into my life last year, in my late 20s. I still don't have a fingerprint on my right pinkie.

          1. re: kattyeyes

            Not a cannibal unless megjp is a cat :)

            1. re: zfalcon

              HA HA, no...wrong post...replying to eclecticsynergy:
              ^^My friends said, "Save the cut off piece, they'll sew it back on at the hospital." But my cat had already snagged it & run off!^^


              1. re: kattyeyes

                Cat who eats cat= cannibal. Cat who eats people = not a cannibal.

                1. re: jvanderh

                  OOPS, that's true. I'm a little slow this week. DUH on my part. It's still creepy to think the cat took off with the piece of finger!

                  1. re: kattyeyes

                    Yep, that cat was a true humanitarian!

                  2. re: jvanderh

                    what's this make people who eat cat? fear of which is why a friend of mine won't eat chinese food!

                    1. re: betsydiver

                      Ah yes, a popular but often misnamed menu item: kitten chow mein.

                      Have posted this link elsewhere: the funniest mistranslation of an actual Chinese menu ever. It just gets funnier as one reads down the page. Enjoy!


                      1. re: eclecticsynergy

                        Correction- it's a Japanese menu I guess. Hilarious nonetheless. A few choice selections; these are actual listed items:

                        "Fresh bulb lilycelery west fruit in eyes"

                        "Fragrant bone in garlic in strange flavor"

                        "Big bowl fresh immerse miscellaneous germ"

                        "Red date silk tube-shaped container steams frog"

                        "Double-Boiled Forest Frog Plaster w/Coconut Juie"

                        and the ever-popular "Carbons burns fresh particularly must"

                        plus dozens of others, some of which can't appear here...

        1. Well, certainly not always but I sometimes will forget an ingredient or I will forget to taste and season before serving.

          Interestingly, I, too, have cut a small chunk out of my finger. It wasn't bad enough to go to the E.R, though.

          As Benjamin Franklin once said "Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other."

          1. I forget to save some of the cooking water to thin out what ever it is i'm making. It all just goes down the drain. So sad.

            2 Replies
            1. re: adido

              I should add that now I take some water out of the pot while the food is cooking so this happens less frequently.

              1. re: adido

                I try to remember to do that, too--just grab a big scoop with my Pyrex measuring cup or whatever is handy before down-the-drain-e-o!

            2. Cutting or burning myself. I have scars.

              7 Replies
              1. re: wyogal

                That would make me your twin. I even have one from the refrigerator.

                  1. re: JerryMe

                    In my hurry I knocked something over in the frige and had to pull the crisper drawers out to wipe it up. As I reached in to wipe it out- in a hurry- the upside down "T" shape of the shelf above the crisper drawers that has the track for the drawers to slide into ripped the top of my arm open. I have an inch and a half long scar just below my elbow.

                    1. re: weezieduzzit

                      Yikes! I've got scars, for sure but none from THAT appliance . . .yet.

                      1. re: weezieduzzit

                        It's that kind of thing that will put you off cleaning ;) I had a cleaning accident (not in the kitchen) that resulted in the loss of a fingernail, and it had that effect on me.

                        1. re: foiegras

                          So you're saying she should never clean the refrigerator again. I can get behind that.

                          1. re: Hank Hanover

                            It should magically clean itself. I want that patent.

                1. When I'm in a rush, I tend not to taste as I go very much and just do it by the numbers. More than once I've been very unpleasantly surprised to discover, after I've sat down to eat, that I completely forgot to salt something or that slight burnt edge I figured would be no big deal (without tasting it) turned out to pervade the entire dish.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: MikeG

                    I keep fleur de sel on the table so I don't have to worry too much about salt ;)

                    1. re: foiegras

                      It's just not the same, though! Sometimes you can get away with that, but when you forget to salt something like stew, all you can do is salt it, stick in the fridge for a day or 2 and hope for the best - never tastes the same as when you salt is as you go along.

                      1. re: MikeG

                        OK, I've never forgotten to salt stew ;) I salt the stew meat when I'm browning it, and then also taste the stew as I'm cooking.

                        I really hate the texture of table salt on top of my food, so for most of my life, it was really important to get the salt exactly right in the kitchen. But with fleur de sel (took me awhile to 'discover' it), which either melts or has a pleasant texture, you can fix things at the table. If the food is deeper than one layer (like in a bowl), I just salt more than once. It's also good if you're in a hurry and you're cooking something straightforward, you don't have to taste it at all until you get to the table.

                  2. I forget to salt. Or I don't let the oven heat properly so I don't get the nice browning when roasting veggies.

                    1. I forget to check that I've got all the ingredients, and inevitably need to either put everything on hold and run out to the store (luckily it's close!) or try to figure out a substitution.

                      1. Recently, I used a can of pumpkin instead of a cup. I misread the recipe. I realized this when the cookie batter was way liquidy. I added more flour and and egg and just by luck , the supposed to be cookies that turned into cupcakes turned out fine.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Living4fun

                          Nice save, there. I tend to leave things out that are not apparent till whatever is already in process. Yesterday, I left 2 tablespoons of flour out of the top part of the lemon bars I was making...morphed into an entirely different end result. There's only two left, that was a lucky accident, but they don't have the look or texture of "normal" lemon bars.

                          Other fun mistakes--when one of the measuring cups is missing from the "nest," I've caught myself grabbing the next size instead...e.g., 1/3 cup instead of 1/2 cup. UGH.

                        2. i often grab the wrong size bowl or pot and end up having to dirty another one. this seems minor on the scale of things - i'm not bleeding or scarred from it, just end up washing more dishes!

                          2 Replies
                            1. re: mariacarmen

                              Me, too. I now write "Giant Bowl" at the top of recipes that I've made before, just to avoid Mr. Pine saying "and why do you use so many bowls?"

                            2. Mark me down for self-cutting (accidentally). On the bright side, my knives are sharp enough and I've done this often enough I've gotten quite good at treating the wound so there's no infection and even a pretty good slice heals without stitches or undue angst. PS little baggies secured with rubber bands really help in the early post-cut days while showering.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: rcallner

                                Ha Ha - I've done the little baggie secured with a rubber band more than once . . .<going into kitchen to see what the supply is now>

                              2. I sometimes forget to make more than one thing, like the side(s) to the main dish. Never with something like a party, just regular everyday cooking. Yep, I just admitted it!

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: Astur

                                  Oh, yeah, and I forget to SERVE something I've made, when the guests have arrived and party's in full swing. GNARF

                                    1. re: rcallner

                                      I used to regularly forget to serve something at dinner parties - often it was something I had taken great pains to make. Nowadays I make notes, lots of notes. The notes include sketches of everything I plan to serve - and now I never forget anything!

                                  1. I tend not to check if I have all the ingredients for something, leading to some last-minute substitutions or omissions. Sometimes it works out for the best; sometimes it doesn't.

                                    I also forget to start the most time-consuming stuff first in favour of the most interesting, meaning the finished meal is mistimed and I'm grumpy.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: megjp

                                      And this. Especially if it is something that can go bad. Something contaminated my jar of roasted red peppers and they went mildly so I could add them to my antipasto last night.

                                    2. I just start cooking, instead of prepping all the ingredients first. And of course, when that happens, I'm frantically chopping carrots while sautéing meat and hoping that the onions don't burn. I know better than to forget mise en place, but sometimes I do anyway.

                                      Another thing that happens when I'm in a rush is that I don't clean as I go. Then I have to spend even more time after dinner doing all the dishes!

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: caseyjo

                                        I don't know why I can't let mise en place into my life. Only if I know it's necessary like for stir fry.

                                        1. re: caseyjo

                                          Yes, I always burn the onions. And forget to put herbs in at the end.

                                          1. re: gembellina

                                            I always for get to put the herbs and garnish at the end. At least when I'm just cooking for myself. I usually remember (not always) if I'm cooking for others.

                                        2. Recently I put only half the baking powder the recipe called for. It was Cuban banana bread I was making as muffins, first time I'd made the recipe, and I just assumed they were 'authentically' heavy. What a surprise when I made the recipe a second time and they were normal!!

                                          I also fairly frequently find that I don't have enough butter or eggs ... things I keep on hand and assume I have, but sometimes I've just run out, or don't have sufficient quantity for the recipe. And unfortunately, those things aren't very substitutable (possibly not a word ...).

                                          I do kind of enjoy making a meal or dessert from 'nothing' when it's the weekend and I don't want to go to the grocery store.

                                          1. Forgetting what it is I have in the frig / pantry. OMG! I have spinach! I have cheese! That just pretty much pisses me off. Then I try and pull it out and incorporate it at too late of a time factor.

                                            1. Finding the salad in the fridge, after dinner was over... guests gone... Finding a garnish that never got onto the dish... so many more "mistakes"!

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Sarah

                                                I've done this so many times that I now set out the empty serving dishes beforehand with little notes in 'em...add orange zest, etc!

                                              2. I have made many mistakes, but you are asking the common mistakes under time constraint. In that case, the common mistake I make is: forgetting ingredients. Sometime I chopped up something, and forget to add it at the end. This, of course, happens to recipes with many ingredients.

                                                1. I always forget ingredients when I'm in a big rush, usually when I'm doubling up a meal so I can deliver one to a friend. I've forgotten to add butter to cinnamon roll dough and to dip the ladyfingers in espresso for tiramisu. Oops:)

                                                  I've never cut off part of a finger, but I've given myself pretty good cuts.

                                                  1. knocking things off the counter as i'm darting around trying to do too many tasks at once. i pretty much always cook barefoot, and the thing that hits the floor most frequently is the knife (or the cutting board where the knife is resting)...it's a miracle i still have 10 complete toes.

                                                    burns are the other biggie. even when i have a dishtowel draped over my shoulder i often grab a hot pan/handle barehanded.

                                                    1. You know that trick of popping out the avocado pit with a knife? Well now I cradle the avocado half in a dish towel before I sink my knife in it. (The knife went into my nail once.)

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: pdxgastro

                                                        I've not hurt myself popping out the pit, but once I tried to pull the it off the knife with my hand instead of kind of tapping it on the cutting board. I keep my knives very sharp, so I got a nice slice across my palm.

                                                      2. I never chop things fine enough. Nor set out all the spices aqnd herbs prior to start.

                                                        1. I forget to salt too. Or I oversalt. Worst of all, I skip tasting the food because I think I can estimate how much salt or hot pepper or whatever it needs. I almost always regret it.

                                                          1. In a rush, I'm a sloppy chopper. I tell myself that a "rustic chop" is more artsty.


                                                            1. 1. Burns. And since I'm in a rush, I ignore them and end up with worse scars.
                                                              2. Chopping my hands. I have various scars, including three small chopped-offs. One they sewed back on, the others they didn't. BTW, the part that they reattached hurt like heck for an eternity and eventually came off anyway. I am missing a few fingerprints, as well!
                                                              3. Not tasting. I know that food should never be served if it hasn't been tasted and adjusted by the cook. I still skip this step too often.
                                                              4. The biggest one: When I'm in a hurry, I ignore my instincts. When I hear that tiny little voice telling me that something isn't right or should be done differently, I squash it and I am always sorry later. Cooking really is at least one part instinct.

                                                              17 Replies
                                                              1. re: sandylc

                                                                Holy hell. I think I'd stick to takeout.

                                                                1. re: jvanderh

                                                                  HA! You made me reread my post.....

                                                                  It's really not as bad as I made it sound!!!!!

                                                                2. re: sandylc

                                                                  Anthony Bourdain talks about those "battle scars" fairly often, he respects them! I have burn scars all over my forearms; they're faint, but they kind of make me feel hardcore.

                                                                  1. re: caseyjo

                                                                    Truth. I worked in a bagel shop and if you didn't have scars from cutting open the bagels or cleaning the slicer at the end of the day, you were not properly initiated.

                                                                      1. re: pdxgastro

                                                                        Only at the beginning, Sandy. Also, we tried to not get blood on people's food. ;o)

                                                                    1. re: sandylc

                                                                      I'm surprised you all lost your fingerprints. I sliced the tip of my finger off on the slicer when I worked at a deli, and within a week or two it returned. I had jokingly teased a cop who was a regular customer how I lost my fingerprint and he told me Oh it'll grow back. Maybe I was just lucky?

                                                                      1. re: coll

                                                                        Not trying to get too gross here, but one of my chop-offs is now sort of a permanent blister - that's why there isn't an entire print on that finger.

                                                                        BTW, I haven't cut myself in quite a few years. I realized that most of them happened when I was distracted and decided that if something takes my attention away, I need to put down the knife.

                                                                        1. re: sandylc

                                                                          One girl I worked with was always cutting herself, mostly because she sliced bagels holding them in her hand; I couldn't watch when someone asked her for one. She also knocked a knife off the counter once and grabbed it in midair, for some stupid reason. Resulting in a trip to the hospital. She really wasn't the type that should have worked in a food place.

                                                                          1. re: coll

                                                                            i need to defend her for the knife-grabbing. it's instinctive - i've had to stop myself from doing the same thing more than once.

                                                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                              I know, but I'm so bloodaphobic that I can stop myself in midair somehow. If I wasn't so squeemish I probably would have done it a million times myself.

                                                                              1. re: coll

                                                                                see, and it amazes me that someone who's so squeamish about blood can work in a professional kitchen...unless it's a vegan one ;) (and even then, you know fingers/hands are gonna get sliced!)

                                                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                  I know it's weird, and I ended up being a manager to boot, then I had to handle other people's blood too. Somehow I muddled through and eventually into food sales, where you only have to worry about paper cuts.

                                                                              2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                My mother and I never cooked together much, but I do remember that the first thing she taught me was "when you drop a knife, you're going to want to catch it, but just step out the way." It always makes me chuckle to remember it, and it has served me well.

                                                                              3. re: coll

                                                                                Knew a gal who had taken a summer job at a deli. One day she made a sandwich on a hard roll, then went to cut it in half, pressing the back of the blade down with her palm. Only she had the knife upside down, with the sharp edge facing up. Fortunately the hospital was able to repair the severed tendons and today she has full use of her hand. Am glad I wasn't there to see it, though.

                                                                          2. re: sandylc

                                                                            I relate to all of these:
                                                                            1. &2. I only have one slight "chop-off", just the edge of my index finger. When I came to, I was on my back with two big dogs licking my face as hard as they could. That memory has been well worth the finger slice.

                                                                            3. For someone who beleives in salt like do, I can't stand how often I serve food, start to eat, and then realize it's not seasoned properly. And telling guests to salt is just not the same as serving them food that's delicious to begin with.

                                                                            4. I HATE when I ignore my instincts. Especially w/ layer cakes, which I am fairly experienced with, I KNOW when a recipe looks wrong, or has omitted some step, but sometimes I follow it anyway to my chagrin.

                                                                          3. I forget to put the dinner plates in the oven to warm them up, and then I wind up serving hot food on ice-cold china.

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: bitchincook

                                                                              That's why the microwave was invented - warm your plates in there.

                                                                            2. Most of the above plus starting the roux for a bechamel without having heated milk at the ready (can you say "oh boy, lumpy sauce!") and trying to brown things I should have dried first. I have probably remembered to heat plates three times in my life. I have NEVER remembered to chill salad plates. maybe tonight!

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: tim irvine

                                                                                Hi....I have NEVER heated milk for my bechamel....it is lumpy at first, but whisking and cooking turns it right around.

                                                                              2. Does forgetting to compost count? I always do that when I am super hurrying.

                                                                                Other than that, I burn myself. Oh dear god I burn myself. I've been trying a bunch of new things(making candy!) and I've been burning myself a lot. It's a little sad, really.

                                                                                1. I tend to forget to wash and pat dry whatever meat I am cooking.
                                                                                  And then can't enjoy my meal thinking of it

                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: terasec

                                                                                    Why do you want to wash meat?????

                                                                                    Drying is good; it promotes browning. But washing?

                                                                                    1. re: sandylc

                                                                                      Yes, I rinse off and pat dry all my meats,
                                                                                      Chicken/fish/beef/pork/rabbit etc.....
                                                                                      If its something I hunted, its to make sure no hair/debri remains,
                                                                                      If its store bought its to wash off and surface bacteria, and chemicals they have used to pteserve color, even many organic meats use various chemicals to preserve color,
                                                                                      Organic refers to how its grown/fed, not to packaging

                                                                                      1. re: terasec

                                                                                        Ugh. I once got some meat that clearly had disinfectant on it. I called the health inspector and he actually sounded like he was interested and was going to address it with the store. Of course, you never know what happens after you hang up the phone.

                                                                                  2. have ruined more sauce pans because of burning the peas.
                                                                                    not so much other vegs, but forget that they're small and require few minutes, forget about them as I'm dressing a salad or cheesing the bread and before I know it, burned peas and toss out the sauce pan

                                                                                    1. I don't use the microwave much. And when I do mostly for quick heating anyway but I have been known to leave a bowl of something in there for days without realizing I never turned the thing on and didn't use the bowl of "x"....until the next time I go to use it....

                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: HillJ

                                                                                        Ha! I go crazy looking for that cup of coffee I was going to drink. Can't find it anywhere. A few hours later, I open the micro and there it is.

                                                                                        1. re: pdxgastro

                                                                                          C'mon now. Life's too short to drink reheated coffee. Get a tiny little pot or a French press.

                                                                                        2. re: HillJ

                                                                                          Oh yeah, that is a common mistake around here too. And days do go by, sometimes.

                                                                                        3. I have forgotten to serve something and discover it when I'm cleaning up and find it in the fridge. I also burn carrots quite often.