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What's your Achilles Heel in the kitchen?

Inspired by this article at serious eats http://www.seriouseats.com/2013/02/wh..., what's your Achilles Heel in the kitchen? For me, it's the rice. I can't make a pot of rice to save my life.

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  1. Pastry! It's always too short and crumbly.
    Maybe to do with the gluten formation.

    I've only tried it a couple of times though. I probably need to set aside some time to get a feel for it, but it's so much easier to get the frozen stuff.

    2 Replies
    1. re: ursy_ten

      I found with pastry that I yielded better results with each little factoid I learned. Consider making it to be like conducting a science experiment, where a single factor could produce a different outcome.

      Definitely give it a few more shots before letting it defeat you.

      1. re: Musie

        Thanks Musie, It's definitely a skill I'd love to master. You can do so many wonderful things with pastry!

    2. Brownies. I've no idea why, but the two of us just don't work well together.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Musie

        On the Hershey's site there is a recipe for York Peppermint Patty brownies.

        I'm not big on baking but that is pretty user friendly and oh so dang good!

      2. I am very nervous about getting meat done exactly right.

        6 Replies
        1. re: sandylc

          I suck at large, expensive cuts of meat. I don't trust my instant read thermometer, so I just bought the old-fashioned, stick it in the meat and leave it there kind.

          1. re: sandylc

            i feel your pain. roasts, which theoretically should be easy, terrify me.
            also, i sometimes start pork chops on the stove top, then throw into the oven, still in the skillet, to finish. TWICE now i have forgotten the the skillet handle does in fact heat up in the oven. you would think i would learn.

            1. re: rudysmom

              Fold the hot mitt over the handle to the oven. That should help you remind yourself that you need to use it to take the pan out of the oven. :-)

              1. re: rudysmom

                You would think I would learn not to check food in the oven without a pot holder. I always think to myself - the foil won't be too hot I can just lift it to check. Well, usually the foil is not that hot, but the oven rack that my knuckle inevitably make contact with is. Nevertheless, I do it nearly every other day. In fact, someone actually asked me yesterday if I had taken up fighting as I have a collection of small burn scars on my knuckles.

                1. re: fldhkybnva

                  Good to know I'm not the only one who does that. I have scars in my forearms cuz I am to lazy to slide out the rack and I touch the hot rack with my arm or hand all the time

                  1. re: suzigirl

                    Me too, suzi. I have two scars on my right forearm. They'll eventually fade, I keep telling myself:) And rudysmom, I did that years ago after buying my first piece of All Clad. I put something in the oven to finish and took it out without a mitt. It was so, so painful! I kept ice in my hand for about 12 hours and it still stung. Luckily it has only happened once.

            2. Yes, yes, yes! I can't make rice - I buy it from a chinese restaurant or frozen from Trader Joe's. I can make rice mush though!

              22 Replies
              1. re: harryharry

                My formula is: 2 parts rice, 3 parts water (usually long grain rice, and I don't rinse). Microwave on high 12 minutes, check (if using pyrex you can see if there is still water in the bottom), then keep microwaving in 2 minute increments until done/all liquid absorbed.

                I hope this helps!

                1. re: ursy_ten

                  No it won't help - I was about to reply to some of the other posts with fail safe recipes - the thing is that it just won't help.... if you can't make it you can make it...

                  Also, there is no way that I could stand listening to my microwave for 12 minutes.

                  1. re: harryharry

                    Yes! No suggestions can save me from the horrendous rice, I just have decided it is not something I can do :)

                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                      Trader Joe's sells pre-cooked rice in the frozen foods aisle. All you have to do is nuke it and it comes out fine. I use those in a pinch, even though I'm not rice-challenged. Nuke two packs for your next dinner party and dump them in the serving dish. No one will know or care.

                2. re: harryharry

                  Option 1:
                  a) never make less than about 3 cups cooked rice.
                  b) pour some rice in pot.
                  c) put in water to one knuckle depth above rice.
                  d) bring to a boil on stovetop. turn to low.
                  e) simmer on low for 20 minutes.
                  f) let sit, covered, for 15-30 minutes

                  Option 2:
                  a) buy a rice cooker
                  b) read directions
                  c) follow directions

                  my response somehow looks snarky, not intended to be.

                    1. re: sr44

                      Not sure i understand your comment sr44. Once the lid goes on it doesn't ever come off until the rice is ready to be served. No opportunity to adjust the water, and I've never had a need to do so. By the time the rice is done, all the water is absorbed, thats what that rest period is for, to let all the water be absorbed or escape as steam.

                      1. re: KaimukiMan

                        I'm with you. Lid on. No peeking.

                        1. re: KaimukiMan

                          I'm going to try your method KaimukiMan, Just finished a pot of jasmine. Use 1 cup rice to 2 cups water. Add 1 tsp salt to water and bring to boil. Add rice and return to boil. Turn heat to low simmer with tight fitting lid for 25 min. Remove from heat . Gluey.

                              1. re: emglow101

                                remember, its rice not pasta. you don't want excess water when you are done, you dont need to stir it around while it is cooking. rinsing is recommended, 5-6 times seems excessive to me. In Hawaii the 'universal' rule is 3 rinses, but we mostly cook medium grain calrose rice here which tends to be slightly sticky, but not as sticky as long grain rice. But I learned this method of cooking rice from my mom and grandmother cooking short grain "fluffy" rice. They never rinsed their rice, and never used 'converted' rice either.

                                But even with calrose or long grain, it should still come out with each grain being discrete, not an indistinct mass, although having it stick together is correct, sticky but not gluey. Oh do I wish Sam Fujisaka was here to guide us. We miss you Sam.

                                1. re: KaimukiMan

                                  I wanted to have a nice rice, with my live dungeness crab I steamed tonight.Local caught from Half Moon Bay, CA. I will make crab cakes with leftovers tomorrow. Not to have thread drift. I had the best crabcakes of my life in Kona,with a light citrus dressing. I like your recipe for rice.

                          1. re: KaimukiMan

                            If you get consistently mushy results, use less water when you start. If the rice is not soft when the cycle is done, add a bit more water.

                            1. re: sr44

                              Thanks sr44. Our family was raised on potatoes.We never had rice as a starch. I have tried numerous times to cook rice. It is always hit and miss for me. With my continuous faulty results I will keep trying make rice. I do not want to give in to the rice maker.

                              1. re: emglow101

                                My family was just the opposite: my mom's default starch was rice, and she rarely cooked potatoes (and no, we're not Asian). Since I've never had any problems cooking rice, I never thought I needed a rice cooker. However, when I acquired a Chinese roommate who cooked rice several times a week and usually managed to have it boil over and make a sticky, starchy mess on the stove, I decided to get a cheap rice cooker. I think it was $10 at Walgreens. Works fine and doesn't take up much room.

                                For all you people having trouble cooking rice -- are any of you at altitude? I think even a relatively small amount of altitude might affect rice cooking.

                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                  I could have sworn Ruth Lafler was a Thai name.

                                    1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                      Good point: I was gifted with a name that is virtually unpronounceable for most Asian language speakers. But you know, there are lots of people who have names that don't match their ethnicity.

                                  1. re: emglow101

                                    Potatoes for me too. My mother used Minute Rice exclusively, so when I made the leap to Uncle Ben's, it wasn't pretty. And now when I cook rice on the stove, I stir it several times and don't use a lid.

                                    Can you cook other grains?

                                2. re: KaimukiMan

                                  If you keep coming up with mushy rice, use less water at the start.

                                  I started cooking rice many years ago by frying the grains in a bit of oil or butter, then adding water and baking until done. Cooking the surface starch helps keeps the grains separate, but if you add too much water, it's mush again.

                            2. re: harryharry

                              Buying rice from restaurants, I usually buy Mexican restaurant rice. I don't know what they do but it's fluffy a lot easier to than making at home. I have a decent recipe, but my rice just turns out different and takes time.

                              Mushy rice implies too much water.
                              For plain rice - I suggest a ratio of 1 rice to 1 water or 1 rice to 1.5 water.

                              0) Use a measuring cup
                              1) rinse rice in a fine mesh strainer.
                              2) Bring water to a boil. (Optional - add a little salt)
                              3) Add drained rice to boiling water and turn down heat to a simmer.
                              4) Cover and come back in 20-25 minutes.

                            3. Long pasta. That stuff sees me coming. I actually made up a name for the result: spaghetti stumps. You know, when a bunch of ends clump together and don't cook through, no matter how diligently you stir or how carefully you maintain the boil.

                              Solution: the SO also has a name. He is Starch Boy. Takes care of all the starchy things in our kitchen. He is a dab hand at rice cooking as well.

                              FWIW, the photocopier at work sees me coming too and develops the copying equivalent of spaghetti stumps. Coincidence? I think not.

                              7 Replies
                              1. re: grayelf

                                I have to man the spaghetti pot for the entire time it's cooking, otherwise I end up with logs about 15 noodles thick. It hates me. :/

                                1. re: grayelf

                                  I have this problem too... long pasta. Glad to see it's not just me :)

                                  1. re: grayelf

                                    If it might help, I've found that a lot of stirring in the beginning makes a big difference, but definitely continued stirring throughout but I focus heavily on the first few minutes.

                                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                                      Frequent but not continuous stirring here. And I've learned that Barilla pasta clumps MUCH more than other brands.

                                      1. re: sandylc

                                        I stir rarely but sample frequently. I think the key to non-clumpage may be not overcooking the pasta in the slightest. Al dente pasta is less likely to clump.

                                        1. re: sandylc

                                          No kidding! I switched to the cheap supermarket brands and I only have to stir for the first few minutes.

                                      2. re: grayelf

                                        Instead of stirring, I use tongs to separate the strands of angel hair throughout the cooking period. I do not go and sit down while it cooks. I usually grate cheese, get out the butter if I'm using it.

                                      3. Anything deep fried. I have a fear of frying. :O

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: afridgetoofar

                                          Me too. I will never get on an airplane again.

                                        2. Rice is also my Achilles Heel.I like my rice to be light and fluffy.Grains that do not stick together. I prefer Jasmine rice. I will rince the rice until the water is clear. Then I will bring 1 3/4 cup water to boil. Add the 1 cup rinsed rice to my pot with a tight fitting lid. Turn the burner down to a very low simmer.After 16 min take off the heat and fluff with a fork.Put the lid back on for around 5 minutes and serve. A gluey snowball.What am I doing it wrong?

                                          6 Replies
                                          1. re: emglow101

                                            I start my rice in the pot with the water (not bringing it to a boil first). However, I think your main problem is not using enough water! The jasmine rices I've used have called for 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups of water for each cup of rice, and for some rices, the ratio is 1 cup rice to 2 cups water!

                                            1. re: pamiam

                                              Thanks for catching my mistake in writing. I meant to say 1 3/4 cup.I changed it.

                                              1. re: emglow101

                                                My ratio is 2 parts rice to 3 parts water for long grain rice like Jasmine. I think your gluey snowball is due to too much water.

                                                I know some will say you're supposed to rinse it, but I don't rinse my rice either. It starts absorbing water when you rinse it, so I just throw it in dry so as not to mess with the ratios. You can always add a bit at the end if things are still a bit crunchy - a bit harder to take excess water out.

                                            2. re: emglow101

                                              I make really good rice if I do say so myself. With all the different types of rice available - I use jasmine and basmati normally - I don't rinse it anymore. Bring 2 cups of water to boil with 1 teaspoon salt, add rice, bring bag to boil and top with a tight light and turn the heat down to low. Do not stir or take lid off. After 25 minutes check to make sure water is gone - turn off heat and take off of burner. Let sit a couple of minutes and serve. Perfect every time.

                                              1. re: emglow101

                                                My ideal rice is the stuff you get at any Chinese restaurant takeout place, but have never been able to ever even make edible rice let alone that stuff which seems to have the perfect just clumpy enough texture and flavor despite being steamed white rice.

                                                1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                  They use rice makers. The Japanese Iron Chef used to use a rice maker. Rice makers make it easy. They are pretty cheap too.

                                              2. Fish. Overcooked or bland. Homemade pasta, too, though I have pretty good luck with from-scratch pierogi dough.

                                                Technically, I can't make decent rice, but I'm okay with that since I like overcooked, kinda mushy rice. Heh. I just wouldn't make it for company, though. And the overcooked rice is just fine for my stuffed cabbage so I'm in no hurry to make a "proper" pot of rice.

                                                1. I was just thinking about it because it came up in another discussion: chicken cordon bleu and chicken kiev. I can not make a proper one without it leaking. And it's one of my favorite things to eat :/

                                                  6 Replies
                                                  1. re: alliegator

                                                    Macaroni & cheese. I can't ever get it right.

                                                    1. re: chloebell

                                                      This. Mine always comes out feeling kind of tacky, I guess you'd call it.

                                                      Maybe I'm bad at roux, and then that spills over into everything else?

                                                    2. re: alliegator

                                                      Oh yes, love the leaks. Even after I have skewered the chicken with nearly 50 toothpicks there is leakage. Oh well, SO and I love to scoop up the ooze and just pile it on top. I've given up on perfection and just scoop and smear afterwards. It might help if I would stop stuffing them with tons of ham and cheese but I refuse to give up massively stuffed breasts.

                                                      1. re: alliegator

                                                        And that would be the reason I make it on my bf's birthday and rarely else

                                                        1. re: alliegator

                                                          This might help you with the chicken Cordon Bleu: Start with chicken breast halves that are approximately the same size. Pound them thin, keeping them about the same size. Put the fillings (I layer Gruyere, prosciutto and more Gruyere) on the smaller half but leave about 1/2" around the edges. Top with the second half and do a flour-egg-panko breading. Refrigerate the stuffed cutlets 30 minutes or so before sauteeing.

                                                          1. re: CindyJ

                                                            I had a serious chicken battle this weekend although it turned out much better than expected after I had pounded out the breasts. I do it very gently for a longer time but it seems that my breasts always start to shred a bit and I get worried about leakage but this time it worked out OK but not sure how to perfect my technique or perhaps it doesn't need to be improved if it's working. Another tip I found that helps is to roll from the small end.

                                                        2. Mashed pertatas. Fortunately, the Khantessa is a wiz at this.

                                                          I've given up on making gnocchi. It's beyond my ken.

                                                          3 Replies
                                                            1. re: phofiend

                                                              It's what my grandfather called "badadas". a.k.a. mashed potatoes. :-)

                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                Thanks. I thought it was some kind of exotic tropical delicacy.

                                                            1. Rice. And I see I'm not remotely alone. I use a rice cooker now, because I can't handle the suspense. Will it come out mushy? gluey? stuck to the bottom of the pot? Rice hates me.

                                                              1. Pie crust and/or biscuits. I use frozen and/or Bisquik.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: Chowbird

                                                                  Same here. Can not roll out a pie crust to save my life. Or produce a decent, flaky, biscuit.

                                                                  1. re: Chowbird

                                                                    Mother, mother-in-law & aunt all excellent pie crust makers spent many hours of hands on instruction to no avail. Pillsbury it is for me. For biscuits too, I can't even do Bisquik.
                                                                    .

                                                                  2. I am also really bad at cooking rice, although I have improved recently. I use the pasta technique for brown rice (simmer until almost cooked in copious water, then drain the water and cover to let it steam the rest of the way), and it works pretty well. Basmati is never a problem now that I use the technique from 660 Curries. I haven't cooked regular long grain white rice in a long time, though, so I don't know if it's still my enemy or not.

                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                        +1. Although I've recently learned that by brining the chicken first and cooking it on a much lower heat then generally recommended has helped my fried chicken enormously. The temps usually stated by recipes consistently burn the outside before the inside is finished with being raw.

                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                          The same. I don't even bother anymore. No way I can make it better than chain joints like Colonel Sanders, Popeye's or the Golden Chick, not to mention a few local places.

                                                                          1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                            So much this. Burnt or bloody no matter how I tried. Trip to Popeye's only takes 20 mins and it comes out better than mine does.

                                                                        2. I see a lot of rice angst here. I love Barbara Tropp's method; it consistently turns out beautifully cooked, individual grains of rice.

                                                                          http://www.globalgourmet.com/food/kgk...

                                                                          1. Fried anything. And fish. Fish scares me because good fish costs a lot, and if I screw it up that's a lot of money wasted. So we just eat fish when we go out :)

                                                                            I'm good with rice.

                                                                            1. Then why not buy a little rice cooker like this one? It is 110% 'fool proof'. Half a cup of rinsed rice, any rice, drained then into the rice cooker. Half a cup of liquid added. Put the lid on. Press down the button. In a while the cooker 'clicks' and the light turns from red to orange. Orange means the cooker is keeping the rice warm. The rice is always fluffy.

                                                                               
                                                                              1. It is interesting that rice is problematic for so many. I don't consider myself to be half the cook that many of you are but for some reason rice for me is not a problem. I have a rice cooker but I usually just make it in a saucepan stovetop.

                                                                                My Achilles heel (heels, actually) would be anything fish-related and biscuits/rolls.

                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                1. re: tcamp

                                                                                  Like you, tcamp, I just cook it on the stovetop. 1 cup of rice (usually basmati, unrinsed) into 1-3/4 to 2 cups of water, brought to a boil (with salt - maybe 3/4 tsp?). Stir once, cover, turn heat to simmer, and let it go for 15-18 minutes. Remove from heat, let it sit for about 5 minutes. Stir it before serving.

                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                    That is exactly my method. Unless you forget to turn it off (like my spouse, repeatedly), it works like a charm.

                                                                                  2. re: tcamp

                                                                                    Same here. Rice is so unproblematic for me that I don't even think about it.

                                                                                  3. Anything involving yeast and kneading. I'm so careful to have the water not too hot-not too cold to make the "sponge" or I use the instant yeast that's supposed to be fool-proof. But my final result always tastes too yeast-y or it's too dense. Never, ever just right.
                                                                                    And don't get me started on the rising.

                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: helou

                                                                                      helou, if you could learn any one kind of bread to bake, what would it be?

                                                                                      1. re: helou

                                                                                        Me too. And my automatic breadmaker which I was using for the mixing and the kneading is broken and apparently unfixable.

                                                                                        1. re: helou

                                                                                          Yep, bread. I drove myself mad last summer trying over and over again to bake a decent loaf. I checked the water temp with a thermometer, fresh yeast, kitchen scale, everything and never got a decent result.

                                                                                          The two excellent bakers I consulted couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong.

                                                                                          I gave up.

                                                                                          1. re: cleobeach

                                                                                            If you want to try making bread again, ask another baker to make it with you - you can observe them and they can observe your techniques.

                                                                                          2. Baked goods in general. I seem to have issues with the humidity changing the recipes outcome at times. At least that is what I tell myself
                                                                                            Fish for the same reason as juliejulez. You spend all that money and screw it up. Yikes!

                                                                                            7 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: suzigirl

                                                                                              Have you tried baking using weights or are you using cups, i.e., volume measures?

                                                                                              1. re: sr44

                                                                                                No. Never. I haven't gotten a kitchen scale because I have gotten pretty far without embracing baking. It may become a passion someday but I just accepted that I stink and stopped wasting ingredients. ;-) I should get a scale and try again

                                                                                                1. re: suzigirl

                                                                                                  CI recommends the OXO scale. I haven't worked with it a lot, but I can see that it will be a lot easier when it comes to measuring flours and other ingredients in cold or hot conditions.

                                                                                                  1. re: sr44

                                                                                                    Thank you. Hot. Florida near the Gulf of Mexico. Talk about humid

                                                                                                    1. re: suzigirl

                                                                                                      Then I think a scale will be particularly useful.

                                                                                                      1. re: sr44

                                                                                                        Its funny that I have never really thought about a scale.

                                                                                                        1. re: suzigirl

                                                                                                          For me, it was an irritating side issue until I got one and tried it. Whoa! No more hunting different measuring cups. No more issues with flour fluffing.

                                                                                            2. Love love love my scale - !!!

                                                                                              It's not just for flour and sugar. Ever see recipes that tell you to use 4 oz. of cranberries, or 6 oz. of chopped pecans? It's great there, too!

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                I use my scale for nearly everything as SO and I keep a pretty good track of our cals and macronutrients. It's great for any and everything but perfect for baking and even cooking too.

                                                                                              2. Following a recipe exactly. Never could do it, sometimes it works, sometimes it bombs.

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: EWSflash

                                                                                                  I can relate. I generally read a recipe for inspiration. If I go by the recipe its hit or miss

                                                                                                2. Rising dough. I can make okay yeast bread most of the time, but when it comes time to rising biscuits, cake or really anything with baking soda or baking powder I usually end up with hockey pucks. I've tried fiddling with the brands of baking powder, buying new cans whenever I bake, still can never predict if I will get a beautiful lofty cake, or a sad 3-incher.

                                                                                                  1. Pan sauces and scalloped potatoes. I make a great poultry gravy, but beef, lamb pork etc never have the depth of flavour that i am looking for.

                                                                                                    The scalloped potatoes...always come out raw...follow recipes and time, and they always come out too firm.

                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: golfer1

                                                                                                      Most scalloped potato recipes don't have a long enough baking time. And if your oven is a little bit off temperature-wise, this will really mess with your potato doneness.

                                                                                                      1. re: golfer1

                                                                                                        Scalloped taters are tricksy like that. If I want to make sure it's going to turn out, I cheat and parboil the thin slices first. It works for me and staves off any disappointment.

                                                                                                      2. All pastry/dough items, including bread. I just quit trying because of too many frustrating failures. It is just not my wheelhouse. Bakers are patient and precise and I am just not that type of cook. I thought again about making bread recently and saw a recipe for some "simple" peasant bread that took THREE DAYS to make. Seriously? No. I don't have anywhere to let stuff sit out and rise and then remember to come punch it down and rise again and put in the fridge and knead or roll out or whatever the sh*t, it is just not the way I operate. And forget baked goods. I succeeded in making a vegan cake from scratch for my son's first birthday (he had a dairy allergy at the time) but since then it's been Dr. Oetker's and I don't feel guilty about it at all. DOUGH HATES ME.

                                                                                                        1. pork chops. i mean the kind that just take your chop lovin breath away, eludes me.

                                                                                                          1. Beef broth or beef stock. Just fuhgeddaboutit.

                                                                                                            1. Boiled eggs. I've read all the tricks, but I always end up with eggs that look like the surface of the moon.

                                                                                                              8 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: Scrofula

                                                                                                                Try putting them into a big pot of simmering, not boiling, water (covered by at least an inch) for 12-13 minutes depending on size, then directly into an ice water bath. Works for me =)

                                                                                                                1. re: jlbwendt

                                                                                                                  Works for me too. I cover with water, boil, turn off the heat and remove pan from burner, lid for 10 minutes, cold water.

                                                                                                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                    Yep, this is what I did the last couple of times. The end result was better than earlier attempts, but still a bit craterey.

                                                                                                                2. re: Scrofula

                                                                                                                  Is this about the method of boiling (Jaques Pepin has a method where you poke a hole in the bottom (flatter) end of the egg. It lets the sulfur out so your hard boiled eggs are really tasty and the yolk very creamy.

                                                                                                                  If it is about peeling, above has a good trick.

                                                                                                                  I also just read a pinch of baking soda to the water and your eggs will peel much easier. (I haven't done this so I can't attest to it.)

                                                                                                                  1. re: hambone

                                                                                                                    See, I thought it was the age of the eggs that made for either a good or bad peel. Fresh eggs equals a disaster for peeling. Is that a myth?

                                                                                                                    1. re: Violatp

                                                                                                                      Not in my experience. I think what you wrote is true. When I'm making hard boiled egg dishes where the aesthetic of the egg matters, I always try and use older eggs.

                                                                                                                      But I just read the thing about baking soda (like a few minutes before I saw your post) and thought I'd share.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Violatp

                                                                                                                        And if they sell coated eggs, try to buy the uncoated. Here in Honolulu the eggs shipped in from the mainland are labeled "mainland shell protected". Its intended to prevent evaporation, but it results in eggs that are hard as the dickens to peel. I try to buy local eggs, but leave them in the fridge for a week if I am gonna do deviled eggs or the like.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Violatp

                                                                                                                          Fresh eggs equals a disaster for peeling. Is that a myth?
                                                                                                                          -----------------------------------------------------------

                                                                                                                          Not a myth. My grandparents had a commercial egg farm and I learned not to use fresh eggs for hard boiled eggs from my mother.

                                                                                                                    2. Jello. Yes I'm serious. The Jello god haaaaaaaates me.
                                                                                                                      Interestingly enough I have no issues w/ plain gelatin, but the flavored, no way Jose.

                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                                        That's funny cuz I haaaaaaate jello. Yukky

                                                                                                                        1. Risotto. Cannot do it properly. Every single time it turns to glue. I have tried every recipe under the sun. I have had a tutorial from an Italian friend. Still no luck. At this point, the rice must sense my fear.

                                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: loula22

                                                                                                                            Yup, after reading horror stories have not attempted it and probably never will.

                                                                                                                            1. re: loula22

                                                                                                                              You should just make a microwave or oven version - they don't have quite the right texture to be authentic, but they are good in a pinch.

                                                                                                                              1. re: loula22

                                                                                                                                That's unfortunate. I've never made a bad risotto, if I do say so mysel'.

                                                                                                                              2. Keeping my rosemary alive.
                                                                                                                                This may veer into the gardening section, but it really bums me out cooking-wise.

                                                                                                                                I grow herbs inside (basil, thyme, parsley, etc) because I like to cook and I live in the midwest (IN).

                                                                                                                                I've lived in CA and TX where I grew the stuff outside and it grew like a weed. If anyone has any inside-growing advice, my cannellini and I would appreciate it!

                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: pedalfaster

                                                                                                                                  Hi I'm originally from Marion, IN...

                                                                                                                                  I cannot get my rosemary to stay alive inside, either. I don't know what I'm doing wrong - !

                                                                                                                                  1. re: pedalfaster

                                                                                                                                    Me too. Once it comes inside, it gets a white "bloom" on it and eventually dies.

                                                                                                                                  2. Soup. I cannot make a great soup to save my life. All of them come out bland, wrong mouth feel, etc etc. I think the problem is I don't use enough cream and butter. I have given up.

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                                                                                                                                    1. re: bamagirl30

                                                                                                                                      Soups are my forte. I don't typically load up soups with cream or butter, though a little can go a long way in certain types of soups. The key for me is in starting with the onions, then adding the next vegetable only when the onions start to look translucent. Essentially, each ingredient gets a little time to shine in the pot before the next one joins the party. Pureeing part of the soup adds nice mouth feel. Another tip is to work spices in during the saute stage. Fresh herbs should go in later. Salt and pepper should be introduced only in small amounts early on. That way, you can taste when the soup is cooked and adjust until you're happy. Acids (in non-dairy soups) can brighten dull soups. A little lemon zest or a dash of wine vinegar can pick up lackluster flavors.

                                                                                                                                      Potatoes are a problem for me. Roasted come out fine, but steamed, baked or boiled always seem to be on the al dente side, which is not pleasant. I'm paranoid about cooking them too much. Dry, mealy potatoes are terrible. Somehow, though, I'm constantly pulling them out too soon. It's ridiculous. I'm known to do the same with turkeys and capons. I can't bear the thought of overcooked breast meat, but I can't tell you how many times the meat down by the bone (not to mention the dark meat!) is on the pink side of done.

                                                                                                                                    2. Deep frying. I've never even tried it. I don't know if it's the idea of a big pot of oil exploding in my kitchen, or what might happen to my physique if I discovered that deep frying is not that difficult.

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                                                                                                                                      1. re: chococat

                                                                                                                                        My main gravamen against deep frying is the mess. I really hate oil spattered all over the place.

                                                                                                                                      2. sauces. I forget to do a sauce or I think doing one is too much trouble. I am able to make a perfectly fine Bechamel, and I can do a Veracruz type sauce for fish, but I don't do any others except the very rare gravy for turkey.

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                                                                                                                                        1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                                                          Wow, you do a Bechamel? I'm impressed. Gravy is about as far as I ever go, and that probably no more often than you do.

                                                                                                                                          Neither mom nor either grandmothers ever made sauce for anything, except gravy once or twice a year for the holidays. I just never learned, and figure I'm better of not knowing how to add all those luscious calories to my diet.

                                                                                                                                        2. Just discovered another one - trussing a whole chicken. I mean, it gets done; it just looks pretty damn ugly. I've looked at various online info; I've watched videos.

                                                                                                                                          Just. Cannot. Do. It.

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                                                                                                                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                            I am feeling you. I even went and got the "idiot proof" trussing rubber bands and i still suck

                                                                                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                              I say don't bother to truss. I have read that trussing slows down the cooking of the dark meat by holding the legs tight against the carcass, which causes the chicken to take longer to cook, which overcooks the white meat even more.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                Well, I can live with that logic. And it gets me out of trussing. I will try it. As much as I love chicken I tend to pass up whole birds so it doesn't become an angry wressling match

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                                                                                                    Thats a good one. Lol.You sure I'm not a trussing fool?

                                                                                                                                                1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                  Huh. I thought it was to allow everything to cook properly and finish at the same time?

                                                                                                                                                  Well, I figure with my crappy way of trussing, it all evens out. :-D

                                                                                                                                                2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                  this is why i have never cooked a roast chicken.

                                                                                                                                                  I'm an architect, as far as I'm concerned trusses (see below) are for roofs and bridges, not poultry.

                                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                                    Hmmm....maybe I could use the cantilevered mansard with parapets type of trussing on my roasting chickens....

                                                                                                                                                3. Time is my achilles heel, it takes me forever to put a meal together. I enjoy weekend cooking, but weeknights not so much. Breadmaking is also a downfall unless its the slow rising bread.

                                                                                                                                                  1. Ahhh, don't mention Achilles, I ruptured my tendon a year ago, lots of pancakes and bacon and stuff I could cook from a chair. Fried chicken is the dish I have trouble with, me being a master fried fish, shrimp, and oyster cooker.

                                                                                                                                                    1. Fish! I cannot cook fish to save my life. I waste more money buying fish that I can't eat. My most recent failure was last Friday when I attempted to make a mediterranean style oven-roasted whole striped bass. It was just yuck!

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                                                                                                                                                      1. re: CindyJ

                                                                                                                                                        The problem with fishstakes is that they're extremely expensive. I made some kind of Balinese snapper a couple of weeks ago and it was ghastly. Put a little hole in my bank account into the bargain.

                                                                                                                                                      2. Keeping my workspace clean as I go.

                                                                                                                                                        1. Limited counter space, inability to quickly dice veggies w/ a knife and a fucking washing machine right next to my 5 burner gas range!

                                                                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                                                            you don't like chopping vegetables on a washing machine going thru the spin cycle?

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                                              Yes, it improves my chopping technique.
                                                                                                                                                              When I cook I have a glass of wine and listen to relaxing music. When the god damn washing machine goes into spinn cycle, it drives me crazy. We have a utility room w/ no drain. I plan to move the machine out there and contruct a grey water system in the back yard.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                                                                I used to have a place w/ the washer and dryer in the kitchen. I avoided using them while cooking, and when they weren't in use, they were extra counters to set stuff on to get out of my way.

                                                                                                                                                          2. Pan Frying! It just never comes out right: eggplant, pancakes, meatballs, veggie fritters...its either sticking, burning, not cooking thru/evenly, not holding together...very frustrating!

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                                                                                                                                                            1. re: WhatsEatingYou

                                                                                                                                                              Sounds like your pan is too thin and/or you're turning the temperature too high. Or, you're not preheating the pan AND you're turning it too high.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                I think its the second problem, I probably don't preheat enough so then am setting the temperature too high initially, things start to burn, but by the time I have regulated the heat everything is stuck and the pan is a mess!

                                                                                                                                                            2. My kitchen Achilles heel is tendon.

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                                                                                                                                                              1. Cleaning as I go... as a guy, I have to use every pot, pan, knife and gadget I have.

                                                                                                                                                                Even when I do clean as I go and after all the food is plated, I still end up with a pile of pots and pans.

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                                                                                                                                                                1. re: dave_c

                                                                                                                                                                  You sound like the dadgum Khantessa. She can use every implement and vessel in the kitchen to bile a cup o' water.

                                                                                                                                                                2. Stir fried rice. I have tried 6 different recipes in the last few months. Bland or one dimensional or overpowered by a single flavor.

                                                                                                                                                                  I want that right out of the carton take-out taste.

                                                                                                                                                                  :-(

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                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: ItalianNana

                                                                                                                                                                    It might help to find a highly-rated recipe with lots of reviews on one of the popular recipe sites, for example:

                                                                                                                                                                    http://www.food.com/recipe/chinese-fr...

                                                                                                                                                                    I read through all the reviews and see what other people had trouble with, what changes they made, and what advice is offered. It's a great way for getting the feel for how a recipe works if you're trying to perfect a technique.

                                                                                                                                                                    I also like to use Jasmine rice, it has such a wonderful aroma.

                                                                                                                                                                    Best of luck!

                                                                                                                                                                  2. Yeast dough. I've never been able to make it by hand, and have about a 75 percent success rate with a bread machine, which should be foolproof!

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                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                                                      If you lived nearby I would teach you!

                                                                                                                                                                    2. Gotta say that mine's an omelette. I can do awesome scrambled eggs, but that perfect omelette eludes me. I think it's because we all like our eggs well done, and I can't seem to get the center (and any fillings) to be done enough without the edges getting too crispy and thin. I've basically resorted to always making any kind of omelette thing as a frittata and finishing it off in the oven.

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                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: jbsiegel

                                                                                                                                                                        Watch the Julia Child video. The most striking thing about it is how small they are - the good ol' U.S. of A. has turned the omelette into a super-sized thing!

                                                                                                                                                                        If you try making smaller ones like Julia's, you might have better luck!

                                                                                                                                                                        Agreed on the done thing. The mother thinks that scrambled eggs should be wet. ?????

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                          Yup, omelets, can't do it but I suffer from the super-sized omelet desire. I have no interest in the petite, proper style so I just avoid them at all costs and make scrambled.

                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: jbsiegel

                                                                                                                                                                          What about flipping them?

                                                                                                                                                                          (Do the first one or two over the sink.)

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: hambone

                                                                                                                                                                            Another achilles heel...TOTALLY haven't mastered that "shake-pan-and-flip" thing!!!

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: jbsiegel

                                                                                                                                                                              You just have to commit. It is all about the reckless abandon and faith.

                                                                                                                                                                              You gotta have faith.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: jbsiegel

                                                                                                                                                                                I have read that you should fill your skillet with dry rice and practice outside or over the sink with it. Sounds like fun.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: jbsiegel

                                                                                                                                                                                  Liking those ideas! Commit to spreading rice all over the yard!!! :-)

                                                                                                                                                                            2. Mine is piecrust. I can make it taste right...light, flaky, etc. but I cannot for the life of me roll it out into a circle. I'll keep trying, as we love pies, but I wish I had a square pie pan. Reading the post, and seeing the many comments on using a scale when bread making, let me +++ that. Another useful tool is the King Arthur list of the weights of various foodstuffs used in baking etc. Go to the KA website, and download it for FREE!! It's about 9+ pages long, but I made a copy and keep it in my baking area. The best free list in the universe for bakers. Thanks King Arthur!!

                                                                                                                                                                              1. It's as simple as cracking a egg and not breaking the yolk. When making my eggs I like them over easy.More than often I break the yolk.

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                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: emglow101

                                                                                                                                                                                  Me too. However, if you're like me, when cracking for beaten eggs the yolk never breaks.