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Your flaws as a cook. Here are mine.

I know I'm a pretty good home cook. But I also know I have flaws.
Mine are: I keep dried herbs and spices far to long, I keep bottled sauces out of the fridge when I keep should keep them in, I'm impatient I like things faster then maybe they should be cooked, my workspace is to messy, and of course my knife skills are not up to par.

Those are my flaws, what are yours?

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  1. Finding fault with everything I make. People rave about my dishes, but I can only see the faults. Oh, and I suck at making pie dough.

    4 Replies
    1. re: wadejay26

      Are you me?

      I am almost never happy with what I make. I'm so excited about it, everything smells awesome... then it just doesn't live up to my expectations. Everyone else loves it. My sister has learned the face I make when I take my first bite, and she says, "Shut up, Victoria, it's awesome."

      And I also have never mastered pie dough. I buy the frozen stuff. :/

      1. re: Kontxesi

        I love the last line (the shut up line). LOL

        1. re: mrsfury

          I think most cooks, good or bad, suffer from this. I call it "olfactory fatigue." '-)

      2. re: wadejay26

        Have you tried making pie crust in your food processor? it is a snap.

      3. My dice are no longer the same size. I am too lazy to scale most fish, so when poaching, I just peel the cooked skin and scales off and pitch over the side. Between $4 a pound free range stewing hens and 59 cent a pound fryer quarters, the fryers win 95% of the time. I do not hone my blades before and after each use. My finger is my tasting spoon.

        When cooking a saucy dish in my cast iron, I will use soap for clean up just to make things easier and faster.

        5 Replies
        1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

          >>>
          My dice are no longer the same size.
          <<<

          I used to try to be anal about this until I realized that by the time it got to the table no one else cared.

          1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

            Reading the dice comment, I realized that I make PERFECT dice. Wow, one thing I can be proud of :)

            1. re: c oliver

              I can make perfect dice but have never chosen to...too lazy.

              I do however make lovely pie dough.

            2. re: INDIANRIVERFL

              Unless you catch you're own, I see no reason to scale fish: the friendly fishmonger will cheerfully do that (I did do it once at home: I found nearly transparent scales all over the kitchen for days afterwards).

              What's wrong with fingers for tasting - other than sticking them into hot liquids? I clean them periodically.

              1. re: tardigrade

                Daddy scaled fish in the backyard on the wood picnic table that could then be hosed down.

            3. - I keep my spices way too long, as I have problems throwing things out.

              - I do not plan ahead as well as I should and end up using many more dishes than is necessary.

              - I am easily flustered and get snappy and cussy when things don't go well.

              - I still haven't trained myself out of holding my index finger out over the knife blade. (When I was trained as a prep cook, that's how I was taught.... Ugh.)

              - I buy ingredients for a certain recipe and then am too tired/busy to fix it immediately, and once I'm ready half of my produce is bad and has to be tossed.

              I'm sure I have many more, but that's what I can think of off-hand.

              1. I'm not good at improvising. I'm still a pretty strict recipe follower. I'd like to be better at opening my fridge, taking out what's in there, and making dinner from that, versus having it planned out ahead.

                4 Replies
                1. re: juliejulez

                  Ha!
                  This is funny since i was going to say the opposite! I'm almost incapable of following a recipe to the point where my dish is often a shadow of what it should have been.
                  Which is fine and good- unless you (i) dont write down what i did (um, never have) and then i cant ever seem to make the same dish the same way twice!!

                  1. re: Ttrockwood

                    That's me too! I always try to cook more from my cookbooks, but I can never seem to follow a recipe without completely changing everything.

                    1. re: Ttrockwood

                      Ttrockwood, you hit on my biggest flaw: I experiment a lot, and fail to document what I did! So when someone asks for the recipe, I'm at a loss. I am trying to train myself to keep a "lab notebook" for the kitchen.

                      1. re: Ttrockwood

                        That's me all over -- especially the part about not writing the changes down. The best dish I ever made was a cheese soup where I sort of winged it between two very different recipes. SO still talks about that soup but I haven't been able to duplicate it since.

                        Apart from that, I have mediocre knife skills, and my timing (although improving) is still pretty weak -- I rarely can get all components of a meal finished at the same time.

                    2. It's like looking in a mirror here!
                      -too ambitious and over-buy at grocery stores and especially at farmers markets, leading to waste
                      -my knives are dangerously dull
                      -way too many dried herbs and spices!
                      -my sauces need serious honing to get the near restaurant quality
                      -my fridge really needs to be emptied and wiped down way more than I do

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: monavano

                        Ditto, although I do take my knives to be professionally sharpened once a year in Oct., so only some of them (those most often used) are dull right now.

                        1. re: monavano

                          Wow I ditto most of what you said -

                          I am notorious for just grabbing things in the store and at the market which go to waste

                          I yell at my knives every time I try to do anything that requires even a marginally sharp blade...hmm my chef's knife now struggles with granny smith apples

                          I have a ton for spices in the cabinet, mostly due to my habit of grabbing things and then when I do plan to use them I feel like I should buy anew

                          I close my eyes to the fridge when I open and just simply pick up the 4 jars of random condiments that fall out every time I open it :)

                          1. re: fldhkybnva

                            Wonderful piece of wisdom from another boat. "When your herbs smell like tea, it is time to replace them."

                            Many thanks S/V Good Grief.

                            1. re: fldhkybnva

                              Agreed...this whole thread is making me feel better about my shortcomings.

                              My knives aren't sharp, I waste far too much food, my time-estimation skills are either "ambitious" or "unrealistic" depending on your POV. And a few years ago the door of my refrigerator fell off its hinges and I caught it just before it fell on my four-year-old son. The repair guy gently suggested that the cause may have been the number of condiments in the door.

                              1. re: mebby

                                Wow, really? That must have been some condiment collection!!

                          2. I stink at pie dough
                            I can't cook and bake at the same time (I get distracted and the salt ends up in the cookie dough, sugar in the stir fry)

                            1. I waste excellent ingredients at times because I don't plan carefully enough to know when and if I can actually prepare them.

                              I buy or check out cookbooks excited to explore a new cuisine and then don't really get around to mastering anything there.

                              I don't clean dishes much as I go along, so I often create a helluva mess of pots and pans.

                              I just cannot get myself to devote much attention to dessert, so I have to be careful in entertaining to have any plan whatsoever there beyond a peach or the like. (Experience shows me that some people really see a sweet dessert item as an essential part of a meal, so they feel left hanging without a dessert.)

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Bada Bing

                                Are you me? Because this was pretty much everything I was going to list.

                              2. Top 3

                                Don't do a good job using cookbooks I already own or recipes I've downloaded, falling back on easy standards too much

                                Don't do a good job following recipes exactly

                                Often seem to have a hodgepodge of ingredients on hand but no clear idea of what to make (poor planning)

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: tcamp

                                  Getting out of my wheel house is a big problem for me, too.

                                2. I have the best of intentions, but limited time and energy to execute my grandiose ideas. More often than I'd like, I resort to bagged salad greens, rotisserie chicken, and the crockpot.

                                  1. Adding SBS, or Shiny Ball Syndrome.
                                    I bought a de Buyer pan from SLT what? 2-3 months ago? Haven't used it.
                                    Another late edition is the Norpro upright roaster (for the CI recipe) and have used it once, but need to be making the Polla a la Brasa at least once a month!

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: monavano

                                      It's also called the "Crow Syndrome" because crows like to steal shiny stuff.

                                      A mechanic told me that once when I asked why he had mostly black tools, "Prevents the 'crow syndrome.' People won't steal black tools, thinking they are inferior. I don't lose many tools."

                                    2. Never learned how to sharpen my knives properly.

                                      Read a recipe, buy a special ingredient to make it and then leave the ingredient languishing in the cupboard and eventually throwing it away when it expires.

                                      I now immediately portion and freeze any meat that comes into the house if I'm not cooking it that day and now have zero waste in that department.

                                      1. I'm not realistic about the time things will take. This applies to cooking and home improvement projects.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: FIMLL

                                          Oh yes... I always underestimate the time for making something. That's why we often end up having dinner at 9pm.

                                          1. re: juliejulez

                                            You mean, "Ready in 20 minutes" doesn't include prep time?

                                          2. What a great subject! Certain responses seem to be showing up repeatedly: buying jarred dried herbs and keeping them too long; not keeping knives honed enough; and over-ambition about recipes ( loved one poster's term "Grandiosity"!) which leads to over-buying ingredients and under-using them; and my personal favorite: The Shiny-Ball Syndrome!
                                            Guilty as charged!
                                            I also loved the comment about not planning ahead for dessert. It always seems to get short-shrift at my dinner parties, too.

                                            1. Hello, my name is Neko...I am an over mixer :(

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: NekoNekoFancyPants

                                                You're among friends. Want a hockey puck biscuit I just made?

                                              2. 1. Irrational fear of yeast dough.

                                                2. Too many tool duplicates (spatulas, graters, whisks, tongs)
                                                I really must get rid of some of these but I can't let go.

                                                3. An inability to practice clean-as-you-go.

                                                4. A blatant disregard for the "never make a recipe for the first
                                                time for guests" rule.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: Pwmfan

                                                  Ditto re #1. And it IS irrational. I'm a decent cook. I make things that I simply KNOW are harder than anything involving yeast. Yet the fear persists.

                                                  2 and 3 are things I'm decent at and 4 is not something I consider a rule. I can read a recipe well enough to know if I can make it right the first time. Usually :)

                                                  1. re: Pwmfan

                                                    "4. A blatant disregard for the "never make a recipe for the first
                                                    time for guests" rule."

                                                    My husband lectured me about this repeatedly. Not because things ended up as disasters, although that happened a few times, but because it just adds an exponential amount of stress to me, and I don't need more stress.

                                                  2. I am not good at timing things to be done at the same time. If I'm making dinner that involves 3 components (protein, starch, vegetable), odds are that one is done early, one is done on time, and one is running late and holds up the whole meal.

                                                    I also rely on nonstick cooking spray more than I should - I've ruined a few Calphalon baking sheets that way. (ouch!)

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: truman

                                                      >>>
                                                      I am not good at timing things to be done at the same time.
                                                      <<<

                                                      Can this be done?

                                                      1. re: truman

                                                        My husband had this same problem to the extreme! He could not think "This takes one hour to cook, I'll start it first, then this takes 10 minutes, I'll do it last." His solution was to just serve each item as it was done. We never ate in the dining room when he cooked, my daughter and I just sat in the family room and he would bring in a bowl of mashed potatoes, then 20 minutes later some salad, then in half an hour some baked chicken.

                                                        1. re: littlemissmuffin

                                                          Gee... a multi-course tasting menu at home...

                                                      2. I am terrible at cleaning as I go and I almost never do a mise-en-place. I have gotten quite adept at knowing how long it takes me to do a particular task, so I often chop one thing while another is browning, instead of prepping everything in advance. For most of my home cooking (for two people), this works just fine, but for larger scale cooking I think a mise-en-place is better.

                                                        1. I make wonderful braises, stews and casseroles BUT I can't cook a decent piece of meat on the stove, in the oven or on the grill. Even with a thermometer it is either underdone, overdone, or tough. I despair!!

                                                          1. I seem to be constitutionally incapable of following a recipe exactly, even if I'm using the recipe for the first time. I'm always improvising or substituting, and I almost never measure. I cook by taste, so in the Spring and my head is totally congested, things just come out tasting different.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: ricepad

                                                              Whereas I'm a recipe follower. I figure there's a reason 'those' folks are getting paid to cook and write and I'm not :)

                                                            2. Mine? I'll make dinner.. But we won't eat until it's dark outside.

                                                              1. I don't have good knives. I use a smallish one that I picked up at Ikea for almost everything. My knife skills would probably make people cringe, but, I don't know, it all seems to come out alright.

                                                                I love my nonstick T-Fal frying pan. I use MSG (mostly from Vegeta).

                                                                I can make pate sucree, but not American pie dough.

                                                                Oh, I am a MESS in the kitchen. I'll use every pot, pan and spoon.

                                                                I also have done the "tried something new for the first time for a guest or a special occasion." Works only about half the time.

                                                                Oh, and when I come up with something delicious on the fly, I can only rarely recreate it. Bums me out.

                                                                10 Replies
                                                                1. re: Violatp

                                                                  Search amazon for "fibrox" and get yourself a good chef's knife for ~$40. You just can't beat those knives.

                                                                  1. re: SocksManly

                                                                    I have some good-ish knives in my Amazon cart. Of course, if I was to buy everything that languishes in my Amazon cart, I'd be out thousands of dollars!

                                                                    Sadly, they all have to wait.

                                                                    1. re: Violatp

                                                                      I can relate. I currently have exactly 90 items in my Amazon cart. I buy a few, and add a few, every week. Things like sous vide cookers and vacuum chambers wait a bit longer than things like cocktail recipe books or calcium lactate gluconate.

                                                                      1. re: JMF

                                                                        I have about 500 items in my Amazon cart "Saved for Later". Of course, I'm never going to get more than a small percentage of those items. I should probably delete them all and start over...

                                                                        1. re: drongo

                                                                          LOL! I was about to tell JMF he's a beginner with only 90 things 'cause I have 221, but you put us both to shame! But I did recently clean my list out....

                                                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                                                            I only keep things I plan to purchase over the next few weeks or months on my list. So it tends to stay relatively short. I think the only thing that has been on it longer than two months is a sous vide machine because I can't make up my mind if I like food cooked sous vide, and a vacuum chamber/sealer because I still have to convince myself about the $1000 cost just to use in my home cocktail lab. Although now that I have a $9500 lab centrifuge that I got on ebay for $300 two months ago it feels like I may need to...

                                                                            1. re: JMF

                                                                              I wish I had a lab centrifuge for my chimichurri, but I work around it.

                                                                          2. re: drongo

                                                                            Huh. Um. Looks like 557 for me! Change my "thousands of dollars" to probably "tens of thousands of dollars."

                                                                            I tried using the wish list but it wasn't visible enough.

                                                                        2. re: Violatp

                                                                          I created a "Wishlist" on Amazon instead of using the cart, and that way on holidays/birthdays when people (like my mother) ask me for a list of what I want, I just send her the link. My brother and other half also love the list. I looked yesterday, there's stuff on there that's been there for 7 years :(

                                                                        3. re: SocksManly

                                                                          So right. The Swiss Army chef's knives are the best deal around.

                                                                      2. I have way too many kitchen tools and gadgets and not enough room for them right now. (I moved awhile ago and am temporarily in a very small house with a small kitchen. I'm used to have an enormous kitchen with more counter space and cabinets than I needed. Former owner of my old place was a chef.)

                                                                        Knives. I have way, way too many knives. The best of which I haven't even used and they are packed away.

                                                                        I probably sharpen my knives too often. They get honed before each use, which is good. But once a month or so I pull out a bunch of knives and my water stones or diamond sharpeners and get those blades literally razor sharp.

                                                                        I rarely follow recipes. Actually I only consider them general guidelines.

                                                                        I freak out if anyone is in my home kitchen when I am cooking or prepping. Especially if I have knife in hand.

                                                                        I like other peoples cooking more than my own. And I trained as a chef and am a consulting chef.

                                                                        I buy too much food, and prepare too much, and it ends up vacuum packed and in the freezer. I have to throw parties to get rid of it all. So I can start again. I see a beautiful piece of meat and it is like a cute puppy. It's going home with me. Hmmm... I should get a few puppies to help eat the food.

                                                                        I have too many fridges. My main one in the kitchen is half filled with condiments. The freezer is full of vacuum sealed raw meats, and portioned cooked meals. The others are smaller ones in my office and basement. One has vermouths, syrups, and other cocktail ingredients. Another is a dedicated wine fridge, double fridge actually, with one side set for red wine temps. and the other set cooled for whites. One is full of cool temp. fermenting pickles and such. I also have one set up for aging charcuterie and cheese, but it died recently.

                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: JMF

                                                                          Thanks for that image and the laugh "I see a beautiful piece of meat and it is like a cute puppy. It's going home with me."

                                                                          1. re: JMF

                                                                            "I rarely follow recipes. Actually I only consider them general guidelines."

                                                                            That's the mark of an experienced cook.
                                                                            I don't consider it a flaw.

                                                                            As for my own flaws, the main one is that I get annoyed and irritable if anyone else is in the kitchen while I'm cooking.

                                                                            1. re: JMF

                                                                              JMF: "I have too many fridges. My main one in the kitchen is half filled with condiments. ... ..."

                                                                              I want a condiment refrigerator that has those slide out pantry shelves for vertical storage like you see in kitchen cabinetry. But I want it refrigerated so I can store all of my condiments in there!

                                                                              The idiot builder of my house (built in 1975) put the damned slide-in refrigerator space at the end of one counter with a door right next to it, meaning I MUST use a counter depth refrigerator, and they didn't even make counter depth refrigerators in 1975! God knows what the former owners did before I bought the place 8 years ago. I suspect that, like me, they swore a lot. <sigh> Otherwise, my kitchen is pretty good.

                                                                            2. - I can't make a decent loaf of bread or pizza dough from scratch.

                                                                              - Most of the time when I slow cook something, I'm not in the mood for it by the time it is done - then I throw it in the fridge and never really end up eating it.

                                                                              - I will often blow way too much money on ingredients just to try out some new recipe I saw online.

                                                                              - I always overdo it when I'm making something to bring to a friends house, or a party or potluck

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: Atomic76

                                                                                Ha -- guilty of all of these, but don't even have a hope of curing #1...I'm so not a baker.

                                                                              2. - Frequent bouts of crippling laziness.

                                                                                - Refusal to measure out ingredients, even when it would be a good idea.

                                                                                - Limited baking skills, aside from a few things I make often.

                                                                                - Awful at rice (except risotto for some reason)

                                                                                - I'm a chronic tinkerer who cares more about the process than the actual results. So I mess up plenty of dishes just to see what happens when I do X to Y.

                                                                                - I can cook and prep pretty fast, but I'm always starting meals late, which can be a problem at dinner parties.

                                                                                - If I'm cooking to impress, I tend to overcomplicate things.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                  A former CH, great cook and friend suggested I get a rice cooker or that would have been on my list. Life changing :)

                                                                                2. I too have an abundance of spices and dried herbs.

                                                                                  My cupboards are messy and I'm the only one who knows where things are, and too often I can't find what it is I'm looking for but I know it is in there somewhere.

                                                                                  If I'm working with flour, I always end up covered in it.

                                                                                  I'm intimidated by the various kinds of pastry. I could probably do them with some practice but I chicken out.

                                                                                    1. I think I have everything to make a recipe and am always lacking one small ingredient.
                                                                                      I get distracted and if I do I just might skip an essential ingredient.

                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: Ruthie789

                                                                                        A riff on that is when I don't put something necessary on the shopping list cause I'm totally sure I have it. Lately I put it on the list and THEN check to see. NB: It's not a long walk from the living room to the kitchen.

                                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                                          I do the same thing, except I really am just that lazy that I will put off checking for so long that I just forget to completely before going to the store. This leads to some duplicate products, but that's my punishment for being lazy I guess.

                                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                                            I don't know how many times I have come home from shopping convinced I have it all and yes something is missing.

                                                                                            1. re: Ruthie789

                                                                                              I start my next shopping list before my groceries are all put away!

                                                                                              1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                I keep my shopping list on my smartphone. I never manage to get everything on my previous list, so it's a constantly running thing.

                                                                                        2. Cleaning as I cook. It would interfere with drinking as I cook. Also I'm terrible at estimating how long something will take, as I'm not much of a recipe follower, except for baked goods.

                                                                                          Not sure if really a flaw, but I taste so much when cooking that I'm not hungry for the meal, especially a big spread for a party. And I always want to top what I brought from the previous event I brought food to. Perfection is a fickle mistress

                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: autumm

                                                                                            I prep way in advance so I can drink later on :) Bob is great at cleaning as I go.

                                                                                            1. re: autumm

                                                                                              Agree with the drinking as I cook. Most everything I make includes SOME kind of alcohol, and I have to taste test it first. Cleaning up is a distant last on my list, not that I couldn't multitask if I really wanted to. But I don't consider that a flaw, rather a family trait.

                                                                                              Everything always seems to come out fine, but sometimes I wonder, what if? Then again, I'd be so much more stressed that it would probably be a liability for me to cook sober. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, is my motto.

                                                                                              1. re: autumm

                                                                                                I'm the opposite. I have others, for sure, but I'd say my biggest flaw is that I don't taste enough as I go along. Partly for the same reason you said -- I don't want to get full. And partly just because I feel like it'll be fine -- when it's a recipe, they know what they're doing (obviously not always true), and if I'm winging it, I have, of course, put in the perfect amounts of everything (yeah, right). Seeing this in print, I shall now try to remedy it.

                                                                                                1. re: juster

                                                                                                  If we're talking about cooking for company, I try not to make a new recipe for the occasion that may need adjustments. Plenty of tried and trues. If it's just us, no biggie! My husband's middle name is Guinea Pig. It's how I got where I am today, with the help of El Exigente (as I like to call him).

                                                                                              2. I buy and eat at least 1-2 rotisserie chickens every week instead of cooking them myself.

                                                                                                I sometimes saute in extra virgin olive oil.

                                                                                                I tend to way overuse Worcestershire sauce as an ingredient instead of turning to another seasoning sauce.

                                                                                                There are many nights that I have turned to frozen mashed potatoes from Trader Joe's just to get dinner on the table quicker.

                                                                                                I keep a "secret" jar of minced garlic on hand just in case I am out of the fresh garlic (I know, the horror).

                                                                                                I have a bottle of Real Lemon lemon juice on hand and use it often when I don't have lemons on hand (okay, honestly I usually don't buy the lemons unless it is for a special dish).

                                                                                                Frozen veggies rule in my kitchen as side dishes (esp. broccoli and artichokes from Trader Joe's).

                                                                                                I am always scared I am going to cut myself with sharp knives.

                                                                                                I still use store bought Italian breadcrumbs in a can for many of my Italian breaded dishes.

                                                                                                My spice rack still has spices in it from 1995 (okay, a bit exaggeration, but I am horrible at replacing dried spices every 6-12 months as recommended).

                                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: littleflower

                                                                                                  Gakk. I use Real Lemon in a pinch too. We buy whole lemons but invariably have just run out when I really need it.

                                                                                                  1. re: littleflower

                                                                                                    Same here about the Real Lemon. I have a bottle in the fridge. Often I will buy a bunch of lemons and leave them in the drawer, and when I plan something that requires lemons, I think "oh I have some in the drawer". When I go to use them, they're all old and wrinkly LOL! So the fake lemon juice it is.

                                                                                                    1. re: juliejulez

                                                                                                      With those old, wrinkly ones that you absolutely positively can't squeeze juice out of, you can cut them up and put in water in a saucepan to simmer. Nice fresh scent that helps to erase cooking odors.

                                                                                                    2. re: littleflower

                                                                                                      I grew up in a house with a lemon tree in the backyard, so I still on some level have a hard time with remembering to use the ones I've bought. Always having preserved lemons (either ones I've made or ones I've bought from Kalyustan) on hand has solved a lot of my lemon problems, since I don't buy fresh lemons as often, not unless I'm going to use them that day, so no more dried up lemon-rocks. Preserved lemons are also a lot tastier than RealLemon, IMO.

                                                                                                    3. I can't make pancakes. Burned on one side, pale on the other, oddly shaped and tasteless. We go out for good (read edible) pancakes every couple of months, and I've been known to bring home a box of Kustez frozen ones. I have no trouble making waffles, so pancake batter recipes get a bit of extra oil/melted butter added along with more milk/water and are then cooked in the waffle iron.

                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                          The secret for me is using a large non-stick electric skillet rather than a skillet on the stove top.

                                                                                                          I make them about once a month for the kids, as many as I can stand and then freeze for self-serve easy breakfasts.

                                                                                                          1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                            I should stop trying.

                                                                                                            But on Sundays, out comes the mixing bowl, and the maple syrup....

                                                                                                          2. re: MidwesternerTT

                                                                                                            "I can't make pancakes."

                                                                                                            I can't either! Luckily Mr Rat is a whiz - makes awesome batter, makes awesome pancakes. Mutual aid rocks.

                                                                                                          3. I am overly critical of my cooking/baking - usually too publicly.

                                                                                                            I overthink.

                                                                                                            I forget to taste for salt sometimes.

                                                                                                            I am always inspired to make great things when I don't have time; when I have an event that I need to cook for, I can't think of anything interesting to make.

                                                                                                            I always serve a little bit late.

                                                                                                            I'll think of more later.

                                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                              I am sure you are an amazing baker, based on threads I have read. I often underestimate how much time something can take to prepare.

                                                                                                              1. re: Ruthie789

                                                                                                                Thanks for the compliment!

                                                                                                                Regarding underestimation of prep time, I am the queen of serving dinner late. I have to work extra hard to hit a target time....!

                                                                                                              2. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                I think we were separated at birth.

                                                                                                                I'm always critiquing my cooking (but really, it's because I'm trying to think how to do it better next time, and as another friend of mine who does the same thing says, it's in the interest of our guests to help us out, because they'll get to taste the ever-improving results).

                                                                                                                Seasoning: I have no palate, so can never figure out what to add anyway.

                                                                                                                I am *never* on time when cooking for guests.

                                                                                                                Also, I'm too lazy to test a lot of recipes before serving them to guests. Usually I find that a well-rated recipe on Epicurious (or from Cook's Illustrated) has been tested enough by other people to be me-proof. :-)

                                                                                                                1. re: madbaker

                                                                                                                  As sandy said, critique your cooking as much as you want but not publicly.

                                                                                                              3. Rice. I just cannot do rice correctly. Except in paella. That is weird, I know. [A rice cooker was mentioned upthread. Will it work for 2 servings?]

                                                                                                                Don't utilize cookbooks as well as I could/should.

                                                                                                                A little too much food waste, especially produce. That's the worst one to me.

                                                                                                                I admit guilt with the herb/spice thing.

                                                                                                                But, it occurs to me that we all keep on keeping on, you know? We our best to put good, interesting meals on our tables, and make our families happy. That, to me, makes up for the flaws. It does.

                                                                                                                13 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: nikkihwood

                                                                                                                  I'm puzzled by the number of folks who commented about trouble cooking rice and want to "solve" this! Is it because of using an electric cooktop (too much time to transition a single burner from high to low setting)? Or not using a timer? Or making small quantity (e.g., 1 C water, 1/2 C. rice) in too large a pan?

                                                                                                                  1. re: MidwesternerTT

                                                                                                                    I don't know why but, as I said above, a far better cook than I, who also cooks A LOT of Asian dishes (meaning rice is pretty standard) had problems with it til he got a cooker.

                                                                                                                    1. re: MidwesternerTT

                                                                                                                      I don't quite get it either. I just throw in a cup of rice, 2 cups of water (1.75 if it's jasmine, per the package instructions), bring to a boil, then turn the heat all the way down and put the lid on. Check it after awhile. After it's pretty close to done (ie most of the water is gone), I take it of the heat and let it sit with the lid on until I'm ready to serve.

                                                                                                                      1. re: juliejulez

                                                                                                                        My slightly different technique also gives me reliably OK rice: I bring 2 C. water to boil, add 1 C. long grain white rice, bring back to boil, turn heat all the way down, put a lid on and set timer for 15 min. When timer rings, I turn off gas burner and stir rice to be sure it's cooked. I leave the lid on then until ready to serve.

                                                                                                                        I could see having trouble if using an electric cooktop - probably would want to use 2 burners, 1 set high for boiling, the other set low for simmer. And be sure to actually take the finished rice off the burner.

                                                                                                                        1. re: MidwesternerTT

                                                                                                                          I use electric :)

                                                                                                                          I think pulling it off the burner when it's just about done is the key, it just steams the rest of the way until it's done well.

                                                                                                                        2. re: juliejulez

                                                                                                                          Same here, at least 3X/week and it never fails on my crappy old gas stove.

                                                                                                                        3. re: MidwesternerTT

                                                                                                                          I learned a simple method for rice years ago and it works for any quantity...without any real measuring.

                                                                                                                          Dump some rice into a pot...any amount..., wash with a couple changes of water (optional); then add enough water so that it comes up to the first knuckle of the index finger when the tip of the finger just touches the surface of the rice. Bring it to a boil and continue a vigorous boil till the surface of the rice starts showing little 'holes'. Cover the pot, turn the burner heat down to lowest, and set a timer for 12 minutes. After 12 min, turn the heat off, keep it covered, and let it sit for 10 minutes (or until serving.
                                                                                                                          It has never failed to make perfect rice.

                                                                                                                          1. re: The Professor

                                                                                                                            gas cooktop here. Cooking for two, that may be the basic problem. I have tried just about every variation of basic rice I've ever found, and it's always mushy. Just damn mushy. I won't give up. However, there are a couple of new hints upthread, so I have some experimenting to do. Gracias. !

                                                                                                                            1. re: nikkihwood

                                                                                                                              You might do what I did when I moved to Mexico City, where the elevation (about 7500 feet) threw off my previous tried-and-true formula. I bought a big bag of the cheapest rice I could find and I cooked batch after batch, throwing each one out, until I found the parameters that worked (quantity of water and simmering time mainly). Write the minor expense off as R&D.

                                                                                                                              Basically make a project out of experimenting and figuring out what works for you.

                                                                                                                              I'll have to try The Professor's approach. It would be great to have a method that works regardless of elevation. I suspect the time might need to be a increased a bit since water boils at a lower temp up here.

                                                                                                                              1. re: nikkihwood

                                                                                                                                I cook for 2 (and often 1!) also. I find leftover rice freezes and then reheats great! I also sometimes keep it in the fridge for like a week to use another night. Or, one of my new favorite quick snacks is like a half cup of rice mixed with some pesto, then topped with a bit of whatever grated cheese I have laying around. Pop in the microwave for like a minute and it's a nice little snack :)

                                                                                                                          2. re: nikkihwood

                                                                                                                            [A rice cooker was mentioned upthread. Will it work for 2 servings?]

                                                                                                                            A small one will, yes. Of course, I live in Asia, so it's possible to get 1 cup rice cookers here.

                                                                                                                            I don't use a rice cooker any more - I now do mine, pot in pot, in a pressure cooker. Works perfectly every time with no interference from me.

                                                                                                                            1. re: LMAshton

                                                                                                                              I have had several rice cookers and you can make as little as you want. I've put in 1/4 cup of rice and as much as ten cups. (The only reason I have had several is because they work so well that friends have "borrowed" them over the years.)

                                                                                                                              1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                The ones we get in Sri Lanka and Singapore usually have a weighted sensor type of thing, so if the rice pot isn't heavy enough, it won't turn on. So in that case, smaller rice cookers are better.

                                                                                                                          3. I often try to do too much while cooking and end up messing something up. While waiting for something to to come to a simmer, I'll start cleaning or prepping another dish and the next thing I know, the pot has boiled over.

                                                                                                                            I'll prepare everything as planned and have it cooking away. While waiting, I'll think "Oh! I'll cut up some X and add it." I'll add X and immediately regret when I realize that the things in the pot are on their way to being done or at least way ahead of X. So either fish out X one by one, have undercooked X, or overcooked Y and Z. I should know to leave well enough alone.

                                                                                                                            1. And I would bet that we've all "left the garlic bread in the oven" at one point or another!

                                                                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: Violatp

                                                                                                                                Both my mother and my brother share this failing. I think they use smoke pouring out of the oven as their signal that it's done. As a kid, I pretty much came to expect that burnt garlic bread was the norm.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Violatp

                                                                                                                                  Or forgotten to serve the green beans or to melt the butter for the fish or turn on the stove before popping in the roast!

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Violatp

                                                                                                                                    Oh no I can top that. I put garlic bread under the broiler in my gas oven last Christmas and for some reason, my SIL suddenly insisted we take a few snapshots, for posterity. We returned five or ten minutes later to the bread in flames, like a baked Alaska. I do use a lot of butter and oil on mine. I pulled it out and saw the blue flames erupting off the top and just had to laugh! Most times it's her, forgetting to actually pick up the bread from the bakery. So we scraped the burnt part off and it was still edible, but man oh man why didn't we get a snapshot of that?

                                                                                                                                    1. re: coll

                                                                                                                                      My story ends with garlic bread but started with lasagna. I managed to drop an entire pan of lasagna into the oven which conveniently slid into the slit cover over the flame and on to the flame. Within minutes the entire oven was ablaze and ended with a visit from the fire department. Fortunately they assured me that the flame had burned off the food since it died down on it's own and the oven was OK. Well, since I had saved the other pan of lasagna which had been in the oven at the same time and it was still warm and proceeded on and fired up the broiler to make garlic bread. We had a lovely dinner at 3am.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                        Lol. I'm amused that you firedthe broiler - presumably part of the same oven - at the end of all this. Good for you. :-)

                                                                                                                                  2. I buy too much, and end up having way too much waste. I'm actually ashamed of myself for that one.
                                                                                                                                    I can't bake (or have no patience for the strict following of recipes).
                                                                                                                                    I can't stand the preparation of "boring" meals. Like Thanksgiving, where the turkey and certain sides are pretty much set in stone.
                                                                                                                                    I tend to overcook pasta, and I tend to overseason.
                                                                                                                                    My biggest fault of all is that I learned to cook (in my mind) backwards. I never really cooked until I lived in Thailand years ago, and was taught to use a lot of flavor, a hot as hell wok, and tons of ingredients. Then back in the US, I found, and still find, myself fumbling with things like a roasted chicken or a good mac n cheese.

                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: alliegator

                                                                                                                                      Ha -- relate to every one of your confessions!

                                                                                                                                      1. re: alliegator

                                                                                                                                        I also consider the traditional Thanksgiving dinner boring...and I no longer do it!!! I have a menu from an old Sunset mag for a Southwestern Thanksgiving. WAY better.

                                                                                                                                      2. I have so many flaws. So many that I cannot name them all. I will just try to name a few then.

                                                                                                                                        I don't always plan. I often like to buy instinctively. That is to say I just buy whatever ingredients look fresh and good, and then later make up the recipe based on this. This can be good and bad sometime

                                                                                                                                        I occasionally eat junk foods while I am cooking. I am too hungry to wait for my own cooking that I will start to snack.

                                                                                                                                        I am messy and I don't clean up after myself -- though I have recently vastly improved in this area.

                                                                                                                                        I can debone a chicken, but my skill to filet a fish can really use some improvement

                                                                                                                                        This is just a few.

                                                                                                                                        1. - i'm nearly incapable of following a recipe
                                                                                                                                          -i'm vegetarian, so when you eat my food you are too (this is both my strength and weakness at the same time)
                                                                                                                                          -i don't own measuring spoons
                                                                                                                                          - i am not nice to my cookware and managed to destroy the finish on my le crueset dutch oven :/
                                                                                                                                          - i have a tiny nyc kitchen and have to make do with minimal storage and counter space
                                                                                                                                          - my baking is limited to cookies and quickbreads

                                                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: Ttrockwood

                                                                                                                                            Since you're writing, I'm going to make a leap of faith that you also can read :) Therefore you're capable of following a recipe. You must choose. Could you not then unchoose?

                                                                                                                                            How do you make cookies, something I don't do btw, if you don't have measuring spoons?

                                                                                                                                            I certainly don't consider it a flaw that you cook vegetarian. I think it would be really weird if you did otherwise.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                              I agree, cooking vegetarian isn't a flaw.

                                                                                                                                              Also, before I owned measuring spoons, I used to use a teaspoon and eyeball the amount. Usually worked out.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Musie

                                                                                                                                                I use the palm of my hand. A little practice and it's as accurate as anything else.

                                                                                                                                          2. I waste food too. I'll buy some things that looks good and with good intentions and then don't use them. I will plan something for dinner and decide no lets go out. I guess with about 50 years of cooking I guess I am entitled.

                                                                                                                                            1. Oh, I forgot one. A bad one. I still hang my head in shame over this one. I had a beautiful cutting board. Huge, made of different hardwoods assembled in strips. I forget the brand but it's a famous one and was branded onto a side.

                                                                                                                                              I, um...put it in the dishwasher. Where it died a sad, fall-apart-into-pieces, death.

                                                                                                                                              I still mourn. And cringe.

                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                              1. re: Violatp

                                                                                                                                                Similar tale for a small cutting board, a functional work of art that my spouse didn't believe needed to be handwashed. It's been reglued now, with special food-safe woodglue. And lovingly re-seasoned with a soak in vegetable oil. And gets used only for slicing apples & handwashed afterwards.

                                                                                                                                                I must say this is not a flaw as a cook! As a dishwasher, perhaps but not as a cook. On the plus side, you now have the perfect reason to not own one of those "want to be pampered" large cutting boards and can instead own dishwasher-safe ones. Just think of the cleaning time you'll save over the span of 40 years.

                                                                                                                                                1. Okay, does anybody else have a measuring cup issue like this? My mother has this motley collection of measuring cups of different sizes made of different materials, plastic, stainless steel and aluminum. Three 1 cup measures, four 1/3 cup measures, two 1/4 cup, and only one 1/2 cup. It's a collection that's accumulated over years and years, but it always drives me nuts when I bake at her house. I suspect some of the 1/4 cups had gotten sacrificed to the garbage disposal, but I always wonder what happened to the rest.

                                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: gmm

                                                                                                                                                    Ask her - I'll bet it's quite a series of family memories. In our extended family: Dishwasher happened for the plastic ones Small children in sandboxes also take their toll. Look in the containers of flour, sugars and oatmeal for the rest. And perhaps the canister of ground coffee if she makes coffee for large groups.

                                                                                                                                                    For your next "just because" gift to her, give her two sets of nice measuring cups.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: gmm

                                                                                                                                                      I'd like to know what happens to the 1/2 cup measures. Every time I go to a thrift store I look through the kitchen bins for a 1/2 cupper to put in the dog food container. I find all of the other sizes but no 1/2 cups. Weird.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: tcamp

                                                                                                                                                        I suppose you could get a bigger dog.

                                                                                                                                                    2. I think my original reply was a bit too honest and too unfocused. What I should have said is:

                                                                                                                                                      My biggest flaw is being too caring and too passionate for food. I am just too compassionate and too loving.

                                                                                                                                                      :P

                                                                                                                                                      (it is a joke).

                                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                        Been on a few job interviews recently, have you? Great example of applying all the advice on how to frame your strengths when asked "what are your weaknesses".

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: MidwesternerTT

                                                                                                                                                          < Great example of applying all the advice on how to frame your strengths when asked "what are your weaknesses".>

                                                                                                                                                          You know. I keep hearing that. The truth is that I don't really do that in real life --at least not that obvious. I probably will say that my weakness is that I occasionally spend too much time analyzing the data when in fact the data were ready to be released. I think of that as a fair criticism. It is a weakness, but not a death-dealing weakness. You never want to say something scare people like, "My weakness is that I don't get along with people" That will stop the interview right there.

                                                                                                                                                          <Been on a few job interviews recently, have you?>

                                                                                                                                                          A long time ago, yes, but I have also been on the other end -- hiring people. I actually get annoyed when interviewees really try to oversell themselves. Maybe this is because we work in the field of research and science, and we appreciate a bit of self-criticism. A person cannot be a good scientist unless he/she can be objective and hard on him/herself.

                                                                                                                                                          To be honest, I was really thinking about dating. :)

                                                                                                                                                          I think, in my opinion, people are more so like that in their first date than in interviews, but I suppose that should be judged in case by case.

                                                                                                                                                      2. I am not honest and forthright about the Ms."s cooking errors.

                                                                                                                                                        1. When I invent a recipe, which is often, I don't record what I do. This leads to problems duplicating the recipe exactly, and what is worse, not being able to pass on the recipe to those who ask for it (I'm a big believer in openness and sharing recipes, and I don't like it when people want to keep recipes "secret", so I feel really bad when I can't provide the recipe when asked).

                                                                                                                                                          I tend to hang onto utensils and gadgets that I never use, which creates clutter and space problems. Plus being seduced by shiny new things I don't really need. A few years ago, I decided to "upgrade" my old Cuisinart food processor for the new version. The new thing is gigantic, a monstrosity, and I hate it. And I didn't need a new food processor because the old one worked just fine, and I very, very rarely use one (only when I am testing a recipe that calls for using one). I actually enjoy chopping and grating vegetables by hand, so I never use it for that. This has to count as one of the dumbest purchases of my life.

                                                                                                                                                          I fail to anticipate the needs of my guests. Upthread, people mentioned not planning for dessert. Guilty. I don't have a sweet tooth, and I forget that some people don't consider a meal complete without dessert. Similarly, some people really think there needs to be bread with a meal, and this doesn't occur to me. But my worst offense is in the beverage department. I don't consume caffeine. Most do. So when I have an overnight guest, I often forget that they will be expecting "real" coffee, not decaf, in the morning, and find myself with nothing to offer. I also forget that some people like cream in their coffee. And that some people like or need to use artificial sweeteners. I forget when giving a dinner party that some would prefer beer to wine, and some would prefer iced tea or a soda. All things I never have on hand, and don't think to stock up on when I have guests.

                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                                                                            We have desserts most days, but it's our mid-afternoon snack, not after dinner. And we don't drink tea or coffee, so the only tea or coffee we have is what other guests have brought and left behind. :)

                                                                                                                                                          2. I rarely follow a recipe precisely... always end up doing something a little or a lot differently, for better and for worse.

                                                                                                                                                            Sometimes I see something I really like, it's hard for me to walk away even though I already have enough dinner making.

                                                                                                                                                            I sometimes get tired of what I am making. By the time it's done, I have tasted it so many times I can no longer tell if it is good or not.

                                                                                                                                                            Sometimes I overheat the pan/oil because I am still chopping vegetables or washing dishes. And sometimes I overcook because I walk away or do other chores in the kitchen while I am cooking.

                                                                                                                                                            I sometimes put too many things in the pot, causing it to steam.

                                                                                                                                                            I taste too frequently because I don't know if the food I am cooking has the proper balance.

                                                                                                                                                            1. I forget, every single time, to offer second servings to dinner guests. It's like, once everything is served, I decide it's relax time and my hostess receptors shut down.

                                                                                                                                                              1. My flaw is not using a recipe and rarely if ever do I measure anything unless it's critical to the dish.

                                                                                                                                                                I can not replicate a previous meal exactly and sometimes forget how I arrived at the finish line. That's why I often take pictures of a dish I liked, to get a general idea what went into it.

                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                                                                                                  Ha, my husband always complained how I could never leave well enough alone. I rarely make anything the same as the last time, always tweaking. Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose, just a gambler at heart!

                                                                                                                                                                2. I can't carve a chicken if my life depended on it. I never serve roast chicken for dinner although I roast chickens at least monthly. I roast them, let them cool, and then rip the meat off the bones with my hands and use the meat for chicken stew, chicken salad, etc. I can't poach an egg. All of my poached eggs look like egg drop soup. I really need to seal things better in the freezer because there are some weird smells on certain foods.

                                                                                                                                                                  13 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Dcfoodblog

                                                                                                                                                                    Add a bit of vinegar to the water when poaching eggs, it keeps the egg whites from floating away.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: coll

                                                                                                                                                                      Also if you break the egg into a strainer and let the watery part of the white seep through and discard. Then they come out great.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                                        Ya know, I just saw Serious Eats video doing that and it wasn't a success. But I'm thinking my water may not have been hot enough.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                          The water needs to be between 180-210F.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                                            I live at 6200'+ elevation where water boils at about 200 but that gives me a point of reference. Thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                              I just made three for lunch. No vinegar, water at just barely the boiling point, no vortex, strained through a julep strainer. Came out beautiful.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                                                The times I've tried the vortex I REALLY had a mess :)

                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: coll

                                                                                                                                                                        Did that AND swirled the water. Still came out with egg drop soup. While I normally don't eat poached eggs, there's no other way to make a proper Salad Lyonnaise.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Dcfoodblog

                                                                                                                                                                          Try the MW method (even tho I'm still having trouble with it): put 1/2 cup of water in a bowl that holds 1 cup, then crack your egg in the bowl. Cover -- I use a saucer -- and nuke for 1 min.

                                                                                                                                                                          Now, *theoretically*, these babies should be perfect -- they already have a rather ideal shape from cooking in the bowl, and the egg whites do not go flying around the "swirling, simmering vinegar water" like someone set off a bomb inside the egg.....ok, I realize I sound bitter.

                                                                                                                                                                          Practically, OTOH, I haven't yet mastered a soft yolk and dense enough white. After 1 minute, the whites were still *very* soft, so I added time in 5 sec increments. So far, I unfortunately tend to end up with a yolk that is overdone for my taste, but perfect whites. Gah.

                                                                                                                                                                          I did notice today that my MW has a power level button (hey, I've only had it for 5 years or so), so maybe I need to futz around with the wattage, too.

                                                                                                                                                                          What this method *does* take care of is: no egg drop soup. And eggs benny in a shot.

                                                                                                                                                                          Good luck!

                                                                                                                                                                      3. re: Dcfoodblog

                                                                                                                                                                        Coll is right about adding a bit of white vinegar to the water. It also helps to have very fresh eggs. The white thins in older eggs. There is also an old trick that has you break the egg into a saucer or a cup and then stir the water to form a vortex and then slip the egg into it. That also helps keep the whites together.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Candy

                                                                                                                                                                            Oh yeah, that's the other thing my grandmother showed me about poached eggs. Break into a saucer and slide them into the water, very slowly. Don't remember the vortex, but I was sort of young at the time. Always works for me though.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: coll

                                                                                                                                                                              After meditating on it, I think my grandmother DID tell me to stir the water while adding the egg. Thanks for the memory, all!

                                                                                                                                                                        1. I'm super slow. But the food is magnificent.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. I can't follow recipes, it's like some kind of wilful, but unconscious block. As a result, I can only cook plain food, or otherwise have terrible failures and occasional (non-reproducible) triumphs. I don't like sweets and never think to provide dessert for guests, it just seems unnecessary but this isn't very kind.

                                                                                                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Teague

                                                                                                                                                                              I don't do the dessert thing either. Friends know to bring some if they want it. I have only made and served desserts a few times. Although I do make huge batches of cookies or banana bread several times a year.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                                                We're not really into desserts either but I'll serve 'good' ice cream with fruit sometimes. A favorite that I stole from a restaurant is really good vanilla ice cream over which you drizzle a tiny bit of also really good evoo and then some tiny sprinkles of yet again good :) sea salt. People are generally wowed by it.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                  Reduced basalmic vinegar on vanilla is also simple, good and seemingly special.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. Love your thread!!!

                                                                                                                                                                              My biggest flaw: I'm way too precious, so I spend far too much time on every task. (Which doesn't mean it gets done perfectly. Flaw number two: bad knife skills!)

                                                                                                                                                                              Another big flaw: after reading one too many food safety scare stories, I tend to overcook things like fish and meat.

                                                                                                                                                                              7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: kmanihot

                                                                                                                                                                                Re food safety, do a search for Sam Fujisaka magic house thread. You REALLY need to get over that :) You'll be a far better cook. Promise.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                  i'm intrigued! i did a search but i couldn't find it (i did find one post of yours that mentions "magic house" and links to an article on rice!). my curiosity is piqued!

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: kmanihot

                                                                                                                                                                                    Here ya go:

                                                                                                                                                                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/572415

                                                                                                                                                                                    Off topic for this thread but you can still participate there.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                      thank you, c oliver! what a great thread! i'm having a lot of fun reading it and i'll certainly share my experience there... also, thanks for "introducing" me to sam fujisaka, even if posthumously. he sounded so cool. i wish i'd been around CH sooner.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: kmanihot

                                                                                                                                                                                        He was quite a guy and I learned a lot from him. And major cool :)

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                    I miss Sam. It kind of creeps me out t see he is still following me on CH

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Candy

                                                                                                                                                                                      I don't find it creepy. I prefer to think that his spirit is with us, and he is up there smiling, maybe with a Flor de Cana and ice.

                                                                                                                                                                                2. I forget that simple is often delicious, like a simple seared pork chop or a pefectly baked chicken breast. Sometimes, I find myself trying to complicate things more than they need to be. I love a new dish, but classics are always good, I just forget that fact.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Hosting flaw when I'm the cook - I don't like cold beverages and so there are no cold liquids in the house and no ice whatsoever, I always forget to stash drinks in the fridge and acquire ice for guests. Some poor soul always has to run to the store to get both.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                                                    My parents are like this. They have an ice maker in their freezer so there is always ice, but they never store any beverage in the fridge unless it has to be in order not to spoil (like milk). Sodas and other beverages get stored in the garage, and therefore are kept at whatever the outdoor temperature is. This works okay in the Winter, but not so much in the Summer. It drives me nuts! However, the morning of any get together they are hosting, you can find them piling all those beverages into the fridge, but this is the only time.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: SaraAshley

                                                                                                                                                                                      I think the ice maker broke many a months ago, but I guess I never saw a reason to fix it :)

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. I make way more food than we can finish in a reasonable period of time - I mean not just that we can't finish it that day, but that I've made such a huge stew or whatever that we won't finish all of it within the week. Too often I have made two or three such things that we can't finish within the week. I'm cooking for two, but somehow in my mind I'm cooking for an army. Cooking more with the five quart pot rather than the seven quart pot helps - but you'd think I could JUST REMEMBER to make less in the seven quart pot. What can I say, I'm working on this.
                                                                                                                                                                                    This is less a cooking problem than a gifting problem - but Mr Rat and I seem to end up surprising each other with birthday or Christmas gifts for the kitchen that we didn't need and/or almost never use. The potato ricer! The hand pasta maker! The extra set of measuring cups! And measuring spoons!

                                                                                                                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                                                                                                                                      I grew up in a big family, so cooking for an army is a given. Now just the two of us, and hubby's appetite isn't what it used to be. The freezer is your friend in this situation, make a bunch of homemade TV dinners is my recommendation.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: coll

                                                                                                                                                                                        "The freezer is your friend in this situation, make a bunch of homemade TV dinners is my recommendation."

                                                                                                                                                                                        Oh, I know - but then I have to find the room in the freezer among all the previous homemade TV dinners! Really I need to just MAKE LESS AT A TIME.
                                                                                                                                                                                        We also just have a LOT of stuff in the pantry - it doesn't feel like home to me otherwise. We use it, and it's certainly not at Hoard levels, but there is enough that other people tend to remark on it. It's a psychological thing Mr Rat and I share - we need to have some kind of feeling of abundance in the kitchen, I guess. When I go to people's homes who have mostly empty cupboards and hardly anything in the refrigerator, it actually makes me a little bit anxious. I'd say it's because we grew up with parents who lived through the Depression and WW2, but I'm not sure that's it either.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                                                                                                                                          Abundance is good, you never know what tomorrow may bring.

                                                                                                                                                                                          I find myself cooking a couple of real meals a week, the rest is leftovers from the freezer, or new meals created around the leftovers in the fridge. Hard to do, but possible!

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                                                                                                                                            I am the same way, it's getting a bit crowded in the kitchen with all of m stuff in the pantry spilling onto the counters because I've run out of room behind closed doors.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                                                              I'm lucky I have a two car garage with no cars in it....and a full basement. Not overflowing, but still. Food AND equipment all can have homes. Including the upright freezer, how does anyone get by with just the little one in the kitchen?

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. I can tolerate extremely spicy food, which also means that, at the lower end of the spice spectrum (read: normal), I have no idea how hot things are. I couldn't tell you if the food I make is too spicy for anyone else or not. I just couldn't even begin to guess. But if I make it at my normal spice levels, pretty much only myself, my husband (Sri Lankan), and other Sri Lankans can eat it.

                                                                                                                                                                                        The husband and I had chikungunya about six or seven years back. Look it up - it's a mosquito-borne virus and it's nasty. One of the weird side effects from it is that our ability to tell how much salt is required in a dish is altered. For a year after chikungunya, we needed double the salt - the husband's mom told me to stop salting the dish when they were in town so she could do it herself. Now, it still goes out of whack again, specifically if either of us are sick with anything. Oops.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Every now and then, I can't handle spices or strong flavours of any kind. I eat nothing but oatmeal for weeks at a time since that's about all I can handle. Sensory disorder + digestive issues or something like that. It also means I can't taste what I'm cooking, so the flavour's off. Poor husband. :(

                                                                                                                                                                                        I'm a messy cook. I blame being chronically ill.

                                                                                                                                                                                        I'm horrid with pie crust. Horrid.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. The grill.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Remember in The Breakfast Club when Brian (the 'brain') is devastated because he couldn't make a lamp in shop class? And he thought shop class would be easy because of the 'dummies' that took it?

                                                                                                                                                                                          That is my experience with barbecues. The simian dolts I've met who easily mastered fire made me think grilling would be the most relaxing cooking experience ever, but in reality I hate every second of it, and have yet to produce anything particularly valuable from either my propane BBQ or my charcoal grill.

                                                                                                                                                                                          :[

                                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: plasticanimal

                                                                                                                                                                                            I admit to being scared of propane grills. Too many stories of things exploding in people's faces!

                                                                                                                                                                                            And I'd try charcoal grilling, no problem, except I've seen too many episodes of Primal Grill on PBS where he seems to do SO much more than just dumping in the coal and lighting it. Move it to this side. Move it to that side. Cold zones. Hot zones. Shut the valve on the lid. Open the valve part way. Gaaah!

                                                                                                                                                                                            Now, I just let other people do my grilling.

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Baking or recipes that require PRECISE measurements are my downfall. I get impatient. I hate making them. They annoy me to no end. I have, and always will be, an "eyeballer." I have tried to change my stripes, but the instant I start measuring stuff the enjoyment of cooking goes out the window and I get frustrated...

                                                                                                                                                                                            Sure, it'd be lovely to make wonderful little pastries, desserts, and finicky foods... but guess what? That's not my style.

                                                                                                                                                                                            I can create and plate "complicated" dishes, but I do it freestyle. Measuring is for chumps. LOL.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. I have horrible timing. I can't ever seem to prepare a full dinner feast and have it all ready to go on the table nice and hot at the same time. Something is always either overcooked from sitting somewhere I was trying to keep it warm at or cold from waiting out on the table.

                                                                                                                                                                                              14 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: foxspirit

                                                                                                                                                                                                I get sulky when I have to adjust my dreams of an elaborate menu to accommodate my single oven and the need to have everything served at once.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Violatp

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Yes! So many times I have this amazing menu in my mind and curse the one oven. The next time, I'm getting a double oven.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: foxspirit

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Much less expensive to buy this MW/convection oven like I did.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    http://reviews.us.samsung.com/7463/SM...

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                      We're very happy that we shot down the combo, "speed' oven for double ovens.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Very expensive!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'd have had to redo the kitchen whereas this, which I don't use OTR, just sits where the old MW did. I don't use the convection feature very often but it's there when I need it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: foxspirit

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I can pull it off, but it takes a LOT of planning of prep.
                                                                                                                                                                                                  I'm talking I set my table days in advance and put out serving plates and bowls to see if they fit. I double check that I have all my cooking utensils. I make dessert the day before if possible...
                                                                                                                                                                                                  If I entertained more, perhaps it would come easier.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I think that's what a lot of us do. Never think of it as being a flaw.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Totally. Excel spreadsheets come into play.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Violatp

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Well, I don't go quite that far! But I have a written menu from which I make my shopping list. And I've been known to set the table a day or more ahead of time. Definitely get the appropriate platters, bowls, flatware etc. out. I consider this a strength and not a flaw.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I set the table in advance and pull out my serving pieces to arrange them so I know where they'll be placed.
                                                                                                                                                                                                            I double check and prep all cooking vessels.
                                                                                                                                                                                                            Don't do the excel sheet, but do write a timeline.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                              The more elaborate the meal, the more likely I'll have a spreadsheet. Tab one is the menu and grocery list. Tab two is the menu as separate column headers with full ingredients below each header. Tab three has the menu items as the first column, with times as successive column headers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I'm a real Excel fan. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                            It's just self-defense, really.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            On the rare occasions I have people over and I'm solo cooking (as opposed to when my mother in law is there and she takes over, which I generally don't mind at all), I'll plan a menu that allows me to make/prep things over the course of two or three days. I'm chronically ill and just can't do it any other way. And I take frequent breaks. It's just how it has to be.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            And when I'm feeling really bad, the husband just orders out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: LMAshton

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I definitely enjoy our little dinner parties more when I can prep/cook as much in advance as possible. And we had one where dinner was a Papa Murphy's take and bake pizza, one of their salads and a jug wine. Amidst the packing boxes having just moved into our house. It's all about the coming together.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. I grew up with gas stoves - easy enough. Flame underneath means there is HEAT underneath.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Alas - I've had electric ever since. I've ruined dinner aka disgusted myself cranking up the heat on an electric stove only to discover that no indeed, the heat was not under THAT pan. . . Sigh. I'm old enough to know better, but by God, I did it again today.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. My number 1 flaw as a cook is laziness. I will not give enough time for a second rise for bread. I will sauté for 1-2 minutes instead of the 5-8 recommended in the recipe & the rest of the dish suffers as a result.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I have the opposite problem of Alliegator. I will buy too little variety & try to waste as little as possible to a fault sometimes. I will boil peas, corn, or pasta, drain the cooking liquid into a cup & drink that as a hot beverage(mmm vitamins : ). Because I am cooking for myself I will make the same thing over & over again because I don't feel like trying something new. I will make a pound of beans on Monday & eat it through the week because I do not want to cook anything else. A couple weeks ago I made a cheese omelet with a side of rice & ate that for dinner 2 weeks straight.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Thought of another one - I forget to put on an apron. It's not that I don't have any - I have many. I just forget to wear them, and as a result, a lot of my favorite shirts have tomato stains and grease splatters on them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Ugh, the grease splotz. I have a wardrobe of cooking T-shirts for kitchen wear, but I don't always bother to change into them. I should go back to aprons; I'm tired of the laundry challenges.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I'm with you on this one - just managed to splash oil on a new shirt but fortunately after 3 washes with 3 products, it's fine now. Forget about the usual laundry stain products. RESOLVE works on everything (so far...)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Oh, I have a million flaws but I absolutely do not cook in work clothes,or even worse going-out clothes. Never. I can barely eat in them without destroying them. Aprons drive me nuts so I've just come to accept the fact that I am now 104 years old and change into my PJs at 6 pm. My evening/sleep clothes are boxers and a tank or a tee shirt, so I'm cool and comfortable and I don't have to worry about splattering oil and tomato all over them. We're pretty informal-if we have guests I might deign to put on jeans or yoga pants but that's about it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: ErnieD

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I have chef pants, they are similar to sweats but if you wear them to the table you have a little cred!