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Food for Thought-Part 2
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Five Common Kitchen/Cooking Mistakes

  • Cutting Meat Before It's Had A Chance to "Rest" or "Set"

Allowing meat or poultry to sit for a while after it's removed from the oven not only lets it finish cooking but ensures that the juices stay inside where they belong.

Also, waiting for at least 10-15 minutes (or longer if necessary) gives the meat a chance to "resettle", making for easier cutting (for example, if you cut into a meatloaf right away, you'll end up with crumbles or little pieces; that meatloaf will not hold).

Cooking thick steaks? Rest for 8-10 minutes before cutting.

For big roasts or whole birds, rest between 20-30 minutes.

  • Overcooking

This is an easy mistake to make; we all want the food to be well and done, but you can also cook all the flavor (or even texture) right out of it.

Even experienced cooks can still sometimes mess up, especially if they're sick or very tired-which I can personally attest to.

As part of a Sunday dinner, I made a side dish of Stovetop Stuffing. I enhanced the flavor by adding a few spices and seasonings. As I stirred the stuffing contents into the seasoned, boiled water, it seemed like the stuffing was too dry, so in my very tired state of mind, I added more water-mistake!-before I let everything "settle".

Result? The stuffing was very tasty, BUT the texture accidentally changed to somewhat mushy.

What happened next was totally amazing; my three dinner guests not only liked the taste, they DEVOURED the whole thing!

They either didn't notice that texture (or didn't care) or I just got lucky.

But I know I messed up and will definitely be more careful, to the best of my ability. 

A Handy Tip: Often within or around 30 minutes of cooking meat, you can sometimes turn off the oven and the meat will continue cooking on its own, due to the internal temperature already in the oven.

  • Not Food Prepping

I'm a big food prep practitioner; it's wonderful to have everything (or mostly everything) right there before you start and as you need it. 

Multi-tasking's a good thing, too. 

  • Not Allowing for Extra Preheating Oven Time

According to Dorie Greenspan, author of "Everyday Dorie: The Way I Cook", the beep that indicates your oven has reached the desired temperature is probably a bit early. "An oven repair person once told me that when the light on my oven indicated that it had reached temperature, I should wait for another 15 minutes before putting in whatever I was baking."

The oven needs that time to be truly at temperature, to be able to hold its temperature when you open the door.

  • Distraction

If at all possible, Don't Get Distracted.

I've come to realize that distraction isn't just becoming or getting preoccupied with housework, kids, mobile devices, or TV. 

You can become just as distracted when you're ill, upset, or very tired. None of this bodes well when you're cooking. Focus is important!

Did You Know That.....

  • Eating more nuts, whole grains, and green leafy vegetables can help boost your metabolism (check with your doctor first).
  • To stay mentally alert, nuts are also good for improvement in short and long-term memory (they're full of magnesium, which seems to promote new brain cell connections).
  • Eating a Mediterranean diet may improve cognitive function and lower the risk of cognitive impairment. Go for fish and veggies drizzled with olive oil. Also, consider a little meat and wine.

Sources: "Stop fiddling with the food" by Katie Workman, The Associated Press-The Vindicator, Oct. 30, 2019, my own recollections, Health-Healthy For Life pamphlet from Aetna, 2019, "Natural Ways to Energize" sidebar and "6 New Ways to Stay Sharp" by Susan Hall

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