08 June 2008


- Shop at farmers markets. Know who grows your food, where, and how.
- Taste everything, if only one bite.
- Waste not. Almost everything has a use. Good cooks are also frugal.
- Eat more fresh fruit.
- Try growing your own food, even if it's only a pot of herbs, or a whole vegetable plot.
- Salad dressing should always be homemade.
- Buy food products with recognizable ingredients- asparatame is not a recognizable ingredient.
- Spend more time cooking.
- Own a good knife.
- Salt your pasta water liberally.
- Know how to utilize your freezer.
- Never buy frozen chicken cutlets.
- Buy ingredients you've never heard of and figure out what to do with them.
- Know how to deglaze a pan.
- Always buy plain yogurt (if you want fruit in it, add fruit at home).
- Roast and eat a whole fish.
- Learn from what you cook.

These are a few of my approach-to-cooking rules I brainstormed recently. What are yours?


Dori said...

These are all great, sounds like my mom talking to me :)

Daniel Shackelford said...

All the above, but I add a few:

- Find out what can be eaten around you (wilding, weeds, and landscaping)
- Cook favorites in bulk and freeze for later "rushed" meals
- Find the good essentials in bulk (good jasmine rice, red lentils, etc.)
- Try new combinations of habitual foods (aged cheddar with natural peanut butter)
- make or buy good bread
- measure loosely, most of the time

b said...

oh, kitchen rules. my mother and i have many of these, and as i grow older i'm more thankful every day that she was able to take cooking classes at the cordon bleu when we lived in paris over 20 years ago. she learned plenty about food and preparing it, and has passed a lot of it down to me. a few chestnuts i've honed over the years include:

*fat-free dairy products (except for milk) are really not worth it.

*don't be afraid to get your hands (or apron, or counters) dirty.

*in general, don't be afraid to sniff, squeeze and prod the fruits and vegetables when purchasing them.

*if the fruit doesn't smell like itself (ie the peaches have no scent, strawberries don't smell like fresh strawberries) then don't waste your time with them. they'll taste like nothing as well.

*use the flat side of the knife to scrape things off the cutting board so as not to dull the blade too soon.

oh my. that went on a bit long. oops.

Anonymous said...

Know how to cook what your mama cooked, and build on this tradition to make your own creations.

Maggie said...

-- Necessity is the mother of invention: there is always ALWAYS a meal lurking in your pantry, you just have to put your thinking cap on!
-- Try to encorporate seasonal produce as much as possible
-- Never be afraid to brainstorm and tweak...just not before a big dinner party.
-- If something smells good, it will always taste good. ( I once knew someone who "cooked by smell")

Anonymous said...

Read your recipe all the way through before beginning. This way you make sure that you know what you're getting into and that you can figure out if you have all the ingredients on hand.

i am guilty of not doing this often enough and have always regretted it.

Mercedes said...

Wow, everyone had such great thoughts, and I agree with most of it! Haim, I am particularly fond of that idea of forging your own traditions. It's only in knowing where you came from that you can move ahead.

Unknown said...

*Clean as you go!
*Bake twice as much as needed and give away the rest
* Definitely don't buy food with questionable ingredients- Asparatame makes my skin crawl
*Find foods you love and perfect a recipe that's all your own.
*Always have good cheese on hand.

On my life goals list for a long time was: Learn how to make a proper souffle. And I'm so glad I finally did- makes me feel whole somehow.

Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) said...

I love this list and agree with everything on it. Here are a couple more rules: always buy local honey and always make your own stock.

. said...

those are great. I'd only add:
- learn recipes by spending time in the kitchen with friends and family, and be sure to get the stories, too.
- take the time to savor going out to eat and have fun thinking not only about the ingredient combinations when you do but also some of the techniques.

I better stop now before I go overboard.

TLG said...

hi mercedes, nice blog :)
i do believe in healthy cooking and cooking from scratch. i am also an advocate of healthy fats and oils, likewise eating organic but being practical. My hubby and I always read product labels and choose the purest item possible. I'm not an expert like you, but I also have my own (new) food blog slash health advisory :)


*pal said...

I love this list! And I love all of the additional "rules" in the comments. One rule I plan to follow: bring your children into the kitchen with you, and let them learn your love for cooking. I have a 6-month-old son, and I look forward to the days when I can show him my joy in cooking.

Rosemary said...

Love your approach to cooking

Anonymous said...

here are some of my steadfast rules: - good butter has no substitute (goes for olive oil too)
- get (and use) an immersion blender
- always use cloth napkins
- fleur de sel really does taste better
- always have green apples, lemons (or limes) and fresh herbs on hand - they'll dress any meal up

thx for yours!

Anonymous said...

Hi Mercedes,
It was mentioned in the comment thread, but definitely my rule is cook from scratch as much as possible. I feel like you have so much more control over your health and body when you are doing everything yourself.

nighty night mama said...

You might be interested in checking out this website. http://www.westonaprice.org
They are firmly founded in many of your essential rules and have a great deal of common sense in their foundation. I've been reading your blog for about a year now, and it has always inspired me.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the outline. Also, always strive to eat food that contains at most 5 ingredients, like no chemical terminologies in the list, but natural ingredients are ok. :)