Via Kottke comes a sort of misnamed list of Top Ten Cooking mistakes. As Jason noted, it’s really a list of cooking tips, and a good place to start when one is looking to dip the toes in the pool that is kitchen cooking.
I have three notes here to add (well, two more notes, and one clarification).
One – Invest in decent pots and pans. Cheap pans do not distribute heat evenly. To add to this, one does not need to purchase an eight piece set right off the bat. I believe I read in Michael Ruhlman’s The Elements of Cooking that one should start with a minimal amount of pots; a skillet, sauce pan, and stock pot. I find this to be true, and these are the pots I turn to time and time again. Other pots in my house get less attention.
Two – If you’re going to bake, invest in an oven thermometer. Odds are better than average that the knobs on your oven that state the temperature are wrong. Unknowingly baking a cake a 325 degrees F when the recipe calls for 350 is a cake destined for failure.
Finally, when Keith talks of simmering as “(Turning) the heat down until the bubbles are small and aren’t coming too quickly” gives the impression that this is still boiling, and this isn’t so. Simmering is when the water is anywhere between 185 degrees F and the boiling point. More to Keith’s point however, is that one should cook to temperature, rather than time. If there’s ever a lesson that I can take, it’s that one.
Any other good tips out there for a starting cook?