Whether you're a self-taught beginner chef or whether you're a professional who's just now applying his or her skills to your own household, there are some crucial kitchen skills every cook should know. These are not skills that can be taught in a single article, or even just from reading; they must be observed, practiced, and made part of the normal kitchen routine in order to become properly embedded in your mind. This article, though, is a start towards helping you discover what you need to learn to be a better home cook.
Knifework -- a cook is nothing without his or her knife. Even if you are solely focused on pastries, you do have to know certain terms for the various uses of a kitchen knife. You'll need to understand and be able to replicate the difference between a chop and a dice, and you'll need to know how to properly cut an onion, a head of cabbage, or a lemon. Knifework is best learned under the tutelage of someone who has long known what they are doing with these weapon-like implements, though you can squeeze by on instructional videos if necessary.
Conversion rates -- you can learn this out of a book, but to familiarize yourself with it, you'll need to faithfully integrate it into your kitchen routine. For example, there are three teaspoons in a tablespoon, which is simple enough to believe you'll remember later -- but this blogger can't tell you how many times that question was asked of her mother! Make yourself a conversion rate chart for all the common kitchen measurements, and reference it until you don't need it anymore.
Estimations -- estimating is a skill you must develop with much practice. Besides baking, recipes rarely need to be exact, and it's more to the cook's taste than to the instructions written by someone whose taste buds are different than your own. Being able to estimate how many carrots it takes to obtain a cup of chopped carrot pieces will save you time, energy, and the hassle of washing an orange-stained measuring cup afterwards.
Timing -- this is a skill few people have naturally, but one that is essential to a well-run kitchen. You have to know how long things typically take to cook, not only according to the recipe, but in the exact equipment you have. Your oven, for instance, may leak heat, and so while a normal oven would need half an hour to bake something, yours might need an extra ten minutes. Learning to time all of the dishes you're creating so they're all ready around the same time is an art form.
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