Home cooks' needs are different from those of professional cooks, but sometimes it's hard to know exactly how different. The Kitchn shares the advice of two professional chefs who are also cooking teachers as to what you need to be a successful cook at home.
First, rather than having the timer let you know when your food is ready, use your senses, letting the sound, smell and textures of the food tell you when your dish is done. Cooking times are just suggestions, and the actual cooking time depends on factors such as your individual oven or stove and the dish you are using. Also, have a tasting spoon by the stove and taste your food continuously as you cook.
Second, when you have stale bread, don't throw it away. Instead, turn the bread into breadcrumbs with the help of your food processor and then put them in the freezer in an airtight container. The breadcrumbs will taste great sauteed in butter or oil and then put on pasta, fish, salad, pretty much anything!
Don't like lingering cooking smells? Fill a bowl with plain, white vinegar and put it on the counter while you are cooking. It gets rid of cooking odors, particularly ones that linger if you leave the bowl out overnight. It's great at getting rid of bacon and fried food smells, even fish!
Next, to see if your meat is done, poke at it with your finger to test its level of doneness. Finally, measure how big your pinch of salt is so you can salt food to the right amount. You should also pour a teaspoon of salt into your palm to get a feel for how much that is so you can just eyeball it in the future.
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