I have a special saying: “Prepare the area.” I use it a lot, particularly when cooking, gardening, landscaping and photo editing, but mostly when cooking.
Basically what I am saying is that every job needs a clean work space.
When you cook, you clean the kitchen first. You either wash the dishes or put them in the washing machine. You wipe down the benches and clean all the chopping boards. You remove all the other paperwork that really shouldn’t be there into the filing-draws. (Yeah, we are quite organised!)
Then you get out of the pantry all of the foods you need, including the oils and condiments. Years of watching cooking shows has taught me these habits.
As you cook inside a pot and finish using it, go clean it straight away. There is nothing worse than having to scrub a pot because the food has solidified like concrete to the inside!
As you empty a can of whatever, go put the can in the recycling bin. Helps to have the recycling bin at the back door of the house, or even have a small cardboard box reserved for this use.
When you’ve finished preparing the food, make sure your area is clean again. Ready for tomorrow night, or the next batch of cooking. This makes sense, right?!
So now the food is in the oven or the microwave. You have some breathing time before consumption. Some might go watch some television or spend a bit of time on Plurk and Twitter, or even upload a few photographs of the food. (Well, that is what I would do!)
I seriously suggest you get ready for the next stage. Instead of waiting till the food is just coming out of the oven, now is the time to get the dinner table ready. Even if you are going to eat in front of the television, now is the time to get the plates, forks, knives, bottle of wine and corkscrew out onto the dining table or coffee table (the latter in our house!)
Go on, of you go, do it now!
Just before the food is coming out of the oven you need a few special tools: Oven mitts or a tea towel.
There’s no telling how hot the outside is going to be, even if the food is still half cooked. Bad problem with non-convection ovens is how and where they heat the food. With a good oven the food is cooked right through, from the middle outwards. But some damn designers make ovens that purely heat the container and not the food within. So be ready so you do NOT burn off your finger tips. The coroner wants some evidence of who you are, even if he cannot determine what the cooked product was meant to be!
Then make sure the bench top has a cutting-board on it. Rather than burning or blackening the bench top in the shape of the dish, ensure only a cutting-board suffers that fate. They are cheaper and easier to replace!
So now you are chomping down on a lovely plate of bangers and mash. The tomato sauce is out? No? You forgot the number one culinary delight in most households. Though not in ours. My wife marinades most foods, or else includes spices and other condiments that give the food taste and flavour. No tomato sauce is going to improve her cooking.
Aren’t you glad I told you about preparing your area and cleaning up as you go along? Because all you have to do is now is eat, enjoy and exercise away the gourmet food.