Okay, so last week I wrote about things you should feel free to do in the kitchen, even if your mom or your chef said DON'T. It's all about not sweating it too much in the kitchen.
Of course there's a counterpoint. Some rules really are there for a good reason and are worth paying attention to--CLOSE attention...
1. Keep it cold or keep it hot, but nowhere in between. At a certain temperature as hot food cools down or cold food warms, bacteria decide it's party time. A good rule of thumb is to get something back into the fridge before two hours...if you can keep it hot, do; if you can keep it cold, do. Most bacteria that develop this way are tasteless and don't affect the look of a dish AT ALL. Want my story? There was this delicious pulled pork. Had it for dinner one night. Must have put it away after that two hour mark...didn't think twice. Had it another night or two later as leftovers. Tasted GREAT. Was sick all night. Food poisoning comes on like a freight train. One second you feel great. The next you're puking your guts out. Sorry for the visual. That time I was so thankful my young kids had NOT had the leftovers. I have never again played the game of is-it-good-is-it-bad. If it's been left out? Out it goes.
2. Don't cross contaminate. Same concept--you can do yourself some damage if you cut your veggies with the same unwashed knife you just used for your beef/chicken/poultry. I use color coded cutting boards that go straight into the dishwasher. Or you could cut strategically--do all your veg first, THEN do you protein. Raw carrot poses no threat to that raw steak you're going to grill. Wash your hands--often--too prevent cross-contamination.
3. Don't drink raw milk. I diverge from many of my foodie friends on this one. I think pasteurization is a good thing. I think--think--if I knew the farmer who was milking the cow? I might drink raw milk then. Until I'm on the farm there, though, I'm not drinking anything but pasteurized milk.
4. If you're baking? Measure and weigh it...It's been said before, I'll say it again: baking is a science. You know the tiny lettering they put on commercials where cars speed around hairpin turns? Do not try this at home. You have to understand how leavening works, what fat, liquid, too much flour and more do to your bread or cookies or pies or cakes. I have been reduced to tears doing recipe development of desserts. I overcame the problems, but not without pain. So in baking? Follow that recipe!
5. Use an oven thermometer. This one cheap way of helping you find some big success in the baking category. You would be shocked, shocked, I say, to discover how inaccurate your oven dial/digital pad can be...Buy one of these, leave it on the rack (um, don't leave on the rack when you auto clean your oven...just sayin') and check it every time you set your oven...you'll learn if you have to adjust up or down...