16 Things I Do “Wrong” When I Cook — And Refuse to Change, Ever

published Jul 23, 2023
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Cheerful young woman giving her dog an obedience training in the kitchen using food and having fun
Credit: Ivan Pantic / Getty Images

Something you should know about me is that I like rules. My childhood home was affectionately lawless, so I rebelled by engaging in the opposite behavior — creating rules for myself and following them with religious zeal. But the apple didn’t fall as far from the tree as I like to pretend it did. I’m still rigid about my rules, but I realize now that most of them are of my own choosing, and I often ignore society’s expectations. For example, I refuse to fold towels, I let guests clean, and I put hand-wash-only items in the dishwasher

This inclination to do what I want, rules be damned, is never more apparent than when I’m cooking a meal for my family. Whether decided by society, pro chefs, or home chefs on the internet, here are 16 ways I don’t do as I’m told when preparing food.

1. I don’t debone fish. 

I can’t be bothered. I hand my family their plates and encourage them to proceed with caution. 

2. I wear my hair down when I’m cooking. 

My kids live with a dog. They can deal with removing the occasional human hair from their plate. 

3. My bread rises in the bowl I kneaded it in. 

I remove the dough with one hand, oil the bowl with the other, and return the dough to the bowl. I’m not a contestant on The Great British Baking Show, and my bread rises just fine — no washing a second bowl required. 

4. I store my butter in a cabinet … longer than recommended

I’m not saying it’s OK — I’m just saying I haven’t died. (And neither have my husband or kids.) 

5. I use food past the “best by” date. 

I like to think of the printed dates as an educated guess — which, ultimately, I’m pretty sure they are.

6. I lick the beater when I bake. 

Every single time. Isn’t that the best part of baking?

7. I use salted butter in all my baking. 

I am fierce about this one, and I *never* buy unsalted butter. Why would I?  

8. I underbake cookies. 

Obviously I’m not talking about biscotti cookies, but a brown butter chocolate chip cookie is definitely getting underbaked. No one will ever convince me that I’m wrong. 

9. I don’t use plastic wrap. 

People prepared food before plastic wrap; it’s really not that hard.

10. I rarely have everything ready at the same time. 

My solution? This problem is easily solved by pretending I planned to serve the meal in courses. 

11. I skip the vanilla. 

If I’m spending more than $20 on a tiny bottle, it had better be made of stronger stuff. I’ve found that I like Cointreau better in my brownies anyway.  

12. I don’t cook pasta in an ocean of water. 

If I’m making Trader Joe’s spinach tortellini for my kids, I’m definitely not washing a giant stockpot for that. The smaller, the better.

13. I overcook broccoli. 

But only for my kids — they like it “burned.” I choose to say it’s caramelized. Everything’s a preference.

14. I turn the heat up too high when I make pancakes.

As a result, my husband always offers to make weekend pancakes. Why on Earth would I change? 

15. I feed my dog while I cook, constantly. 

She loves carrots so much that she’s basically more rabbit than golden retriever now.  

16. I always triple the amount of garlic and/or lemon zest in a recipe. 

There’s never enough in the original (for my taste, at least).

What rules do you break in the kitchen? Let us know in the comments!