What cooking directions do you ignore?

Rarely will I “mince finely”. I like my veggies big enough to bite. I never sift anything, because whisking with a fork or wire whisk does the same thing without the need for another piece of kitchen equipment. I almost always undercook my veggies, because I like them crisp. I hardly ever rinse my rice. And I always add more garlic than the recipe suggests.

What cooking or baking instructions do you ignore?

Preheating my oven. This is out of forgetfulness not any planned strategy though.

Unless it is a baking ingredient/application, much of the actual measuring of ingredients gets ignored. Although I think many people are like that.

I never boil the water and then put in the rice, pasta, or whatever. I always dump it in right away. I also never measure out the water if I’m going to be draining it out.

How much water to add to flour and mixes to make bread, cake, brownies, waffles, etc.

Without fail, following recipe directions precisely for water will give a useless chunky powdery lump. I always have to add more water.

I rarely ignore any directions, unless my direct experience has taught me that I like it better another way. Interestingly enough, I’m considered a better-than-average cook in these parts. Yes, using whole milk instead of 1% makes a difference, and preheating the oven makes a difference, and mixing thoroughly makes a difference. If I give you a recipe and you ignore or change bits, don’t come bitching to me when it doesn’t turn out right. Those instructions are there for a reason, in most cases.

I have several recipes which call for cooking items in some manner before mixing them all up to stick in a dish and bake anyway… I don’t. Takes about 10-20 minutes off of the recipes which would be overcooked if I followed the instructions exactly (thinking of a broccoli casserole, which calls to cook the broccoli BEFORE you add everything else and put it in the oven again for half an hour or so… it would be mush!).

Most of the time I follow the instructions, unless I know what I’m doing won’t make a difference to the end result or that I like the difference.

RE: Not sifting and needing more water in a baking recipe

Sorry if this is pedantic and something you already know, but if a recipe is calling for sifted flour, then you’re adding too much flour. Try measuring two cups of flour into a sifter, then re-measuring the product–you’ll be amazed at how much is left over. The difference may not ruin what you’re baking, but the additional flour will definitely keep it from coming out the way it is “supposed” to come out, and will definitely need more liquid to compensate.

As for me… I can’t help but ignore most recipes. Sure, they’re great for general guidance, but I find it almost impossible to resist the urge to tinker (more vanilla, additional spices, etc). This is admittedly somewhat contrary to the above, but remember that baking is an alchemetic science, so proportions of leaveners to liquids and sugars etc. is formulaic in nature. There’s plenty to monkey with flavor-wise, but to mess with the proportions you need to remember to adjust *everything[i/]. If I’m not baking, then I completely fail at ‘follows directions well.’

I also whisk instead of sift, and I measure by volume, not weight, in my one defiance of the Lord and Master Alton Brown. I might, perhaps get fantastic results if I sifted and weighed, but I get really good results when I don’t, and it’s quicker. I suppose if someone gifted me with a digital scale, I might weigh, but I’m not buying one.

I double the vanilla extract in any recipe that calls for it. It really makes a wonderful subtle difference.

I sometimes make one-pot meals out of coordinating dishes: if I make red beans and rice, I’ll throw peas into it at the end of cooking, instead of heating the peas in another dish and serving them on the side. Mostly because it makes sure my family will actually eat the peas, secondarily to cut out the need for butter or high fat topping on the veg, but also to save another dish and serving utensil from getting dirtied.

My cookie sheets get covered in Reynold’s Release Foil whenever they’re used in the oven. I felt a little guilty about the waste involved, so I started saving the foil for reuse. My pans are now merely a rigid holding device for the foil I cook on. This lets me ignore any directions to add extra fat to the cooking pan AND there’s easy clean-up.

Not an ignore, but a great tip: I found myself irritated at the number of recipes I use that call for 1 or 2 Tablespoons of tomato paste: so many that it came up frequently, but not frequently enough to go through a whole can before it started to grow stuff in my fridge. So now when I open a can and use a T, I scoop out 1 T dollops onto a cookie sheet (covered with Release foil, natch!) and freeze them. Once frozen, I pop off the dollops into a freezer zip bag, and they last as long as I need them, AND they’re premeasured when I need to grab them quickly! I also freeze cilantro, parsley and other fresh herbs that I don’t use all at once - most of them freeze okay. Not as great as fresh, but better than dried. Those I don’t premeasure, just wrap in paper towel and freeze in freezer bags. They’re actually easier to cut from frozen, so when I need some, I take the frozen log o’ herbs out of the freezer and cut off of it, then put it back.

I agree with ignoring most of the things above (although pasta needs boiling water!) but I rarely follow a recipe anyway. For example, oatmeal cookies have butter instead of shortening (makes them softer), brown sugar instead of white, slivered almonds instead of walnuts, and a mix of candied peel and crystallized ginger instead of raisins.

I generally use half the salt any recipe calls for, or less, and add lots of extra herbs or spices.

All I really cook is pasta, so I flagrantly ignore the “add a pinch of salt” that’s always listed on the box. I don’t bother measuring my water amount either.


If the directions say “add mushrooms” then I ignore it like it wasn’t even there.

Not quite as easy, but if you’re concerned about throwing away foil, you might want to invest in some silpats. They’re silicon baking mats, completely non-stick, that you stick on top of cookie sheets like the foil. When done, throw in the dishwasher. Easy and reusable.

You know they make tubes of tomato paste, right? Like toothpaste tubes. Keep 'em in the fridge and you can measure out the tablespoon or so that you need.

I never add butter or salt to anything, regardless of what the recipe calls for. Obviously, I don’t do much baking. :wink:

I usually do the same thing with onions.

I don’t sift, either, and I usually measure spices–especially really hot ones–to my own tastes (or to guests’ tastes if I’m having company).

I’m still experimenting with cooking, so I’m figuring out my own rules…

I’ve seen them, and they’re on my wish list!

Yes, but they’re a LOT more expensive than the little cans I get for less than a quarter at Aldi. :stuck_out_tongue:

May as well. If you’re not adding considerably more salt to your pasta water than a pinch, you’re not making much difference anyway. If you do, however, salt your water heavily (the classic description is that it should be as salty as the sea), you’ll get that salty flavour boiled into your pasta.

When I make manicotti I never cook the noodles before stuffing them. I just add extra water to the sauce and the noodles will soak up the water while baking. I usually bake them a little longer than the directions say, too, just to compensate for the uncooked noodles.

When baking, I always mix the wet ingredients then top 'em off with the dry ones (doing a half-assed stir before blending, to mix in the baking powder or soda).