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Tips and Techniques

All The Right Moves In The Kitchen

"The mistake is trying to teach cooking, what has to be taught is a consciousness and a connection with yourself and the food. It's the same in every discipline. In weight-lifting, they call it the mind-to-muscle connection," says Patrick O'Connell, chef and owner of the Inn at Little Washington. (For more from Patrick read "Chefs@home")

To make the cooking connection, Patrick and other chefs suggest you approach it like a workout or any other hobby. Dress appropriately. Get the right equipment. Make sure you've got plenty of room to work. Finally, focus.

Here's FoodFit's checklist to lay the groundwork for a pleasurable, successful cooking experience:

apronWear an apron, tie your hair back and wash your hands.

Never cook barefoot. Get some comfy shoes — clogs are popular with chefs because they help them avoid slips.

Read the recipe from beginning to end before you start cooking.

Make sure the counters are clear and clean and the trash is empty.

pepperAssemble all the ingredients. That way you can take inventory and it makes it harder to forget to add them to the recipe.

Have your salt, pepper and sugar handy (salt and sugar in bowls, pepper in a mill)

Gather the essential kitchen gear — a sturdy cutting board, a sharp knife, a rubber scraper, a sauté pan and a sauce pot.

Make some space in the fridge to cool your dish.

Put a wet dish towel underneath your cutting board. It "anchors" the board and keeps it from slipping.

clogsThink through the steps and picture yourself making the dish.

Don't ignore the weather. It's harder to make bread when it's freezing cold and meringues might not be the ticket in August (too humid).

Try new ingredients and buy seasonal foods.

Keep your pantry stocked and have staples like minced onions ready-to-go in the fridge.

Practice a dish before serving it to company.

Recruit an assistant. Your kids or friends make great helpers.

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