Mise en Place

Mise en Place for a Very Special Peanut Butter Pie

One of the complaints I get from some of my clients is that they hate cooking. I love cooking, so you may think I don’t get that statement, but I do. I used to hate cooking and you may be surprised why.

I used to hate cooking because I felt stupid and disorganized and frantic as I’d race around my kitchen trying to follow recipes while one thing burned as I chopped another. The amount of pots I ruined with rice burned to the bottom as I tended to chopping something else is unimaginable. Oh, and the stir fries. The soggy, overcooked stir fries with near-frozen meat? Blech.

I didn’t have the right tools. I didn’t use the right strategies. Basically, I didn’t set myself up for success. Over the years, I’ve added some key pieces to my kitchen. I’ve read up on technique and learned about how food works. All of this has helped me calm down in the kitchen and thus enjoy cooking so much more because it brings me a sense of peace it never did before.

Never fear, I’m not saying you have to go spend millions at the gourmet kitchen store or read Kitchen on Fire cover to cover (although you might want to). No, in order to restore order to your kitchen, you can start with one simple step: be prepared.

Mise en Place is the term that means everything in place. It’s the phrase that describes why it looks so easy on kitchen shows. It’s the reason I run around my kitchen a lot less these days. Mise en place is the one act that makes cooking peaceful. I fill my counter top with everything I need for a recipe before I even pick a pot or pan. It’s simple but strangely, we don’t all do it.

Ever since I started reading (or checking in my head) through all the ingredients and steps in a given recipe and then collecting all the tools and food I’d need, dinner tastes better and my blood pressure is normal. Knowing what’s ahead and being prepared for it means your food cooks properly and you can rest assured you won’t be out of eggs halfway through a cake.

Try it this week. Look all through what you need for a meal. Then decide what to do when (chop before you turn on a stove). I think you’ll be amazed at the difference in the way you feel and the way you eat.

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