Cooking on the stovetop or in the oven can sometimes seem scary. But do not let the fear stop you! Keep these tips in mind and you will be well on your way to cooking with confidence.
Tips for working with hot things
Always angle pot handles toward the back of the stove so you will not knock a pot off the stove by mistake. Never reach over an open flame.
Never leave something cooking on the stovetop unattended. If you need to leave the kitchen, turn off the burner and remove the pan from the heat.
If you need to leave the kitchen while the oven is still on, let an adult know your plans.
To protect your hands when working with hot items, always use clean, dry pot holders or oven mitts (oven mitts are nice because they act like gloves). Wet oven mitts will not protect you.
Ask an adult to help you take large, hot pots off the stove. Have an adult help you take heavy pans out of the oven, too.
Tilt the lid away from you as you lift it off a hot pan. Steam is hotter than boiling water, which means it can burn you.
Burners, especially electric ones, stay hot even after they are turned off. Never put anything that might get burnt onto a burner, including paper towels, cookbooks, oven mitts or, of course, your hands.
The inside of the oven door and the oven racks are very hot; do not touch them when checking or removing your finished food.
Set a timer when you are cooking. It is easy to get distracted by other things while your pasta is boiling or your cookies are baking.
Have a heatproof trivet, tile or cooling rack ready on a flat surface before you take a hot pan out of the oven. Let hot pots and pans cool before putting them in the sink or cleaning them up.
Turn off the burner or oven after you are finished using it.
Finally, work slowly so you will avoid making mistakes.
You are now ready to choose a recipe and begin to cook. One last thing before you start: Above all, remember to have fun!
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Fun Food, by Stephanie Rosenbaum (Simon & Schuster, 2006).