Hello, Food Tastes Yummy readers! Here is a guest post by Cindy Cullen. She is a professional Chef, and with fellow Chef Joseph Morris runs a non-profit site called Culinary Arts College. The site is about, "elevating American cuisine by encouraging a new generation of chefs to attend a culinary arts college." If you wish to contact Cindy personally, she welcomes your comments at her email:

The art of cooking involves much more than just knowing how to throw together the right ingredients in the right amounts - in fact, there's much you can do to improve your cooking skills by knowing your way around a kitchen, and being completely at home in it. You can kick off your kitchen campaign by:

1. Knowing where all the ingredients and pots and pans are - This makes your work easier and you don't have to waste time looking for the right utensils or worse, starting a dish only find you don't have the necessary ingredients or the right vessels to cook them.

2. Setting out all the ingredients on your countertop before you begin - This not only ensures that you have all that you need to make the dish, but also that you don't have to waste time in raiding the refrigerator or pantry cupboard when the water is already boiling, or the pan is heated up and ready for the next item to be added.

3. Keeping your workspace clean and tidy at all times - The most efficient cooks are also the ones who value hygiene and a clear cooking area. They put away ingredients once they've used them, they move dirty dishes, knives and spoons to the sink, and they wipe up anything that spills onto the countertop immediately. When your workspace is clear of clutter and grime, you feel better and get the job done more efficiently.

4. Stocking your kitchen regularly - To do this most efficiently, you must know what you have and what you need. You must also know the right amounts to buy so you neither run out of essentials nor have too much of anything that you don't use regularly..

5. Keeping towels handy - If you value hygiene, you're definitely going to wash your hands regularly during the course of cooking a meal. Keep towels handy, not just to wipe your hands, but also to wipe off any spills before you dirty your floor, your countertop, and yourself. A set of kitchen towels for designated purposes is a must for every aspiring cook.

6. Not letting the sink overflow - If you leave behind a messy and cluttered kitchen with the sink overflowing with dirty dishes, even the tastiest meal you've cooked leaves a sour taste in the mouth. Use the waiting time when cooking to clear up your sink and not let the dishes fester and grow mould. you could also reuse spoons, knives and bowls with a single rinse instead of taking a clean one out every time you cook a dish.

7. Knowing when ingredients are rotten - A good cook knows by just the sight or smell that an ingredient has gone bad and cannot be used in the recipe. You don't want to taste the finished dish and then wrinkle your nose in disgust and wonder what went wrong.

8. Knowing how to salvage disasters - There are times when you make mistakes and end up adding too much salt or forget to put in an ingredient. Any cook worth their salt should have disaster management recipes too up their sleeve, just as they have their regular ones on the boil in their minds.

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