Stress-Buster Tip: How to Prevent Burned Food Disasters

Kitchen Timers to the Rescue

Ever lose track of time when getting a meal on the table?  I mean time in the sense of how long it takes pasta to cook, a vegetable to steam or a casserole to brown lightly in the oven.  This can be tricky when cooking more than one dish at a time, especially ones that must be watched carefully. It can also make cooking a complete meal seem overwhelming.

Old Fashioned Kitchen Timer

Salvation from kitchen stress can come from something as ancient and low-tech as my dad's darkroom timer from the 1940s.

In a recent Whole Kitchen class, Paula, one of the participants, offered a common sense tip for avoiding unappetizingly overcooked or, worse yet, burned food disasters:  Use a timer!  In fact, she sets a timer for each critical cooking event in her kitchen.  It’s easier than you think.  Stoves and microwaves come equipped with timers, not to mention the cell phones and stop watches that many of us have and can actually use (if not, get help from your kids.)

It’s all about getting into the timer-setting habit.  I started a few years ago after reading how Julia Child would have bells, whistles and gongs going off all over the kitchen to help her keep tabs on things.  I can’t handle more than one signal at a time, so I use only my stove’s timer, with my dad’s old darkroom timer handy for backup.  Now that I am in the habit, however, I can readily agree on the value of this simple solution.

So don’t tax your poor head any more than it already is.  Set a timer for each dish that needs close attention and breeze successfully through the kind of multi-tasking that routinely takes place in a kitchen.  You’ll be right on top of the steaming vegetables and know just when the casserole is browned and ready for the table.

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