Cooking with Carson: Six Steps to Prevent a Halloween Dinner Disaster

Do not leave your guests with food fright



Turns out the garlic powder lid was not on all the way

CARSON HOLLAND, Evergreen columnist

The scariest thing this Fall season is not the ghouls, witches or ghosts, but messing up on an important meal. It can be anything from burning your livers or overmixing your brain pudding, but follow these six steps and save your Halloween food. 

This is not an exhaustive list of how you can save your cooking disasters but keep these in mind whenever you get ready to put on your zombie chef hat. 

  • A Sharper knife is great for prepping and fighting werewolves

You might be surprised to hear that a sharper knife is actually safer to cut ingredients with than a duller one. If you find yourself slamming down onto the cutting board then that might be a clear sign you need to go get your knives sharpened. As you are cooking and especially after you finish it is essential that you clean your knife and take good care of it. 

When you start cutting it, making sure the non-knife hand is curled in a claw and away from the blade and having a solid grip on the knife are steps to making uniform cuts. 

Whatever you do, don’t wash your knives in the washer! It will damage them, so it is smarter to just handwash them.

  • Clean as you go, a tidy workspace is safer one

It is really easy to let a dish sit in the sink or on the counter as you cook and there has been more than one occasion that I leave a pot to “soak.” But cleaning as you go, especially when other elements are cooking or baking, is a great way to reduce your overall dishload in the end. And while I do not want to sound like a haunted record player it also makes the space safer for your ingredients and you as a chef. 

  • Set out ALL your ingredients ahead of time

Stop me if you have heard this one before. You are making a box of Kraft Mac and Cheese and keep having to open the refrigerator to get the butter and the milk. How much easier would it be to grab everything out before you even get your pot of water boiling? Now the classic mac and cheese does not have the most ingredients but the principle remains the same, it can also help out if you forgot to buy something. 

  • Make sure to properly seal and store your condiments and food

As you might have seen from the picture, mistakes happen in the kitchen, but a tightly closed lid is the difference between a well-seasoned meal and a sandy beach of garlic powder. Not only does properly closing or storing your ingredients prevent a kitchen disaster but it also helps keep your food fresh and ready to use. 

I have had more than one occasion of not fully screwing on the lid for my milk and in a few days I start smelling that mistake in my fridge. This especially applies in the case of leftovers, use some Tupperware or plastic wrap so that you can enjoy it a second time. Make sure to match the container to the leftover, soup in aluminum foil might make for a less enjoyable second eating. 

  • Follow the recipe, at least in concept and do not be afraid to look things up

While sometimes cooking concepts are hard to grasp, a recipe helps walk you through step-by-step of what you are making. Make sure to read the recipe all the way through before you actually start cooking, that way if you are missing ingredients or equipment you can catch that before you are arms deep. 

And while most cookbooks or recipes are good about breaking down what you are actually doing there are some troublesome terms. Who the heck really knows what broiling is? There is nothing wrong with grabbing your phone or computer and looking up a youtube video of how to do something. Following instructions helps get a spooky meal to a spectacular finish. 

  • Remember to have fun, so that the only thing scary is how good it is

While cooking and baking does give you a delicious byproduct and hopefully some happy friends and family it is also supposed to be fun! Set aside some time to cook, put on some music and relax. So long as you maintain good kitchen habits and are safe with things like knives, cooking can be incredibly relaxing and an enjoyable experience. If you do not like cooking for yourself try inviting over a friend and doing it together, make a night out of it. 

If you recreate you have some spooky recipe for the end of October, share with the hashtag #cookingwithcarson