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Cooking Shortcuts You Shouldn't Take

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In my amateur experiments in the kitchen, trying to teach myself to cook, I often find myself straying from recipes. My kitchen is too small, I don't have the right appliances, or I just don't have enough time.

Last month I was thrilled to read Adam Roberts' "10 Food Rules Worth Breaking," which relieved me from the guilt I harbor every time I roast a chicken without trussing it or use cooking spray instead of butter to ready a cake pan.

Roberts' rule-breaking advice also got me thinking, however, about all the rules I've tried to break that have resulted in some major mishaps. On my self-guided quest to become a better cook, I've learned a few rules that are really worth following. And in my regrettably but perpetually hurried state, I've discovered -- the hard way -- a few shortcuts that are best left unexplored.

Even if you're short on time, don't skip these six cooking steps. While they may seem simple and good options to omit in a time crunch, they can make all the difference.

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