Your Cooking Companion

Posted in Announcements, Fixes & Tips
April 9, 2020

The Hidden Ingredients in Every Recipe, Part 1 of 3

When you were first learning to cook, did anyone encourage you to read all the way through the recipe before you started the first step? They told you that because it’s a way of scoping out the parts of a recipe that are hidden within the cooking instructions.

The first hidden ingredients are the tools you’ll need to successfully create the recipe. They are hiding within the text—the fine print, if you will. If you haven’t read ahead, you may realize too late that you’re going to need one more really big bowl than you actually own.

The lime you bought for its juice may actually have to be zested as well. How are you going to get that zest off without a zester?

“Cooking spray…wait…cooking spray with FLOUR?!?”

“Oh, it says 9x13” pan. Ack!!  Well, if I keep my fingers crossed I’m sure it will all fit into my 9×11”.”

“Bundt pan. Bundt pan. Damn.”

“Oh, wait…this is for an Instant Pot. Not a Crockpot.”


“Air Fryer? Well, shoot. Can’t I just throw it in my oven?”


“I bet if I grease the pan really well I can do it without the Parchment Paper….”

None of these things are part of the “what you’ll need” ingredient list at the top of the recipe. On The Cookalong Podcast, I try to list the needed tools both at the beginning of the show and on the webpage that accompanies the recipe, but you’ll sometimes hear me say, “Oh, sorry, I should have told you this earier….” I think we all tend to read the ingredient list pretty carefully and then only skim the instructions, and I fall victim to the surprise of a required tool as often as the next person.

My father used to say, “When all else fails, read the instructions.” Cooking would be a lot easier if we read the instructions before all else has failed.


Tomorrow: Hidden Ingredient No. 2

P.S. Here’s a good list of tools to keep you prepared for that recipe you didn’t read beforehand.

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