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Too Many Cooks: What are your Best and Worst Kitchen Tasks?

June 22, 2012


You'll be hearing from the staff at FOOD52 every week in Too Many Cooks, our group column in which we pool our answers to questions about food, cooking, life, and more.

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When it comes to cooking, everyone has a task that they look forward to doing -- and one that they put off as long as possible. This week, we tackle the question What are your favorite and least favorite kitchen tasks?

The results were surprising and fun -- quite a few of us love doing tasks that others of us can't stand. (Ahem, washing dishes.) Reply with your most and least favorite kitchen tasks in the comments!

Favorite: Kneading bread dough.
Least favorite: Slicing peppers.

Favorite: Deglazing a pan.
Least favorite: Rinsing and drying cilantro.

My new favorite chore is loading and emptying the dishwasher. After almost 5 years living in New York apartments without one and doing testing, I'm loving having one now and using it is awesome. But my all-time favorite task is creaming butter and sugar. It's very satisfying and can turn into so many delicious things!

My least favorite chore is disposing of oil after deep-frying. It smells gross and you have to let it sit around taking up space until it's not hot anymore. And even then it's a bunch of liquid oil that you have to get rid of. Blech. I hate it. I'm also not a fan of cleaning any kind of seafood. Particularly octopi. Those little beaks are so nasty.

Jennifer S. (AKA Jenny)
Favorite: Baking cakes.
Least favorite: Cleaning the food processor.

My favorite kitchen task is washing dishes. Is that weird? As Anne says in Anne of Windy Poplars, "I've always liked washing dishes. It's fun to make dirty things clean and shining again." My least favorite task is caramelizing onions. It's impossible to be that patient -- they're not worth it!

Favorite: Chiffonading. Or maybe dicing zucchini.
Least favorite: Grating semisoft cheeses!

My favorite kitchen task is whipping cream, and my least favorite is whipping egg whites. [Editor's note: when pressed to explain this seeming contradiction, she says only that one takes much longer than the other and stops being fun.]

Jennifer V.
Favorite: chopping an onion.
Least Favorite: I'm with Merrill -- I hate to wash, dry, and prep leafy herbs.

I really enjoy shredding cabbage with a very very sharp knife. I despise chopping garlic, and I hate putting dishes away.

Amanda Li
My favorite task is washing rice with 2+ changes of water, alternating clockwise and counter clockwise to maximize starch removal. Do this without losing a single grain of rice: FIST PUMP BABY. My least favorite task is doing the dishes, period.

No greater joy than the quickness with which a sunny-side up egg becomes a meal -- except maybe when you first dip into the orange gooey yolk. But when a meal becomes a bigger project to feed your hungry friends, then the stacks of caked dishes and unwieldy stemmed glasses are a total buzz-kill after much wine consumption and pleasurable post-dinner conversation.

Peter S.:
My favorite kitchen task? Slicing anything on my new handheld mandoline. It's so fast and the results are so precise and elegant. My Least favorite? Stressing over bones in a fish fillet. Nothing ruins a meal for me more than getting a bone. The same goes for grit in asparagus or scallops. That crunch! of biting into a grain of sand undoes so much effort.

Favorite: Stirring risotto -- it is a very calming and meditative task.
Least Favorite: Washing baking sheets. Their size is just awkward. Somehow I always end up with water splashing everywhere. Yet, I use my baking sheet on a regular basis - I love roasted vegetables. 

My favorite kitchen task is peeling carrots. With a peeler, not a knife. When I was sharing an apartment with a roommate, she played sous chef doing various tasks around the kitchen. On our first night cooking together, I pulled a Tom Sawyer, trying to pawn off the carrot peeling like Tom does with whitewashing the fence. As my friend began to peel carrots, I realized that it really is a therapeutic job and I shouldn't have handed it over so readily! My least favorite chore is cleaning out mesh strainers. No matter how hard I try, there is still some crumb stuck in there. It's futile.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • witloof
  • squarecook
  • deanna1001
  • aargersi
Food52 (we cook 52 weeks a year, get it?) is a food and home brand, here to help you eat thoughtfully and live joyfully.


witloof June 24, 2012
Favorite: pretty much any cooking task.

Least favorite: pretty much any cleaning task.
squarecook June 24, 2012
All time least favourite - washing and drying lettuces. My favourite thing is using beautiful platters and serving pieces to display various dishes - enjoying that moment when wonderful ingredients come together.
deanna1001 June 24, 2012
Favorite: sauteeing onions and garlic. Least favorite: toss up between doing dishes and prepping fava beans. Love them but what a pain!
DONFAYENA June 24, 2012
Favorite: sampling of cooked items..least Fav: working with blue chees..cutting blue cheeses
aargersi June 24, 2012
Fave: big project cooking, like an all day gumbo or canning a billion peaches, the very biggest project being feeding the entire mob every Thanksgiving - that is a full week of planning, shopping, prep - LOVE it
Least fave: this is so dumb but I hate making tossed green salad. Other salads? Grain ones or fancy "recipe" ones or entree ones? No worries. Plain greens and veggies weeknight salads? GAH! Hate it!
viblanco June 23, 2012
Favorite: Melting chocolate in a sauce pan. Oh, the aroma, the texture!
Leaste favorite: (Besides putting away dishes from the dishwasher...) Pulling the leaves off of a thyme sprig after rinsing it. The leaves at the very tip aren't willing to come off without a fight. Annoying.
emadethis June 23, 2012
Favorite: Stretching strudel dough into a proper 3'X3' square without a single hole (definitely a fist pump moment)
Least favorite: washing lettuce--I often let it linger in the fridge until it's past hope because I hate getting my hands all cold in the water. Ick.
drbabs June 23, 2012
Favorite: baking, especially cakes and cookies.

Least favorite: prepping greens and string beans.

@kristy: if you add a pinch of salt to your egg whites as you're beating them, it will go almost as fast as whipping cream.
Kristy M. June 25, 2012
Thanks drbabs! I'll try that next time!
Pegeen June 23, 2012
For chopping onions, two solutions I know are: 1) wear half an onion on your head while chopping (like Tita in "Like Water for Cocolate) and 2) wear sunglasses or any type of eyeglasses, helps prevent fumes from getting in your eyes.
smslaw June 23, 2012
My favorite is making risotto-very relaxing-makes me happy
Least favorite-chopping onions-makes me cry
smslaw June 23, 2012
My favorite is making risotto-very relaxing-makes me happy
Least favorite-chopping onions-makes me cry
vvvanessa June 23, 2012
favorite: cracking open eggs. 99% of the time I get the same result, but I am always filled with hope and suspense that there could be a double yolk in there.
least favorite: trimming kale or collards or prepping any kind of greens, including lettuce

Amanda Li, you just about killed me with the rice thing. I think you should also add to the favorites task always adding the right amount of water without having to measure : )
Sadassa_Ulna June 23, 2012
Favorite(s): prepping heads of lettuce, I love rinsing away the dirt and spinning dry the leaves; probably any step of baking; eating chocolate, a self-appointed task

Least Fave(s): chopping pungent onions; handling raw meat; cleaning up in general
Terrie R. June 23, 2012
Fav.... mandoline-ing!!! I've made it a verb!
Ugh... browning chicken. I want it done in two minutes!! I'm just no good at it.
LucyS June 23, 2012
Favorite: sauteeing anything that smells nice.
Least favorite: trimming green beans, taking out the trash.
boulangere June 22, 2012
Favorite: I'm with Amanda - mixing, kneading, shaping, baking, tasting bread dough.
Least favorite: emptying the dishwasher and putting away pots and pans in the clean sink. I'm in a continual competition with myself as to how high I can pile and pile and pile without them toppling over.
Kitchen B. June 23, 2012
Can yountaste bread dough....I always stop my kids sayingnthe yeast in the dough can be to investigate on google
boulangere June 23, 2012
I'd be long dead if that were true!
Panfusine June 23, 2012
So am I, I probably compete with my son for the dough!
maryvelasquez June 22, 2012
Favorite: pushing around the contents of a sizzling sauté pan
Least favorite: mopping the kitchen floor
maryvelasquez June 22, 2012
Favorite: pushing around the contents of a sizzling sauté pan
Least favorite: mopping the kitchen floor
Panfusine June 22, 2012
Prepping & cooking, I can go on & on..In fact I particularly love shelling pomegranate without squishing a single pearl, & slicing up pineapple.
as for my least favorite, its a toss up between cleaning the dishes & unloading the dishwasher.