We refuse to fall under the spell of Big Bay Leaf

Since the pandemic hit, most of us have been cooking at home more regularly, which means that we’ve also developed a few kitchen time savers, many of which involve skipping particular recipe steps. Still other entries on this list appear either because a particular ingredient is wholesale worthless (cough, bay leaves) or because failing to pay attention for even a half-second could lead you to starting over (only a lucky few have perfectly toasted pine nuts on the first go-round).

Here’s a rundown of the recipe steps we’re (usually) glossing over.

8. Washing all of my produce

OK, so I always wash my leafy greens. And I’ll scrub down potatoes, radishes, etc. But who among us hasn’t simply cut up a cucumber, zucchini or red pepper and just tossed it in the mix from time to time?

7. Properly caramelizing the onions

This has nothing to do with flavor — properly caramelized onions are an absolute treat — and more to do with time. See, most recipes will tell you it takes anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes to caramelize your onions, which would be great if it weren’t a massive lie. The truth is that you’re going to need to budget the better part of an hour to even begin to realize the promise of truly caramelized onions, which we don’t really have time for, especially on weeknights. So let’s just accept that we’re only going to brown those suckers (which will still take the better part of 15 minutes) and keep right on rolling to the next step.

6. Rinsing the rice before cooking

Yes, I believe this would make for a better end product. No, I’m still not doing it.

5. Bringing our meat up to room temperature

Bringing your meat up to temp undoubtedly helps with the sear and the evenness of the cooking, but we generally forget to remove the steak, chop, whatever from the fridge early enough for it to have time to do so.

4. Letting cooked grains fully cool before adding to the salad

The flip side to bringing the meat to room temperature, only more patience-testing because now it's time to eat.

3. Sifting the flour

Yes, professionals and competent home bakers will always do this, but I’m not and you can’t make me. Enjoy eating my (potentially) dense, inconsistently mixed bread.

2. Toasting pine nuts

Better known as throwing away burned pine nuts.

1. Adding a bay leaf

Have you once tried a soup, stew or roast and thought, “Hmm. Needs more bay leaf”? (If you answered yes, I hope your bay leaf startup business tanks.) The finished dish will not be significantly altered by the subtraction of an ingredient that is wholly inedible anyway. So save yourself the trouble of fishing out this flavorless leaf at the end of the cooking process by not adding it to begin with. Your wallet will thank you and your taste buds won’t notice the difference.