Important Safety Tips and Kitchen Rules

Safety should be your number-one priority when working and cooking in the kitchen. Hot food or pans, boiling water, and sharp knives can all be dangerous if you don't know how to handle them properly. Always check with an adult or parent before working in the kitchen, and be sure to review these handy safety tips and kitchen rules before starting:

  • Be sure to wash your hands with soap and water before touching food. It is also important to wash your hands right after you handle raw meat, chicken, or fish before you start touching other things.

  • Tie back long hair and pull up long sleeves. First, you want to keep them out of your food. Second, for safety reasons you need to keep long or loose items away from things like blenders or the flame on your stove.

  • Read the entire recipe before you begin. Find out what ingredients and utensils you will need. You'll also want to know how long a recipe takes to prepare and how many people it will feed.

  • Make a shopping list of things you need. Include items you will need to keep the kitchen well stocked (such as sugar, eggs, or milk). Some items you may have to buy, but you may have others in your house already.

  • Start with a clean cooking area. Otherwise, dirty dishes will be in your way, dirty counters will ruin your food, and other things on the counter or table (like mail) may get stained or splashed while you cook.

  • Don't overfill pots and pans. If they overflow while you are cooking, you will definitely end up with a mess, and you might get splattered or splashed with hot liquids.

  • Know how to use the various appliances and utensils you will need. If you need to, ask an adult to teach or remind you, especially if you are using anything with hot oil (like a wok) or sharp moving parts (like a food processor).

  • Be careful with knives. Learn how to hold them, wash them, and store them properly.

  • Put ingredients away when you have finished with them. Also, be sure to wipe down, unplug, and turn off all appliances when you're done.

  • Wipe counters clean while working. Put dirty dishes in the sink to keep them away from the clean ones.

  • Keep electric appliances away from water or the sink. Also, try to keep the cords up on the counter so you don't trip or step on them by accident.

  • Always use potholders or oven mitts to touch hot pans and dishes. You may not realize how hot something is until you've touched it or picked it up, so it's always better to start out with your hands protected.

  • Know where to find things and where to put them away. By keeping everything in its place, you will have a clean cooking area and you won't lose things.

  • Do only one job at a time. Cooking requires planning and concentration — it's a lot like juggling! As you practice, you can do more and more, but in the beginning, just focus on one thing.

  • Get help. Adults should supervise all your food preparation and cooking activities. It's important for you to learn how to work in a kitchen — and enjoy it! — but it's also important that you remember safety. Make sure an adult knows exactly what you are doing and will be able to give help if you need it.

The recipes in this book list the tools in advance so you know if you have everything you will need. The information about difficulty is pretty helpful for you, too. Some recipes can go from HARD to EASY just by having an adult do the cutting with sharp knives — it's that simple!

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