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The intent of Mad Delicious, my new cookbook from Cooking Light, is to make you a more purposeful cook, certainly to teach the “how,” but most importantly to spotlight the critical “whys” of methods, ingredients, ingredient combinations, traditions, phenomena, et al. I want you to understand the recipe you’re cooking, not just survive the process.

Before you begin to cook, I want to share the most important culinary principle there is—mise en place (a French phrase for “putting in place”)—to help you become a more organized, effective and confident cook. It’s a simple, foundational law of the kitchen and professional cooks learn this concept before they’re allowed to crack open their knife kits. Proper mise en place is a smart rule to follow in the home kitchen too and refers more to an absolute level of readiness that allows a cook to stay in relative physical and mental “flow” when cooking.

A good home cook is part ballet dancer, part chemist, part juggler, part anthropologist, part laborer and part project manager. The best inherently understands the following five principles and embraces them in their kitchens and their souls.

  1. Planning is the most important step
  2. Cook to suit your mood, not your cravings
  3. Focus on flow
  4. Multitasking is a myth
  5. Cooking is not a chore—love playing with food

For more cooking tips and kitchen science secret, check out MAD DELICIOUS: The Science of Making Healthy Food Taste Amazing!

This article originally appeared on Cooking Light.

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