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Tell VT: What cooking practice really spooks you out?

Tell VT: What cooking practice really spooks you out?

Are you a little wary of rolling your own sushi or toasting pine nuts? Are you a tad afraid to torch a crème brûlée? Does pickling or preserving make you nervous? No worries: you are not alone. Here at Vegetarian Times, we are constantly facing—and conquering—our cooking fears! Right now, VT editors are incubating ideas for the magazine’s Technique department; thus, we want to know: What cooking practice really spooks you out? Share your answer below, and see what others have to say too. Our favorite responses will be published in an upcoming issue of the magazine.

Comments on this Article

I used to be terrified of dishes involving eggplant, probably because it had "egg" in the name. Finally, I decided to try it. Preparing it turned out to be really easy. Now I'm convinced that it's just like a big, purple zucchini!

Working with Filo dough.

It sounds juvenile but i really struggle with crepes. They always stick or fall apart and I just can't make them work. Even pancakes are challenging without a non-stick pan.

Learning how to use a wok kind of scares me. I'm not sure whether or not it's at the right temperature, when to stir things around or what utensils to use! Help me wok it out!

Cooking eggs in a pan any way but scrambled. I love "over easy" eggs but just can't seem to make them at home.

Crème fraiche, the whole thing - leaving dairy products out for an entire day - kind of freaks me out.

Baked Alaska - Ice cream always melts before the meringue browns! :-(

I always go out to sushi because it is something I fear making on my own. If I knew better how to do it I would be eating it way more!

Washing fruits and vegetables from the farmer's market. I'm always afraid that they're covered in dirt, fertilizer, etc but washing them and getting them to dry without them going bad is a challenge.

Drying food without a dehydrator. My attempts have produced moldy results.

I've cooked for quite a few years, so I believe I know my way around the kitchen...except when it comes to TEMPEH. I'm all thumbs when it comes to conjuring up ideas for this interesting ingredient. Please help!

Flambéeing still makes me nervous, probably because I always have in mind the story of a friend of my Mom's who singed her eyebrows off making crêpes Suzette when I was little. Still, it adds SUCH incredible flavor, I try to sneak it into my own cooking whenever I can.

Preparing custard sauce is a nightmare to me, as I'm always afraid the egg yolks are going to coagulate in the process, so I end up putting the saucepan on a very very low heat, and it take me hours to make 500 cl of custard! Ridiculous...but it's so good!

I haven't touched a pressure cooker in years. Two aquaintances on two separate occasions ended up in the emergency room after their pressure cookers exploded.

Mayonaise. I won't even eat the vegan versions. something about the texture just creeps me out. I wish restaurants would stop serving all veg dishes with no sauce but the dreaded "aoli". PS-Jose, just stir fry it with everything else. You'll be glad you did.

A low carbohydrate way to get home-made tofu burgers to stick together when they are cooked is to add one rounded teaspoon of psyllium husks to each burger. Metamucil, psyllium husk variety only, will work but it contains added sugar or other sweeteners so I use Konsyl as it is readily available and contains no added ingredients. Konsyl (psyllium husks) also benefits diabetic management.

I'm tempted to try to preserve by canning the millions of tomatoes my hubby grew, but I'm nervous about the whole process. I don't want to poison us! Also, I'm convinced the broiler will set fire to my food and, in turn, the house!

Vegan baking! I want to go vegan, but the idea of baking without eggs and butter just bends my brain. I have the recipes, the idea just freaks me out!

in a lot of the recipes it sais "cover with plastic". I think we are all trying not to use plastic and i am allways disapointed when i keep reading about using plastic in your magazine......

It used to be cracking open an egg, but now I'm vegan. So, I'd have to say cooking anything that might get stuck to the pan. I'm terrible at pancakes!

Broiling garlic bread, pizzettes, desserts, or ANYTHING that requires a quick stint on the top rack just to toast its face. I often do this with foods casually, right before serving guests. While I prep other elements of the meal, my thoughts stray from the item in the oven, and before I know it, I'm smelling that dreaded charred aroma that means something's gone from toasted to burnt. Doh!

Baking at altitude. I live at 9,000 ft and all cookbooks show adjustments for 3-5,000 ft. I have an list of adjustments, but they don't' always work. Anything that has yeast is impossible, and if it rises it's always a test of luck. Even cookies!!

cooking eggplant, i just never seem to get ir right and my family is scared to try my didhes if i tell it has eggplant.. heheh

Making tofu & tempeh from scratch freaks me out. My veggie friend, Reina, and I are working up the courage to try it for ourselves! Wish us luck!

It would freak me out trying to set my pan on fire with alcohol! I would never try because I thought you had to leave it up to a professional :) I also don't know what the benefits of doing it would be aside from just being flashy.

Cooking beans without having soaked them overnight. I just can't trust that they will be fully cooked otherwise, and I don't want to be the one who gives everyone at the dinner table a stocmachache for the night.

I am really "spooked" on stir-frying. I've tried it for years and still can't master it. I tend to overcook the vegetables so they come out mushy. Maybe someday I will not overcook it.

I have Fear of Frying! All that hot oil, which spatters no matter how dry I think my food is. And I'm always worried that someone will knock the pan off the stovetop and we'll all wind up with nasty oil scalds. For Alicia S. below, try Eugeina Bone's excellent canning & preserving book, "Well Preserved." I'd go with water bath canning over pressure for tomatoes.

I love to cook with fresh herbs but everytime I go to my garden there are bee's on the oregano. It's my oregano!!! But they just wont let me have it. So I skip it.

Making fresh mozzarella. I've tried several times now and only made it successfully once. It seems like it ought to be an easy process, using just a few ingredients, but it always goes awry. I usually just end up wasting ingredients. I'd love to be able to make it, but I just can't seem to get all the steps quite right.

I'm a wee bit intimidated by making seitan! I love love LOVE Seitan and I bought a box of vital wheat gluten and attempted to make it, but it just did not come out right. Is there any good spice/broth combos? Is there something I might be doing wrong because it seems to be on the spongy side? Im all out of ideas and I'm about to just give up on making my own. HELP!

Home canning low acid veggies worries me. i really want to try though because my farmer's market has tons of organic fresh veggies just waiting to be stored away and enjoyed in the dead of winter! My goal is to eat all I can locally and I know canning will bring me closer to that goal. I wish i wasn't so afraid!

Anything that requires a rolling pin is a nightmare for me. Pie crusts, crackers, cookies...I roll them too thick or too thin, or the dough sticks to the counter, or the recipe says it'll make two dozen and I'm lucky to get ten total. I'm a rolling pin reject!

Flipping an omelete on the frying pan scares me. I would cut veggies for it, beat the egg but I am afraid if I try to flip the omelete, it will crumble.

Making sour dough for sour dough bread. I'm just so afraid of doing it wrong and making everyone sick. I'm also so afraid that maybe I've read the directions wrong. Still haven't tried it,yet. Maybe one day,I'll just go for it.

Sour dough for sour dough bread. It just doesn't seem that it should work in the way that I understand the directions for it. Not much intimidates me when it comes to cooking,but I have hesitated when it comes to sour dough bread.

Argh, it has to be phyllo dough! No matter how many times I try to use it, I end up tearing it and making a mess and getting extremely frustrated! HELP!!

As a culinary student, I am pretty open to trying new things and experimenting, but after finishing my first baking course, I need to share with the public the thing which frightens me the most. Trans fats. We need to start educating people on the dangers of these fats and also educate them on how they are being snuck into everyday foods. With everything we know about this subject, why is it so widely used? Shortening is still used in almost every baking application today. As a future culinary professional, I feel an obligation to eliminate these harmful ingredients from all cooking and hope other companies eventually follow suit.

Homemade soy yogurt. I have tried a few times,with the kind I can get in my country (I don't live in America any more),and nothing has worked. I can't seem to be able to get the proper bacteria anywhere here,and we only have one type of soy yogurt. It's pretty much the only vegan food I have tried and can't seem to get to work.

When I was little and still eating meat, my mom would prepare spare ribs by parboiling them in water and then use the water to boil the egg noodles that went with the spare ribs. Parboiling meat seemed like such a cannabalistic cooking practice and probably encouraged me to go down the path of being a vegetarian.

Fried okra. It just can't get it to come out like my mother did. Also, with all the fresh yellow squash available in West Texas in the summer, is there any way to cook it so that anybody would want to eat it? Totally vegan, of course; thanks, Eve

mushrooms in general just freak me out.

I have never canned food before because I am terrified of doing it unsafely. I finally took the first step to overcoming my fear. With much guidance from my mom, I purchased canning supplies and made three batches of my great-great grandma's prize-winning chili sauce. It was hot-packed, not canned, but a step in the right direction!