Cooking is a wonderful art to learn. Whether it is purely for nutritional purposes or for the joy of creating a meal from scratch for your family and friends, the relaxation that can be associated with this skill is immense. But if you were never taught the basics of cooking, and finding your way around a kitchen is not your forte, here are a few handy hints you need to know.

bake tart or pie crusts longer that you think they should be baked. The crust should have a nice golden color to be fully cooked. The color on your pie signifies that the caramelizing process is complete in your crust, yielding a scrumptious dessert.

Keep a potato masher in your kitchen at all times. This useful device can be used to mash more than just your typical potatoes. Try mashing carrots, cauliflower, and other root vegetables. You can mix any of these in to your usual mashed potatoes to make them more vibrant, nutritious, and interesting.

If you have a meal that is important, like for a date or your boss, try cooking one of your better dishes so that you are familiar with it and know it tastes good. Trying out a new recipe may end in disaster. This will help to make cooking more enjoyable and less stressful.

If you have a family, you will want to implement a process for cleaning up after you cook your meal. This is very important as you will want to conserve the excess food that you do not eat for future servings. Post meal cleanup is just as important as pre-meal preparation.

There is no longer a need to hold onto any fear of the kitchen. By following these ideas and learning the basics of cooking, you will be rewarded. With a little time and practice you will be whipping up gourmet meals to impress your friends in no time at all.