These are my ultimate rules of the kitchen. They are absolute.
1) You only get hurt in the kitchen if you do something stupid.
This is the rule to which is the ultimate result to all the other rules. If you violate any of the other rules, you will wind up violating this one in short order. Is your knife sharp? Are you paying attention to too many things at once?
2) Wash your hands first.
Because no one wants to eat what’s been on your hands. By not washing your hands before commencing each activity in the kitchen, you run the risk of spreading germs onto food that people consume. Food poisoning hurts. See rule #1.
3) Always Be Cleaning.
Handling multiple dishes at the same time means that your counters are going to get cluttered pretty quickly. By taking a few moments to organize your counters, put away ingredients, and wipe up spills, you minimize the chance of injury in the kitchen. See rule #1.
4) Hold your knife correctly.
There is a right way and a wrong way to hold a knife. The right way gives you the proper control of your blade. The wrong way can lead to your knife slipping and injuring yourself. See rule #1.
5) Roll up your sleeves and tie back long hair, or wear a hat.
No one wants to pick your hair out of their food. Likewise, you don’t want to dip your sleeves into hot food, because you could get burned. See rule #1. Keep your person tidy.
6) Read the whole recipe first.
It’s a good idea to read through a recipe once through to familiarize yourself with the ingredients and the procedure. If you run out of an ingredient, or don’t have it in the first place, it can cause confusion, which can lead to injury. See rule #1.
7) Don’t mix raw and cooked food, especially meat, chicken, and fish.
Cross-contamination is a serious source of food poisoning and spoilage. Keep finished dishes away from raw ingredients, to prevent making your guests ill.
8) Turn pot handles to the side so they don’t stick out.
If you have several pots and pans on the stove, make sure the handles aren’t sticking out over the front of the stove. Brushing against one can cause a spill, or fire, and slippery floors, to name a few kitchen hazards. See rule #1.
9) Everything on the stove or in the oven is hot, even if it isn’t. Use mitts, potholders, or folded towels.
Treat everything touching the stove or oven as blisteringly hot. Even if you know you just put a pan in, use something to protect your hands if you need to take it back out. Grabbing a hot handle can result in serious injury, splashing hot food all over and making the floor slippery. See rule #1.
10) If it burned, so what? Start over.
It happens. To everyone. Hopefully only to side dishes and not a main course, but you never know. It doesn’t pay to agonize over it; you can’t un-burn it. Don’t spend time worrying, because that’s only more of a distraction in the kitchen. So into the garbage it goes and make it again.