Your kitchen and its equipment are unique to you, and are part of what makes your cooking like no one else’s. For instance, no two ovens cook the same way. Some have heating elements on the top, some on the bottom. Some are off by 25° or more, and others are perfectly calibrated. Stove burners vary in their heating capacity too. On top of this, different pots and pans conduct heat differently, depending on what they’re made of and how they’re shaped.
What all these variables also mean is that recipe cooking times can only ever be guidelines. The most important clue to doneness, besides your own experience as a cook, is the recipe’s description of what the food should look and/or feel like when it’s finished.
When it comes to pots and pans, the biggest tip we can give you is that it’s really worth it to buy good-quality cookware. It will instantly improve your cooking and is a pleasure to use.
Nonstick pans need special attention; high heat can damage the coating, and some coatings can release potentially harmful PFOA gases when heated above recommended temperatures. Never use them for broiling or in the oven and, on the stovetop, don’t heat them past medium if they’re empty or medium-high if they’re filled with food (or oil, for heating).
Microwave ovens range in power levels and options for heating. We stick to the simplest method: Microwave the food on full power, whatever that is for you, until you get the desired result.