I’m no world-class cook, but I can find my way around a kitchen just fine. I enjoy preparing fresh food and I’m not afraid to alter recipes in order to make a dish suit my family. I’m not afraid to sample and taste as I go along.

Recently, I’ve been making a few summer treats for me and mine: fried green tomatoes, blackberry pie, and an ongoing supply of summer salsa.

I’ve also switched recipes from my old tried and true chocolate chip cookie recipe to a new one. This one is a little different, a little better, but still a classic and still too good to eat just one. As I was enjoying the finer points of eating a little raw dough, I chuckled at a few of the things I’ve heard/learned/developed on my own over the years with regards to making food. Having worked in the restaurant/food service business in a few different capacities, I know many of the rules of health and hygiene. Let me assure you, I followed them all when cooking for the public.

But now I cook in my own kitchen, and I have a few alternative rules of my own.

1. Wash hands thoroughly before and in between all food preparation. When tasting a recipe-which you should do often-go ahead and dip that finger into the raw cookie dough. After all, we’re all family and any germs will bake out in the oven.

2. Follow recipe measurements precisely. First of all, there’s no such thing as too much sugar in cookies. Second of all, feel free to add or take away ingredients not integral to the baking process. For example, don’t leave out baking soda. Do feel free to add more chocolate.

3. For a healthier option, substitute tofu for butterNever, ever substitute for butter. If you’re looking for a healthier option, you shouldn’t be making cookies in the first place.

4. Measure spice ingredients exactly; the right combination is key for optimum taste. If optimum taste is what you seek, don’t even think about skimping on cumin or cilantro in any Mexican dish. It’s what makes the party. Also, slosh double the vanilla in all breakfast and short bread recipes.

5. When preparing a dish, double the recipe and make two. Keep one for yourself and give one to a neighbor. Better yet, triple the recipe and keep one batch for yourself hidden in the back of the freezer.

6. It’s a good idea to clean up as you go along. Yes, it is a good idea isn’t it?  But really, you did the cooking, so someone else should do the cleaning.