Sometimes life gets in the way!After many years in the kitchen, Martha Stewart knows the most important culinary school lessons can be learned by doing in a home kitchen, as long as you have a little patience, are willing to practice, and take lots of notes.

We've learned so much from having Martha in the test kitchen, both in person and through her books. Martha Stewart's Cooking School is an impressively thorough and yet still approachable culinary bible of sorts. It has helped us perfect just about everything, from creaming a soup to rolling out biscuit dough. Here we've collected our five favorite tips, no classroom required. Cook, relax, and enjoy!

  1. Read a recipe all the way through before you begin cooking; knowing what needs to happen and when will help you avoid any mistakes as you prepare each step.

  2. Establish good habits: keep work surfaces and tools pristine and at the ready; wash and put things away as you work.

  3. Keep notes while you are cooking. Don’t be discouraged if something doesn’t turn out exactly as you expected it to. With practice you can learn to cook anything successfully, and taking notes is the best way to remember what happened the first time you attempted a recipe.

  4. Learn to trust your instincts, so you can cook according to visual cues, small, and taste, rather than always following a specific time or instruction in the recipe. Also, use tools (such as thermometers) as suggested for accuracy, especially when learning.

  5. Get in the habit of doing what the French call mise en place, or preparing your ingredients (chopping, peeling, measuring, etc.), before beginning a recipe. (Of course, Martha & Marley Spoon makes this prep work easy!)