Liberate yourself in the kitchen with these oven cooking tips.

Baking is not really my thing-too regimented, too demanding of precision. But the real problem is the inability to adjust or correct during the actual cooking process, which stabs at the heart of those of us that are cooks, aka control freaks. However, that very aspect of oven use can also liberate an otherwise-occupied cook via even heat applied from all directions. And that can mean less active involvement in the cooking of certain things.

Bacon This is an easy and recently popularized one. Anyone who has cooked bacon knows what a pain in the ass it is-watching, flipping, and even fitting long, rectangular things in a round pan to begin with. Instead, place bacon on a conveniently right-angled baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes at 375 degrees F or a bit longer for crispier strips. Greater output, no space taken up on the stovetop, and no hand-holding. Protip: prick uncooked bacon with a fork to minimize curling. And always save the bacon grease for other uses, such as:

Roux Cooking a roux (flour and fat cooked together), whether for a sauce or for gumbo (which is when I most often need a roux), usually entails standing over a pan and constantly stirring, lest you burn it. Instead, use the usual ratio of 1-to-1-in the case of gumbo roux, equal parts neutral oil (or bacon fat) to all-purpose flour (1 cup each for a large pot)-in a baking dish and cook at 375 F. It takes about 15 minutes for a light or blond roux, and closer to 30 for a darker "chestnut" roux (my preference). Just a couple of stirs during the cooking process is all that's needed.

Scrambled Eggs Another breakfasty one but very useful when making breakfast for a large group. Scrambled eggs go into a baking dish, coated or sprayed with oil. Then bake at 350 F for about 10 minutes, then fold the cooked areas into the uncooked using a rubber spatula. Repeat every 10 minutes until the eggs are just set; should only take three times total.

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