Dear readers, last year, I started a blog called “Lazy-Ass Vegan,” a forum for recipes that you can prepare during commercials of “Law and Order.” However, I was too lazy to update it. Plus, Law and Order started sucking. Luckily, while developing recipes for that blog, I discovered the basic principles of successful cooking.

Principle 1: Everything tastes better when cooked with alcohol. Everyone knows that French people are good cooks, and they add wine to everything. A dash of merlot can bring complexity to tomato-based soups, while some dry white wine can enhance creamy soup and pastas. But why stop there. An au jou made of rum and broth makes a great dip for sandwiches. Sometimes I like to pour a cup or two of vodka over my salads as a simple and delicious dressing. Make sure you have croutons to soak up the liquids, especially for high-end alcohols.

Principle 2: The relationship between the number of ingredients in a dish and how the final dish tastes follows a parabolic path. Meaning, have only a few ingredients, less than 5, or else, have like 40. Mole, for example, is a complex savory chocolate sauce usually made with dozens of ingredients, including several different kinds of chilies. It is delicious. Bread has only a few ingredients, and it’s delicious. The lasagna I made last night had 12 ingredients and could be patented as a caulk for bathtubs and tiles.

Principle 3: Perception is just as important as content. One easy method to enhance perception is telling your guests about ingredients or methods that they are unfamiliar with. For example, say something like “Yeah, I marinated this with a bouquet garni of herbes de Provence, then I sous-vide the whole thing for fifty minutes.” Your dish may taste like crap, but cognitive dissonance will make your guests think it’s them, not you. On that same principle, the more money you spend on organic ingredients, the better your food will taste, but make sure your guests know that the ingredients are organic.

Principle 4: Edible flowers impress just about everyone. Some flowers you can eat are pansies, roses, lavender, and violets. Toss some into your salads. People are impressed with flowers you can eat because normally we think of flowers as these ethereal things to be appreciated for their beauty. Well, that just makes flowers seem stuck-up. So eating them makes us feel superior. And food should make us feel good about ourselves. This principle also explains why we like it when good-looking people get punched in the face.

Principle 5: If you’re in a good mood when you cook, your food tastes better. Not for any new age reason, but mainly because when you’re grumpy, you’re more likely to cut yourself, and blood and bits of fingertips can really ruin a good dish.

Principle 6: Anything that is wrapped or stuffed tastes twice as good as anything not wrapped or stuffed. Evolutionarily, we gravitate toward foods that are efficient. Stuffed foods mean we can eat two different kinds of food at the same time, which means we have more time to defend ourselves against predators. This is why stuffed mushrooms are so popular; they trigger our fight-or-flight instincts.

That’s all the time we have. Wait.

Principle 7: Avoid collard greens. Sure, sometimes you go down the produce aisle and you’re like, “Oh, look, collard greens are so healthy and I can totally make some soul food or something and my wife will be so impressed because she’s black.” So then you buy a bunch and you try braising this stuff with some Lawry’s seasoning salt, and the greens are bitter and gross and you give some to your wife and she’s like “WTF!” So it’s best to just avoid collards altogether.

Look, an easy-to-remember website:

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