First of all, lets be clear that I consider cooking more art than science. The important disclaimer as that we are talking cooking not baking. Baking is kinda fiddly and requires much more science. But that said, I think of recipes as crude hand drawn maps. They give you a rough idea about the general direction you are planning to go.My daughter wanted my recipe for chili a few years back. I make a mean chili (but that’s another story). After following me around in the kitchen trying to write down instructions, she threw up her hands in total frustration. After all, what is a pinch, or a scooch or a handful really measure out to? And what the hell did I mean when I said to just “eyeball it”?
In writing my recipes I have tried to be as precise as possible. I have had friends and relatives test them and they tell me that they work as written. But really, since my food tastes a little different each time I make it, these recipes are only guidelines and a starting place.
Come on! Is there any recipe (including mine) that can’t be “improved” with a little creativity? Truthful answer? Maybe. I tend to think not. And for the record, I have found a few where my improvements were underwhelming! OK, maybe there were more accurately disasters, but you get the point.
I’m also not afraid to substitute. No bread crumbs? How about crumbled up potato chips? No eggs? Try applesauce. No potatoes? Try rice or some other root vegetable. You get the idea!
Cooking is about fun and creativity. And it is one of the areas in life where practice does make perfect!
I am a great believer in simple: simple, fresh ingredients and simple preparation. I am much too busy to spend hours each week feeding us. Pretty much if you can’t prepare it in 20 minutes, I’m not interested.
Cutting down on the time it takes to shop and prepare food, making sure that the fresh food is really fresh and spending as little money as possible are among my goals. I find it helps to keep a well stocked pantry and to make a weekly menu plan. I generally plan it around a big pot of brown rice or other grain and another pot full of cooked beans. If I find great fresh vegetables cheap, I will bring them home and roast them at 425 degrees or so to seal in the nutrients and flavors. That way they are good for a couple of weeks.
I am always amused at people who defiantly announce that they don’t know how to cook! I always have two questions for them:
- Do you like to eat?
- Can you read?
If you answer yes to those questions, then you can definitely cook!