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am i the only one who hates recipies?

keith2000 Sep 30, 2008 11:07 PM

I love cookbooks but too often recipies are followed verbatem. Food is personal. A list of recommended ingretients sure but table spoons, tea spoons, ounces...that noise is for pastry chefs. (sorry pastry chefs). Can we all cook with whatever is fresh and available. can we all stop measuring and cook from the heart. After all the chef who wrote the recipe didn't follow a recipe so why should we?

  1. Meowzerz Mar 16, 2014 07:34 PM

    I, too, dislike following recipes to a "T". In fact, I don't ever do it, unless baking, and that's really only for the leavening agents. I'll add as many damn chocolate chips and walnuts as I want to. Hahaha. For "cooking", I basically only consult recipes for inspiration. I cook for as short or long as I care for and with however much garlic/onion/vegetable/protein as I like. This is just for my boyfriend and myself usually. If I were cooking for a crowd, especially a crowd I was nervous to impress, I *may* follow a recipe closer.

    I'll also mention that my mother, although I enjoy her cooking, would never dream of substituting an ingredient or changing an amount of something. I often poke fun at her for this.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Meowzerz
      c oliver Mar 16, 2014 07:36 PM

      Interesting. So when it REALLY matters, you follow recipes. I rest my case :)

    2. emglow101 Mar 16, 2014 07:02 PM

      I use them as a guideline. It always seems to be a longer or shorter cooking time. My oven cooks completely different and my pans aren't the same. I'm always taking these recipes and tossing the instructions aside.

      1. b
        BangorDin Mar 16, 2014 06:53 PM

        Huh?? I've made many many successful delicious dishes by following recipes. Verbatim.
        It is sort of silly to object to recipes. You're fine with a good plan, a good group of ingredients, good timing and technique, but you object to writing it down?

        1. dave_c Mar 16, 2014 06:37 PM

          If I'm going to spend money on a cookbook, I'm going to follow the recipe as written, at least a couple times.

          Also, reputable authors spend time to test recipes, so I don't have to.

          I've read many recipe reviews on other websites that often crack me up, especially from people who rate the recipe poorly. They often admit they didn't follow the recipe, but tried winging it. Yet they rate the recipe poorly not their own cooking skills.

          1 Reply
          1. re: dave_c
            c oliver Mar 16, 2014 06:51 PM

            I describe it as "that's why they get paid the big bucks." I think I'm a pretty good cook BECAUSE I follow reputable cookbook authors. And some of the best CH cooks who participate in the COTM threads must know something :)

          2. mtlcowgirl Mar 16, 2014 05:55 PM

            I will often tweak a recipe to adjust it to my tastes, but I usually follow my favorites to the letter, because the results are fine just the way they were written.

            1. s
              small h Mar 16, 2014 05:31 PM

              People who (claim they) don't cook from recipes must have way more money and time than I do. I can't afford to keep chucking the results of my failed experiments, although I do sometimes experiment, and I'm always plenty pissed at myself when it doesn't go well. There are about 8,000,000 activities I'd rather engage in than reinventing the pie crust wheel. Further evidence of my sloth: I also watch television programs that other people have produced.

              12 Replies
              1. re: small h
                f
                foodieX2 Mar 16, 2014 05:44 PM

                Speaking only for me when I say I don't cook from recipes it means that I have enough experience that I can come home, take a look in the fridge/pantry and put together a great meal.

                It also means that I have tons of "go to" recipes in my head that I can easily cook. ie: beef stew, lasagna, french onion soup, beef wellington, assorted pizza, mac n cheese, beef and broccoli stir fry, pie crust, waffles, homemade bread, bolognese, just to name a few.

                Have I occasionally winged it and failed? Absolutely! But I have also failed when following a new recipe to the letter. Some recipe out there are just plain bad-badly edited, vague, missing steps, etc

                if there are 8,000+ activities your like better than spending time in the kitchen and your budget can't support the occasional mishap then don't! Life is short, spend time doing the things you love.

                1. re: foodieX2
                  s
                  small h Mar 16, 2014 05:58 PM

                  You misread me. I didn't say I don't like spending time in the kitchen (I do). I said - well, not outright, but I figured it would be apparent, and it seems I figured wrong - that I didn't see the wisdom in trying to trick up a new recipe when a perfectly decent one already exists. For pie crust, say. Or for one of your "ton of 'go to' recipes." The fact that you've memorized something doesn't mean you invented it. It's still a recipe, just one that you don't need to refer to in written form.

                  1. re: small h
                    f
                    foodieX2 Mar 16, 2014 06:07 PM

                    LOL. I never said I invented them! I just no longer have to follow them exactly. And I am sure that many of them no longer resemble the original recipe. As you said pie crust dough is pie curst dough. Once you spend time cooking you find that you naturally start tweaking things to meet your own tastes, interests and budget supports.

                    And even more you learn to make adaptions when you don't have the exact ingredients on hand. No basil, no problem, I'll just increase the oregano or add thyme instead. Damn, no tomato paste? I'll cook down some tomato puree instead! Hmmm- no corn starch but I need a thickener? How about some potato flakes….

                    1. re: foodieX2
                      s
                      small h Mar 16, 2014 06:16 PM

                      Well, of course, experience teaches you what can reasonably be done to tweak a recipe and still have it come out good. I'm pretty adept at this myself. What I find very tiresome is the chest-thumping insistence that I! never! follow! recipes! Because you do. And if you don't? Your food probably sucks.

                      1. re: small h
                        f
                        foodieX2 Mar 16, 2014 06:26 PM

                        Is that what we are talking about it? When people ask me for my "recipe" I tell them the truth- I don't have one. But I also say "I got my inspiration from XYZ.

                        Perfect example is the Guinness beef stew I usually make this time of year. I got the inspiration from Vintage Victuals. However these days it really doesn't resemble the original recipe. But if someone insists on a "recipe" ( or when people ask for a good beef stew recipe) I point them to that site. Their recipe is awesome! but mine is different and it ends up being different almost every time I make it just because I rely on my tasting (and my pantry!) throughout the process to guide me.

                        Sometime the herbs, garlic or onions are stronger or weaker so you need to adjust the amounts. Sometime the meat is fattier or leaner so you need to adjust the oil. Sometime your taste level wants it hotter or saltier. Sometimes the weather impacts the dough. Sometime you don't have beef but you have chicken and you make it work. If I ignored all those things and followed every recipe to "the letter" I wouldn't be a ver good cook.

                        1. re: foodieX2
                          s
                          small h Mar 16, 2014 06:38 PM

                          You are following a recipe, in the same way that someone driving from Miami to Boston is following directions. At some point along the way, she may encounter a detour and be forced to go out of her way. But that doesn't mean she's built her own road, just like you haven't devised a new way to make beef stew. You've just worked with the ingredients you have in order to make beef stew the best way you know how with what's available to you. It's still someone else's beef stew, though. You didn't originate it.

                          1. re: small h
                            f
                            foodieX2 Mar 16, 2014 06:53 PM

                            Exactly!! That's what I was trying to say to the OP. It's not MINE, and chances are, using the beef stew example, it wasn't Vintage Victuals either (as they state in their rendition). When I say I don't use recipes it means that I have enough experience to make a dish without dragging out a cook book. I trust my memory and my palate to make a great dish.

                            It also means I can look in my fridge/pantry and combine many, many recipes to put together a great meal. I wouldn't even know how to attribute it to someone else but I am the first to say it's not "mine". It is mine only as much as the experience is mine.

                            Even my grandmothers "secret family recipe" for Portuguese kale soup wasn't really hers, most likey it was her villages and the people before her. It came from generations interpreting, tweaking and adjusting over the years.

                            Seriously I doubt there is really an "original" recipe out there today. Many great chefs attribute their success/experience/dishes to others.

                        2. re: small h
                          c oliver Mar 16, 2014 06:38 PM

                          I have to do more than hit 'recommend.' HELL YEAH :)

                          1. re: c oliver
                            s
                            small h Mar 16, 2014 06:54 PM

                            Right back at you! When did learning from those who came before us become so shameful? (This is a rhetorical question. I have theories. I'll keep them to myself, though.)

                            1. re: small h
                              c oliver Mar 16, 2014 07:02 PM

                              I'll see your "shameful" and raise you to "arrogant" :) I'm humble enough to 'take' from the big girls. And I'm a far better cook than I ever was before

                      2. re: small h
                        scubadoo97 Mar 16, 2014 06:13 PM

                        Not following a recipe allows you to improvise with what you have on hand

                        1. re: scubadoo97
                          c oliver Mar 16, 2014 07:11 PM

                          Following a recipe also allows you to improvise.

                  2. s
                    sandylc Mar 16, 2014 12:27 PM

                    Like many things in life, I've found it's best to learn the rules (by following recipes) before you break them (cooking it your own way).

                    Recipes are a great way to learn more about food and cooking than you probably would on your own. It's like a giant group of people sharing their experiences with others.

                    1. c
                      csacks Mar 16, 2014 08:26 AM

                      If you want repeatability you need a recipe. Ingredients and amounts make a difference. Perhaps the ingredient list is short and you use the palm of your hand as a measure.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: csacks
                        c oliver Mar 16, 2014 08:31 AM

                        Here's a recent thread on this subject.

                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/929814

                      2. m
                        mwhitmore Mar 16, 2014 07:18 AM

                        I lost all my books in The Great Bedbug Apocalypse, and haven't missed them. (I replaced The Nero Wolfe Cookbook, but that's for reading.)

                        1. m
                          melly Jan 14, 2009 08:18 PM

                          I AM addicted to cookbooks...but I've never followed a recipe completely. Just can't do it. I hate to write recipe's down too...HATE IT. I'll make something up..my husband loves it and says, "write that one down". I don't.

                          1. cassoulady Jan 14, 2009 03:09 PM

                            I love cookbooks. I love experts. I love tips on how to do someting better than I would on my own ( hence why I like CH). I also think the a great cookbook is one that as you read it, inspires you to actually believe you can make the dish they are talking about, and hence you try it. Of course from there, you may tweak it and make it your own. If you dont know how to do something, it is normal to turn to expert and read about how they do. Then practice. Also, recipes for a new cook, give you the confidence and expertise to try new things. IE once you know how to thicken one sauce, you can thicken many sauces. Once you master how to sautee chicken, you can sautee pork, veal etc. Maybe there are some people who just *know* how to cook, but I at least have had to learn the hard way, by hitting the books : )

                            1. Caralien Jan 14, 2009 02:37 PM

                              I'm the worst follower of any recipe, including for baking.

                              You don't always have what the recipe calls for, and in time learn how to make do with what you do have. For me, recipes are for inspiration (ditto with dining out). Make it your own, with the pitfalls and successes.

                              A cup can be a cup--tea cup or coffee cup for example. A teaspoon the teaspoon from the drawer. A pinch by you (or my DH) may be bigger or smaller than mine. It all works.

                              Seriously, with love and attention and a good nose (ie going to the kitchen 20 seconds before the timer goes off for cookies), works well too!

                              1. c oliver Jan 14, 2009 08:31 AM

                                I just remembered this thread and re-read it. I TOTALLY disagree with people who don't ever follow recipes. Do you really think that you're a better cook than, say, Marcella Hazan? Julia Child? Whomever? Why do bookstores have shelves of their titles and none of yours? Okay, semi-rant over. But honestly, people, most of us (and there are some real notable exceptions on CH) don't have the "gift." When I'm eating a to-die-for dish at a restaurant, the "wonderfulness" of it is often that there are layers of flavor and that they all seem to work together. Hazan's carbonara is an example for homecooking. Would I "figure out" to cook the pork in olive oil and then add wine to that Would I intuitively know that adding the warm pasta to the eggs and cheese is going to keep those eggs from scrambling as they might do if I add them to the pork/oil mixture instead? These chefs are famous for a reason. I'm a pretty good gardener but I use my books regularly and those are recipes of a sort. Do I exclude ingredients that I simply don't like? You betcha. Well, I know this is a tardy post but my mind kept going back to it so thanks for letting me put in my two cents worth.

                                1. Romanmk Oct 6, 2008 12:12 PM

                                  You are not alone. I'd say about half the people in my family find cooking from recipes unpleasant. Some are happy with cooking the same few things over and over again. Maybe they just want to get dinner on the table. My father skips recipes entirely, and changes his food all the time with great or non-great results. There are a lot of poorly written recipes out there. I don't need a recipe to whip up a delicious omelet.

                                  However, I love good recipes that challenge me to cook unusual things. A good recipe will have measurements and descriptions like "thin to the consistency of a medium-thick cream soup."

                                  So my question is what are you trying to accomplish? How tolerant are you of variations in the resulting product? Would you spend 3 days cooking 5 new dishes from an unfamiliar culture's cuisine for a dinner party? Isn't there great joy in learning from world class chefs who write great recipes that are well tested? They must have overstuffed notebooks, and shelves full of cookbooks for inspiration. Do you cook food that surpasses even the fine dining establishments in your area? How many stellar unique new dishes do you cook in a year? 50,60, 100? I do. But not without great recipes.

                                  1. l
                                    Lisbet Oct 6, 2008 10:17 AM

                                    http://www.foodtv.ca/recipes/recipede...

                                    A recipe is merely words on paper; a guideline, a starting point from which to improvise. It cannot pretend to replace the practiced hand and telling glance of a watchful cook. For that reason feel free to stir your own ideas into this dish. When you cook it once, it becomes yours, so personalize it a bit. Add more of an ingredient you like or less of something you don’t like. Try substituting one ingredient for another. Remember words have no flavour, you have to add your own!

                                    1. Father Kitchen Oct 6, 2008 05:35 AM

                                      Nice discussion. I use cookbooks to help me learn new ideas or procedures, but I most often have to cook with what is at hand and adapt. When I cook, I rarely have a cookbook open. But consider this. We had a brother in one of our communities who had no sense of smell. Yet he had to take his turn in the kitchen. He was actually one of our better cooks. But he followed recipes closely and always asked someone to help him adjust the seasoning.

                                      1. t
                                        TripChick Oct 2, 2008 01:30 PM

                                        I tend to view recipes as an outline, and I fill in the story as I prepare the food.

                                        1. Karl S Oct 2, 2008 05:08 AM

                                          Yes and No.

                                          It depends. A knowledgeable cook has a good instinct for which measurements are more important than others.

                                          A classic example - a recipe for roasted chicken that employs a high heat method. If the recipe was written correctly, it will specify a bird of 4 lbs or under. Knowledgeable cooks know that unbrined supermarket oven roasting chickens will not fare will with that recipe, and will not use it for a 6-lb roaster without adjusting the recipe so that the white meat does not dry out. Less knowledgeable cooks cooking from the heart will use an oven-stuffer-roaster and think the recipe stinks, and they will be sincere but ignorant.

                                          Some measurements are very important.

                                          1. hohokam Oct 2, 2008 04:55 AM

                                            I love cookbooks and recipes.

                                            I look at recipes as road maps to a destination. Some destinations may be easy to stumble upon (Oklahoma City); some may take some serious guidance and detailed instructions (North Zulch). But once I learn the most direct or established route, I can explore potential shortcuts and detours (time savers, substitutions) and scenic byways (variations on the original theme, new dishes from the same basic ingredients). If I ever lose my way, I can always refer back to the map and see how to get back on track, or I can just return to the relative safety of the beaten path. I love wandering on the road as much (maybe even more) than the next person, but at the same time, I see the real world constraints (time, fuel, lodging) that have to be reckoned with. Same thing with food. Noodling around in the kitchen trying to hit on the right combinations and proportions is fun, but I need to get a meal on the table at some point and not wreck $40 worth of groceries in the process.

                                            This tortured metaphor is just a long-winded way of saying that I often find comfort in and make use of recipes when I'm trying something new, but I also enjoy the thrill of making something new or following my senses and intuition once I get the hang of the basics. Some of the best things I've made have come from doing both--following the amounts and steps while paying attention to and thinking about what is going on and then making adjustments as necessary.

                                            Recipes are not the enemy, but I would agree that slavish adherence to them is.

                                            1. todao Oct 1, 2008 07:32 PM

                                              I agree Keith. Recipes, with measured amounts of ingredients specified, are best used by bakers. I'm a cook - not a baker - and I don't follow recipes for anything I'm going to cook. I do like reading recipe books for new ideas (my wife says I should build another room for my collection of cooking "ideas") and I enjoy reading recipe books like my wife enjoys reading fiction. No two of us a like, eh?

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: todao
                                                f
                                                food_eater79 Jan 14, 2009 07:04 PM

                                                Experimenter too!

                                              2. ipsedixit Oct 1, 2008 11:38 AM

                                                I don't keep recipes for anything I cook.

                                                I don't use recipes for anything that I've never made before.

                                                Cookbooks? Never bought or owned one.

                                                Cooking is about feel and inspiration, and maybe a little bit of luck.

                                                Trying ot make something you've never made before? Learn how it's made, as a matter of technique, and not scientific measurement.

                                                For example, want to make pie?

                                                Learn that pie dough is about making sure the butter is cold and that the dough is not overworked. Leave the precise issues of "2 sticks of butter" or "2 cups of flour" to geeks like Alton Brown to worry about.

                                                Make pie crust enough times and you'll figure out that the ratio of butter to flour will inevitably vary depending on a whole host of things that a "recipe" simply cannot account for -- basic things like room temp, humidity, type of butter, type of flour, hardness of water, etc.

                                                Make it enough times and you'll know when you need more butter, or less flour, or if the butter is too warm or cold.

                                                A recipe simply cannot tell you this, and all those nice metric measurements are simply general placeholders masquerading as precision in something -- cooking -- that is more art, than science.

                                                End of rant.

                                                Ah, now I feel better. Hump day is almost over ..

                                                7 Replies
                                                1. re: ipsedixit
                                                  MMRuth Oct 1, 2008 11:42 AM

                                                  Right - and I know we've had this discussion before - but for one who has never made a pie crust before, wouldn't a recipe be useful in terms of knowing to start with say 2 cups of flour and 1/2 cup of butter, (completely made up those proportions as I have no idea what the right ones are and would have to go to a cookbook to chedk) rather than the reverse? And that putting a little salt in is a good idea?

                                                  1. re: MMRuth
                                                    Passadumkeg Oct 1, 2008 03:23 PM

                                                    Spot on. After 40 years, every time I make a pie crust I pull out my falling apart copy of Joy of Cooking.

                                                    1. re: Passadumkeg
                                                      MMRuth Oct 1, 2008 03:28 PM

                                                      I do like, intellectually, or perhaps, more aptly, from a creative perspective, the idea of being able to go into the kitchen and whip up something wonderful without a recipe. But, fundamentals are fundamentals, and recipes are, in my opinion, a good way to learn them. It would be awfully hard to teach myself Chinese without a dictionary, text books and a teacher.

                                                  2. re: ipsedixit
                                                    MMRuth Oct 1, 2008 11:47 AM

                                                    And, I would add, a good cookbook will tell you about making sure the butter is cold, that the dough is not overworked, that room temp, humidity, etc. are factors that may require adjustments to the recipe.

                                                    1. re: ipsedixit
                                                      c
                                                      cocoagirl Oct 2, 2008 06:27 AM

                                                      bull sh*t is all i can say - in reply to ipsedixit

                                                      1. re: ipsedixit
                                                        r
                                                        RPMcMurphy Oct 2, 2008 07:32 AM

                                                        butter is way too expensive to screw up 10 pies before getting the "feel" right.....

                                                        1. re: RPMcMurphy
                                                          MMRuth Oct 2, 2008 07:36 AM

                                                          That's a great point, and so true about many ingredients.

                                                      2. RealMenJulienne Oct 1, 2008 09:54 AM

                                                        Honestly - and maybe this is indicative of my level of cooking skill here - I like recipes because without them everything I make starts tasting the same. Spaghetti sauce tastes like chili tastes like beef stew with tomatoes etc. Following good recipes helps me to avoid all my dishes turning into generic versions of similar dishes.

                                                        1. k
                                                          Kelli2006 Oct 1, 2008 09:49 AM

                                                          I follow the recipe quite closely the first time I make the dish(I only measure spice/herbs/salt) just to get a baseline and see if I like the dish. If I like it then I place the recipe in my cooking file for later referral and add it to my repertoire. I pay more attention to the technique than to the ingredients list, so I would never look for a perfect recipe.

                                                          It is completely different situation when I bake. I tend to lay out a mise-en place for the recipe before I ever start, and I prefer to weight my ingredients rather then volumetric measure. There are some recipes that don't require this level of obsession, but most recipes tend to result in a better products when you measure the base ingredients. Spices and fruits can be fudged and occasionally added or subtracted for taste and seasonality.

                                                          1. Caroline1 Oct 1, 2008 09:33 AM

                                                            I tend not to use recipes. That said, when I come across a recipe that sounds terrific, I always follow it to the letter the first time I make it. How else would I know what it's supposed to taste like? From there, it's free choice.

                                                            1. BamiaWruz Oct 1, 2008 09:17 AM

                                                              I agree with you, in fact when I look for a recipe for something I usually skip right to the instructions and go through it, and while reading it.. for example: sautee onions in oil, I get an idea how much oil, onions..etc.
                                                              The only thing I would check is if it's more of a complex recipe. But as you said, for cooking it's always just eyeballing and common sense. (maybe experience :P )

                                                              1. r
                                                                ricepad Oct 1, 2008 08:52 AM

                                                                I love recipes, I just don't follow them. I look to recipes for inspiration or tips on technique and such, but I hate to measure. It drives Mrs. ricepad crazy, because she always worries that I won't be able to replicate a dish exactly. (To which I think to myself, "What fun is THAT??") My cooking style really has its basis in the simple fact that I hate to wash dishes: if I don't measure, I don't have to wash measuring spoons and cups!

                                                                1. scuzzo Oct 1, 2008 05:26 AM

                                                                  I think cookbooks are meant to be read on the couch and not in the kitchen! And thats primarily how I read them. Read, ponder, close the book then go cook.

                                                                  Nice post!

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: scuzzo
                                                                    greygarious Nov 6, 2008 02:28 PM

                                                                    AMEN, Reverend Scuzzo! Homily: I had a high school English teacher whose sage advice was that "a notebook is a compendium of your ignorance" - in other words, don't write down what you already know. I apply this to cooking, too. Love to read recipes for inspiration, and rarely follow one precisely. Even with baked goods, I usually tweak or adjust according to personal taste and what's on hand in the larder.

                                                                    Restrained tirade: I have a hard time fathoming why competent cooks would want to follow recipes for forgiving things like salads, soups, and vegetable sides. And if you DO really need help, how about doing a little searching on this and other boards before asking other readers to look up the info you could find on your own? Here endeth the rant. Go in peace.

                                                                    1. re: greygarious
                                                                      Boccone Dolce Nov 7, 2008 02:44 AM

                                                                      I hear your rant greygarious and I totally disagree. This is a message board. I could look up anything but it's more fun to start a conversation with people from all walks of life and find out six different ways they use sesame seeds... I very rarely "need help" but always welcome a warm fuzzy shove in a new direction instead, from someone who doesn't mind sharing advice.

                                                                      Anyway I *LOVE* recipes but do not follow them to the letter. I will look to them for cooking times and to get ideas. If I want to use a new ingredient I'll research it a little and usually ask someone how they do it- most recently: the gal that does my nails is Vegan and she gave me a recipe for "pate" - just rattled it off while my nails were drying. She's insisting I call her when I get ready to make it so she can walk me through it-the trick is the consistency (which I am sure I can do solo but it's nice that she wants to help. ) I could probably find a written recipe but I love that she wants to be involved.

                                                                  2. Sooeygun Oct 1, 2008 05:26 AM

                                                                    I use cookbooks and recipes more for inspiration, if my own brain isn't providing it that day. I have a certain ingredient to use up, what can I make. Or if I know there is a specific dish I want to make, that I haven't made before, I will look at a recipe to make sure I am on the right track as to what is in it and what ratios. Then I close the book and start cooking.

                                                                    Baking and pastry is a lot more forgiving than people think. If you know the function of the various ingredients, you can make all sorts of changes. After all, is every egg the exact same size...there's an ingredient that is variable. Humidity can affect the amount of flour you add to a recipe. Salt can be to taste up to a certain point (except in yeast products). It's more important to recognize what your batters and doughs should look and feel like than to measure each ingredient precisely.

                                                                    1. mr jig Oct 1, 2008 04:35 AM

                                                                      When i started cooking seriously 50 years ago i figured it best to execute a dish exactly as called for in a recipe. Modifications could then be made as desired in subsequent efforts.

                                                                      Alas, over the years i have come to realize that a huge percentage of published recipes,
                                                                      particularly those on the internet, are just plain wrong on many levels.

                                                                      Enumerating the typical flubs would be both painful and fruitless.
                                                                      I now consider all new recipes suspect and i apply modifications BEFORE attempting the first execution.

                                                                      A careful read of recipes will often reveal ingredients mentioned in the ingredients list that never again appear in the instructions, The list of such horrors is lengthy.

                                                                      Be careful and apply your judgment from the beginning, lest you end up with the proverbial mechanics left over parts, or shrimp that should have been added for the last 3 minutes instead of cooking for the duration of the cook.
                                                                      Be careful out there and trust no one!!
                                                                      dick

                                                                      1. MMRuth Oct 1, 2008 04:15 AM

                                                                        I don't hate recipes - I love recipes. This is particularly the case when I'm cooking a cuisine that is new to me, such as Chinese and Vietnamese. Of course, I then taste what I'm cooking and make adjustments, but I usually follow a recipe verbatim the first time I use it. I suppose I could just buy a bunch of Chinese ingredients, for example, and wing it, but I enjoy the process of learning to cook specific dishes that are meant to turn out a certain way. By using recipes, I learn the fundamentals, and then can inject my own creativity as I choose.

                                                                        At the same time, I love going to the farmer's market on Saturday mornings and using what I buy as inspiration for lunch and dinner, and often come up with dishes that are new to us - like zucchini risotto topped with julienned zucchini flowers and fried zucchini flowers.

                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                        1. re: MMRuth
                                                                          l
                                                                          lexpatti Oct 1, 2008 05:25 AM

                                                                          I'm with you mmruth, I think I'm actually addicted to recipes. I love to scan the ingrediants to determine if it's me but I do like to follow first, then sit there while eating and evaluate how I'll do it next time. I very rarely LOVE LOVE LOVE my dishes, I always want to do something different next time. I have two ways of keeping my recipes, one is a file where I've made it and love it (but needs an adjustment next time). - the other is a collection of ones I'd like to make (that is much bigger). :-)

                                                                          1. re: lexpatti
                                                                            sarah galvin Oct 1, 2008 07:24 PM

                                                                            I also agree, MMRuth. I love recipes. I spend my evenings reading my cookbooks. Without a recipe, I wouldn't try the variety of dishes that I try. But I'm not a slave to them. I can combine the best from several, if I want to. I find that it actually helps me to be creative and cook better by the 'seat of my pants'. I love to open my cupboards and see what I have and throw it together. I like to consume all that is in my stash once in awhile so it doesn't go stale.

                                                                            1. re: sarah galvin
                                                                              keith2000 Oct 1, 2008 09:47 PM

                                                                              Yes sarah! good for you. Charlie Trotter says that great food is cooked in the moment. That is just a fancy way of saying a little creativity and whatever is on hand makes great meals. You may just have the mentality of a professional.

                                                                          2. re: MMRuth
                                                                            chef chicklet Oct 2, 2008 08:41 AM

                                                                            Yes me too, especially with the unfamiliar recipes. I love Asian food and want it to turn out just like they intended. I think the best dishes I've made come from my Chinese, and Asian cookbooks. I love being able to reproduce meals that I would normally have to go and pay someone else for, plus it's my kinda fun! I live to read recipes, and I dearly love getting in the kitchen and making meals from the heart, and then sharing the food, ah now that's the best!

                                                                          3. k
                                                                            Kagey Oct 1, 2008 04:05 AM

                                                                            I know a lot of people (myself included) who love cookbooks but rarely or never follow a recipe verbatim. I think you're preaching to the converted here!

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: Kagey
                                                                              f
                                                                              food_eater79 Jan 14, 2009 06:59 PM

                                                                              Exactly!

                                                                            2. Passadumkeg Oct 1, 2008 03:23 AM

                                                                              I'm a buy sales and clean -out-the- fridge kinda cook. I too read recipes (Oid and prefer books to video screen) and then play with it. This is why I hesitate to post recipes, mine are so inexact. Last night made a Massaman curry; had garden cabbage and cauliflower in fridge, threw that in too.
                                                                              On the other hand, I don't mess much w/ New Mexican food recipes, when I use them.

                                                                              1. pepper_mil Oct 1, 2008 03:20 AM

                                                                                There are many very talented food writers, cooks and teachers who create recipes that give general amounts and teach people to cook by feel - these are still recipes. Generally the more skill and experience you have the less you need to follow precise instructions and measurements, but it is tough to develop the feel without following instructions first.

                                                                                The cooking/baking thing is a false dichotomy...cooking is chemistry just as much as baking is, and some baked cakes and breads are much more forgiving than stove top balances of acid/sweet, protein and temperature.

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: pepper_mil
                                                                                  a
                                                                                  alysonlaurel Oct 1, 2008 10:43 AM

                                                                                  Thank you! Making a roux or a marinade relies just as much on proportion of ingredients as lots of baked recipes do. I have always found that adage about the difference between cooking and baking to be completely incorrect.

                                                                                  1. re: pepper_mil
                                                                                    keith2000 Oct 1, 2008 02:33 PM

                                                                                    ok I made the "that noise is for pastry chefs" comment because I thought it was funny...I still do. Sorry if I made anyone too upset. I actually bake a ton. Mostly by feel. I really encourage anyone who is shackled to recipies to simply cook more often. those chains are easily broken with experience. "stove top balances of acid and sweet protein and temp." Seriously? Taste, watch and smell. Words on a page don't know what is happening in my kitchen in front of me like I do. 20 min on high? What btu? 1 cup flour? how humid is it outside? 1 t lemon juice I prefer more plus as i said before the chef who wrote the recipe didn't put 1t of lemon into his or her's they tasted it adjusted it and then guessed how much they used when they wrote it down for us.

                                                                                  2. s
                                                                                    serious Oct 1, 2008 03:03 AM

                                                                                    I, too, look at several recipes for the same thing and then combine elements of those recipes. But I agree, if you are not a very experienced cook you have to start somewhere. Baking is not as forgiving - it's chemistry.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: serious
                                                                                      scubadoo97 Oct 1, 2008 03:19 PM

                                                                                      agree totally. I look at several recipes to get the basic idea and to see how they differ. I rarely follow a recipe verbatim. Baking can be a little forgiving if you know the chemistry. I don't bake often.

                                                                                    2. j
                                                                                      jimwormmaster Oct 1, 2008 02:55 AM

                                                                                      Well, usually I think of recipes as a general guideline. Yes, there's usually tablespoons, teaspoons, ounces, but then again, a lot of people that cook at home aren't necessarily knowledgeable to know the right proportions of ingredients. You can tweak recipes, certainly, even combine a few of them together (that's what my dad usually does when he "follows" a recipe, gets a few recipes, then uses them as a base), but you at least need some sort of starting point. I watch those commercials for Food Network where they just say the ingredients, but no measurements whatsoever, and I have no idea how much I would use, and I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one out there with that little problem.

                                                                                      So in short, I agree, boo to following recipes verbatim, but yay for them existing, so we can tweak them. After all, you can't bend the rules if there aren't any to bend :P

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