You see a recipe online, in a book, or in between pages of food magazines in the checkout line and you decide – THIS, this is THE dish. Visibly appealing, sounds delicious and likely tastes just as amazing as the image portrays itself to be.
THE PROCESS BEGINS..
You go to the store and you buy every ingredient, leaving nothing to chance. There is this expectation for the dish to taste and look just like the vision the author of the recipe has placed in your mind. You start the process and follow it step-by-step. Following the directions with the precision of an elusive geisha, moving with grace; mystifying and enchanting. But somehow, somewhere – something didn’t go right. What was supposed to be thick and creamy turns out watery. Food that was supposed to take 30 minutes in the oven ends up taking more time. Dough that was supposed to come out buttery and flaky is – neither of the two. No matter what the failure is, it is frustrating. Frustrating and expensive.
The worst of all worsts – baking. I like to practice baking in my free time, since it’s not my strength. I enjoy spending Friday nights/ Saturday mornings searching for a sweet treat to play around with, test and taste. Quite often, I find myself in situations where what I anticipated is not what I got. Reading that scales provide more accuracy and consistency when baking, I bought a scale. I measured to the exact gram and still a recipe had failed me. I don’t mind taking 50% of the blame here, since admittedly baking is not my strong suit.
…and then it ends.
Quite honestly, it happens far too frequently. I’ve had recipes that started out as one meal and turned into something else. I’ve read recipes that suggest cooking beef a certain way to make it tender and it comes out tough. Then I started to wonder.. do my own recipes come out this way? Am I sharing quality details that give the reader an experience exactly how I experienced it to be? Hm..
This is what I’ve learned: A great meal typically comes from your instincts and not a recipe. Now days, I gauge whether I trust something enough to follow it step by step all the way through. Or, read it and wing it. Granted, I have not mastered the art of gauging a recipe to be able to tell if it’s going to fail me or not. I like the idea that trusting my instincts to wing it in most cases inspires me to think differently and strengthens my skill set as a cook.
Whenever I am following a recipe, I like to first review the ingredients. I read through the directions and try to understand the entire process from beginning to end. Once I’m clear on how to make the recipe I’m following, I try to adhere to them as much as possible, but also follow my own instincts at the same time. Making sure to sample along the way..
Building yourself up to cook an amazing recipe and having things go wrong can be discouraging. I’m hoping that for many, it won’t be. The fact of the matter is, there are some questionable recipes out in this world and sometimes, they just don’t work! Everyone has a different taste palate. What works for you, is just that. I encourage everyone to take a recipe and challenge yourself to put your own twist on it!
Understanding this fruatration, I believe it will shape how I share food recipes moving forward. I want to focus on helping build onto what will make you comfortable in the kitchen. Share the process, helping to build confidence and enjoy great tasting food .. that hasn’t been sabotaged by a funky recipe.