It’s not infrequent for something to go wrong with my cooking a recipe and my husband patiently asking “did you follow the recipe?” To which I normally give him the look and refuse to answer.
I do the majority of the cooking at home because I enjoy it and I like having control over what we eat. But it bothers me to no end that when my husband does make something, he usually has better results than I would. He is a recipe follower. I am a recipe suggestion taker.
This isn’t to say that I’m a bad cook or even a negligent one, but it does mean that I can often cook the same recipe a zillion times and have the results come out differently each time. It doesn’t bother me, and since I’m the one who does make dinner, everyone has learned to eat my dinners with my explaining what I tried and what I might do differently next time. They really are a bunch of good sports.
You might notice that I don’t share a ton of recipes on the blog even though I cook dinner most nights from scratch. A lot of the meals that I make, I use a recipe as guidance but couldn’t tell you exactly how I came up with the end results. A little more of this, a little less of that, and let’s try this spice tonight and see how it goes.
There are recipes that I’d love to share with you–fried rice is a huge hit at my house, but how do I explain how much oil and butter I use when the answer is “add a few swirls and a couple of pats until it seems like you need more and then add again.” I also have no idea how much rice I use as I always use what’s leftover from a prior dinner. Beans and Rice is a favorite, but outside of making the beginning roux, there really are no directions. Add water to the roux, but sometimes I use 8 cups and sometimes 9. Sometimes half chicken stock, sometimes more. Sometimes I add spice, sometimes I don’t. The end product is always tasty, but it’s always just a tiny bit different from the last time I made it.
How do recipe makers figure out exactly how much of each ingredient to use?
Of course this is also frustrating when I’m stuck underneath a nursing baby and yelling cooking directions to my husband who has picked up where I left off. “No honey, I don’t do it that way.” To which he rolls his eyes. Or I’m helping Elle (help me) cook and tell her, “a little more, a little more, a little more…oops, not that much.”
The irony is that there are a whole heap of things that my mom made when I was growing up that I would like to make at home, but she doesn’t have a recipe. Gravy. She was telling me the other day that she adds a little bit of flour to water and I asked her how much. “I don’t know–until it seems right.” It wasn’t until I was in my 30s that I first attempted to make mashed potatoes–it just took a bit of experimenting until I got it right, but it’s one of those things that I couldn’t explain to someone else how to do.
Good thing Elle likes to help me cook so much. Hopefully by the time she’s out of the house, she’ll be able to know when the amount of milk added to the potatoes is just right. Though I think I’ll have to send her to grandma’s to learn how to make the gravy.
Are you a recipe follower or a recipe suggestion taker? Or do you really fly wild and absolutely wing it?
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Every weekend, Beth Fish Reads hosts Weekend Cooking. “Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs.” Hope you’ll join the fun!