“I’d love to have your recipe!” is as much a compliment as it is a request. I usually reply that I don’t follow the recipe, at least not exactly.
It took my husband many years to finally accept that I cannot always duplicate a meal. Oh, chili always has the same basic ingredients; I start with a base of tomatoes, peppers, onions, and seasoning, in addition to a hearty dose of beans. Then my mood of the day comes through. I might add extra spice, a second type of bean, or perhaps a little corn. It’s a chef’s choice, right?
I look at a recipe as an artist might look at his canvas and paints. It’s the starting point; a sketch that needs developing, coloring, and depth. Just as each artist sees the same mountain in a different perspective, so each cook may have a unique interpretation of the recipe.
And so I begin with the raw recipe, a template sketch that calls out for a personal touch. I might add a different herb, I might decide try doubling the vanilla or using half as much salt. I might even eliminate the sugar and add a few herbs to bring out a flavor burst.
The recipes given here will always be open to your interpretation. I usually provide some variations or possible substitutions, but I understand that you may feel a different choice is in order. If your chili must call “hot” from the next room, then please, add more spice! If your pudding needs to be less sweet, cut back the sugar just a bit. If red bell peppers are your family’s favorite, use them instead of green.
Working through the recipe as you prepare it, taste it as it comes together. Remember to allow the spices to develop before deciding it needs more, but don’t be afraid to experiment a bit. In time, you will get a feel for how it must come together. I can taste chili in the early stages and know how much more spice I might need to acquire the finish I desire. I can feel the texture of the bread and know just about how much more flour to add.
I’ve learned over time. I made some mistakes. Fine tuning takes time.
Important Note: Some parts of recipes are necessary to keep as they are. Quiche will not set up correctly if the ratios of egg to liquid are not maintained. You may, of course, choose alternative fillings, but keep your egg to liquid ratio.
Learn more about quiche ration here.
And each time you create the recipe, it might need a little change. Herbs and spices can have different intensities. Some increase over time, others decrease. Flour amounts vary according to temperature and humidity (more on this coming up in another post!) Rather than fight the recipe, work with it and modify it to be what you need today. Realize that tomorrow it might be different.
Christmas Country Mom
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I generally don’t venture too far from the recipe. My husband doesn’t care for spices, so when I make a dish that he has tasted before, I stick to the recipe.
I’ve had to rearrange my cooking to suit his tastes. I cook my mom’s recipes that dad liked, but my Ricky doesn’t have the same taste buds. He prefers bland food he can add salt and pepper to, but doesn’t care for the foods he can’t take the spices out of. ROFL
I’ve learned to love my mom’s cooking and Ricky has learned to love mine without all the added spices for flavoring, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
I know others with similar food preferences, Bonnie. It’s good that you and your family are able to enjoy your preferences! Thanks for visiting!
Great post! Sometimes you just need to NOT follow the recipe 🙂 Thanks for sharing!
Agreed, Joan. Thanks for visiting!
🙂 LOVE it. It took me years to finally be comfortable to modify recipes. Now, MOST of my cooking is recipe-free.
Although, the first time I try something, I DO usually keep pretty close to the recipe…
Stepping away from following recipes can be a challenge. Those personal touches are well worth it! Thanks for visiting, Kim.