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Old 08-01-2006, 09:45 AM   #11
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By reading recipes, you'll get a idea of ingredients that go together and how they are treated. You cna use that kind of background as a way to kick off your own recipe creations.

Maybe, you'll just modify something you've seen or eaten before. Maybe, you'll throw something together from what's on hand.

Don't be afraid to experiment and insist on truthful criticism from the folks you feed. Then accept that critique as information that helps you improve the next time.
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Old 08-01-2006, 09:53 AM   #12
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My girls were never afraid to experiment as young children and teens, they ended up with many flops and we did not let that discourage them. Many times we ate what they created, and we were all honest about what we felt.

Today they can pretty well throw together nice meals with whatever they find in our cupboards/fridge/pantry and they seldom make mistakes. We always told them that we have made mistakes too and continue to make them, and as long as we learn from them they are not really mistakes, they are learning experiences.

I know what you mean about not wanting to waste any foods, being on a limited budget that has always been important. We had to weigh the advantages, having young girls in the house who love to cook as opposed to them being afraid to try new things. Their friends often end up here as well and they all cook up a storm together, now that they are older, they also do some of the food shopping.
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Old 08-01-2006, 05:28 PM   #13
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it's all about individual tastes and then you build from there. You need a few basic principles that you probably already know from following all those other recipes. From there, you just add the things you like.
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Old 08-01-2006, 05:34 PM   #14
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I get ideas from cookbooks and the net but I often modify the recipe. It takes experience. I have made some major mistakes while experimenting but it is worth it and fun. Most things I cook are modifications of family recipes. Especially the arabic ones.
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Old 08-01-2006, 06:37 PM   #15
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Everything that everyone has already posted is true, but so you don't get discouraged, and to give you another perspective, think of cooking like playing music. It's something that you have to practice at in order to become proficient in. After awhile, you may be able to play on your own without any sheet notes and you may be able to improvise, and become good at it. But not everyone can become a Tchaikovsky, Mozart, or even the family "musical prodigy". Some people can become great home cooks and yet go most of their entire lives without creating a recipe that could be construed as being original. There's nothing wrong with that. Some people can play beautiful music only by using sheet notes, some can create an entire concerto just by ear. Experiment and discover your own limitations.
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Old 08-01-2006, 08:49 PM   #16
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As just about everyone else has said, it is experience. I have a few things I use a recipe for (not much). But the reason I can just go to the fridge and come up with a meal is that I'm 51 years old and have been cooking since I was a child. AND I Don't Bake (more science involved). The other thing is tasting, tasting, and taking one more taste. You cannot develop your own recipes if the way you cook is to take a recipe from a book or web site, throw it in a pot, and hope it will come out OK. You need to taste at every step of the way. Will raspberries work in a blueberry recipe work in your own recipe? Will French rock salt work where you usually use Morten's or Kosher salt? Will fresh ground telicherry pepper work where you usually use plain old pepper from a can? Needless to say, I can go on forever. You need to do it, and you need to taste it often while cooking if you're hoping to develop your own recipes.

I also agree with those who have said they bring out several cookbooks before figuring out how to cook something. I can only get live clams and lobsters once a year (my parents send them to me). So I pull out about five cookbooks to compare methods and recipes. Let the experts help you, but don't act like it is a bible, the cookbooks are guidelines. There are some things I only cook every year or so, but I still don't necessarily use a recipe. I use many recipes to come up with my own.
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Old 08-02-2006, 11:57 AM   #17
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I have a computer cookbook Allen and in that cookbook are some 1700+ recipes that I'd like to try and until I get through those [which I'll never do] I just continue trying other people's ideas. I NEVER follow a recipe to the letter unless it's a cake or something like that and then only the first time. My last birthday someone wished me that I live long enough to prepare every recipe I wanted to, my response was, "Oh heavens, please don't make me live that long!"
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Old 08-09-2006, 11:39 AM   #18
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I agree with all the postings, but here is something that I know a great many professional Chefs and and Foodies use for inspiration. "Culinary Artistry" by Andrew Dorneburg and Karen Page. This is NOT a cook book but a book of pairings and matches for almost every type of food.

What the book does is offer natural parings of seasonings to a product, and accompaning sides to particular products.

I found it a great aid in menu planning and dish creation.

Cost is about $20 bucks.
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Old 08-09-2006, 11:43 AM   #19
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Get a good instructional cookbook and read it cover to cover. One that explains the whys of food and has recipes, like "The Best Recipe," "Cookwise," "The Making of a Cook," or "The Professional Chef."

Make some of the recipes, letter-for-letter, until you know how they should come out. Then experiment.
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Old 08-09-2006, 11:48 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by silvercliff_46
I agree with all the postings, but here is something that I know a great many professional Chefs and and Foodies use for inspiration. "Culinary Artistry" by Andrew Dorneburg and Karen Page. This is NOT a cook book but a book of pairings and matches for almost every type of food..
Andrew Dornenberg & wife, Karen Page, have written several excellent "foodie" books (esp. Becoming a Chef) I really like Culinary Artistry, but it might be aiming a bit high for someone who is reluctant to ever go off recipe. An excellent second step, though. Good recommendation.

Here's Dornenberg and Page's website
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