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Old 02-18-2009, 11:22 AM   #1
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Substitutions/ instead of/ what if/ how much/etc.

Hello, to me cooking is PBJ on toast, hardboiled egg; if I look it up in my “Woman’s Home Companion Cook Book – copyright 1942-1946. I have decided I want to make split pea soup, and while the better half is a great cook, her approach is to open the frig, open the pantry, and start cooking, and regardless of what it is, ITS GREAT. I need a recipe.
I started with my cookbook then went and pulled 27 of the recipes I saw on the net. I read, compared, contrasted, and eliminated. I have picked a base recipe to start with, but since I don’t have “Mon’s”, I want to create my own.

Now I have some questions.
1.They all use the phrase “season to taste”, I need a unit of measure, and my palate is less than delicate.
2.The various recipes call for “1 tsp Marjoram or Thyme to taste; oregano; bay leaf; dash of sage; Few pinches dried rosemary” Do I put in some of each, or just pick one?
3.A couple of the recipes call for garlic, Nancy loves it, it is hard on me, how much do I use? 1-4 cloves
4.One recipe calls for a Dash of cayenne pepper, another 1 red chili pepper no seeds. Do you have a preference?

With those questions asked, is it Questionable (stupid) for a non cook to want to make his own recipe?
I look forward to your comments. P.S. If this is the wrong forum please advise.
Terry

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Old 02-18-2009, 11:40 AM   #2
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I can only address #1. There generally isn't a measurement when it says "season to taste" because we all have different pallets. I love salt, you may not so it I say "use a tablespoon of salt" it may ruin the meal for you.

As for garlic ~ 4 cloves is a lot for my 8 quart spaghetti sauce, one is generally enough depending on the size of the pot.

My suggestion is to find one recipe and stick with it rather than blending 27 different recipes. But that's just my opinion.
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Old 02-18-2009, 11:43 AM   #3
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...Now I have some questions.
1.They all use the phrase “season to taste”, I need a unit of measure, and my palate is less than delicate.
2.The various recipes call for “1 tsp Marjoram or Thyme to taste; oregano; bay leaf; dash of sage; Few pinches dried rosemary” Do I put in some of each, or just pick one?
3.A couple of the recipes call for garlic, Nancy loves it, it is hard on me, how much do I use? 1-4 cloves
4.One recipe calls for a Dash of cayenne pepper, another 1 red chili pepper no seeds. Do you have a preference?

With those questions asked, is it Questionable (stupid) for a non cook to want to make his own recipe?
I look forward to your comments. P.S. If this is the wrong forum please advise.
Terry

1. Can't give you a unit of measure. It's different for every recipe and for each person. What you consider salty may just be the starting point for me. Some folks hate pepper some love it. That's why you season to YOUR taste.

The solution is to do a little at a time, tasting between seasonings. You can always add more but can't remove excess seasoning. Eventually, you will develop a knack for automatically seasoning a dish. It's not something you just automatically knowing how to do.

2. Some recipes will offer you a choice of seasonings, others want you to add several. This is like the previous answer. Use asw much as you like. You have to develop thae knack.

3. How much garlic you use is a compromise that works for the two of you and the recipe. Nine times out of ten, you can leave garlic out altogether. Not that you would want to.

4. Cayenne pepper and red chilies have different tastes and heat profiles. That's why different recipes call for different things. You can substitute one for the other but the taste will be different and may not be what the recipe creator intended.


Cooking is a learned process. You don't just start out being good at it. You get good at it after practice. It's the same as any other skill.
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Old 02-18-2009, 12:33 PM   #4
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Try again

When they said season to taste it was often salt an pepper. I love pepper, I put it on Fr. fries, as example. Is there a rule of thumb so other people might also eat the food you make?
As it relates to "1 tsp Marjoram or Thyme to taste; oregano; bay leaf; dash of sage; Few pinches dried rosemary" the only one I know I can identify is sage, if the dish has to much it is like the taste in your mouth when mowing the back 40 in August. My point being, how or where do I learn what to expect of these seasonings after they are cooked, like they do with wine" sweet nutty flavor: dry fruity flavor; 3ozs. will drop a horse to it knees. It is my impression you can't just chew some to get an idea of the taste.
As to the other response "pick one recipe" I have picked a base recipe, But I know I want to add the "small onion studded with 3 cloves". I remember Mom used them in some things, and The better half never does. No real reason.
If any of you can just point me to a "Cooking 101" class/web site, I'll just go there and get out of your way.
Thanks,
Terry
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Old 02-18-2009, 12:49 PM   #5
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My point being, how or where do I learn what to expect of these seasonings
This just simply comes with experience and trial and error.
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It is my impression you can't just chew some to get an idea of the taste.
A good way to get an idea is make plain white rice with these different herbs and spices. The rice is bland and will allow you to get a good idea what the flavors of the herbs and spices actually taste like.
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Old 02-18-2009, 12:50 PM   #6
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This just simply comes with experience and trial and error. A good way to get an idea is make plain white rice with these different herbs and spices. The rice is bland and will allow you to get a good idea what the flavors of the herbs and spices actually taste like.

What a GREAT idea!
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Old 02-18-2009, 12:51 PM   #7
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When they said season to taste it was often salt an pepper. I love pepper, I put it on Fr. fries, as example. Is there a rule of thumb so other people might also eat the food you make?
As it relates to "1 tsp Marjoram or Thyme to taste; oregano; bay leaf; dash of sage; Few pinches dried rosemary" the only one I know I can identify is sage, if the dish has to much it is like the taste in your mouth when mowing the back 40 in August. My point being, how or where do I learn what to expect of these seasonings after they are cooked, like they do with wine" sweet nutty flavor: dry fruity flavor; 3ozs. will drop a horse to it knees. It is my impression you can't just chew some to get an idea of the taste.
As to the other response "pick one recipe" I have picked a base recipe, But I know I want to add the "small onion studded with 3 cloves". I remember Mom used them in some things, and The better half never does. No real reason.
If any of you can just point me to a "Cooking 101" class/web site, I'll just go there and get out of your way.
Thanks,
Terry
You learn these things from experience unfortunately. The more you cook, the better you'll get at how much of what to add. I second the idea of adding a little salt/pepper, tasting it and seeing if it needs more. If you really want a measurment, start off with 1/8 tsp of each and go from there. The other spices besides sage have a taste to them too. Taste them individually if you don't believe me! You can add both marjoram and thyme to a dish if you want, I do all the time. How much you add really depends on the dish you're making and how much of the dish you're making. As for garlic, it bothers my stomach too so I rarely use fresh cloves (go ahead and flame). I usually put in ~1/2 tsp-1 tsp (again, depends on the recipe and how much I'm making) of dried garlic. Doesn't irritate my stomach as much and it adds some garlic flavor. Just keep practicing and don't give up! You'll get there. You can't learn if you don't practice, right? If the recipe gets messed up, so what? You'll learn from it and know what not to do next time. I combine recipes and add my own flair to recipes, I don't believe in hard-fast recipe rules. Just do what tastes good to you (and whoever else you're cooking for). GL!
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Old 02-18-2009, 01:00 PM   #8
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If any of you can just point me to a "Cooking 101" class/web site, I'll just go there and get out of your way.
Thanks,
Terry
Don't go. People here love to help but we can get a little technical and sometimes a little vague .

You said you have a spouse, would they be willing to help and take your suggestions? I know in my father's house, that would never happen but I don't like to assume it's that way with every house because I know with my aunt and uncle, they cook together and she comes home from friends' houses and teaches him if she's learned new things. Would your wife help you and take your suggestions?
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Old 02-18-2009, 01:49 PM   #9
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"A good way to get an idea is make plain white rice with these different herbs and spices. The rice is bland and will allow you to get a good idea what the flavors of the herbs and spices actually taste like."

Great, the dogs and I will make rice this afternoon. Outstanding idea! And it's out of DC................


Nancy and I approach things differently, she cooks by feel and I need directions. "Would your wife help you and take your suggestions?" Not sure but I'll give it a try.
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Old 02-18-2009, 03:05 PM   #10
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Nancy and I approach things differently, she cooks by feel and I need directions. "Would your wife help you and take your suggestions?" Not sure but I'll give it a try.
Here's the good news, Terry. Even those of us that cook by feel, generally know how to teach by directions. I, too, am getting to a cooking by feel point but I have a 17 year old and she's just learning. I am able to help her read the directions and make some good things and eventually I think she'll "cook by feel" too.

My dad is a recipe guy. He's good but he has to have step by step directions. I've learned how to write recipes for him and he was able to follow them until SHE came along (she being the woman who lives with him and doesn't allow him to cook in his own house). I'll bet your wife is loving enough to teach you in a way you can learn. Just my guess.
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