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Old 08-15-2008, 09:35 PM   #1
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Question A question about recipes and those who use them.

Let me begin by saying that I don't know if this is the right place for this, and if it is not please feel free to move it to the appropriate place.

When I was a small child and was first getting interested in what the big people around me were doing, my mother taught me a interesting lesson. She let me bake a "cake". She let me pick and choose the ingredients that I thought made a cake, mix them up and add some food coloring and then she baked it for me. It came out a little hard pink mass that in no way resembled real food that one would put in ones mouth. Then she got out a little card and we went through a series of steps which ended up producing a real cake that one would indeed enjoy eating. This little adventure taught me several things but the reason I share this story is that this was my first introduction to the concept of a Recipe.

Fast forward some twenty something years and I am a adult who enjoys cooking, baking and spending time in the kitchen. I make meals for my DW and for my friends and have fun doing it. I like to come on these forums and read about all of your exploits and read your wonderful recipes. I spend time looking up recipes for dishes I am interested in making and planning meals.

Ok all of that was to say this. Twice in the last few weeks (most recently this morning) I have been talking cooking with customers in the store I work at (jewelry repair), and when I mentioned looking up recipes or finding a new recipe I wanted to try they made a face or scoffed. As if to say "Oh well sure you cook but you use recipes, pansy." I can honestly say that I hold neither of these particular people in any kind of esteem as I do not really know either of them but all the same I felt a bit bruised afterwards.

So tell me, am I less of a cook for starting from a recipe? Should I be able to put things together without a reference and just know that the will turn out? Or do I just talk to nutjobs at work?

Thank you for letting me vent all that. What do you think DC?

-Josh hart

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Old 08-15-2008, 09:39 PM   #2
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You are most certainly no less of a cook because you use a recipe. The people you were talking to were snobs IMO and I bet your food turns out better than theirs anyway
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Old 08-15-2008, 09:43 PM   #3
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Hi, Josh. I think you have a lot of nutjobs at work I also think it depends a lot on how much cooking experience you have. I have a reputation as a very good cook, but I often use recipes because I don't want to mess things up, or because I enjoyed something and want to have it again.

With Italian and even Mexican cooking, I feel pretty confident making up a recipe and adding seasonings till I like how it tastes, but I don't think I can always duplicate it. So then I kind of regret not using a recipe, because I won't be able to make the dish again. And I don't do that with most other cuisines, like Thai or Indian, because I'm not as familiar with the flavors.

I think there are lots of ways to be a cook. Try not to worry so much about what others think. It seems that so few people cook at all these days, I wouldn't be surprised if some of those scoffing customers don't cook many of their own meals. HTH.
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Old 08-15-2008, 09:47 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by josh_swinehart View Post

So tell me, am I less of a cook for starting from a recipe?

Should I be able to put things together without a reference and just know that the will turn out?

Or do I just talk to nutjobs at work?

Thank you for letting me vent all that. What do you think DC?

-Josh hart
No. Not in my opinion, but I'm not a "real" cook.

In all honesty, I think once you get the gist of it all, you should be able to deviate from a good recipe and feel pretty secure it will be edible.

You are from So Cal, right?

Besides, what difference does it make if the recipe is written down or in your head? It's bound to be somebody's recipe
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Old 08-15-2008, 10:04 PM   #5
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Thank you all for your comments on the matter.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pacanis View Post

In all honesty, I think once you get the gist of it all, you should be able to deviate from a good recipe and feel pretty secure it will be edible.

You are from So Cal, right?
You calling me a deviant? Oh well if the shoe fits.

I do change things as I cook, especially if I have made the recipe before and made some note to myself to change something the next time. But I feel more comfortable having a recipe as a foundation that will at least in theory work as is.

GotGarlic you bring up an interesting point. The two most recent people to scoff at recipes were both cooks who tended towards their own ethnic cuisines. One Italian and one Venezuelan, perhaps they are so used to cooking the same litany of dishes that they do not need recipes any longer but do not make new dishes.

Their culinary upbringing may not have involved recipes but rather a grandmother who measured by handfuls and pinches. Mine was all about recipes handed down from one generation to the next written in great grandmothers neat cursive script. It takes all kinds as they say.

-Josh hart
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Old 08-15-2008, 10:16 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by pacanis View Post
No. Not in my opinion, but I'm not a "real" cook.
Are you a "fake" cook?

From the pics I've seen, I think you're a pretty good cook, Pacanis, especially since, if I recall correctly, you're a single guy who lives alone. A lot of people in your situation would have cereal with milk for dinner, but you actually cook an entire meal for yourself! I think it's great.
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Old 08-15-2008, 10:22 PM   #7
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Recipe or not, cooking can be an enjoyable experience. Not to toot my horn, but I'm a good "exact" cook. By that, I mean I can take a recipe and duplicate it perfectly. However, I much prefer to use a recipe as the foundation or suggestion and take off from there.

There are cooks who are just like me and I've become more adventurous in my older years. Who cares? If all else fails, we'll just call "out."

Buck was one of the other cooks I respect beyond bounds. He was an intuitive cook. He could open the refrigerator and gather what appeared to be the most unlikely combination of ingredients and produce the most awesome dish.

He had a second sense about flavors and I'm sure I'll never achieve the talent he had. It was a God-given and natural thing some people possess.

No reason to beat yourself up about using a recipe as your base. Go for it and keep on. You already seem to have a sense about what goes with what. As for noting what changes you want to make to a recipe, don't forget to write them down. Your memory will play tricks on you.
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Old 08-15-2008, 10:24 PM   #8
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Next time someone tells you you're less of a cook for using a recipe, ask them to whip up a classic dish such as Brazilian Feijoada or a French cassoulet or Spanish paella. Classic dishes would be lost forever without a recipe.

Did you ever make a meal for your DW that she really loved? Aren't you happy you can recreate that dish any time she asks for it?

I read and use different recipes. My general rule is to make the recipe as written the first time. Then I can experience what the recipe's creator intended and decide if I want to modify it when I make it again. Sometimes my SO decides I want to change the recipe.

You go to your favorite restaurant and order your favorite dish. It's so good, you order it every time you go there. It's always soooo good. A recipe ensures you will not be disappointed.

As you cooking experience grows, you will feel more confident to experiment with your own creations.

Just trying a dish somewhere and wanting to duplicate it can encourage you to try your own creations.

Stick with recipes if that makes you comfortable and ignore those who are critical. If you feel like experimenting, go for it. And write down what you did so you can make it again if it's a winner.

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Old 08-15-2008, 10:27 PM   #9
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In my forty five years of cooking I do a lot by memory but I still use recipes for guidence when making somethin I have not made in a while. I have 12 extra large 3 ring bunders full of recipes I have used through the years. And I refer to them all the time. Pay no attention to those who snubb recipes, they have a real place in cooking
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Old 08-15-2008, 10:28 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by josh_swinehart View Post
...The two most recent people to scoff at recipes were both cooks who tended towards their own ethnic cuisines. One Italian and one Venezuelan, perhaps they are so used to cooking the same litany of dishes that they do not need recipes any longer but do not make new dishes.

Their culinary upbringing may not have involved recipes but rather a grandmother who measured by handfuls and pinches. Mine was all about recipes handed down from one generation to the next written in great grandmothers neat cursive script. It takes all kinds as they say.

-Josh hart

Their culinary upbringing most certainly involved recipes! They were handed down by word of mouth rather than as a computer file or a cookbook.
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