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Old 01-13-2015, 05:27 PM   #31
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When you want to make a recipe for the second, third or more time, do you follow the recipe?
I do if my notes (or memory) tell me that following the recipe yielded tasty results. If I took liberties with the recipe, I read my notes to see what they were, and that's my new reference point. I choose to either do it the same again, or try other tweaks, and write down my thoughts on the results. Rinse/repeat.

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Experienced cooks might be able to increase, decrease and substitute easily, but there are a lot of beginners and people who cook occasionally and she wanted to appeal to cooks with a variety of experience.
Understood, and I think that's where the value of the measurements comes in. People who don't cook much or don't have much of an interest in it have no gut feel whatsoever for how much cardamom may be too much, so they follow an exact set of dance steps to get a meal prepared. Makes perfect sense. If I'm working with new ingredients, or wacky combos of ingredients, then I'll pay closer attention to the recipe as-written. But there are lots of "common" things that I use a dozen or more times a month, and I feel measuring exactly is a waste of time. I've got several recipes that the family loves that I've never written down, except for a list of ingredients. The quantities are seat of the pants every time, yet the dishes always seem to taste the same, within our ability to detect.

Besides, how many times do you see things like "one medium red onion" or "two sprigs of rosemary" in a list of ingredients? Not all "medium red onions" are the same size, and are going to vary the amount of onion... so why should I care if I use 0.135ml of garlic powder rather than the recommended 0.125ml? That's all I'm saying.
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Old 01-13-2015, 05:57 PM   #32
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Understood, and I think that's where the value of the measurements comes in. People who don't cook much or don't have much of an interest in it have no gut feel whatsoever for how much cardamom may be too much, so they follow an exact set of dance steps to get a meal prepared. Makes perfect sense. If I'm working with new ingredients, or wacky combos of ingredients, then I'll pay closer attention to the recipe as-written. But there are lots of "common" things that I use a dozen or more times a month, and I feel measuring exactly is a waste of time. I've got several recipes that the family loves that I've never written down, except for a list of ingredients. The quantities are seat of the pants every time, yet the dishes always seem to taste the same, within our ability to detect.

Besides, how many times do you see things like "one medium red onion" or "two sprigs of rosemary" in a list of ingredients? Not all "medium red onions" are the same size, and are going to vary the amount of onion... so why should I care if I use 0.135ml of garlic powder rather than the recommended 0.125ml? That's all I'm saying.
Understood as well. This is what I was referring to, though. I don't think cookbook writers do it by the seat of their pants. Now, bloggers and sites like allrecipes, that's a different story

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etc. I mean, how exact are most print recipes anyway? I bet most of them—the good ones, anyway—come from talented/experienced cooks attempting to put down on paper their best approximation of the seat-of-the-pants approach they would use when making a given dish, and as such, I see no point whatsoever in getting out the measuring spoon when a recipe calls for half a teaspoon of cumin or a tablespoon of soy sauce (for example). Yes, I know there are examples where exact measurements matter; I’m simply saying that oftentimes they do not, and adhering to them may actually do more harm than good.
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Old 01-13-2015, 05:57 PM   #33
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I do if my notes (or memory) tell me that following the recipe yielded tasty results. If I took liberties with the recipe, I read my notes to see what they were, and that's my new reference point. I choose to either do it the same again, or try other tweaks, and write down my thoughts on the results. Rinse/repeat...
If that's the case, then you're following a recipe and using measurements. I see that as a legitimate way to cook and to ensure you can re-create a great dish.

At some point, do you rewrite your recipe incorporating the notes and changes?
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Old 01-14-2015, 10:34 AM   #34
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If that's the case, then you're following a recipe and using measurements. I see that as a legitimate way to cook and to ensure you can re-create a great dish.
Nobody said that following exact measurements is illegitimate; I'm simply saying that it's not how I like to work, and I'm convinced it's overrated in lots of situations.

I figure, if I use a GPS every time I drive, I never learn how to get anywhere myself.

It's definitely not every time I cook, but whenever possible, I like to leave the measuring spoons in the drawer, trust my instincts, taste as I go, and keep notes. I really think that doing so over an extended period of time has made me much more proficient in the kitchen because I'm forced to learn something every time. Sure, there have been some mishaps, but every time that happens you take note of it and have a valuable lesson to carry forward for the next time a similar situation arises.
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Old 01-14-2015, 11:10 AM   #35
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Nobody said that following exact measurements is illegitimate; I'm simply saying that it's not how I like to work, and I'm convinced it's overrated in lots of situations.
This thread isn't about how you cook or what you think about following recipes. It's about how to determine when a recipe is uniquely yours.
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Old 01-14-2015, 04:55 PM   #36
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Just chiming in on the conversation of the most recent replies in this post, there have been many times that I watch a cooking show on TV, they explain the recipe, cook it right in front of you and tell you which ingredients and the measurements. Then I go to their website ( or buy their book) and the measurements are different than what they had shown or said on tv. I guess they have to commit to something when writing a book, but when actually cooking, they fly by the seat of their pants as to what looks / tastes right.
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Old 01-14-2015, 07:19 PM   #37
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Larry, I think you're right in terms of what they do when they're doing on the TV show, but when they're developing the recipes beforehand, they do a lot of testing, recording, having people taste-test, etc. Often, they're encouraging people to taste and season as they go along, too, so their viewers can learn how to cook to their own taste.

At that level, they also have assistants, and sometimes ghost writers, to help. No one in the audience is going to be eating what they actually make.

One of my personal pet peeves is new recipes that look and sound good, but that don't have any measurements at all. They say things like "depends on the quantity you're cooking for" or "add X, Y, and Z spices to your taste." Well, how do I know how much to add when I don't know what it's supposed to taste like? What is the predominant flavor supposed to be, or how do I prevent over-seasoning when there are no guidelines? I just skip recipes like this altogether and try to find something similar.
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Old 01-14-2015, 07:50 PM   #38
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...One of my personal pet peeves is new recipes that look and sound good, but that don't have any measurements at all. They say things like "depends on the quantity you're cooking for" or "add X, Y, and Z spices to your taste." Well, how do I know how much to add when I don't know what it's supposed to taste like? What is the predominant flavor supposed to be, or how do I prevent over-seasoning when there are no guidelines? I just skip recipes like this altogether and try to find something similar.
I'd skip right past a recipe like that. It screams, "I cant be bothered to do it properly, so you figure it out."
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Old 01-14-2015, 10:35 PM   #39
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This is a hard one. I have a few recipes that are my own. They were off the top of my head, with no internet or cookbook searching, so when I made them a second time, I wrote down what I did. I also started writing down recipes for old family favorites when my DD went to college and wanted the recipes for, "You know, that chicken thing you make..." Those I claim and call my own.

I suppose there's a line there somewhere, but I don't know where it is. I almost always add more herbs/spices than called for, but can't in all good conscience call the modified recipe my own. I've noticed a certain popular magazine that's all reader-submitted recipes....often the recipes can be found on the internet almost verbatim, but with more/less salt, or a different kind of cheese. Doesn't seem right.

When I try a new recipe and it's worth making again, I'll save it with any changes made. But I always credit the source. I'm picky about that, after having my own recipes (which I am happy to share) posted to an email list with my name replaced by the list owner's. Rude. But that's another discussion.

It seems like most of my best food is thrown together using whatever's been in the fridge too long and could never be recreated. Like sand paintings, lol.
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Old 01-14-2015, 10:40 PM   #40
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One of my personal pet peeves is new recipes that look and sound good, but that don't have any measurements at all. They say things like "depends on the quantity you're cooking for" or "add X, Y, and Z spices to your taste." Well, how do I know how much to add when I don't know what it's supposed to taste like? What is the predominant flavor supposed to be, or how do I prevent over-seasoning when there are no guidelines? I just skip recipes like this altogether and try to find something similar.
I agree. If Im watching someone making a recipe that looks good to me, I want to know exactly what they put in, how much, and in some cases, even the brand names. When they start telling you to personalize it to your taste, or dont commit to specific measurements, sure, I get it, but if you are on a show where you are trying to teach someone how to do something, you need to be specific. After trying it once, then leave it up to us to make changes to adapt to our tastes. As far as brands go, there are somethings that dont make much of a difference, but Mayonnaise ( for example) can differ so much from brand to brand. So If i want it to taste like theirs, I need to know the specifics. I know that they sometimes cant blurt out specific brands due to sponsorships and all that other legal crap, but still annoys me
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