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Old 03-24-2009, 01:35 AM   #21
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I follow recipes sometimes, but most of the times I just read recipes to get ideas. If I have never made a dish, heard of it, or seen it on tv, I will most likely follow a recipe the first time. After that I know the basic idea behind the dish and can change some of the ingredients so it tastes more the way I want it to. Just start off by reading recipes online.

If you are going to bake I would stick to a recipe. Unless you know about flours, and levaning agents, and all the other stuff you need to know when baking, it is better to stick to a recipe. When just cooking, you can be a tsp off on some ingredients, but in baking if you add a tsp too much baking powder, then end result will not be good.


As for experimenting, salads are a great way to go. There are so many things you can add into a salad, that in most cases will turn out great. I mean adding anything from nuts, to apples, to orange supremes, and so much more can be added to salads to make it more interesting. Some simple baked or grilled chicken added to the salad will be a nice finish and can make it a main course. Just make sure not to put too much salad dressing on the salad. So many people add way too much in my opinion, when really you just need enough to coat.


Another great thing to do is just experiment and hope for the best. It may not always turn out tasting great, but at least you will learn. If I have some stuff in the fridge I want to use up I will sometimes experiment. Sometimes the dish turns out great, while sometimes it is not so good. I learn from my mistakes and know what not to do next time.
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Old 03-24-2009, 11:48 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by Lotsofjunk View Post
You're right, I just look at recipes (I mean no offense to others btw) as just reading and following directions, requiring no skills whatsoever and something not very unique anyone can do, just blindly following directions and not gaining or improving from it.... I hope that is not the case.

Id like to make alcohols too :-)
Well, I read cookbooks like novels or reference materials - and I never fail to learn something new - even if I don't make anything I've read that day - and I've been cooking full meals for about 45 years.

Who said that following a recipe doesn't require any skills? I think if you look around our forums, and the forums on other cooking sites, you will find a lot of posts from people who tried to follow a recipe and the dish was a failure or fraught with problems. I like Callisto's analogy about sheet music here - I can put some music on the piano and my grandson can sit down and press keys ... but it's not music that comes out! You can gain skills from learning to read the music.

And, as for not gaining or improving from using a recipe - if a recipe uses a new technique or method or ingredients ... you wouldn't learn something from that? You eat a dish somewhere and want to make it at home ... what better way than to find a recipe for it?

A recipe is how cooks share how to recreate a dish. A recipe, even if it is just in their head, is how cooks are able to recreate the same dish twice and have it taste the same. No matter how simple or elegant - every item on the menu is based on a recipe.

It takes a little time and practice grasshopper .... but don't shun the recipe as being lame, mindless, and devoid of any culinary value.
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Old 03-25-2009, 05:01 PM   #23
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Like many here, I have a pretty extensive cookbook collection. When I am trying something completely new, I look up a lot of recipes and ancillary stuff about what I'm going to cook, then take a bit from here and there. On the other hand, I have a few things I only make every year or two, and want it to taste just like someone else made it (two chilies come to mind; Cincinnati and my cousin's New Mexico Green Chili, but there are probably a few more). Since I don't remember well enough to have them by feel, I do look up recipes and at least use them for rough guidelines. For 99% of my meals, though, I play it by ear.
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Old 03-27-2009, 08:31 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by kadesma View Post
Ahh, but you see reading those recipes, is learning, It teaches you what and how, then you learn something that will enable you to be creative on your own..How would we learn without books? Think of all the wonderful meals that would be lost if no one ever bothered to read about them...The skills come from learning and trying after we read the directions.
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Thats good, thank you :)
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Old 03-27-2009, 08:32 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by Callisto in NC View Post
You can say a recipe is just reading and following directions but that's not exactly true. You have to pick the right ingredients, make sure the herbs are fresh, the meat is the right cut, follow the timing.

Is sheet music something "anyone can blindly follow"? Just like not everyone can't play Bach or Beethoven on the piano, not everyone can cook. To an experienced pianist, sheet music is essential when they first learn a piece. Then they memorize it and can perform it in front of friends and then an audience.

Cooking is like a well played piano concerto. There's a basic piece, the recipe, and the ingredients are the keys, the tempo is the steps. Everything has to come together in just the right way for a recipe to become presentation material.
Nice analogy haha, thank you
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Old 03-27-2009, 08:44 AM   #26
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I appreciate everyones comments, thats very encouraging :), I just joined the newly formed cooking and baking club at school haha
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Old 03-27-2009, 09:03 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by Lotsofjunk View Post
I appreciate everyones comments, thats very encouraging :), I just joined the newly formed cooking and baking club at school haha

Sounds like it could be a lot of fun. Good luck!
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Old 03-28-2009, 03:33 PM   #28
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haha, I hope so... my friend and I teamed up, I love him but we dont share the interests in cooking lol, he wants to make pizza with pickles and I want to make something difficult and more exotic persay
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