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Old 08-01-2006, 09:01 PM   #1
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Free-Form Meals

What do you cook that never comes out the same time twice? What frustrates you when your friends want a recipe and they think you're being coy because you cannot come up with a recipe? For example, my New Mexico Green Chili and my Greek/Cincinnati chili pretty much have a recipe. But my other chilis ... well, they are so free-form it is impossible. I have made chili from leftover hamburger patties a restauranteur gave me (it was great! They were grilled and the flavor was to die for). I've made chili from canned beans. I've made vegetarian chili. In Hawaii it was always chili-rice. For the most parts my stews, soups, curries, chilis and don't forget marinades are never the same. Often people think I'm "hiding" my "recipe".

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Old 08-01-2006, 09:10 PM   #2
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I think almost all of my cooking is that way. I think probably banana bread is the recipe that is most requested of mine and the one that I constantly mess with. LOL. Strange when you consider it probably only has 6 ingredients!
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Old 08-01-2006, 09:40 PM   #3
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EVERYTHING!!

Even if I have a cookbook in front of me I never follow the recipe.
And I never can remember what I've changed.


P.s. can you post your Greek chili recipe please??
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Old 08-02-2006, 05:09 AM   #4
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I am definitely with Alix and Pds... if not I would post more recipes here, I am never sure what to say when it comes to the amount of each ingredients!!
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Old 08-02-2006, 11:45 AM   #5
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I am right in there with you. I get requests for my meatloaf and Macaroni Salad recipes...and a few others. Both of those recipes I frequently use the term "about" because I open the refrigerator, stand back and look at what's in there..."Oh, that sounds good! Hummmm, maybe I'll put peas in it this time. Oh, 2 hard cooked eggs, I think I'll bury them in the middle of the meatloaf." With my summer soups/stews, I start out with a 5-6 quart pot and end up with an 18 quart stockpot. I've gotten to where it doesn't bother me a bit...and it's a good thing it doesn't
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Old 08-02-2006, 11:50 AM   #6
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Yes - nearly all of the recipes I try end up being adapted in some way, & I make sure to say this when I give this out. And my measurements (except for baked goods), are nearly always prefaced with the words "approximate" or "to taste".

In the long run, this actually probably helps the recipients become better cooks & have more fun with the recipe if they're not used to adapting. It forces them to taste & adjust.
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Old 08-06-2006, 09:25 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bjcotton
I am right in there with you. I get requests for my meatloaf and Macaroni Salad recipes...and a few others. Both of those recipes I frequently use the term "about" because I open the refrigerator, stand back and look at what's in there..."
Well - if you wouldn't mind, sometime, maybe you could share your sort-of-approximate meat loaf recipe anyway, even if it's guesswork? I have one or three that I use, but none of them are interesting enough. Note... I'm using ground turkey lately. But honestly I don't think that's the (whole) problem with boring - I just need to learn more how to make it yummier. Other people's ideas will help mine! And if you're a cook who just sort of does stuff, that means (in my definition) you're a cook to pay attention to!

Jen L.
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Old 08-07-2006, 08:16 AM   #8
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If any of my friends who really want to know have the time, I just invite them over to sit in the kitchen with a glass of wine and watch/help. Some younger people need more structure than that, though. To me the basic for meat loaf is probably 2 lbs ground meat (mostly I use hamburger, but you can combine various types and I certainly have), a couple of eggs (I've been known to use Scramblers or other egg-white products if that's what around), a cup of crumbs (I've used anything from processed to crackers to fresh bread and even sometimes leftover rice or couscous or ....). Now if you think that is confusing enough, we'll start seasonings. Haha. If we're using packaged dry soup I actually prefer Liptons beefy mushroom to their classical onion.

OH, there are peppers in the garden, and chives.

OH, there's a red onion that's been in the fridge too long.

I'm in the mood for tomato sauce today. Tommorrow I might throw on teriyaki.

How do you write recipes for stuff like this? I even have a hard time explaining to people that you use what you have for some foods. Soup, stews, meatloaf/balls, etc. Never the same twice.
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Old 08-07-2006, 08:50 AM   #9
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It probably happens to more of us than not! I think what else comes into play is the heavy-handed vs. light-handed measuring. Except in baking/pastries, I rarely use a measuring utensil so the qtys vary a lot between the same dishes I make.

Someone above mentioned meat they had gotten from a restaurant - that's another culprit!! I always bring leftovers home with me and use them in another dish - just think of all the flavor/seasonings that are added to my dishes that I couldn't tell anyone if I wanted to!!! ;)
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Old 08-07-2006, 07:27 PM   #10
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I guess I'm in your group, Claire, because I'm hopeless remembering recipes or ingredients. For my chutneys, I started writing things down to make sure I keep the same formula, and, on principle, I consult the master recipe every time I make a chutney now, otherwise I'd have been lynched by 4,000 customers.
I'm also famous for telling my friends "Oh, that's as easy as pie - just add a bit of this, a pinch or two of that, a lump of the other and three or four, well perhaps, five onions. "
I made an Aubergine Masala at the weekend that I'd downloaded from an Indian website some 3 weeks ago. I'd followed the recipe TO A T for three different dinner parties. At the weekend I tried to remember it...well it tasted good but it wasn't even close to the original!
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