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Old 05-12-2011, 09:51 AM   #1
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Great Baker...mediocre cook...Hello!

Hey there everyone!

Iím a mother and wife and fill time secretary from New England. I love baking and honestly, Iím a pretty darn good baker (or so Iíve been told), but my cooking could use some help. I have some basic recipes that are ďkeepersĒ, but whenever I try something new, it never really turns out the way I envision it should. I have a lot of knowledge of cooking and flavors, and I collect cookbooks like theyíre going out of style, but I just lack that knack for making things taste really great. Thankfully Iím blessed with a husband that will eat just about ANYTHING! Iím hoping to have fun here sharing some of my baking techniques and recipes, while getting some ideas and advice on preparing meals for my family.

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Old 05-12-2011, 09:57 AM   #2
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Welcome, DebLynn. You've found the place. Lots of cooks and bakers here. Jump in anywhere. We're a friendly bunch.
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Old 05-12-2011, 10:58 AM   #3
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Welcome to DC.

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Old 05-12-2011, 02:39 PM   #4
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here's my secret to "seasoning" dishes....

stick your nose in the dish
start opening up the spice jars and stick your nose in them

unless sticking nose (1) smells good with sticking nose (2), keep on going thru the spice rack.

I'm sure somewhere there is a chart of "this spice flavor goes well with XXX"
all well and good - I'm a bit more seat-of-the-apron cook.

and the second bit is "Thou shalt not overdo"
best example is salt. salt is good, salt enhances many basic ingredient taste(s).
too much salt? yeah - "this is good but it's too salty."

when I'm doing a long cooking dish - stews etc - I only add half the amount of seasonings suggested. at the end, it's nose & taste time. test it, think about it, add more of X, Y, Z as your taste indicates.

another caveat is water vs. alcohol cooking - the flavor compounds of different spices will "dissolve" differently in water vs wine based solutions.

somewhere I was reading a thread about what makes a good cook/chef and _great_ cook/chef. imho, it's all about the seasonings. if you can create a dish where people are saying "gosh this is spectacular" but they can't identify the "seasoning" - you're in the "great" category.

our supermarket has a "Chef's Corner" - the dude/dudette was making a cracker topping for an appetizer. tasted - it was stunning. stood there munching and smacking and trying to decipher "what's that taste" and on reading the recipe card - a quarter teaspoon of lemon zest. you had to hunt for it - but it was really good stuff.

if a seasoning is overpowering, dish likely not so good.
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Old 05-12-2011, 03:04 PM   #5
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Thanks for the advice, dcSaute. A lot of my problem is that I'm not in the habit of tasting my food while I'm making it, so I'm sure my seasonings are off. Part of me is afraid to taste my cooking (yikes! did I just say that?) It's true. Maybe because with baking, you really don't taste as you go, so I never got into the habit. Will try harder from now on though.
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Old 05-12-2011, 04:33 PM   #6
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welcome
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Old 05-12-2011, 06:24 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DebLynn View Post
Hey there everyone!

Iím a mother and wife and fill time secretary from New England. I love baking and honestly, Iím a pretty darn good baker (or so Iíve been told), but my cooking could use some help. I have some basic recipes that are ďkeepersĒ, but whenever I try something new, it never really turns out the way I envision it should. I have a lot of knowledge of cooking and flavors, and I collect cookbooks like theyíre going out of style, but I just lack that knack for making things taste really great. Thankfully Iím blessed with a husband that will eat just about ANYTHING! Iím hoping to have fun here sharing some of my baking techniques and recipes, while getting some ideas and advice on preparing meals for my family.
I could have written the exact post myself, I feel your pain!
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Old 05-13-2011, 03:23 PM   #8
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Hi Deb Lynn, and welcome to DC. I have the opposite problem from yours.
I can see why it's a new concept to taste as you go, but it's really good advice. I enjoy the freedom and process of tweaking a recipe, and have become pretty good at it after all these years, but it does take practice.
When you get to the point of being able to "mentally taste" a recipe you'll be on the right track to great cooking.
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