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Old 06-08-2007, 10:00 PM   #1
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Yes, Mine TV-Chef! (How often do you follow their ingredient lists *exactly*)?

I have a theory. It's not a very popular theory, nor one which is likely to be proven with this audience, but it's a theory nonetheless.

So, what is my scientific observation threatening enough to TV-chefs and cookbook authors that they will scream and yell that we're "Doing it wrong" when they hear of it?

It is thus:

Normal people do not bother to use freerange/organic/fresh ingredients when they don't normally buy such, nor do they kill themselves to find 'unique' products.

What do I mean by that? Well, my mother doesn't like cooking, or food. She likes eating, but doesn't overly care what things taste like. The rice she uses for Risotto? 'White' rice. Not Arborio or any of the others, but standard white rice. Needless to say, her risotto... isn't.

Most of the people I know won't go and try to find fresh jeruselem artichokes, just because a recipe calls for them. They'll substitute sour cream for yoghourt because they've got the former or don't want to buy and then waste the latter. They won't buy something that's only going to be half used, nor will they buy fresh when frozen is WAY cheaper. Spices and herbs get changed at will, marinating times are shortened, no-one goes to a farmers market to get their produce, and the worst offense is usuallly mushrooms. I don't even know where to buy morels, chanterelles, and you should have seen my face light up when I found Porcinis dried.


I think most people find obtaining the more unusual ingredients takes away the fun of cooking. I know that I no longer bother looking for unusual ingredients, because I'm so rarely successful in finding them that I loose too much time I could be working, studying, doing housework, or cooking. So I just don't bother. Saves me time and money, I put more effort into making the food then finding the ingredients, and I don't think my food suffers.

So, how stringent are we in purchasing? Do you go the extra mile to buy a fresh product you're only going to use a quarter of? Do you buy organic products, go hunting for the spices and order exotics from catalogues (Not really an option in Australia, the idea of mail order food not being one that's considered good), or do you swap out for what you can get locally with the minimum of effort?

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Old 06-08-2007, 10:27 PM   #2
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I do my best to go the extra mile to make the recipe with the ingredients called for. It can't always be done though. I try not to mess with the integrity of a recipe, but, if I can't find a major ingredient I either make something else or just change it if I like everything else about the recipe.

I will pay more for a "smart" chicken ($11.00) versus $4.00 for a "regular" chicken (and not very big at all). The flavor, texture, EVERYTHING, about the smart chicken is worth the money!!!!!

I think the unusual ingredients is what makes cooking fun!!!!
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Old 06-08-2007, 10:33 PM   #3
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Half the fun is the looking..I've found all types of interesting things on my shopping trips..Life is always so rushed, take a minute, look at all the beautiful produce, go to the farmers market, breath in the smells of fresh herbs and fruits and veggies, feel the warm sun on your face,and then go home and put together a wonderful meal..Sit, eat, enjoy,then do your homework, the dishes and think of all you gained today. Go the extra MILE!
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Old 06-08-2007, 10:34 PM   #4
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Given that Buck and I live in an area where MANY ingredients are not available, I do my best to duplicate the recipe with the ingredients I can get.

As a result, I've prepared some dishes via their recipes that are not exactly "correct" as specified, but they've been quite good.

IMO, this is what cooking is about.
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Old 06-08-2007, 10:35 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kadesma
and think of all you gained today.
Well you coulda' left that out
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Old 06-08-2007, 11:01 PM   #6
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Day to day, I don't select recipes that call for obscure igredients. On weekends and when I'm preparing a special recipe, I seek out the obscure ingredients and take the time to do it right. On these occasions, I don't substitute because recreating the dish is the objective.
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Old 06-08-2007, 11:29 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katie E
Given that Buck and I live in an area where MANY ingredients are not available, I do my best to duplicate the recipe with the ingredients I can get.

As a result, I've prepared some dishes via their recipes that are not exactly "correct" as specified, but they've been quite good.

IMO, this is what cooking is about.
I have to do this many, many times too. When you live out in the country, it is very hard to go to the "corner market" for something that more than likely is not available in my area. So there again, it is choose something you do have the ingredients for instead.
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Old 06-09-2007, 12:22 AM   #8
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Recipes are just suggestions of combinations of ingredients, not necessarily blueprints, like when baking. If people always went by what the given recipe states and never experimented, well, that would be no fun at all, imo.
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Old 06-09-2007, 05:09 AM   #9
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The first time or two I use a new recipe I follow it to the letter. (as best as possible) After that if I like the dish I may continue to follow it as is, but most times I add a little more of this, or less of that, somtimes adding something totally different. Like TATTRAT said, in the end I view them as suggestions.
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Old 06-09-2007, 05:22 AM   #10
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If you're trying to re-create a dish, if that's your goal when using a specific recipe, then it's always best to follow the recipe and to get the specific ingredients. If not, then what's the point? I've had people try to make my recipes and tell me that it didn't come out, or it was missing something. I ask them ,"Did you cook it like this?", or "Did you use this ingrdient?". When they tell me no, I want to smack them upside the head. When I ask them why, and they tell me ,"Oh, I didn't feel like it" or "Oh, was I supposed to do that?, or "Oh, I didn't see that", then I REALLY want to smack them upside the head. If a person does not want to follow my recipe then fine. That's their problem. But don't complain that it didn't turn out when you ****ed it up.

On the other hand, if you're using a recipe more for the general idea and for the technique, then the ingredients don't matter as much. BUT, you also reap what you sow. Don't expect the dish to come out the best that it can possibly be if you're not going to use the best possible ingredients.
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Old 06-09-2007, 11:25 AM   #11
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Well, I generally make a point to keep a pretty good stock of obscure ingredients in my house. My "spice rack" is actually a dedicated 3 shelf cupboard, and I've got so much stuff in there I'm actually stacking items.

I always buy fresh, simply because it's what I know. I was never really indoctrinated into the land of frozen and would rather spend time chopping ingredients than waiting for them to thaw. That being said, I would never go hunting for a "Jerusalem avocado". I'd just grab an avocado.

Then again, I also very rarely simply "recreate" dishes. It's uncommon for me to look at a recipe and not immediately think of something that would make it better (to me)
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Old 06-09-2007, 02:05 PM   #12
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Brown eggs are local eggs

I agree with (Phil Helmuth). Please never complain to someone that their recipe was no good if you are not going to follow the instructions.

Anyone remember the add campaign with the slogan "brown eggs are local eggs and local eggs are fresh"? I am from Mass. and it played on radio and TV for years. I love to buy fresh local foods when they are available.

Unfortunately, when working with recipes unusual ingredients are not always available. Do your best to stay as closely to the recipe as possible to determine if you (and your family) enjoy it. Then you can experiment to see if you can improve upon the original. Or, if you think it would be better as proposed, go out and find all of the ingredients the original recipe called for.

Food is fun and planning, preparing, and ultimately eating should be as well.
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Old 06-09-2007, 02:46 PM   #13
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Hi Poppinfresh,
do you know how long you can store spices? When do they go bad? If I try a new recipe I usually buy the expensive herb/spice that is required in the recipe. A unique spice can be very expensive (7$), and ofterntimes I only need a very small amount. If I don't use the spice within a year I end up throwing it out and regret that I did not substitute it with anything else.
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Old 06-09-2007, 03:11 PM   #14
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If I can find the right ingredients I do use them. If I can't but know of a good substitution, I'll use it. If not then I'll make something else. As far as substitutions go, etc. If I make hamburger helper and put in some cheap wine, I can call it beef burgundy, but I might as well call it duck a l'orange.
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Old 06-09-2007, 04:04 PM   #15
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I too am like most folks here. with a new recipes, I try to get all my ingredients before attempting to cook that dish. That may mean I have to wait until the next grocery shopping day. I am not an impulse buyer. If it ain't on the list (Unless I for got to purchase it) it doesn't get bought. So no on in the house has a right to complain that something is missing.

"Mom, did you buy cream cheese?"

"Was it on the list?" Hear mumbling in the background."Well then, you can't complain."

I also try and get to the local produce stand instead of buying it in the grocery store. I drive a little further, but their selection is so much better. That is not to say I do not buy from the grocery store. I do, and in fact I bought a bag of organic potatoes and onions today. I try to buy organic as much and/or as often as my budget will allow.

If I could purchase free range ages, chickens and such forth I would.

Sorry, I got off topic. My daughter and I saw some dessert on FN a few weeks ago. She saw how simple it was and the easiness of making the recipe, and she asked if she could make it. I told her if all the ingredients were on the list and we were not strapped that week, then we were good to go.

It has paid off, we get tons of new dishes, and she is learning to pace her grocery buying!
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Old 06-09-2007, 05:08 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by karinB
Hi Poppinfresh,
do you know how long you can store spices? When do they go bad? If I try a new recipe I usually buy the expensive herb/spice that is required in the recipe. A unique spice can be very expensive (7$), and ofterntimes I only need a very small amount. If I don't use the spice within a year I end up throwing it out and regret that I did not substitute it with anything else.
Depends on a lot of things. The type of the spice, how it's stored, etc.

Personally, I buy all my spices whole and then run them through my coffee grinder as needed (herbs I always use fresh--the lady of the house runs a very nice garden for me to pick through; and if I can't use all I pick, I dry them myself). I keep the cupboard closed/away from light, obviously, and store everything in airtight tins. I'm sure they would all last WELL over a year, but I tend to go through things pretty regularly given my wide variety of ethnic cuisines I use.

Only exceptions that I buy on an as-needed basis is crystallized ginger (because I don't like working with it), whole vanilla beans, and saffron (simply because my Mediterranean cuisine kicks are pretty far apart).
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Old 06-09-2007, 05:19 PM   #17
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With baking I follow the recipe and try to with cooking, Just learned something here - I buy stupid chickens ! lol, but they are good to me !
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Old 06-10-2007, 11:23 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quadlex
I

Normal people do not bother to use freerange/organic/fresh ingredients when they don't normally buy such, nor do they kill themselves to find 'unique' products.

Normal?? You've got your opinions, and I've got mine...but the use of the word 'normal' seems a bit out of place here. People shop, cook and eat what they like and how they like. There is no 'normal' about it....it may be different , but it's still perfectly alright.

Now, as for your theories, I disagree. I don't often follow a recipe when I am cooking (and I don't care for tv cooking shows any longer), I tend to simply create as I go along. But, if I am preparing something from the collection of a chef I respect, then yes, I will want to prepare the recipe as the chef intended. Many times, I would rather not make the recipe if I could not obtain what was needed rather than change the recipe to something entirely different. I would hope that if someone was using one of my recipes they would do the same.

Shopping for ingredients can be a great time. Given the crowds at fresh markets (meat, fish, produce, dairy) I'd say that most people agree. If you have more than a passing interest in food, then it's not a hassle to get the product you need, it's fun. There are always ways to use the rest of something if you don't need it all for a recipe.

Like I said, you've got your opinion, and I've got mine. It sounded to me like you were looking for approval for changing the ingredients in recipes. By all means, do it if you like it, but normal (your word) people do shop for the ingredients as they are called for.
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Old 06-10-2007, 11:50 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Poppinfresh
My "spice rack" is actually a dedicated 3 shelf cupboard, and I've got so much stuff in there I'm actually stacking items.
Poppinfresh, you must be copying my kitchen!

To answer the OP, I try to get as close to the original recipe as I can (at least the first time). I often sub later for ingredients I know I don't like or don't think are important. If possible, I buy any odd or unusual ingredients--it's part of the fun when trying new recipes. If I have any unusual perishables left, I find it interesting to come up with some way to use them. I will nearly always buy the organic product if it's available.

As for your basic premise, I think that you may be correct for many casual home cooks, but they're not the ones watching the cooking shows, are they? Part of the fun for foodies is getting new and interesting ingredients and trying new recipes and flavors. I'm sure home cooks run the gamut from your mother's point of view to the slavish, got to have everything exact one. Generalizing doesn't work.
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