Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What's up with amounts in your recipes?

I am a casual cook, I don't cook from recipes.  The internet is full of fantastic recipes.  There a million fabulous cook books.  No one needs more recipes.  What people seem to struggle with is how to put the recipes into action every night to make dinner less stressful.  I learned to cook from a bunch of wonderful people, from reading cookbooks like novels, and from watching a whole lot of Julia Child when I was a kid.  If you can learn  a technique or two or ten, and take them into your heart, and apply them to whatever is fresh, local, and affordable you will be much better off than if I make up some new recipes.

One of my favorite examples of this is the series in Fine Cooking magazine where they describe a technique and give you a huge chart of variations. That's why I shop before I make the menu, how can I know what to make until I see what's at the store?  I have three active teen children, and a husband who bikes or walks for over an hour most days.  I cook a lot of food.  You might be cooking for two, so how can my amounts make sense for you?  Instead I try to speak in ratios, or units, rather than measurements.  Cooking for one or two?  Use a small rather than a large onion, cut the fat in half, use less meat.  Nothing is so precise it will matter.  Leftovers make great lunches.  Soup almost always freezes well. Taste as you go, smell if it smells right.  As Shauna James Ahern from one of my favorite blogs Gluten Free Girl and the Chef says: dance in the kitchen.  If precision matters, I will write a real recipe, I promise.

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