Thursday, January 7, 2010

Cooking style

It's rare that I actually follow every direction, use every ingredient to the exact amount, in a recipe. I read recipes for inspiration.

In choosing a recipe, the following is my MO:

  1. How many ingredients do I have to buy? (More than five and the recipe is likely out the window.)
  2. How many ingredients can I substitute with items I already have without making the whole thing yucky?
  3. Are the ingredients I need to buy cupboard items that keep for a long time? (I can justify buying spices that I may use again more than I can justify buying a bunch of radishes that I may only use for one recipe before they spoil.)
  4. Is the recipe more complicated or time consuming than it's worth? (If there is any prep work to be done before I go to work in the morning, the recipe is off my list. I can't be trusted to get out of bed in time to get to work at a decent hour, let alone get up early enough to do prep in the kitchen.)
  5. Will I learn something new that I can use in other recipes? (This doesn't always happen, but is a bonus, as long as the learning goes quickly.)
  6. Is my kitchen prep and assembly time less than 30 minutes? (Unless it's a Sunday dinner, it really should be a short prep time. I get home from work famished, so long preparation in the kitchen leads to snacking which leads to overeating which leads to more Gordita than I can handle.)
  7. Are there steps I can skip?
So my above MO may give some indication as to why a significant percentage (20% or so) of my meals don't turn out. However, I've gotten smart. I've started writing in my cookbooks. I write the date I prepared the recipe along with any substitutions I made, suggestions for the next time (things like, use less lemon juice than it calls for), or a warning not to prepare again. With my bad memory, there's no guarantee that I'm going to remember what went wrong when I go to prepare something for the second time. Now I don't have to remember. It's all in writing.

Do you have a kitchen MO? Care to share?

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