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Making Your Own Recipes: How to Get Inspired

Updated on May 3, 2013
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Vespa's recipes have appeared in "Midwest Living" & "Taste of Home" magazines. She belongs to "Cook's Recipe Testers" for Cooks Illustrated.

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How New Recipes Are Made

Are there any great recipes on the horizon yet to be discovered? It has been said there are no new recipes, just reinventions of what has already been done. But don't let that discourage you. Each cook has his own unique preferences, background and exposure to foods which reflects in his or her cooking.

We've already discussed the legalities surrounding recipe creation in the article, "How to Copyright a Recipe: Recipe Attribution." But how exactly are new recipes made?

Perhaps you married into a culture different from the one in which you were raised. Maybe you've been itching to give one of your grandmother's recipes a modern makeover. Or you could be on a special diet and find offerings on the internet sadly lacking. If so, you will never regret learning to create your own recipes. And you might just have some fun along the way! So what's the first step?


Experience is the Best Teacher

Unless you're a trained chef, you probably learned your skills by accompanying a parent or grandparent in the kitchen, watching cooking shows and reading cookbooks. If you are not experienced in the kitchen, these are all good places to start.

No matter how extensive your hands-on experience, though, reading will further enhance your abilities. Start your education by learning the basic flavors recognized by the human tongue: sweet and sour, salty and bitter. Some would also add "umami" and spicy. Chefs seek to create balance and harmony first on the plate and then on the palate, just like great artists seeks to paint a canvas aesthetically pleasing to the eyes.


Educate Yourself With Cookbooks

"Cooks' Book of Intense Flavors" is a great read, and there are plenty of exercises to train your tastebuds along the way. And no matter what you've been told, it is important to read cookbooks. As you browse recipes ask yourself: Why does this dish appeal to me? Is it the presentation? What is the role of each ingredient? Which techniques are important for the success of this recipe? What are the right proportions? Technique and proportion is important for everything from baking cookies to mixing up a vinaigrette. Just think about cookies for a moment.

A basic cookie recipe has fat, sugar, flour and eggs. Fat contributes toward soft and chewy texture, sugar sweetens, flour stabilizes and egg binds everything together. For a cookie recipe to work, it needs equal parts fat and sugar, double the amount of flour and a leavening agent such as soda or power. Of course, there are many variations on the basic recipe. But you have to understand the basic ingredients and their functions before embarking on your own creations.


Cookbooks are a great source of inspiration
Cookbooks are a great source of inspiration | Source
Ingredients can inspire a new dish
Ingredients can inspire a new dish

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Where to Find Inspiration

Once you've had a proper education and experience cooking, it's time to get inspired! When I've temporarily misplaced my cooking mojo or I'm dreaming up a new concoction, I often turn to photos.

Thumb through cookbooks and glossy food magazines. Check out photo-driven food sites like pinterest or foodgawker.com. Go to your favorite restaurant and have a meal or simply skim the menu for ideas. What's unique about the dish? Consider giving a recipe a healthy makeover; think gluten-free chocolate cake. Or give a classic dish a new ethnic identity, for instance, Chipotle sushi wraps.

Head to your nearest farmer's market or gourmet food store. Stroll down the aisles and draw inspiration from seasonal ingredients. Fragrant, golden persimmons might send you scrambling to the kitchen to whip up a batch of Peppered Balsamic Persimmon Jam. Or consider building a dish around a certain vegetable, fruit, cut of meat or herb.



Put It Down on Paper

Once you're submerge in the world of food, it's only a matter of time until ideas begin flooding your mind. Don't ignore those inner musings. Keep a notepad and pen handy. For example, one day a friend treated me to a tall, cool glass of horchata. Suddenly I realized horchata would translate into a creamy frozen treat. Horchata ice cream! I didn't know if a recipe had been developed already, but it sounded to-die-for. Then I started brainstorming and before long, I'd developed an ethnic ice cream sundae: Horchata Ice Cream with Bananas & Butter Caramel Sauce.

Once you have an idea in mind, it's time to outline. But that's another subject we'll consider in the article "How to Create Your Own Recipes". Meanwhile, let's get in that kitchen and start cooking!


Comments

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  • vespawoolf profile image
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    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    Thelma Alberts, I hope you have published a Hub with your papaya cupcakes recipe. You're right, I've never heard of them before and we also have an abundance of papayas here in Peru. How creative! I'm glad you enjoyed this information on making your own recipes. Thanks for coming by.

  • Thelma Alberts profile image

    Thelma Alberts 4 years ago from Germany

    I enjoyed reading this hub. I love cooking but mostly baking and I created something new everytime an idea came into my mind. The last recipe that I have created was baking papaya cupcakes. We had abundant papayas behind our house in the Philippines that I had to create something which I have never heard of before. It was the papaya cupcakes recipe. Thanks for sharing this very informative and useful hub.

  • vespawoolf profile image
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    vespawoolf 5 years ago from Peru, South America

    Prairieprincess, I hope you found all the information you need to create your own recipes. It does require organization and planning to take photos and write down measurements as you cook, but it´s worth the satisfaction you feel when viewing your published recipe hub. I look forward to reading your recipe hubs! Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

  • prairieprincess profile image

    Sharilee Swaity 5 years ago from Canada

    This is great advice for anyone interested in learning how to cook more creatively. My problem is that I cook, but usually forget to write it down, and therefore don't have much of a recipe, when I am done. I would love to read a hub about how to get yourself organized to create recipes while cooking! And I do notice that you have a hub like that, so I am going off to read it now. Have a wonderful night!

  • vespawoolf profile image
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    vespawoolf 5 years ago from Peru, South America

    Cooking can be a form of creative expression. Sometimes, just getting into the kitchen is enough to inspire. Thank you for taking the time to read, Alocsin.

  • alocsin profile image

    alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

    I like the idea of reading to inspire recipe creation -- it's actually a good way to enhance any kind of creative endeavour. Voting this Up and Useful.

  • vespawoolf profile image
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    vespawoolf 5 years ago from Peru, South America

    Rajan Jolly, for those who enjoy cooking it's a creative outlet. I enjoy your hubs about foods and their health benefits. Thank you for coming by. Your success is an inspiration to me.

  • rajan jolly profile image

    Rajan Singh Jolly 5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

    Interesting finding out how to go about creating one's own recipe. I hardly cook though but it was quite an informative lesson. Thanks.

  • vespawoolf profile image
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    vespawoolf 5 years ago from Peru, South America

    Lifetips, thank you for the nice compliment! I really appreciate the vote and comment.

  • lifetips123 profile image

    Praveen P.V. Nair 5 years ago from Trivandrum

    Hi vespawoolf, my nosh is nothing when compared to your articles brother. Thanks for your comment. Keep in touch. Voted up and beautiful

  • vespawoolf profile image
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    vespawoolf 5 years ago from Peru, South America

    Hi Moonlake. Writing recipes on HP has helped me keep track of them, and reminds me to measure and record. I'm having trouble with starting a new hub. I keep receiving an error message, but I've asked about it in the forums. So I hope to hear something soon. Thanks for coming by!

  • moonlake profile image

    moonlake 5 years ago from America

    I'm always making up new recipes and I cook them forget to write them down never to eat them ever again. I have to get more organized and write my recipes out.

    I see you haven't got your new hub up yet. Voted up on this one.

  • vespawoolf profile image
    Author

    vespawoolf 5 years ago from Peru, South America

    JackieLynnley, you should publish your recipes sometime, at least for the next recipe contest! I'd love to try your spaghetti. : ) Thank you for commenting.

  • Jackie Lynnley profile image

    Jackie Lynnley 5 years ago from The Beautiful South

    Oh this is so true and my best recipes came along like this. My spaghetti was only second to one place and then finally they went out of business!

  • vespawoolf profile image
    Author

    vespawoolf 5 years ago from Peru, South America

    Om Paramapooyna, it's nice to hear that you experiment in the kitchen! It's a way to express our creativity and share with others, as well. Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment.

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago

    What a lovely hub! Experimenting with food is super fun. I love tweaking recipes I've learned from cookbooks and cooking shows on TV. My experiments usually turn out pretty successful, but there were also times when the results were quite undesirable! Either way, it's always fun!

  • vespawoolf profile image
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    vespawoolf 5 years ago from Peru, South America

    GoodLady, I'm glad you enjoyed the hub. Just like any artistic endeavor, we can seek inspiration to improve our cooking. Thank you for taking the time to comment!

  • GoodLady profile image

    Penelope Hart 5 years ago from Rome, Italy

    It's so true, once you have mastered all the basics and if you have a passion for food and tastes then your natural artistic self will come up with lots of wonderful ideas for recipes and meals. Love this hub!!!!

  • vespawoolf profile image
    Author

    vespawoolf 5 years ago from Peru, South America

    I'm glad this hub was motivational for you, KoffeeKlatchGals. Maybe I need to re-read it! : ) Thanks so much for coming by again!

  • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

    Susan Haze 5 years ago from Sunny Florida

    I love to experiment with food. New combinations of flavors are fun to try. Wonderful hub with great tips and ideas. Very motivational.

  • vespawoolf profile image
    Author

    vespawoolf 5 years ago from Peru, South America

    Europewalker, I'm glad you've enjoyed some recipes on HubPages and found inspiration in this article. Thank you for coming by and leaving a comment.

  • europewalker profile image

    europewalker 5 years ago

    Inspiring hub. I try to change up recipes myself, but I certainly have found some fantastic ones on hubpages:)

  • vespawoolf profile image
    Author

    vespawoolf 5 years ago from Peru, South America

    Unknown spy, I hope this inspired you to get into the kitchen and cook something yummy! It's always nice to hear from you. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

  • vespawoolf profile image
    Author

    vespawoolf 5 years ago from Peru, South America

    2patricias, I'm glad you found this inspirational. That was my goal! Yes, creating baked goods is so much more difficult. I'll discuss that in another hub in this series coming up. I much prefer to stick to more forgiving dishes. Thanks so much for the enthusiastic comment and vote!

  • vespawoolf profile image
    Author

    vespawoolf 5 years ago from Peru, South America

    Kim, you are one of my favorite recipe creators! I thought of you when I mentioned marrying into a culture other than your own. Your delicious Asian inspired recipes make me hungry every time. Thanks so much for coming over and taking the time to read, comment, share and vote!

  • unknown spy profile image

    IAmForbidden 5 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

    your hub is really inspiring. i used to really love cooking but, i admit, not that really good :) but i love trying new recipes especially when im craving for it!

  • 2patricias profile image

    2patricias 5 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

    I love experimenting with food. I think that trying new variations of fruit and vegetable dishes (for example salads or side dishes) is a good place to start. I like to put together interesting colours.

    Baking experiments are a bit more tricky, as you need to get the technical part right - try varying the flavour with a cake - say almond instead of vanilla.

    There is so much enjoyment to be found in food!

    Thanks for an inspiring hub. I'm voting this up.

  • Mama Kim 8 profile image

    Sasha Kim 5 years ago

    I LOVE creating or altering recipes! ^_^ Although I'm sure you already know that my wonderful hub-friend... you my dear are the expert at it though! Fantastic hub and incredibly inspiring! Voting and sharing all over!!

  • vespawoolf profile image
    Author

    vespawoolf 5 years ago from Peru, South America

    Denise, thanks so much for your meaningful comment. Writing on HP has also helped me remember to measure and record. I've found it's really hard to duplicate a dish when you don't! Writing recipes also helps me keep better track of them. I don't know how many times I've completely lost my recipes! It's nice to hear from you again.

  • denisemai profile image

    Denise Mai 5 years ago from Idaho

    This is great. Like Carol, I, too, often forget what I've thrown together in the kitchen. My husband will be gobbling it up and then ask, "What's in it?" I will respond, "I don't remember. A bit of this and that." Since I began writing, I've gotten better at recording things. I love your advice to gain inspiration from the farmer's market. Who wouldn't want to make something out of those yummy home grown or hand crafted ingredients? Voted up and sharing.

  • vespawoolf profile image
    Author

    vespawoolf 5 years ago from Peru, South America

    Carol, I think the kitchen is a creative outlet for many of us. I plan to re-read this series when I'm feeling uninspired, which can happen at times. : ) Thanks so much for the comment and vote.

  • vespawoolf profile image
    Author

    vespawoolf 5 years ago from Peru, South America

    Billybuc, I'm glad you found this unique and interesting. I'm trying to inspire myself as well as others, but I think this did the trick. : ) Thanks so much for all your support, Billybuc. You're a stable feature of HP and I don't know what we'd do without you!

  • carol7777 profile image

    carol stanley 5 years ago from Arizona

    I particularly enjoyed this hub as that is what I do all the time ...make up recipes..and always forget what I put in them. I love trying new spices and ingredients...so this is a special hub..voted UP.

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

    I confess to being a poor cook. If I were interested, however, this hub would inspire me to greater efforts and creativity. I have never read an inspirational hub about cooking before, but now I have. Well done my friend.