When it comes to cooking, some people cook strictly from a recipe, no deviations. And then there are those who just make it up as they go along. So I have a two part question.
1) Which type of cook are you?
2) Do you think one method is better than the other, and if so why?
AlliOop, I think I'm in between. I generally use a recipe if I'm cooking something for the first time. I use it several more times until I'm familiar with it. Then I make it from memory. I have to confess, I don't measure everything exactly either. I don't think it really affects my cooking--people seem to enjoy it. Baking is a little different. I usually try to measure as precisely as I can. In baking, deviation can affect the product, I believe. I think it is a matter of patience for me. I want to get it made and done, so I can eat it! I think a recipe does matter for the most part. If it is best, I don't know--let me taste the dish done without a recipe first. (And let me be the first to eat it, too, please!).
I love creating my own recipes! Even when I follow someone else's recipe, I "tweak" it. For beginning cooks, it's probably better to follow recipes to the letter. Once you have some experience under your apron, however, you can change things up and add your own special touches.
Although I enjoy browsing cookbooks and watching cooking shows, I create my own recipes. I've cooked and baked long enough to know the basic principles and proportions, so I go from there. I start with fresh, locally available ingredients and then I decide which cooking method would be best for the protein I've chosen. Then I add other ingredients and spices that complement the dish. I also like to create my own desserts, although sometimes my experiments flop because baking has to be so precise. Even if the cake fails, though, we find a way to eat it. : )
I think following a recipe to the letter is important for beginning cooks so they can learn how to cook. After they have experience, they can go on to experiment and create their own recipes.
I occasionally look at a recipe to get an idea for a combination of ingredients I have not thought of myself and file that possibility away somewhere in my head, but I haven't actually followed a recipe to make anything for years now.
I tend to throw together whatever I have available in the house, which often consists of things bought in at a bargain price because they were near the sell-by date. I have no idea from one meal to the next about what I am going to cook. When it's time to eat, I just follow my inspiration and inclination at that moment and make up something more or less complex depending on how busy I am otherwise, how long I want to wait for the meal to cook, etc.
I'm not that great of a cook, so I usually stick to the recipe. If there is an ingredient that I don't have, or don't want to buy, I will substitute it, but normally not without checking what the best substitute is. I have never tried creating my own recipe.
I think both methods go hand in hand, I am sure no cook is a 100% creative cook, recipes are very good to learn things you didn't know before (about methods and ingredients) and as inspiration for new creations, they give you much more potential for cooking inventions with positive outcomes.
While cooking I like to try new things out so I realy don`t follow the recipe every time. It also gives a change it taste.
I'm a "tweaker" too! I'll follow a recipe for the most part and add my own little touches, add more ingredients, etc. Less so with baking though, I tend to follow a baking recipe more strictly.
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