How to cook, cooking for beginners, cooking without recipes

From the Dark Side of the Fridge: Why No Recipes

NoRecipesAs I noted in an earlier post you’re not going to find a lot of recipes here. That’s mostly because I seldom use them. It may seem a little odd for a cooking blog not to feature recipes. And I can understand where someone starting out as a cook might find that a little intimidating. After all, following recipes is largely how we learned to cook. I even had a cookbook for young people that insisted a good cook always read the recipe through completely then followed the steps exactly.

But I also grew up with a mother who rarely used recipes and when she did, she seldom followed them exactly. She was a darned good cook, too. Apart from a few family favorites, making dinner was a process that Mom riffed on like a jazz musician. Then when I began my career as the family cook, I soon learned that recipes weren’t always that accurate. Or they just featured ingredients that my ex-husband didn’t like. Or I didn’t like.

So eventually, I got out of the habit of relying on recipes to make dinner and discovered something. Dinner happened a lot faster and with a lot less hassle. You’d think the opposite would be true because when you’re making it up on the fly, you have to think about what you’re going to do next. I find, however, recipes slow me way down because I have to stop and check to make sure I’m doing the next step right.

Relying on recipes also got to be a problem when one of the ingredients wasn’t there. Maybe it hadn’t been added to the shopping list. Maybe someone ate the cheese I was saving for a casserole. Maybe the meat didn’t get defrosted again. So more time was wasted trying to find a recipe that used what I had or in running to a crowded supermarket to pick up those one or two items.

I do use recipes occasionally, such as when I’m trying to learn something new, like how to make Indian food or a classic cassoulet. But most of the time, I’m all about pragmatism when it comes to cooking. I don’t want to spend my time measuring out and checking and re-reading. I want to get dinner on the table so that I can spend my time connecting with my husband.

Because that’s why I cook. It’s not a hobby for me. It’s about providing good food and a relaxing atmosphere for the two of us. It’s about food that tastes good and is good for us. It’s how we eat. Hopefully, this will offer some ideas and good thoughts for you, as well.

Anne Louise Bannon

Please talk to me. I'd love to hear from you.