I admire people who can follow recipes. I never can. It's not that I don't try to do what the recipe says, it just always sort of happens that I think this would be great in there or I don't care for that and so I omit it. When I do find something I like a lot, I usually can't remember what all I put in it or what amounts, so I can never replicate it.
Eating Barefoot's cooking is always an adventure.
I have been this way all my cooking life. My Mom (bless her heart, I don't know WHY she allowed this) would let my brother and I bake cookies on our own when we were quite young. Usually we did chocolate chip, just the recipe off the back of the bag, and usually they worked out pretty good.
Still, it was inevitable that the day would come when we ran out of some ingredient. Now, your average cook would either go get the ingredient or not make that particular dish. Not me, oh no. Sometimes I would just switch recipes halfway through. Sometimes I would dig through the pantry for something that looked like a good replacement for the missing ingredient. Sometimes I made a science experiment out of it and would look at all the recipes in the cookbook ( gotta love old church cookbooks) to see what was common for all cookie recipes and keep it to that.
Then we found the food coloring, and there were blue cookies and red cookies and green cookies. I am sure my Mom wanted to ban us from the kitchen after some of these projects. We were even too lazy to actually make cookies! We just pressed the dough onto a cookie sheet and baked it. While it was still warm, we would break it into pieces.
As I got older, probably 12 or 13, I decided to try my hand at apple pie. My folks have an apple tree that produces wonderful apples every year, so it made sense. Once again I consulted the pile of old church cookbooks in the pantry and began my work.
Side Note: If you like cooking, go to the thrift store and find yourself those self bound old church cookbooks. You know, the kind that the Church Ladies would make up for fundraising. The older, the better. There are some fantastic recipes in there!
To properly envision my story, you have to know the kind of kitchen I learned to cook in. It is an old farmhouse kitchen with very little counter space. Some moron had put green carpet down (in a kitchen?!) and the cupboards were an oddly orange shade of woodtone. The wallpaper was white, with yellow and blue 60's-ish flowers outlined in (I think) brown. The counter tops had this metal edging all around them that made it nearly impossible to clean up your messes. The stuff just hid along the edge there.
Where was I....Oh, yeah: Baking Pie.
So there I was in that odd looking kitchen (the re-model looks great, by the way Mom) doing my best to follow a recipe from one of the cookbooks my Mom had in her stash. I finished mixing all the ingredients for the filling, and it just didn't smell like apple pie to me. So I added some cinnamon. And a little of something else. And a little more of one other thing.
I continued this way until it smelled right to me, assembled my pie, and baked it up.
It was good! I have always gotten lots of compliments on my apple pie. Could I hand out the recipe? No, cuz every time it is a little different. I can't even explain how it is supposed to look and smell when you know it is ready. I just don't know.
I cook everything like that. Sometimes it is fabulous, like the rutabaga/potato/carrot/onion/kohlrabi/squash thing I make on occasion (very filling, and oh, so yummy!). Sometimes it isn't so fabulous, just good. On very rare occasions it is terrible, but that only happens when I am working with ingredients that I am unfamiliar with.
One of the things I would really like to learn to do is follow a recipe. I know there are wonderful cooks out there who have painstakingly measured out every basil leaf and grain of salt to provide me with instructions on how to awe my family with amazing food. And I can't cook it because I am handicapped by my inability to follow instructions.
I raise my glass and salute you, all you recipe followers. Cheers!