Wednesday, October 31, 2012

making bacon pancaaaakes

Lance forced me to listen to this the other day. It was doom. You're welcome.

My real purpose for blogging today is to extend my conversation from yesterday and talk about recipes. Flinn pointed out how a lot of inexperienced home cooks are afraid to tamper and modify recipes.  When something turns out badly, they blame themselves rather than the recipe.  I used to be a religious follower of recipes, which is good when you're baking--you don't want to tamper too much with proportions--however, I discovered ways that I could fiddle with recipes.  Occasionally, it failed miserably, but that was okay.  I learned from it.

Yesterday, I decided to cook a recipe from Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Every Day, Miso-Curry Delicata Squash.  Problems: I didn't have enough delicata, I didn't have any kale or pepitas, and I strongly dislike cilantro.  So, I added some sweet potato to replace the delicata, stir fry chard to replace the kale, and use almonds and basil instead of pepitas and cilantro.  The result was pretty delicious.

It was startling to think about how something that seems so natural to my way of cooking was once alien--and that it is something that is anxiety-inducing among many.  It's a lot like elements of teaching writing (like revision): we often forget things that are second nature to us, but were once hard and problematic when we were inexperienced.  It's the same for cooking with recipes.

Recipes are like guidelines, but (depending on what the recipe is) there's a lot of ways to adapt.  Once you get a sense of how much you can change (and what flavors go well with each other), you begin to see how recipes are infinitely adaptable.  Wonderful.

And I'll stop now before I start making all sorts of crazy parallels to the teaching of writing, since I've been in read-all-the-papers-and-meet-with-all-the-students land.

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