Normally, I follow instructions pretty well. Not following instructions makes me nervous. I don’t want to rock the boat unless I have to because I generally go through life trying not to be noticed. When it comes to recipes, though, I have a very hard time following instructions.
The first time I use a cooking recipe, I try to follow it to a T. Usually, I fail at this. I don’t like onions, so I’ll compromise and use shallots because I like them better than regular onions. I don’t have peanuts, so I’ll use pistachios. I don’t have dill, so I leave it out entirely. I want to try this Mediterranean recipe to go with Asian food, so I adjust all of the spices to make it Asian. At that point, I don’t know why I even bother with the recipe, but it does make me feel safer using the recipe. I get frustrated with myself when I screw up, but I don’t follow the directions in the first place, so why should I care about mistakes?
With baking, everyone says to be very careful about following the directions because it’s a very delicate chemistry experiment. I’m even worse at following directions with baking than I am with cooking. I’ve done enough baking that I always think I know what I’m doing. I usually do, too! It’s just that I forget that if I do A, then I need to do B. For example, I’ll try to healthy-up a cupcake recipe by substituting some whole wheat flour. I’ll remember to increase the liquid to compensate for the extra absorbing whole wheat flour. I’ll forget, though, that I have to use more liquids when substituting soymilk for wate. I’ll also forget that I decided to use butter instead of oil, which means that I need to add more liquid for the whole recipe in general. When my cupcakes come out dry, I immediately know what happened. The next time I make cupcakes, I make the same durned mistakes all over again!
When I’m cooking or baking for myself, I give myself some leeway, but when I cook for others, these mistakes feel like a completely devastating failure. I get so upset at myself for disappointing people and letting them down like an idiot just because I couldn’t follow a simple recipe. For the most part, I’ve tempered my reactions when dealing with the results of a failed recipe. I’ve learned that only ingrates will berate you for screwing up a recipe. Most people are grateful that you even considered cooking something for them, much less from scratch.
As for the title of this blog post, there’s a short story. Ben and I came home from getting groceries one night. I mentioned something about having a special recipe for something. I said, “I have a great recipood for that!” At first, I didn’t think Ben caught it, but I started laughing immediately. Then, he started asking me to tell him more about this “recipood”. In my jacked up brain, I somehow combined “recipe” with “food” to come up with a word that sounds like…not…good…Even so, it’s funny. For some good recipoods, visit Vegetableau, Cathy’s Tumblr!