Recipes: The Cornerstone of the Culinary Experience

Everyone forgets things: it’s a part of human nature. This is why recipes exist.

Now then, I’m not simply talking about your grandmother’s box –the one with neatly lined cardstock and equally neat handwriting. The modern era has made things far simpler for you and me –and in the hectic world we live in today, you won’t find me complaining!


Ladies and Gentlemen, I speak of the Internet. Websites such as make finding, jotting down, storing, and looking up recipes easier than ever before. They’re only one Google search away! But no matter how easy the path to finding and obtaining a recipe is, some rules will apply every time.


1.If Pressed for Time: read through the entire recipe! I’ve held baking parties with friends before: each of us brings a new recipe to try out, and within the time we’ve all set aside for ourselves on that day, we prepare, make, serve, and devour our creations. A new addition to our typical group dropped by and warned us that she had very little (okay, absolutely no) cooking experience. As it turns out she only read as far as the ingredients list and bake time, neglecting the print in the directions: must wait two hours for dough to set in freezer. Thankfully this story had a happy ending, and rather than risk making peanut butter cookies, a cake was born.




2. If a Special Occasion comes up: be it for a valentine or a family feast, rather than  look up a recipe for a dish you probably can’t pronounce, let alone cook, isn’t the wisest idea –especially for the novice. Once in a while these situations work out, but more often than not it’s a setup for failure. Instead I can almost guarantee you that loved ones and lovers alike will be equally impressed by a dish you do well done even better than usual, or even spruced up with garnish. They say people eat with their eyes as well! If it works, don’t fix it.

3. If Same Old Simply Won’t Do: Again, resist the temptation to go for the fancy foreign palette. Rather, try recycling. It’s not just good for the environment you know. Look through what recipes you do have, and see if there’s anything you can add or remove or substitute. Macaroni and cheese stuffed in Portobello mushrooms? Pizza with a different type of crust or cheese? An apple pie could be served as tartlets for a social event. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination! If you think it tastes good, it probably does. Now I’m not saying to make extreme changes (unless you’re just that adventurous, in which case, go forth at your own peril) but cuisine is in itself an art. Be creative. Best part? It’s edible (hopefully).
4. Consider Flavors Carefully: A while back I recall reading an article over a buffalo wing milkshake. Yes, you read that correctly. I remember balking at the concoction pictured off to the side thinking, no wonder it didn’t take off. I give the creator an A for effort, but if it doesn’t taste good, or if people think it’s just a little too wild for them, then it’s doubtful they’ll try it. No matter which recipe you go with, or even what sort of meal course you have in mind, keep the dishes and the ingredients complementary. You typically wouldn’t want to add saffron to a chocolate mousse or maple syrup in hummus. Don’t be afraid to experiment, but don’t go overboard. However, if you do make an unlikely union of flavors work out, try it yourself, make it a few times, -test it before you serve it to your friends, and then, after they applaud your culinary prowess, tell them what they just ate for a(n ideally pleasant) surprise.

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