I was reading an article in the New York Times today entitled Recipe Deal Breakers: When Step 2 Is ‘Corral Pig’. It's about recipes that scare off cooks by including ingredients or techniques that some cooks won't touch. Some cooks are scared by the words "If you don't have a helper"; others find that words like "Fillet and butterfly 12 4-inch fresh anchovies" stop them cold. Still others get find making fleur du sel from scratch to be more trouble that it is worth.
Perhaps it is part of my evolution is as a cook, but techniques and ingredients are more likely to inspire frustration rather than fear in me. Am I going to reach for a recipe for blood sausage any time soon? No... I'm not ready for that. But, do substitutions bother me? No. I can recall once how I was making a recipe that called for fresh lemon juice, but I forgot to get lemons. So I dug up an old bottle of margarita mix and that worked great! I was in a similar bind on Saturday when I was trying to make pound cake for Mrs. Geek's Dad and Step mom and discovered that I was out of sugar. It was honey and brown sugar to the rescue... and while I probably won't make it that way again, the results were quite edible.
I'm looking at recipes to teach me something... a method, a way of preparing a type of food, or a key to a particular palate of flavors. It's a maddening process. Sometimes things come out easy and repeatable the first time. Other times, I have to read and experiment until I get it right. As I think I mentioned a few weeks back, the current bane of my existence is baby back ribs, smoked on the grill. I'm going to need to make another batch of those soon.
on 2008-06-09 at 2:24 p.m.
The Wayback Machine - To Infinity And Beyond