When I was first married, I followed recipes. I would go to the grocery store with the purpose of picking up specific ingredients for a singular recipe and then go along, step-by-step, to hopefully come out with the picture-perfect dish that would make my new husband swoon with happiness. After all, wasn’t the way to a man’s heart through his stomach?
It didn’t take me long to realize that this age-old phrase was simply that… a phrase. The way to my own love’s heart was simply to be part of his life, whether I was cooking dinner in the kitchen or sitting across from him in a restaurant. It wasn’t the three-course meal that was important; it was the thought behind the preparation… the plan behind the action… the love that was shown simply by paying attention and trying.
So I started to “wing it” when it came to food. I know there are those of you who are cringing right now… cooking is a science and should be treated as such. As much as I do agree that there’s a huge amount of science that goes along with cooking the right ingredients and the right temperature to achieve the right result, I also would insist that cooking existed for millions of years before we had oven thermometers and Pyrex measuring cups. I simply don’t want to be tied down to a full-on planned recipe every time I want to make dinner. It’s just not “me”…
So, I use “The Force” when I cook. You know, the reference from Star Wars? “May The Force be with you”? I look to recipes for ideas, inspiration, and basic constructs of a dish… and then I branch out. Sure it’s scary sometimes… but when it all comes together and makes a meal that everyone agrees is a WINNER, it’s a totally hyped experience. Yes, there are those times when the recipe fails miserably, but thankfully those have become fewer and fewer over the years.
Take my chocolate chip cookie recipe, for example. I started out using the standard Toll House Cookie recipe from the back of the package. It’s tasty… it’s traditional… and it’s what everyone uses when they first start out making cookies. It just started getting boring to make the same recipe over and over again. My chocolate chip cookie recipe is a bit more “flamboyant”… for lack of a better word. I’ve learned that I like to have some unique ingredients in my recipe, to add different back-notes of flavors to the cookie. Over the years, my recipe has included chili powder, ground ginger, almond extract, espresso, blood orange balsamic vinegar, and yes… WINE. Lest you think that I’ve abandoned the focus of my blog so soon, I will say that I do add red wine to my chocolate chip cookie dough. It adds a lovely fudginess to the cookies and my guys seem to love it, which is why I’ll probably be making another double batch of dough to keep in the fridge before the weekend rolls around.
Many people like recipes to read like directions (step 1, step 2, step 3, etc) while others tend to allow for some creativity to flow when following a recipe. It’s seen as more of a guideline than a directive. For those of you who fall into the second category, you will understand my recipes much easier than those of you who crave the specifics of teaspoons, tablespoons, and quarter cups of ingredients. In any case, I hope that you find some entertainment value in my cooking… I believe that it’s the journey that’s just as important as the final dish or destination.
Try using The Force in your cooking sometime… you might find a creative soul just waiting for the opportunity to shine!