Cooking is a skill that everyone, on some level, should master. While it is an admirable trait to be able to follow a gourmet recipe, however, I believe it is much more valuable (and affordable) to be able to whip up a tasty meal sans directions, measurements, and cooking temps. Here are the excuses I use to skip the recipe and the methods behind my madness.
1. It’s fulfilling. There may be a period of time where you will not feel comfy winging it in the kitchen. That’s understandable, but it shouldn’t hold you back from enjoying your adventure. Nothing is more satisfying than tasting a dish from your kitchen that you created from the depths of your imagination.
2. It’s frugal. Leaving out expensive ingredients in lieu of scrumptious components from your own herb garden or from the produce you bought on a quick-sale isn’t just daring, it can save you big bucks on your grocery bill. Try to substitute the things you have on hand whenever you are tempted to follow a costly recipe to the “T”. It will not only be strangely rewarding, it will also help you to pay down debt or save for that special something you’ve been wanting to buy.
3. It’s impressive. What’s more notable than having dinner guests “oooh” and “aaah” at that pasta dish you created from a magazine article? How about having them gush over that meal you just “threw together”? Prepare to be flattered.
4. It’s fun. The experiment of trying “a little of this” and “a little of that” can have tantalizing consequences. Sure, it’s possible to create a kitchen blunder and have a dish NOT turn out. Your odds of pulling of an enticing miracle, however, are rather high, as well. If you’re not that daring in other areas of your life, turn your cooking over to whim, and remember what it felt like to live a little.
5. It’s a form of self-discovery. Do you know if you like capers? If you haven’t ever tried them, it’s possible that you might be missing out on a deep passion for a unique flavor. If sticking to a recipe is keeping you from learning what you do and don’t like in the world of unknown ingredients, take the opportunity to test your taste buds. You’ll quickly learn much about a piece of yourself.
6. It’s a catalyst for BETTER. Yes, that Rachel Ray sure can cook, and Curtis Stone has some amazing flavor combos to share with the world. You have the ability to take any recipe in the world, however, and improve upon it. Even if you never considered yourself to be an Iron Chef, just a tweak here or an extra dash there can take something pretty amazing and turn it into perfection. Straying from a recipe is where excellence begins.
7. It’s essential for self-sufficiency. You may not always have access to a cookbook, your iPad, or the online edition of the hottest cooking magazines. By being prepared with a comfort for cooking independently, you guarantee that you can prepare something yummy anytime, anywhere.
Getting creative in the kitchen isn’t just rewarding, it’s smart! Start with a basic dish you know well (like meatballs or pasta), and prepare it without the recipe in front of you. Each time you make it, add a little pizazz that’s all your own. Now you’re cooking!
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