I have a dilemma. Many of my favorite recipes have been sitting patiently in my draft posts for about six months.
The reason? I know that many of you will declare anarchy if I post a recipe lacking measured ingredients. So what do I do? I haven’t gotten around to figuring out exact amounts, and it has been six months it’s been waiting.
When I nail a recipe that my family loves, my husband often inquires, “Will you be able to make that again?”
“Well? It will be close, but maybe not exactly the same.”
Baking requires exact measurements. I would never think of posting baked items without specifics, but when I cook, it’s often a little of this, a dash of that, taste test, test again, nope, needs another splash of this etc etc. The recipe is my jumping off point, but not my life preserver.
In my opinion, it’s the best way to learn and grow in the kitchen, but I also realize that approach often ties in with personality. This approach drives many of my friends to cooking frustration. I admit, one of my favorite meals to serve is this yummy Orange Chicken.
When I first tried it and asked my friend for the recipe, she gave me a list of ingredients and told me her process, but nothing else. I remember messaging her on Facebook and saying, “Well, how much of each? (We are making a glaze for goodness sake). Is it 1/2 cup of vinegar, 1 cup of orange marmalade, three Tablespoons, ten TB? I wanted specifics, and yet she just said, “I don’t know. Experiment.”
She threw back in my face the very sentiment I may end up doing to you all.
Yet, it’s made me a better cook. It’s allowed me to taste test and figure out what worked and what didn’t when it came to a new kind of cooking for me. Often, you can’t get certain recipes “wrong,” it’s must a matter of perfecting it to your liking. Italian is a great example of that. I don’t think one can mess up Italian recipes as long as they have the basic understanding of what spices work together.
Do you ever watch the Food Network shows which feature challenges?
No one is following a recipe when they are cooking. They are taste testing, and adjusting. I’ve observed that specifically on the Worst Cooks in America show where they take horrible cooks and quickly transform them to master chefs. Cultivating their pallets as they go is what it’s all about on that show.
So in terms of cooking (not baking), do you cook following the exact directions, use the recipe as a guide or go without?
Now think of your answer. Does your answer come as a result of how you learned to cook, how you were raised, or are you still changing as you go? If I post my Orange Chicken recipe without exact directions, will you still accept me unconditionally and follow my blog anyhow, or will you run for the hills in frustration? 😉
Orange Chicken Recipe is up WITH exact directions. It took me awhile!
Simple Rules for Tasty Tuesday Parade of Foods – As always, please link directly to your recipe post and not your blog URL, so that everyone can find the recipe months from now.
Also, link back here so that everyone can join in the fun, it’s just common courtesy of blog carnivals. Please do not link up a recipe meme that you have started. While I love to support new bloggers, many are using this as a marketing arena for personal reasons, and that is not its intent. Thanks for your understanding.
I have a blog where I track my cooking, menus, and recipes, ( http://cookingformyfamily.blogspot.com ) and I struggle with this as well! I try to write things out in recipe form for people but it is really hard when I’m not 100% sure how much of this or that I used. I, too, mostly cook by taste, not by a recipe, and I do agree that it makes you a better cook in the long run. My husband says he’s always amazed at the stuff I just come up with and I think that is why, because I’m not afraid to experiment. So, I say go for it, post the “method” instead of the “recipe” and liberate us all! 🙂
I am the same as you! I do try to post actual recipes with my comments so as not to frustrate people, but really, so much is about developing your palate. . .and being spontaneous. I like to use up little bits and sometimes I deviate in a recipe just to use up a little bit of something.
Feel free to post it as is!
I rarely measure my ingredients when I cook and I think that I am a little more than decent at cooking. I am not a consistent cook, but it doesn’t bother me (usually.) This is how I am in any area of my life; I’ll use what works. I was allowed to experiment in the kitchen and just learned to cook this way.
I never measure when I cook! It is the way my dad cooks. It drives my husband and sisters crazy when they ask for recipes. Funny thing is I work in a research lab and have to follow “recipes” very carefully or my experiments wont work. The kitchen is the place I can be free to try things out and be creative.
I am a to taste kinda girl. I have had the same problem with having recipes waiting to be posted because I have no idea how much of anything to put in and measuring and tasting over and over, then adding it all up is such a drag!
So general directions are good for me as well!
Yay! I’m not the only one! That is how I cook as well, and my husband often asks me the same thing as your husband! It is freeing, especially for recipes that it really just doesn’t matter. Like marinade – so what if you have too much soy sauce and not enough honey! It will be great! 🙂 So, I say, yes. Post away!
Post them! I always set mine up with a little disclaimer and give my best guess at what the measurements were that I used. I think many times I will see a recipe on a blog and just use the idea based on what I have. I may not print the recipe, I just use the idea. That’s probaly where all those adapted recipes come from!
I am an impromptu cook. This is the process I go through to share recipes: http://www.premeditatedleftovers.com/2010/08/how-impromptu-cook-shares-recipes.html
However, I do not need precise recipes. In fact my m-i-l and I often trade quickly jotted notes filled with ingredients and lots of ~ before measurements. 🙂
One more thought on recipes. I can handle imprecise measurements and non-technical directions, but I almost always pass on recipes that I have to dig out of a long paragraph. I like carriage returns betweens between directions, but that is just my little pet peeve.
GO FOR IT!!!! I firmly believe that the best receipies are made “by guess, by golly” 🙂
Isnt that how are Grandmother’s taught us anyway??? 🙂
Im also a fly by my pants cook.. My mother taught me well.
The only thing I measure is water for rice & when Im baking or canning.. Everything else is fair game.. I get the same question from my honey.. Can you do that again? LOL Its nice to know Im not the only one! 😀
Sort of measury kinda girl here. I have my tablespoon to measure a teaspoon … you know? 🙂 It drives Hubby nuts though because I will make something that he really likes and then I’ll make it again but change something up and he’s all disappointed and such (and of course, I can’t remember WHAT it was I did different) … I try to make notes on the recipes themselves first time around … a squeeze of this, a small mound of that … those who stick with precise measurements need to live a little! 🙂
If working from a recipe, I try to follow a recipe as closely as possible the first time I make something, then I’ll make my own changes or work “to taste” when I make it again. The worst part is, when there’s something I make on my own that I’ve been making for years, I rarely keep track of amounts and when someone says “THAT’S perfect!” I don’t know what I did differently or how to replicate it! I’ve been trying to keep track of things like that now.
I am a stickler and want to measure everything out.
Can not wait to come back and link up
So sorry. The linky was supposed to open last night and I went to bed without realizing I had the date wrong. It’s open and waiting. 🙂
I grew up in a house where recipes were followed and ingredients measured, but my husband is a use what you you have kind of cook. I am learning to be more creative and taste along the way.
Once I read a savory recipe through, I tend to change it and go with either the ingredients I have or the method I prefer. I tend to follow baked/sweet recipes a lot closer.
By the way, your linky tool doesn’t start until Tuesday night!
AHHHH – that’s what I get for being a good girl and turning off my laptop for the evening. Here I thought I was putting the link up early. OOPS….all set to go now.
post it… we’ll figure it out 😉
I tend to not follow recipes but have been trying to in order to share with others, but having said that I love when people share “their version” so I say go for it because that is the way I cook! I mean you need freedom in your own kitchen and if it is something you love that much then share it! That is the great thing about food!
I really like recipes. They give you a guideline for what you’re cooking and then you can adjust it if you want. I do have a couple of things I had to actually measure out so I could post it on my blog, but I usually like to follow something, even if I”m not really following it.
I say post your recipes even without exact measurements. One thing I’ve learned to do (but I don’t always follow through) is to measure as I go. I write it all done while I’m creating and after eating the finished dish I make notes about what to change. That’s helped me. Now, if I could just remember to add serving sizes for people…
I don’t follow exact measurements … but I know I grew into that as a cook. At first I followed a lot, but it helped me to build confidence. Now, I love watching my daughter create new things in the kitchen, as she learns what goes and what doesn’t go.
I say post! It would give us all a starting place from which to work. And then, as each person’s taste is a little different, we could tweak it for our own family’s taste buds! Don’t keep all your yummy treats to yourself, girl! Go for it!
I’ve been TRYING to get creative and not following recipes but I’ve only been cooking for a few years so I’m still tied to my recipes. I am getting better with things though and adding things or adjusting spices. Once I’ve made something once, it’s easier to adjust it the second or third time though. But I still like my recipes! 🙂
By the way, I LOVE orange chicken and would welcome even approximate directions for how you like it!! 🙂
You mean you’re supposed to follow recipes?! I always see them as a “suggestion”! 🙂
Please post away! I cook the same way and my husband also asks that question. When he likes something he asks me to please make it the same way again.
Nothing I ever cook tastes the same. I am like you, with baking I wouldn’t dream of adjusting most ingredients but with cooking it is completely different. When I want to make something new ,(the last things I did this with were baked ziti and broccoli cheese soup) I read several recipes pull out the ingredients I like in all of them and mix and taste and add as I go. Post away.
A lot of times I enjoy experimenting in the kitchen. I am just learning to cook after 8 years of marriage and really do have fun playing around with ingredients. Oftentimes I’ll have a meal in mind and find a couple of recipes to my liking and I’ll combine them to suite what’s in my pantry and what I want to use. I however rarely write my directions down and could not recreate an exact recipe at this point. Glad to read I’m not the only, but I should probably take some notes for future reference… just in case!
In that case, you’ll appreciate my loosely arranged Vitamin C Power Fruit Salad Recipe, linked above and here!
i’ve always seen recipes as ideas and suggestions, and although I TRY to give accurate measurements when I post recipes, most of them are approximations based on what I remember. I say it’s better to post without exact measurements than not at all! It’s all about balancing the beauty and bedlam 😛
I think this is hilarious! I would still love you if you posted without the measurements… I think the figuring out is half the fun. I rarely follow recipes to a tee – cooking is more like an art — create what works for you. Baking is more like chemistry.
And oops! Sorry, I got click-happy with my link and didn’t put the proper name… Caesar Salad Recipe. Bummer. :S
Hi Trina – If that ever happens, feel free to link up again with the correct title. The more the merrier. Then, you can always delete the mistake link by clicking on the “x.”
From a mom who taught her daughter to always level off that measuring spoon to one who says to “eyeball” it, I have to say that measuring depends on what I’m making.
I learned to cook (well) a little late in my career as wife and momma, but thankfully, my family has been patient with me. These days I’m enjoying the fruit of my labor of diligence in the kitchen and even sharing recipes on my blog, http://www.happyindolevalley.blogspot.com. 🙂
Thanks so much for hosting – I always look forward to the inspiration I find here. Blessings!
I cook the exact same way. If I follow a recipe, I end up changing it. Or I will compare 2-3 recipes and then come up with my own version of all three. I cook 90% of my meals by throwing things together and experimenting!! But with baking, I agree, measurements need to be exact… it’s science. But again, I still adapt. I linked up my yummy southern brown sugar pound cake today! Blessings!
I typically use a recipe, but then tweak it to my liking. I grew up following recipes and have just not been able to get away from it. I think because I’m afraid of messing something up. I’m getting braver with experimenting, and often will post a recipe but then share what I did differently to it.
I tend to take 1 – 2 or more recipes that I like and mix and match to create one that suits my/our family’s tastes. And, I don’t follow measurements strictly. It’s usually a handful of this spice, a few dashes of that one, a pour of this, and two glugs of that. And, when I give someone a recipe, I will give some instruction, so they have a better idea of how I do it. The nice thing is that the experimentation does make you a better cook, and you are not limited by any recipe. You learn to make things your own. It’s liberating! :~) As for baking, I am a strict and correct measurer. Like I told my girls last week, cooking is an art, but baking is a science (Chemistry, baby!).
Since I prefer baking to cooking, I find I have to fight against following recipes exactly for meals. I’ve gotten better at it over the years and some of my favorite recipes are made with things I’ve just thrown together.
I do tend to try to follow a recipe fairly closely the first time, unless I feel that an ingredient amount is dramatically off or is something I am not sure our family will care for. However, once I have made the recipe once, it is wide open to being dismantled and reassembled multiple ways, substituting ingredients, flavours, techniques, etc.
The orange chicken looks delicious! I am drooling. I would love to see the basis for the recipe. I am not a rule follower; thus, the comments I received from my teachers in school “does not follow instructions”, still applies today. *giggle* I taught myself to cook, since my mom did not cook much and I just found it is something I am great at. I know what works well together and can easily substitute things we have or do not have. I think it is the best way to cook. But over the last few years I have been trying to write my recipes down so I can pass them down to my daughters. I know God can take me at any moment and I want them to have a piece of what I loved.
Oh, you are too funny. It’s so ironic because just yesterday I mentioned comments on my report card from elementary school, but mine had to do with chatting. 😉
I do this, too! Measuring is so hard when you’re creating a new dish. I sometimes just post a suggested measurement, but always say it really goes on individual taste.
I have realized how much of a Pinch/dab cooker I am – since I’ve started posting recipes on my blog. HAve to be much more careful in order to share.
I am working on the CSA blurb, I promise!
I followed a recipe exactly as written ONCE. It was terrible! (not one of yours). I am incapable of following a recipe – it always needs a little more garlic, tomato, etc., 🙂 Whenever I would ask my sweet grandmother for a recipe, it was always “a little of this, about 1/2 cup of that…” She was an amazing cook, and that’s how I learned to cook.
Post it without exact instructions! Can’t wait to try it. I’d have altered it anyway based on whatever’s in my cabinet. 🙂
Sorry I posted 2 times. the photo wasn’t coming up and then after reading the big bold letters that said it might take a few minutes…I had already posted again. I didn’t see the little x to delete the link so now there are two.
Rene – Absolutely no worries. 🙂
I can’t follow recipe to the T .. i cannot even make a twice taste exactly the same twice .. i cook with my heart .. i think that is what cooking is all about .. it’s not chemistry! 🙂
Linked one of my deep fried delight 🙂
I have the same cooking problem. I do a little of this and a little of that, and have recipes that I’d like to post but don’t have specific measurements on! I think you should give it a whirl with how you THINK it should go and let us do the experimenting.
I gather recipes so I usually have several on hand for whatever dish that I want to experiment with. I like seeing people’s directions because then I can decide which method works for me and seems fastest. I usually change some of the ingredients anyway because I don’t use much cheese and also like to cook low carb. I always measure everything because I want to have it correct when I post a recipe (I am a Virgo, can’t help it!)
I love to bake and since I bake gluten free I end up making substitutions a lot. I look at the ratios in a baking recipe (dry flour vs wet ingredients) and follow those when I substitute ingredients. I am not always successful the first time but many times I come up with something that is totally unique just because I was inspired by someone else’s concept.
This week I am sharing my recipe for Mashed Garnet Yams With Bacon, Chipotles and Pecans- yum!
Thanks for hosting!
Great post! My husband asks me to right down how much and what I use when it is good because he would like it again. At the time I am just cooking and have really developed in this area. My family actually asks me to do the cooking.
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In general I don’t follow recipes exactly but I do like to sort of know proportions. Like if something calls for oil and vinegar am I putting in about equal amounts or twice the oil to the vinegar etc.
I also tend to not follow any recipe at all if it is a type of food I have made a lot like a pasta dish or stir fry. I just throw in whatever looks good.
The only time I will follow a recipe exactly is if it is my first time cooking a particular type of food (some sort of fish or a different cut of meat) because I don’t know enough about how it should turn out to wing it.
I will still love you! Unconditionally! Although I may get annoyed with you… I’m at the point in my life where I realize I *want* to learn how to cook without recipes, but I’m scared. So a nice swift kick in the booty… err I mean recipe w/o amounts… could be very helpful. I think I worry because I don’t know what tastes good together. *lol* I mean, I can make a good marinera sauce (thank you Italian daddy), but I can’t make anything else without a recipe! So post away! I may get a bit frustrated, but I’ll be back! Your blog is too addicting to give up just because you want me to expand my culinary mind!
I’d love to see your recipe for OC as it is expensive to buy and I LOVE it!! I’m afraid even when I bake I don’t always follow the recipe exactly. Sometimes I like to tweek it. My mom will follow any recipe EXACTLY. She hates it when I tell her “just dump a little in”. I like to mix it up! Thanks for your recipes!
I generally use recipes as a guide. Unless maybe it is a complicated one that needs to be a little more exact the first run though. I think this is way I prefer NOT to bake, to precise.
YES, we’ll still love you!!!! I can’t possibly cook following a recipe word for word. My husband has volunteered to cook at times, & I tell him that he won’t be able to make it the same way because I’ve deviated so much from the original. The funny thing is, every time I make it after the first time, I deviate the same way. Even when baking, I don’t get obsessive about measuring – I never measure vanilla, for example, don’t scrape the flour off the cup with a knife, but DO measure baking powder (sometimes it matters – but most of the time, it doesn’t)
My college-age daughter wanted to take over the pumpkin pie-making a couple of years ago, and she had to write down on the recipe card how many extra “shook-shooks” of spices I added. I smell it, then shake in some more cinnamon (or whatever). So now I’ve got a recipe card with 1 tsp. cinnamon, plus 16 shook-shooks. Memories! And, her palate will develop in time, so I don’t worry about it.
Elaine – I LOVE that….shook shooks. That is definitely a new cooking term that must be added to our repertoire. 🙂
I do follow recipes, but since entering the blogging world, I have been a bit more free in the kitchen. Your post makes me think of Jamie Oliver who encourages risk taking in the kitchen. I linked up his Lemon Vinaigrette.
Up until a few weeks ago I never thought about it until a friend of mine specifically asked where I get the recipes for the things I make for dinner. About 90% of the time I make it up from my head. The other 10% some part of the meal come from a recipe that I use as a guide to get the consistency right like when I make cheeseburger pie or homemade pastry for chicken and pastry. I guess it’s becuase that’s how my parents cook. They don’t use recipes unless they are baking or it’s a new recipe otherwise they eyeball it. It can be frustrating when people want to know how you make things but you can’t give exact measurements.
As much as I try, I consider a recipe just a starting point. I usually substitute and embellish everything! Most always it works out wonderfully but the problem is I can never exactly duplicate it! I think it comes from a Mom who always said “cook it till its done”.
I am definitely a fly by cook. I do the same with baking a bit too much sometimes but usually end up fine. My MIL cant fathom my methods as she has to know how much of what and how much the recipe makes exactly. It takes practice but I’m sure this is how I am able to save money by substituting and practicing improv in the kitchen.
That chicken looks fantastic!!
I LOVE THIS POST! This really describes my cooking style. I can’t seem to follow a recipe, I always deviate. My friends always ask how I made this or that and then laugh when I can’t give them the exact measurements. Thus the reason I don’t like to bake, I feel too restricted. LOL! Really, I use baking as a tool to help my children with math and in return I don’t have to bake myself. People are often amazed that I can seemingly cook anything just don’t ask me to bake since I know I would have to STICK to the recipe.
I love to cook with passion and abandon. That leaves no room for measuring cups and spoons. I will write down a recipe as soon as I create it and estimate what I used and then test it one more time before posting usually. Baking as you said, needs exactitude! I am linking up a great way to make moist roast chicien. Flip that chicken! All the best, Alex
I have so many dishes that I still have to turn into a recipe that anyone else could possibly follow. Part of my own motivation is for my girls to be able to make some of their favorite foods in the years to come. But, its so much easier to just toss things together than to stop, measure, and transcribe each and every step (and tweak) along the way.
Argh! I hate putting exact measurements in recipes…its very hard for me to write recipes! I tried to enter afew in the Pillsbury Bakeoff, but its sooo hard to be precise!
I’m still too sad to repost my comment 🙁 It was a very long one….and I got an error message about my computer not supporting java…blah, blah, blah. Not sure what it means. Usually I am good about saving my comment before clicking, but I’ve only ever lost one in blogger comment boxes…never these kind. SO sad!! I’ll try to come back tomorrow to repost.
ah well…such is life.
I guess I could sum it up to say I cook like you…..make up as I go along, trial and taste, write it down so I can recreate…then find it hard to FOLLOW my own recipe 😉
Guess I summed it up….Twitter sure has helped me with brevity!! I love it!
oh Denise…so sorry. That has happened to me numerous times and it does feel like SUCH a wasted amount of time when you share a big long comment and then it gets eaten..UGH. Feeling your pain.
I guess I’m somewhat in the middle. As a general rule when getting a new recipe I make it as instructed. I’ll make needed tweaks though the first time through (such as high altitude adjustments). I want to taste what it is “supposed” to taste like. This approach has broadened my cooking a decent amount. My mom was wonderful about passing down a love of international food and I left home with a decent list of things that I could cook comfortably and the ability to follow written recipes. However, there were spices that she doesn’t particularly like that were not in the list. So by cooking with someone’s recipe I am trying their idea of a wonderful spice combination (welcome basil, rosemary, thyme, and orange marmalade to my cooking vocabulary).
However, I normally walk away from this first taste saying “that was a wonderful recipe, but I think it would be better with xyz (chicken instead of pork, more gravy, or whatever). My problem is that I have a shorter memory span than I do recipe rotation. So I’ve solved this problem by keeping my recipes on the computer. So when I cook and want to tweak next time, I put my changes in the “Notes” section after my recipe. So next time I know to add more oregano.
And yes, I do keep the amounts in the recipe and I do update them as I find tweaks that I like. To me it’s important to be able to replicate a recipe reliably if there’s company or if it’s a family favorite. And this is helpful if I get asked to share it with someone. That said, I’m not a slave to the recipe. Some days I decide to just wing it. And even the days when I am “following” my recipe I generally “hand measure” the dry ingredients (meaning that I know a teaspoon makes a pile about this big in my hand, so 3 of those is the tablespoon I need for my recipe).
As for your recipe, I’m excited to try it! I’ve been looking for a good orange chicken recipe and haven’t yet found a good starting place to create my own. I’m perfectly comfortable not having exact amounts in the recipe, but it would be useful to either have a ballpark amount or perhaps ratios. I can just imagine myself getting into this situation:
I’ve added 1/2 cup of vinegar to my bowl along with other ingredients and taste it. Eww! Way too much vinegar. I think I was supposed to add more like 1 tablespoon. So I increase the other ingredients to balance properly. Suddenly I have 4 or 5 times the sauce I need for my 2 pounds of chicken. (Yes it’s happened before, but don’t worry the extra went into the freezer to be used later.)
When trying something I’ve eaten in the past, lets say what my mum used to make, i just try and replicate what I think went into it … but if its something new i stick to the recipe the first time and then tweak it accordingly!
I am constantly substituting ingredients to suit the taste buds of my family members! Thanks for hostessing.
please! I was reading and reading – just hoping that there would be a list of ingredients at the bottom! HOW DO you make that orange chicken? and rice? it looks amazing!!!
Ummm…think I need to buy more printer paper! So many amazing recipes to print out and try!
I’m okay with an ingredent list and approximations…now where’s that orange chicken recipe?? 🙂
haha – I know. It’s in demand, but honestly, I have to make it again to even begin to give an estimate. Right now, it would be a list of ingredients with absolutely no direction as to amounts. That would really frustrate readers. It’s going on the menu for this week. 🙂