I only know two recipes
Pancakes, and a loaf of bread. These are the 2 recipes I know by heart. And honestly, it’s been awhile since I made bread; I’d have to dig pretty deep in the brain for that file. Furthermore, each new loaf of bread and batch of pancakes comes out slightly different from the last, but always delicious under a slathering of butter and honey or New York maple syrup. Other than these two, I rarely follow any specific recipe and in fact, I frequently stray from any sort of exact measurement at all, which makes it even more surprising the number of dishes I can dirty without having used a single measuring device.
While I take pride in my ability to cook up a perfect pot of rice by measuring neither rice nor water, the problem for me arises from customers who often asking me for recipes for the produce they take home from the farm, and I struggle to respond! Let’s see… dip it in hummus, toss it with vinegar, saute it with butter and salt, grill it, roast it… I think that covers about all of the bases.
Oh and slather it with peanut butter, of course.
I love to cook and prepare foods. And I think recipes are a great way to get started if you lack confidence in the kitchen, but ultimately I think you’ll be better off in the long run if you learn not to lean on recipes, but instead move towards using them as a basis to create and measure your own unique ideas. Learn to think critically about why your favorite recipe for eggplant parm is so delicious. Is it the dash of sugar in the sauce? Or the dried chives in the frying batter? When you start to analyze the apparent magic behind the recipe, you’ll begin to find more and more that you can transfer these tried and tested tastes to other meals, too.
Besides, some of these recipes you find online aren’t so precise anyhow. Think about it: A recipe calls for 2 onions, finely chopped. I have, in my kitchen now, an onion the size of a ping pong ball, and another the size of a softball. Fulfilling the obligation set by the recipe is obviously a big decision, and while the novice cook sweats nervously as though deliberating between cutting the blue or red cable to disarm a ticking device, the seasoned and thoughtful kitcheneer easily determines the appropriate ratio of onion to all else and proceeds confidently.
I have at times admittedly felt inhumanely entertained by others’ discomfort as I shirk measuring cups or shrug and guess at replacement ingredients, forging ahead with or without a clear idea of the goal or meal at hand. For certain, it hasn’t always been this way. I have messed up my share of meals. I’ve hot sauced, soy sauced, and lemon jucied my way out of a few bad dishes. But alas, here we are, and you want a recipe. So I’m caving in, and I’m going to share some nuggets. It’s winter and I’ve got a moment to spare.
To start: Ants on a log.
How about this instead:
I don’t remember where I learned about cooking rice without measuring, but this ‘secret’ seems always to work, no matter the quantity and no matter the rice:
Put rice in a pot. Add water until the distance between the top of the rice and the top of the water equals the distance from the tip of your pinky finger to the first knuckle. Add in a bit of salt and EVOO or butter if you like at this point.
Heat on medium until water boils, and lower heat to simmer until all water is absorbed. I urge you to listen to the pot. I believe you will find that the sound of water simmering is quite different from the sound of cooked rice charring to the bottom of your pan. And/or use a pot with a glass lid while you figure that last part out, I guess. Remove from heat and fluff a bit with a fork. I like to add a bit more oil at this point as well. I think it keeps the inevitable leftovers in a finer fashion for future meals.
Oh, the things you can do with a pot of rice when you’re lacking any trace of dinner ambition!
Shall I save that for another post?