I don’t follow recipes.  Let me rephrase, I very rarely follow recipes.  There are some sauces and dishes that I know not to deviate from.  But usually I glance at a recipe and get a gist of what it is suggesting to do and then make it my own.  My measuring spoons rarely get used and I almost always just use 1 measuring cup and estimate with that.  I make each and every dish unique to what I have to work with and what tastes good to me at the time.

One of the lessons I stress the most to my clients is how important it is to reclaim your confidence in the kitchen and with that, the ability to improvise and cook according to what YOU like.  It makes me laugh when I read comments underneath recipes on other food blogs or websites and I come across one saying ” this _____ is way too spicy!” and it is given 2 stars out of 5.  What is considered spicy to one person can be completely different than for the next.  That isn’t the fault of the author of the recipe. I love spicy foods,  but I know which friends do not and I adjust my seasoning when I cook for them.  If I were to eat that version, I would think it to be very bland and not good at all, but they love it and swear that any spicier and it would be too much.  Taste is subjective.  Cooking is not paint by numbers.

So how do I recommend you cook?  Very simple, TASTE WHILE YOU COOK! It’s so simple, so very simple, yet I watch people blindly follow recipes without tasting until the very end.  Bill teases me all the time about how I have already eaten 2 dinners worth by the time I’m done cooking. I grew up seasoning without measuring spoons.  I teach clients how to pay attention to smell, layers of taste and what spices can change intensity with time.  The same goes on a larger scale with ingredients in general.  I teach people how to look at what they have in their kitchen and understand which items can be substituted for something they don’t have.  How to make it a fun challenge to open up your fridge and pantry and come up with an amazing meal with what you have on hand.  For fun I will pick either a seasoning or ingredient and make it my challenge item for the day/week/weekend and come up with a side dish, main dish and dessert using it.  This weekend it was ginger and eggplant.  Cooking needs to be fun.  I believe that I can help you love to cook and not be afraid of cooking.  The same goes for baking.  It doesn’t have to be intimidating.  My philosophy is that people have been cooking and baking long before we had measuring spoons, cups or kitchen products in general.  I will come over to your house and make you some pasta using a beer bottle to roll it out and make do with whatever flour and number of eggs you have on hand.  In fact at one of my favorite homes to cook at, I use a wine bottle for all my rolling needs.  Branch away from your usual recipes.  Learn how spices work together.  Make horrible mistakes and learn from those mistakes!  Trust your gut and taste your food!

On that note… It was a gloomy day in Iowa and I wanted to make chili.  I pulled out some vegetables that needed to be used up.  Ground beef I cooked up for lasagna that I didn’t use and the beans I  had already soaked for 24 hours.  I will post about what I believe to be proper bean preparation in a separate post.  I had some wheat flour out already so I decided to make wheat tortillas and turn those into chips to have with the chili.  I will post that recipe later this week.

P1030407

A foggy day turned into a rainy day, perfect for chili!

P1030430