Whose mother didn't have one of those old school index card holders packed full of stained and ripped cards, magazine clip outs, and little pieces of lined paper jammed into every corner? Mine certainly did, and every mom on my block did. You all know the one I'm talking about. The one you pulled down from the top shelf, with the very worn and chocolatey cookie recipe card inside.
When I first started to cook, the idea of deviating from the instructions on those little cards... was a nightmare. A teaspoon to much flour, and I convinced my cookies would be ruined forever. That stew had to have exactly one teaspoon of pepper and no more or it would not be perfect.
Oh how we grow.
Over the last little bit, I have learned to just... go beyond the index card.
My latest experience with this was this recipe:
6 pork chops, 3/4 to 1-inch thick
1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/4 cup vinegar
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon brown sugar or honey
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
dash cayenne, optional
350 for one hour.
First of all, it's a great recipe. I was so tired of shake and bake, you wouldn't believe how much we needed something new. So I go to google and find this recipe. Well, I had to half it first off, because there's three of us, thus, three pork chops. I refuse to make six just because the recipe tells me to.
I took out the pepper, since Josh and I have both had CRAAZY heart burn lately, and are just not in the mood for even a little spice... and the salt, because there is plenty of that in ketchup, and I'm preggors, and supposed to be watching my salt intake. And that cayenne is not going to make any sort of appearance.
So now we have taken away a good portion of the ingredients... then I grabbed a bowl I thought looked like a good size, threw some water in it... then dumped a lot of worcestershire sauce, since I think it's delicious, dumped some vinegar in, did a big squirt of ketchup, and a tablespoon of brown sugar. Mixed it up, and dumped it over my pork chops, then put a thinly sliced sweet onion in with it and mixed it up again... and baked it.
It was possibly the most delicious thing I've ever tasted. It made the whole house smell delicious.
But how do you put that down to where it makes sense to anyone in a recipe? A dash of this, a squirt of that, don't forget to taste it along the way? I guess it's just one of those things that you have to learn yourself, when to measure and stick with that recipe, and when to ditch it and find your own recipe. Call it a right of passage for budding cooks everywhere.
Hoping you learn to love the freestyle,