Recipe Testing

01Mar10

I am currently testing out a recipe for a magazine I subscribe to.  (It is unfortunately NOT a paid gig.  Maybe someday down the road.)  It is not easy.  Don’t get me wrong–the recipe itself is easy enough.  What I am struggling with is the process of actually FOLLOWING a recipe.  I’ve touched on this before but I firmly believe that recipes are not carved in stone.  You won’t ruin things if you don’t follow the recipe to the exact detail.  You especially have to realize that when there are recipes with vague measurements out there–after all, I like onion a lot so what is a small onion to me is huge to my son who dislikes them with a passion.  But testing a recipe is a different animal entirely.  You are supposed to follow the instructions exactly as given.

I am usually good at following instructions.  Just not when it comes to cooking.  As I am going through this recipe, I keep saying to myself  things like “Really?  Only that much?” and “Oh, I would love to put ____ in.”  But I have to reign in those impulses because the request is to test THIS recipe.  They want to know how easy it was to follow, what I think of the flavors.  Did the recipe meet their stated goal.  If this recipe turns out I already have a half dozen changes in mind for the next time.

I run into a similar problem when creating my own recipes.  The first time I devise something new I am often pulling random items out of the cupboards and refrigerator and measuring with the Glug Sprinkle Shake That Looks Good system.  After I finish cooking and we eat, I learn that I had a great success and then worry hits me: can I ever recreate this again?  Can I even come close?  A few times I have had absolutely no clue what I did and those meals will just be lost to the ages.  Often I at least can remember the ingredients, but can only guess at the amounts.  Sometimes I can tell how the recipe got off track in the middle somewhere and have to figure out how to fix it for next time.  I have tried writing things down as I do them, but often run into the choice of keeping track of my activities or letting food burn.  I probably will have to figure out a way to record what I am doing and narrate it.

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