I honestly can’t remember if I’ve talked about this subject before, but I think I’ve at least dropped a mention a time or two about it. Nevertheless, recently I was thinking again about what kind of cook I am. I have always been the kind of cook that measures things out, sticks to a recipe, etc. I have to master a recipe by making it literally hundreds of times before I dare to deter from it even a little. And whenever I would ask my dear mother for a recipe of hers and she would say something like “a little mustard” I would interrogate her about how much EXACTLY “a little mustard” was to her. Because “a little mustard” to her might be very different from “a little mustard” to me!
And yet. The other day I had thawed some tilapia for lunch. And I didn’t really have an exact plan for it at all. (In fact, I usually make an exact meal list – with exact recipes – and then make my grocery shopping list from that, but this time I just wrote in meals like “chicken” or “tilapia” on my calendar instead of “Garlic Chicken Stir-Fry” or “Crockpot Mandarin Tilapia”. We’re going off the map here!) So I found myself drizzling olive oil over the tilapia, then some Dijon mustard, then some honey. Those were the basic ingredients for another recipe I’d done before and I thought they’d be good with the tilapia and that those flavors would mix well with the side dishes I’d decided on as well. But I was just pouring & spreading, friends! No measuring. No recipe. WILD!
I confess that there is another dish I make that I have mastered enough not to measure things out. Chicken salad – like the mayonnaise kind. I usually shortcut it & use canned chicken breast, add in something for crunch like chopped jicama or water chestnuts & then just add spoonfuls of mayo until I get it to the right consistency. I also normally add in Tastefully Simple’s Bacon Bacon seasoning and/or garlic salt or powder for flavor. (Sadly, Bacon Bacon is not on our gluten-free friendly list. Boo! It is vegetarian, however. Ironic?)
Recently a friend asked me for my chicken salad recipe for a party she was hosting & I gave her the gist. And she said she “should have known I was that kind of cook”, the kind that doesn’t measure & just adds “a little of this & a little of that”. You know the kind. I have several friends & relatives that are that kind. Maybe you’re that kind! I’m NOT that kind normally, so that’s the real kicker!!
But it seems I’m more & more able to venture beyond a recipe and discover ingredients that naturally compliment each other. To be honest, that’s one of the main attractions to culinary school: learning the art of complimentary flavors. Some day I might even BE that kind of cook on a normal basis. Today is not that day. But maybe some day…