Today we talk about another aspect of modern cooking, the obliging act of cooking by the recipe.
The cooking industry is on the rise. We are bombarded with thousands of names, brands, video tutorials, blog posts, and articles all promising you the perfect lasagna and the original Ceaser’s Salad recipe. We tend to read recipes as if they were the Gospel, not daring to digress by a millimetre.
But apart of making us insecure about our cooking skills, following recipes blindly tends to create food waste.
We are prone to shop the whole recipe, without checking what we already have at home. We pin a great dinner idea in the office and then head straight to the super with a very vague idea what we already have in the pantry. We shop the whole recipe just to be on the safe side. What if we don’t have canned tuna at home? That would mean another trip to the grocery!
But shopping the whole recipe is just part of the problem. In order to be precise about ingredients – we often need to buy in excess because of package size. And then often we just don’t utilize the leftover ingredient. It is stuffed into the fridge forgotten and left to perish.
In order to be more efficient and less wasteful in the kitchen, we might need to rethink our whole concept of recipes. Let’s start by reminding ourselves that recipes weren’t always around.
Cooking by the book is a relatively recent phenomenon, probably coinciding with the rise to world fame of the French restaurant and the need to pass reliable and reproducible recipes across borders and seas.
Before and parallel to the appearance of the first cookbooks, food knowledge and the art of preparing certain dishes were passed on through generations, something that is still common in more traditional cultures.
Food know-how was preserved through the vernacular and hands-on demonstrations. Cooking was much more about proportion, rather than precise measurements. A carrot would never be left unutilized because somebody said 4 carrots instead of 5.
We must keep reminding ourselves that recipes are just someone’s take on how to prepare a dish. Despite their celebrity status, this take may not match your taste for flavors and spiciness or portion sizes.
By all means, if you are unsure of what exactly goes into a dish, consult for key ingredients.
- Don’t feel obliged to run out to buy brown rice, if you already have basmati in your pantry.
- If you prefer the taste of leaks to onions the dish will probably suit your taste much better.
- If the recipe says butter, but you are lousy at cooking with butter, there is no reason that you shouldn’t saute with olive oil.
If the ingredient list says 4 carrots, but you bought a bunch of 5, 1 more carrot won’t spoil the taste of your stew. It will, however, save the carrot from facing a forlorn death in your fridge.
Our best advice is to read 2-3 recipes on a dish so as to grasp the general principle. Then close the instructions and go on to create your own version.
Emancipating oneself from the tyranny of recipes is a food habit that is not only a step towards a wasteless kitchen but a vital leap towards your personal cooking confidence, empowerment, and creativity.
You are on your way to becoming a master cook.
How the CozZo app can Help You?
Use some free minutes at the office, to check with the CozZo app what you already have at home in your pantry and your fridge. Come up with your meal idea for tonight. If you are out of ideas, just Google the 3 main ingredients you have in mind, and consult a couple of recipes that seem appealing to you.
Add the products you miss to the shopping list and head for the store on your way back home. You will be fast, you will be efficient. You will not be shopping the recipe, but your concept for a dish. When you are light on your credit card and on your grocery bags, you will end up with less food to waste.
You will feel creative and positive about yourself!
Next, comes our advice on why we should Keep Cooking Simple.