Monday, June 13, 2011

What's Your Cooking Process?

Today I wanted to be more interactive with my readers (I think I have some!) and so I'm wondering - how do you cook? I've always had a pretty specific (if not chaotic) way of going about it, and I'm guessing everyone has a groove they get into when in the kitchen. Do you use one specific recipe? Do you go to the grocery store and get everything you need for one recipe before making it? Do you constantly read cookbooks?

I admit, I am not a cookbook reader. I have used Bittman's How to Cook Everything to read up on my technique, but I just have never gotten into reading cookbooks for pleasure. And I've never made anything using just one recipe. Never. I think that's why cookbooks have never appealed to me. Maybe it's the rebel in me - I just can't follow directions without putting myself into it and changing something completely. But, it's not only that because, you may have noticed, I'm kind of lazy. If I have to go to the grocery store to get a couple key ingredients, even though otherwise I don't need anything there - I just can't bring myself to do it. I'll stick with grilled cheese and tomato soup if I have to (it is fun to fancy up simple dishes).

Thankfully, we have the internet. You can type in ingredients - veggies, meat and spices - and see what's been done before. If you don't find a specific recipe that covers all the stuff you have, you can still figure out what would taste good together to make a scrumptious flavor profile. I usually start by plugging in the boring ingredients (chicken, tomatoes) into And then I get really into it and just use my google-fu to tweak the flavors to incorporate what I have on hand and what I like. Luckily for you, I'm here to do the work for you and share what I've been able to come up with.

We all are definitely drawn to certain flavors. Some like it hot, some like it mild. Some like it sweet, but not with their proteins. I love Asian flavors, so sweet and meat with a low slow heat is what I crave. I love a hint of honey with my hot sauce. It's a trick I use often. I love salty with my sweet - all my baked goods undoubtedly have more salt than any recipe I've seen call for. I never use salt when I'm making Italian food, my trick is to add (more) parmesan cheese (fresh, of course!) to the recipe instead. What are some of your favorite flavors?

The things that are to taste seem easier for me. I can get heavy handed (I like things spicy), and the key for me is to set out all of my little touches (herbs, spices, strong flavored ingredients like cream or vinegar) and have them at my fingertips throughout the whole process of cooking the dish and going slow with them. I wash my hands a ton when I'm cooking, because I love to taste. I've found once you know a few of the basics (how to make a roux, how to cook chicken in a frying pan well, the proportions of main ingredients that are common in many types of dishes - Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking is an amazing read on that) you're really able to have fun mixing it up and trying new things.

Well, that's enough of me. I hope to hear from some of you. Answer my questions, critique my layout of recipes, let me know how you did on one of my recipes, just say hi! I'd like to try some kind of giveaway on my blog, any good ideas?

But, I'm going to give a bonus post here since I really just want to get all of my recipes up for you! I have failed with pictures, but just you wait - I'm getting a dSLR camera this week! Since the season hasn't been cooperative and I haven't been able to give you any really amazing dishes inspired by my CSA veggies (lookout, because next week is the first delivery!), I'm going to leave you with cupcakes, you just can't go wrong.


  1. I used to be a random mess of a cooker until I tried the mise en place method, having everything ready ahead of time. Now I always practice mise en place it just makes it easier to concentrate on the method over the madness. Also can't wait to see some nice pretty pictures with the DSLR!

  2. Do you chop all your veggies and such first then, too? Or do you just get everything you need out in one place? When I get the veggie shares, I prep all the veggies for storage, so it's easier to have everything cut up in bowls like a cooking show. In every day life I'm lucky if I just have everything out and ready to use - which saves on time a lot. Sometimes I'm rummaging through all my cupboards and fridge and then we don't eat until after 7, lol.

    And, yay! I just ordered the camera and then I'm gonna get a special lens for the food blog :) And next week I'll be getting the CSA box! I can't wait to take some good pictures. I really hate the one I have now and it's been hard to blog without any pictures.

  3. I hope you are enjoying the new camera! I can't wait to see the next post.

    To answer your question yes I do all the chopping ahead of time. Basically when I cook it looking like a show *sigh* I guess I can keep dreaming.

  4. I have the camera and have a couple things to share! I'm working on going through the pictures right now. We did a True Blood themed party with sangria, hot sauce pancake battered shrimp, tater tots and popcorn chicken with 3 dipping sauces and a peach cobbler. So perfect and fun, but super easy. I also made my honey mustard chicken pot pie. Yumm.