Some people follow recipes religiously. These are the people who get on forums and say things like, “Help me! I started making this recipe and discovered I only have 1/4 tsp of tarragon and the recipe calls for 1/2 a tsp and it’s ten minutes until dinner and I don’t know what to do!”
Other people look at you blankly when you ask for the recipe for that marvelous food they made. “Recipe?” they say, “I just took a handful out of every third bag in my cupboard and shook it for a while. You could try doing that…”
I have discovered a third category. I am neither a recipe follower, nor a complete adventurer. I generally use a recipe as a guide, switching out ingredients at will, and often just following the general idea I have in my head of how a certain dish should turn out.
This is fine when I know how a dish should turn out, but can make experimenting with new dishes a bit difficult. (One might say dangerous, but I think this would be an overstatement.) Sheerly by accident I have developed a system that works for this situation.
First, I develop a inexplicable desire to try some certain food that I’ve never had before. Today it was deciding that I really needed to marinate the chicken for tomorrow in some sort of lime sauce. To the best of my memory I’ve never had lime chicken, but it suddenly seemed like a good idea.
Then, I do a google search. “Lime chicken marinade” seemed most applicable in this case. I open tabs of recipes that look interesting, giving preference to blogs that I’ve gotten good recipes from before, or sites that have recipe reviews. I skim the recipes, close the tabs that are clearly not the kind of recipe I’m looking for, and compare the remaining three.
Why three? I have no idea, but it’s almost always three.
Sometimes, this leads me to the conclusion that there’s only really one basic recipe for the dish I want to make, and since I’ll season it up however I feel like anyway, it doesn’t matter which one I follow. In the case of lime chicken marinade however, there are a lot of variations. This leads to a more complicated process of figuring out what *kind* of lime chicken marinade would go best with roasted root vegetables and rice, and choosing various ingredients from all the recipes, ignoring the uninteresting ingredients.
I muddle together a concoction of olive oil, honey, salt, pepper, lime juice, tequila, vinegar, ginger and garlic. I hope I have enough of all the ingredients to actually flavor the chicken and not enough to be overwhelming. I drop the chicken in the fridge and wait…
To Be Continued…