Blog of Sara Jakša

Cooking Is Not An Exact Science, Right?

I have probably read at least 1000 recipes in my life and had a pleasure to have other people thought me cooking as well. And there was always the big difference between these two ways of teaching cooking, that I was surprised and it got me thinking.

When I try some new recipe from the book or internet site, there are always exact measurements of all ingredients. They are usually written on the beginning, exact amounts and sometimes even a really exact ingredients. Like specifying even the type of flour to use.

They continue with exact order to cook, going from step 1, through step 2 and step 3 and ending with the last step.

And every single dish. I have a book, that does muffins in 50 different ways, and there go through the same process every single time. Instead of learning us the basic principles and letting us experiment, they just give the exact way of how to make 50 different types of muffins.

On the other hand, when there are people teaching others how to cook, there are never exact. Probably because most of the people who cook, that I have met do not normally use any measuring device. They do not know the weight of the ingredients.

Instead, they told me what to look for. Like adding flour into the dough, until it stops gluing on my fingers. Or mixing the goulash, until the texture thickened enough to stick on the pasta, polenta or anything else that goes along.

Also, instead of doing just one dish and perfecting it, they tend to give more general instruction as well. Like adding more moisture ingredients when baking with nuts like walnut, because the tent to grain the moisture out of the ingredients, meaning they need more of it. Or after cooking rice it usually go to wait a while for the rice to absorb some more moisture.

And I tend to find the second way much more useful as far as my cooking goes. The first part is rigid and it discourages the experimenting or any other deviation from it. On the other hand, knowing the general principles and seeing how other people are not exact in their cooking, I can get more confidence to try something new.

Since I consider cooking as a form of an art, the creativity plays a great role. The mixing of ingredients, adding additional ones, using substitutions, removing some of them, changing the mixing order, changing the appearance... there are countless ways to use our creativity.

But a personal instructions came with the cost of time. It is a lot easier to just look the recipe on the internet and try it.

As long as we realize, that the recipes are not the law and are ready to change them, they can have the vital place in our cooking path.