02/09/2013

Why I don't "do" recipes ...

I don't "do" recipes.

Recipes constrain ...

Recipes force a lack of imagination with ingredients and steer the Cook away from inventive action during the cooking.

As ancestral eaters, we are intelligent, inventive and experimental. We understand that food sources are seasonal, regional and often limited in availability. Furthermore, our template might permit some foods which other ancestral eaters will not.

When we cook, we get to know our ingredients. I said "get to know", since often we can be cooking for the first time with a new ingredient and have no idea how it will turn out. All those flavours that we put into our ingredients to make a meal should be done on the fly - adapt to taste.

Do not constrain yourself with a recipe.

What if ...

What if you did not have something listed in the ingredients? What if the ingredients list something you will not eat? What if the method requires a gadget or a means of cooking that you do not have?

Will you ever be able to make the dish? You can, through substitution - use a different ingredient or gadget or means of cooking.

You could be making a classic dish, yet find several recipes that list different ingredients, different cooking times and look quite different to each other? Will you ever be able to make the dish? Often recipes conflict, but you read between the lines and form your own opinion on the matter.

Almost immediately, we've rendered the recipe useless since we are not adhering to it. Consider whether you needed the recipe to being with.

Do not constrain yourself with a recipe.

Recipes are merely a guide ...

Furthermore, the means by which we gain knowledge around cooking has changed. The traditional recipe book has been subsumed by the TV programme - a Chef will walk through a dish from start to finish and talk about the food they are cooking as they go.

... that is where I'm coming from.

What you see here, what you read here is quite literally what I did. It is utterly pointless to list ingredients from the outset, but from the picture and the ramble, you'll get a sense of the dish ... upon which you'll base your decisions around the ingredients you want to put in and how you want to cook them.

In all seriousness, does anyone assemble, verbatim, all the ingredients onto the work surface and follow the step-by-step method?

You might if you're not a confident cook, or perhaps doing some baking where weights and measures really do count. But, we're ancestral eaters, so the latter is out and the former is something that you really can do something about.

Do not constrain yourself with a recipe.

You can be a confident cook ...

Ancestral eating does not require weights and measures. I have to use the phrase, but what did Grok do?

Our archetypal ice age fellow would have taken whatever food sources were present and available to him, and eat them. Today, we cook meals, but the principle remains: take real foods and put them together. Confidently.

You really cannot get it wrong. Cook something, put fruit alongside. Forget to cook something and eat it raw with the rest of the meal. Enjoy those first looks in the fridge, discovering something that you need to use up and take your dishes in a random direction. Savour those last minute brainwaves where you suddenly see something that you think would work.

For the most part, cook meat very little or for a long time. Fish, fry off until opaque throughout or steam for a mere few minutes. Vegetables rarely need more than a few minutes steaming or boiling and try to err on the undercooked side - if you're waiting for meat or fish, veggies can always be re-warmed in a frying pan, "wet up" with a little fat.

Do not constrain yourself with a recipe.

Weights and measures? Don't!

As ancestral eaters, we do things differently. Our intake ratios are quite different, we rely more on fat energy, we might eat more since we are active, we might eat less since we are not being undermined by grains and beans which make nutrients bio-unavailable.

We should eat sufficient. We do not snack, so our mealtimes are when we replenish ourselves and prime ourselves for the period until we eat next. If we are hungry in between, we might eat earlier or might eat more. Over even a short period, we understand how much we need to eat, and that is our only measure.

Don't weigh and don't measure - cook sufficient and enjoy leftovers. Enjoy leftovers for breakfast, or as the foundation for a new dish, sparked by your imagination.

Do not constrain yourself with a recipe.

Use your imagination and encourage creativity ...

The first bite is with the eyes. Attractive dishes are the product of imagination and creativity. There is no set definition of an "attractive" dish - put your meals together in a way that YOU think is attractive. Surprise your partner, your family, your friends with something pretty, something daring, something fun ... yes, food can be witty!

Do not constrain yourself with a recipe.

Lean to love food ...

Understand food. Understand which ingredients work well together and then get outside the guidelines. Remember your favourite combinations, tastes and textures. Understand flavour as distinct from taste - the spices, herbs and umami that enhances and amplifies taste.

Experiment. Always try out new things, be it a new ingredient or a new combination. Be inventive. Enjoy what you cook but moreover, enjoy cooking.

Let ingredients be your inspiration, your mantra being "take real foods and put them together".

Let nature be your personal shopper, your mantra being "eat local, seasonal and organic".

There is an abundance in meat, shell/fish, eggs, veggies and fruits.

I challenge you to never eat the same meal again. Ever!

1 comment :

  1. I do do recipes but pick them apart and do it myself with my ingredients I have on hand.They are like ideas for me to revamp them and make it my own. But I can say I am always making many different meals that sometimes I wish I wrote down because I would a love to have made it again.But than come up with something better.

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