Friday, August 24, 2012

Fee, Fie, Foe Friday: Wonder Why That Recipe Didn't Turn Out?

It's not just using the wrong ingredients that can make a dish o very wrong...
Okay. Yes, there are a few faulty recipes on the internet. I've found some that, even with my 30 years of cooking and teaching, make me say, " WTH?" Those we can't do much about.

But if you read the comments sections of food blogs, as I do, you'll find that either literacy on the part of the reader/cook is a bigger problem than we know, or that people just will-nilly substitute ingredients left and right and then have the nerve to complain to the food blogger that the recipe doesn't work or is awful. At least half of the commenters have made mistakes in execution or have made off-the-wall substitutions and are unwilling to take the blame for their own stupidity mistakes. If you substitute applesauce for butter and carob chips for chocolate in one of MY recipes, don't come whining back and tell me the cookies were dreadful. No sympathy from me, since you've just made YOUR OWN bad recipe, not mine. I admire the tactfulness and kindness of so many of the blogger I read; someday I will learn to be that nice. Probably not very soon, even though I have yet to run out of patience with any of my in-the-flesh students.

There is a lot of both chemistry and physics in food prep and cooking. Most of us slept through so many science courses in school that we've forgotten about things like how metals conduct heat and what happens with sodium and cell walls...Cooking and baking are  the everyday practical application of those classes that seemed useless at the time.

My mother always claimed that if you could read, you could cook; maybe not well, but passably. I think people can read, but their comprehension is low. Not understanding the instructions and not using the correct ingredients are pretty much guaranteed to spoil the best of recipes, especially if the cook is inexperienced.

The bright side here is that by making cooking mistakes is how you get cooking experience. Some things you'll likely learn the hard way: that baking soda and baking powder are NOT interchangeable, that a wet cloth transmits heat way faster than a dry one, and that butter cookies don't taste good when you use a trans fat free, earth friendly, vegetarian, factory spread instead of Mother Nature's good butter. Or that a cup of ketchup is a lousy substitute for sauce on a homemade pizza. This list goes on and on, and each of us has our very own list of things we'll never try again.

The point of this Fee, Fie, Foe rant is basically to read the recipe, and then read it again to be sure you understand what to do in each step and then make sure to use the food the recipe specifies. If you don't have something a dish asks for on hand, and you aren't sure if what you've got in the pantry will work, don't do it. Make another recipe. Google a recipe for what you do have. And if it's one of my recipes, I don't want to hear about it unless you think its a funny story and you take the blame.

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