Friends tell me that I’m a good cook. I know that I like most of everything that I cook and that the failures are fewer and farther between, although they still happen every now and then, when I stretch too far beyond the bounds of normal.
I think the key is to know when and what can be substituted. For example, I’ve learned that when baking cakes substitute almost nothing. Like don’t put in duck eggs for chicken eggs; they’re not the same. For bread, you can substitute/increase/decrease and still get good bread.
Then there are times when I know best. Like when I cooked Puerco Pibil exactly as Robert Rodriquez had specified. The ingredients seemed to be too much sour but I did it anyway, ’cause it was the first time for me. Remember, I had learned that lesson of “The first time follow the instructions“?
Here’s the caveat: Unless you have the experience to know better. That means that if it’s a version of something that you do know, go ahead and second guess the cook. So, in this case, for my tastes, I was right and he was wrong. Sorry, Robert. I love your movies.
So what’s my point? Finally, there is a cookbook, really an instruction manual for us seat of the pants cookers. Ratios! I still love reading cookbooks and cooking magazines. They inspire me. And, I refer to them for something that I haven’t ever done or do once in 10-15 years. Like a Black Forest Birthday Cake.
But THIS BOOK!!! It unlocks secrets so I don’t have to break the code myself. I’m making pencil notes in the margins. This one is going to be well used, oil spattered, flour covered. . . a kitchen workhorse.
Finally, there’s a book for us seat of the pants cookers.