Friday, April 10, 2015


Last week I finally used up the last of the broth left from cooking the home-brined corned beef. There may be recipes for using it, but I just made different things a bunch of times until it was all gone.

The last thing I made was chicken cooked in it, and then I added diced carrots and frozen spinach and garlic powder and white wine and cream to make a sauce for the chicken and some rice.

I mention this because it was exceptionally good. The MiL said I should remember how I made it so I could make it again. Not that I could ever re-create it, because although the ingredients are listed up there, I have no idea how much of anything I put in. It's not as if it was a recipe. I just threw things in until I thought it was done.

This is my most common method of cooking, and it's definitely one I should stick with. Because here's what happened when I used a recipe.

I was making hummus. I spent ten minutes skinning chickpeas for the proper texture and then prepared to obliterate them in the food processor with the standard tahini/lemon juice/garlic combination. I was just going to throw everything in until it tasted good, as I usually do. This is what I should have done. Instead I looked at a recipe, and then everything went wrong.

I decided to look in this enormous Middle Eastern cookbook of the MiL's. I've never made anything from it, and I thought maybe there was some secret ingredient or tip that would make hummus even better. The recipe listed chickpeas, water, tahini, lemon juice, and garlic*. All good, although the water gave me pause. I've never added water to hummus, but I thought maybe the chickpeas absorb it and it makes a nice texture? Three cups seemed like a bit much, though.

So I added about half a cup of water to the food processor. I realized two things simultaneously: One, that it was now waaaay too thin. And two, the recipe was starting with dried beans, whereas I used canned. The water was for soaking and cooking the chickpeas. That were then supposed to be drained.

How's that for complete idiocy in the kitchen?

I was really pissed that I spent all that time skinning the chickpeas only to screw up like that. I added a can of cannellini beans to thicken it up, as we were out of chickpeas. It's still too thin, but at least edible.

I think I'm just going to swear off even trying to follow recipes anymore. It's just not for me and my apparently unfocused brain.

* This recipe also calls for skinning the chickpeas, and I felt very smug for already doing that. How the mighty (and smug) will fall . . .


tu mere said...

You've obviously figured out how to make good/great meals by using what you have on hand and what your taste buds tell you will work. You're smart not to mess with a winning combination.

Recipes usually work as a starting point with adjustments for personal taste. Based on our limited experience with our cooking, you have the taste part down pat!

Sherry said...

Skinning chickpeas??? I never ever heard of that. I make a lot of things your way - no recipe - but I do have some wonderful recipes too. I have never skinned chickpeas and I start with dried chickpeas that are soaked and then cooked. I get a lot of accolades for my hummus and I make it with much the same, if not THE same, ingredients you mentioned. I think most good cooks agree - be adventurous and don't be afraid to try new things. Are you going to have a garden this year? I'm always jealous of your large quantity of fresh from the garden vegetables. . . but it IS a lot of work!

Mil said...

A plus: one can dip a tortilla chip into the hummus without breaking the chip. I think that's a good feature; I hate to see half a chip staring up at me from a bowl of hummus. MIL

Daisy said...

My best soups are made by the method that goes like this: add some of every vegetable in the kitchen. Stir in a few herbs. Simmer all day.

gabe said...

I like your style - I rarely follow a recipe either. That sometimes makes it hard when I post recipes, so keep that in mind if you ever use anything from me :)