My mother-in-law made us a cookbook as a wedding present. It would do nothing but gather deep, deep dust except that when she visits she asks to see it, and then pores over her own recipes talking about how great they are and how much Paul loves them. Reminder: they are not; he does not.
This morning Paul wanted to make cinnamon rolls, and he knew there was a recipe in that book, so he got it out. He got the dough made (the recipe just said "dough" so he made a usual bread machine batch), and then got to the part where you make the topping--which is made in the bottom of the pan, since you flip the rolls out upside-down when they're done. The recipe says to "put in butter and brown sugar." No quantities. Then there is a sentence about how she's sorry but she just does this by eye. Well, how about a goddamn estimate, then? Is it a teaspoon of butter or is it two sticks? Is it a tablespoon of brown sugar or is it the whole pound-size box?
It is not a surprise to me that we would discover this problem in her recipes. My mother-in-law scoffs at people who MEASURE things, and has great admiration for anyone who can put food together creatively--such as herself. I admire people who can cook without recipes, too, but I also admire people who cook WITH them, especially when they get good results, and when they can pass those good results on to other cooks. My own personal top rating goes to people who start with recipes in order to learn, and then go branching off from there--and who DON'T SCOFF.
Here is what I think: you either respect recipes or you don't, and you can't play it both ways. If you like to think of yourself as the "I just cook from my heart and it always turns out PERRRRRFECT, I just don't UNDERSTAND people who have to use RECIPES, isn't it GLORIOUS when you finally become a good enough cook that you don't NEED them" type, like my mother-in-law, that's fine--but then you don't get to pass your recipes down to the next generation as if a recipe is NOW suddenly a deeply important thing. "Cinnamon Rolls: YOU know! Butter! Sugar! Dough! Jesus, figure it out!" "Meatloaf: Well...you MAKE A MEAT LOAF! Duh!" "Chicken Soup: Chicken! Soup! Put 'em together, moron!" Great cookbook, there, Mother-In-Law. You should shop that to publishers. You can call it Any Idiot Can Use A Recipe. Except Me.
Gift ideas for an 8-year-old, part 2 of 2 - Last week I talked about the gifts we were getting/considering for Edward, who is turning 8 next month. This week it’s Elizabeth’s turn: not “girl gifts,” ...