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Are you what I call a magic chef?


Night Elf
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Can you toss in a bit of this and a bit of that together and make a meal? I can only cook by following recipes. I love watching cooking shows and I'm amazed they can throw together a meal with what appears to be little thought. I have no sense of what pairs together well or how things cook.

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I guess I am.  If I am in the mood for something I will look online at multiple recipes, get an idea of ingredients needed, and then put something together myself adjusting as needed to make it taste right.  I don't read recipes, I just use them as a guideline for ideas on how to make a recipe.  It drives DH crazy b/c I just throw things together.  I research before I do it though. :)

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Yeah, pretty much.  I do try to make myself follow recipes exactly the first time I try them, so that I can riff off of the original.

 

I took a wholistic,organicish nutrition class with vegan overtones the year before last, and bought the two cookbooks that the instructors used most.  The food is so different from what I am used to that I can't read the recipes and picture whether I would enjoy the result or not.  I find that quite disconcerting, since I've *always* been able to do that.

Edited by Carol in Cal.
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I guess I can. It doesn't always turn out right but most of the time these days it's not too bad. I think it's about pattern recognition. I spent many years following recipes as closely as possible. After a while, you start to see recipe patterns emerge and they become predictable. Once you see the pattern, or maybe just sense or feel the pattern without consciously thinking about it, it becomes easier to anticipate what should or could come next. 

 

Now, I usually look for recipes, find several that are similar, and then make whatever I'm making without looking back at it. I get the general idea. If it's something I'm not familiar with, however, I will follow the recipe exactly. 

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Sort of.  I usually start with a recipe, but I never follow it exactly.  I don't measure (unless I'm baking); I swap spices or ingredients based on preference and availability.  If I have a general idea of what the original recipe might entail, I can make a similar dish on the fly.  I don't, however, usually invent recipes cold.

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I guess I am. If I am in the mood for something I will look online at multiple recipes, get an idea of ingredients needed, and then put something together myself adjusting as needed to make it taste right. I don't read recipes, I just use them as a guideline for ideas on how to make a recipe. It drives DH crazy b/c I just throw things together. I research before I do it though. :)

 

This is what I do. I rarely follow specific recipes because of food allergies and missing ingredients. Most of the time it turns out fine.

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My mom got sick when I was in 5th grade, and we were poor. I learned how to look in a pantry and make something from what was there. I even have a hard time following recipes because I've got opinions. But I promise I'm not one of those people who unrecognizably alters a recipe and then posts a bad review!

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I don't have the ambition to want to cook really. I'm just in awe of people who can. :laugh:

 

A couple of weeks ago I posted about wanting to make stuffed peppers. DH thought they were so good he asked me to add them to our meal rotation. The only problem I have with them is they are made with tomato sauce and I'm not a big fan of that. The pepper was what made the dish for me. I love green peppers. That's the first new recipe I've tried in I don't know how long!

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Can you toss in a bit of this and a bit of that together and make a meal? I can only cook by following recipes. I love watching cooking shows and I'm amazed they can throw together a meal with what appears to be little thought. I have no sense of what pairs together well or how things cook.

 

Yep, that's me.

 

Bill

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Sure, I can do that with both cooking and baking. But, I think I can now because I have cooked and baked so much. I kind of have the ratios for baking and the flavor combinations we like for cooking in my head due to all the cooking and experimenting I have done over the past twelve years of being married to my DH. I really love to cook so it is fun for me to make up new combinations and try new things. Some of my best recipes have come from that. My newest favorite is making "dirty" (as in adding coffee) Gingersnap cookies. I got the idea from a dirty Chai tea I ordered. I added some pepper, instant espresso, and cardamon to my favorite gingersnap recipe and boy is it good.

Edited by 4Kiddos
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I don't have the ambition to want to cook really. I'm just in awe of people who can. :laugh:

 

A couple of weeks ago I posted about wanting to make stuffed peppers. DH thought they were so good he asked me to add them to our meal rotation. The only problem I have with them is they are made with tomato sauce and I'm not a big fan of that. The pepper was what made the dish for me. I love green peppers. That's the first new recipe I've tried in I don't know how long!

 

So leave out the tomato sauce and flavor the rice with something else that you do like. Easy!

 

Bill

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Nope! I read the recipe and follow it to the letter the first time around, then I jot down a few alterations (just a few), usually to add more garlic than was called for. Then, ever after, I make the dish exactly as my tweaked recipe is written. I never trust my memory or instincts for cooking.

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I don't know if I could find my recipe book.  :0)

 

Best book I ever read was The Curious Cook, followed by America's Test Kitchen's magazine and Alton Brown's books (which I also can't find anymore) which taught about the *chemistry* of cooking--why you do what you do when you do it to get what effect.  I also took a "class" of sorts from a Cordon Bleu chef, and learned how to make the basics--a roux, a mirepoix, an egg-based sauce, and so on.  

 

I'm too disobedient (and have too many allergies to compensate for) to follow recipes.

 

AND I am not a baker.  Baking, you HAVE to know what you are doing.  

 

 

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This is exactly what I do. Most times it works out fine, sometimes it's a disaster, lol. One problem with this method is that if something ends up being a favorite, it's really hard to replicate it. Dh is trying to get me to recreate something I made last month and I can't figure it out at all.

Dh has me write down what I did if it's a hit that day so I remember it all, lol.

Edited by tess in the burbs
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I can, at least with any ingredients that I've used a long time.

 

With the stuffed peppers that you want to eliminate the tomato sauce from, you could just leave it out and use broth for any needed moisture and maybe toss in some extra seasoning. 

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Can you toss in a bit of this and a bit of that together and make a meal?

For my relatives, it is called raiding the refrigerator and making a meal out of whatever is there :)

My relatives are made up of supertasters and people who aren't picky about food. Someone would happily finish the food and ask for seconds as long as they don't need to cook.

I can cook something edible but not yummy and my husband would kindly eat all up. My husband would buy things that we have never eaten before to try from the supermarkets so it is trial and error when cooking.

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I can with some things, not so much with others.  Most of it is just practice.  Of course some people have a natural knack for flavor combinations and cooking techniques.  Some people can also memorize recipes.  

 

I don't know what kind of cooking shows you are watching, but I doubt most are really throwing stuff together with little thought.  I don't watch cooking shows, so I'm not claiming to know for sure.  I think I recall hearing about some cooking competitions where people had to do that. But if you are watching Rachael Ray and such, I don't think they are doing anything off the cuff.  

 

There is also nothing wrong with following recipes if that's what works best for you.  I think sometimes there is a snobbery about cooking that the only "real" cooks are people who don't use recipes.  I cook at least 300 meals per year so I am a real cook.  

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I don't have the ambition to want to cook really. I'm just in awe of people who can. :laugh:

 

A couple of weeks ago I posted about wanting to make stuffed peppers. DH thought they were so good he asked me to add them to our meal rotation. The only problem I have with them is they are made with tomato sauce and I'm not a big fan of that. The pepper was what made the dish for me. I love green peppers. That's the first new recipe I've tried in I don't know how long!

 

Google "stuffed peppers without tomato sauce" and you will see some recipes.   Here is one from Allrecipes that uses beef gravy for liquid.  

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I can with some things, not so much with others.  Most of it is just practice.  Of course some people have a natural knack for flavor combinations and cooking techniques.  Some people can also memorize recipes.  

 

I don't know what kind of cooking shows you are watching, but I doubt most are really throwing stuff together with little thought.  I don't watch cooking shows, so I'm not claiming to know for sure.  I think I recall hearing about some cooking competitions where people had to do that. But if you are watching Rachael Ray and such, I don't think they are doing anything off the cuff.  

 

There is also nothing wrong with following recipes if that's what works best for you.  I think sometimes there is a snobbery about cooking that the only "real" cooks are people who don't use recipes.  I cook at least 300 meals per year so I am a real cook.  

 

Iron Chef America and Chopped. I got started on Iron Chef America with their competitions to get a new iron chef. They're given an ingredient and have to come up with a dish fast. It's things they know, but they have to have food knowledge to do it. And Chopped amazes me. It seems the baskets have unrelated ingredients that they have to combine to make one dish. Totally amazes me.

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I don't have the ambition to want to cook really. I'm just in awe of people who can. :laugh:

 

 

See, I'm like that about gardening.

 

I want someone to tell me exactly what to do and that it will work where I am.  People who say, well, you just have to try things and see if they work and then do something else the next year, drive me absolutely crazy.  I don't enjoy this enough to want to pay that much attention to figuring it out.  

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ONLY after I've made it for a while, or have followed a recipe.  But yes, I make burrito filling, pasta sauce, and chili this way.  But only because I've followed enough of those sorts of recipes in the past.  So I don't give myself magic chef marks.  Maybe repetitive chef...  :lol:

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Can you toss in a bit of this and a bit of that together and make a meal? I can only cook by following recipes. I love watching cooking shows and I'm amazed they can throw together a meal with what appears to be little thought. I have no sense of what pairs together well or how things cook.

It's just practice, as with anything else. Can you write quickly and easily? Of course. Could you when you were six? No. The more you do something, the easier it becomes. It helps if you enjoy doing it. 

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I cook everything and enjoy it most days. My kids are spoiled tho and hate takeout food. My countertops are littered with spice jars. My pots and pans are rarely all put away at the same time. My only nemesis is whole wheat bread.

Edited by Sneezyone
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Iron Chef America and Chopped. I got started on Iron Chef America with their competitions to get a new iron chef. They're given an ingredient and have to come up with a dish fast. It's things they know, but they have to have food knowledge to do it. And Chopped amazes me. It seems the baskets have unrelated ingredients that they have to combine to make one dish. Totally amazes me.

I watched Iron Chef Japan and the chefs all are very experienced. I think Japanese sushi chef starts their apprenticeship when they are 16 years old for 10 to 15 years.

 

MasterChef Junior is amazing and fun to watch as in how passionate the kids are at cooking.

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Yes, but I don't think of it as magic. It's how my mother cooked and how I learned to cook at her side. I will sometimes look up recipes for ethnic dishes or restaurant copycat recipes that I want to try, but for the most part, no recipes.
 
I've never seen Chopped or The Chew (never heard of that last one) but I just googled and looked at the titles of some of the recipes. Though there's a lot that I wouldn't make because my family doesn't eat like that, the recipes don't look special. They just look like food - well seasoned and presented.
 
 

My mom got sick when I was in 5th grade, and we were poor. I learned how to look in a pantry and make something from what was there.

 
Mine was a single working mom. When she was home she cooked and taught me how to cook, but often I was cooking for my younger brother and me while she was working a double shift.
 

I even have a hard time following recipes because I've got opinions.


LOL! That's often my problem with recipes, especially ones I find online.

Edited by Lady Florida.
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Yep. I think recipes are great for ideas, and for looking up certain details or proportions... but I rarely use them.

 

However, I cook very simply. The kinds of I don't need a recipe for are like... "Cook pork chops on the BBQ until done. Spice them before grilling. As they finish, ask who wants BBQ sauce." Or... "Brown ground beef with onion; add jar of red sauce; serve over cooked noodles."

 

If I was cooking chicken florentine (I don't even know what that is) I would certainly need a recipe.

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I don't have the ambition to want to cook really. I'm just in awe of people who can. :laugh:

 

A couple of weeks ago I posted about wanting to make stuffed peppers. DH thought they were so good he asked me to add them to our meal rotation. The only problem I have with them is they are made with tomato sauce and I'm not a big fan of that. The pepper was what made the dish for me. I love green peppers. That's the first new recipe I've tried in I don't know how long!

 

Just today I made a recipe somewhat like the filling for stuffed peppers and I used canned pumpkin instead of tomatoes because dd is allergic to tomatoes. 

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I'm not sure I've ever actually followed a recipe without tweaking and changing it to better suit my tastes. I'm thrilled that DS is learning to cook that way too.

 

My MIL is someone who needs to follow a recipe exactly, even if she makes the same thing every week. I feel bad when she asks me for my recipes and I honestly don't know what to tell her--just toss some of this and that together, add some of this if you have it, or whatever you like. Cook until done. See, easy peasy! :)

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Like what? I really have no idea. Soup, like a cream of mushroom or something?

 

No canned soup, shudder. 

You can sautee mushrooms and mix them in, that's yummy.

Or season it with curry powder, or fresh herbs, or some soy sauce, or make it spicy with hot peppers.

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If I was cooking chicken florentine (I don't even know what that is) I would certainly need a recipe.

 

If I wanted to cook chicken florentine, I'd look up what it is (because I don't know either). I'd read "spinach and mushrooms, white sauce, parmesan", and that would suffice and I'd make up my own recipe.

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Just today I made a recipe somewhat like the filling for stuffed peppers and I used canned pumpkin instead of tomatoes because dd is allergic to tomatoes.

We like canned pumpkin in enchiladas (if I don't have sweet potatoes) and in chili. DS eats it straight out of the can. Lol

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I'm *okay* at it.  I'll never get to Master Chef level, mostly because I have no desire to.

 

I throw stuff together that people eat without much complaint.  Not exciting, magical stuff.  And, yes, it's been a long road to get here.  We do have a rule in our house:  Don't fiddle with a dish until you get the standard recipe down.  (Because my children are much more adventurous than me, but not quite as skilled.)

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Not for the stuffed peppers, but to learn how to do ad lib cooking, I would get How to Cook Without a Book by Pam Anderson. It teaches you how to cook without using recipes. Like proportion for making sauces

I was cooking a lot without recipes and even more by combining recipes or changing recipes. This book helped me become even better at it, .

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I think so, but it's mostly about knowing 1) basic techniques, and 2) knowing what flavors go well together for MY family.  We're not super adventurous so anything I "whip together" with what we have on hand would probably not wow guests or anything.  lol

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No canned soup, shudder. 

You can sautee mushrooms and mix them in, that's yummy.

Or season it with curry powder, or fresh herbs, or some soy sauce, or make it spicy with hot peppers.

 

I use canned soup for several things. Good old Campbell's is my friend.

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