When I started cooking, I tried following recipes with mixed results. I can be sorta literal, so if a recipe said to cut a potato into 1/2" dice, I'd spend all day making sure each and every cube was the right size. Other times, there'd be a term I wasn't sure of (saute? Is that like fry?), or a cooking vessel that I didn't have (what the heck is a saucier pot?).
Back then, I didn't know enough to just wing it. So I'd either get frustrated and not cook or I'd get frustrated and cook and hate it. Frustration is not my favorite emotion, but I knew somewhere inside me was a cook waiting to get out. I just didn't know how to free him.
So I started making packaged foods, like flavored rice and sauce combos . And I'd add whatever was handy or sounded good. This usually meant ground beef, garlic, and corn went in every dish. And it led to experiments and discoveries that propelled me onward -- you’d be amazed at how many ways you can incorporate those three ingredients into anything!
Flash forward 20 years, and my wife's grandfather wants to put together a family recipe book. I've been asked to submit 6 or 8 of my favorite recipes. It’s flattering that her family thinks I’m such a terrific cook, but there’s a problem...
I’m going to include a disclaimer with my recipes, warning them that what they are about to make may not even remotely resemble the dish they remember me cooking for them.
And if they’re in doubt, they should just add ground beef, corn, and garlic. It worked for me!