The Perks of Following Recipes

Standard

1. When you follow recipes, there is almost a 100% guarantee that your creation will turn out to resemble what you intend it to.
2. If you follow a recipe, you can almost assuredly serve the meal that you’ve prepared to your friends or company or family (taking into consideration of course, that your recipe should come from a reputable source).
3. Following recipes is safe, fun, and allows for two or more people to contentedly bake or cook together because you’re following a set plan.

Sadly, I have a problem with following recipes.

It’s not that I didn’t learn how to read instructions in kindergarten – really, I did(!) – but for some reason I have the hardest time forcing myself to follow recipes. I always want to change something about them, deconstruct them to their purest form, substitute wild ingredients in experimental batches, omit ingredients if I don’t have them, or find ways to add sweet potatoes or carrots to my otherwise favorite recipes. Because of this abandonment of any formal written command whilst in the kitchen, I’ve come up with some real doozies as far as culinary failures go: I’ve made rolls that rise in your stomach, a sheet cake with floating pieces of scrambled egg in it, chocolate-covered pasta (which in theory might sound good, but Buddy the Elf is probably one of the only people in the world who can stomach that sweet of a dinner), mudgies (dense bricks of flour and strawberries baked in the oven), and a wild rice and chicken dish where I thought using instant rice would glean the same results as the normal kind.

That’s quite a list I’ve got going, and tonight I have two more to add: really mushy banana muffins and an attempt at (drumroll, please) sweet potato brownies. People, there’s a reason that flour was invented. Or oats. Or a substance of any kind that soaks up moisture. There’s also a reason that super-healthy, fiber-filled, naturally-sweetened, sweet potato brownies aren’t on the market these days. Just take my word for it – if you mix cocoa powder with a sweet potato and some baking powder you’ll just get a pan of bitter-tasting you-know-what instead of a decadent, fudgy, eat-the-whole-pan caliber of brownies.

You’re probably sitting there thinking, what is this girl thinking? I mean, who tries making sweet potatoes magically transform into a pan of warm brownies? Apparently, I do. It’s one of those situations like going to the gym, where you think about it all day and tell yourself to go, and how much better you’ll feel once you do. You get a kind of dreamlike sense about you as you think about yourself in the gym pumping iron or breaking the axles of the elliptical machine because you’re pumping your legs so fast, but once you get there you realize that curling 10 pound dumbbells is hard, and that watching tv from your elliptical is a whole lot more fun than striving to beat the person next to you. See, I thought about these sweet potato brownies long and hard. I figured the sweetness from the potato would lend itself nicely to the cocoa, and that the texture of the potato would act as an adhesive in the batter. Wrong, and wrong.

Despite my apparent failures of this evening, I’m not discouraged. Because I know I’ve overcome my stomach churning rolls to produce quinoa pizza crust, and my failure of a strawberry mudgie dessert has made way for chocolate-peanut butter mousse. So I’m taking this opportunity of “failure” as a learning lesson; I’ve noted valuable aspects of the art of baking that will lend themselves nicely to future creations.

In addition to the practical lessons in baking, I also took the opportunity to snap some shots of my excessively moist banana muffins. I’m working on photography so I figured that although they may not be pleasing to people who like their muffins to be airy, I’d click away on my camera to document them anyway.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for today! I was hoping to be able to share an earth-shattering healthy sweet potato brownie recipe but that will have to wait until I gain culinary superpowers (it might be a while…). Have any of you ever experienced mishaps in the kitchen? 

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