Quick Recipes and Easy

Cooking Without A Recipe – Tastier Step By Step

I was once one of those people that always used recipes. I was worried to venture away from those wonderful cards and comforting pieces of paper with amounts, ingredients, and instructions. I thought I needed to be told exactly how to make something; I wouldn’t increase, decrease, or substitute anything.

After awhile, I became tired of the confinement from those 4×6 cards. I started venturing into a new world – a world without recipes. I started by substituting ingredients, one vegetable for another. Then I started adding spices. Now, I view myself as a full-blown “cook”; I have no problem making dinner without a recipe. Gaining this culinary freedom can be done step by step.

Start by viewing cooking as two things – a leisure activity and a science experiment. Like with any leisure activity, the first few times you complete a project it may not turn out exactly how you expected, but you keep trying until it does. In science, you make a hypothesis, test the hypothesis by doing the experiment, and then observe what happens and come to a conclusion. If your conclusion leads you to another hypothesis, you try it again.

Cooking should be viewed the same way. Throw the ingredients together, taste the result, and choose how it is. Like a leisure activity, if it doesn’t work the first time, try again. I often make meals and critique afterwards, asking myself, “What flavors are missing? Is the consistency right? What things would I add or remove next time to make it taste better?”

Granted, if you always use recipes venturing into the unknown world of cooking without them can be intimidating. Below I’ve listed a few suggestions for ‘baby steps’ toward cooking on your own.

- Substitute, add, or remove vegetables (and eventually other ingredients as well). This is one of the simplest things to do. If you don’t like onions and the recipe calls for them, take them out. If the recipe calls for corn and you like peas, try substituting. If what you’re making might be tastier with some broccoli, throw it in.

- Know what you like. This may seem simple, but know what you like. If you’re constantly coming across a flavor that appeals to you, be able to figure out what that flavor is. One of the best tricks I have learned is the ability to taste something and tell what spices are in it. To do this, see the next tip.

- Use your nose. As humans we often neglect our sense of smell, which can be so helpful when cooking. Often if the dish I’m preparing ‘needs something’, I open my spice cupboard and start sniffing. The smells of spices go together, so trust your sense of smell and you’ll come across what you need.

- Know your spices. In science, you often gather information and conduct research. Do the same with your spices – know which spices often go together and what types of cuisine use which spices.

- Get creative. Much like other leisure activities, creativity is the key. Don’t be worried to get creative in your cooking either. My sister-n-law roasts squash with cinnamon and chili powder. I wouldn’t have thought to place those two spices together, but the outcome was tasty.

- Trust yourself. The more you do this, the better you’ll get. In the meantime, have some frozen pizzas and sandwich makings on hand just in case.

Be confident! Cooking without recipes or even using recipes as guidelines rather than strict instructions can open you up to a wonderful world of culinary freedom. You will soon find that you can make tastier meals step by step.

Natalie is a work at home mom who likes crock pot cooking and quick and simple recipes in general. To view her crock pot recipes visit natalies-recipes.com natalies-recipes.com, which also includes a variety of helpful hints, cooking tips, quick and simple recipes, fantastic products, and a free weekly informative newsletter.

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