I take a casual approach to following recipes, and when I post about it on social media, some creators even take issue with it. Thankfully, many don’t care, and some even compliment me on my suggestions.
Some people say that if I’ve changed the recipe a bunch, I should just not involve them at all, but I tend to feel like inspiration should be acknowledged wherever possible. But that might be my pie in the sky dreams of people not just copying the same recipe from one another over and over again without any attribution.
I started thinking about this because recently I made The First Mess’ Spice-Roasted Cauliflower in a Coconut Tomato Sauce with Lentils. But I didn’t make it with lentils – I had planned on making it with chickpeas, but in a moment of inspiration, I decided to use a red pepper hummus that was approaching its expiration date. I also added spinach. and I didn’t have fennel seed so I used anise. It turned out great.
Anyway, I told our small human today that following recipes is pretty important when you are baking* or just starting out in the kitchen. Or just because you enjoy creating the recipe someone intended you to make. But at a certain point, when you’ve been making a variety of foods for a while, recipes can become beautiful guides that you can riff on all you want.
It all depends on your comfort level. Once you get comfortable in the kitchen you can start experimenting and it can be so much fun. Or maybe it’s not fun for you, and you can figure out some other way of getting food into yourself. As for me, I love reducing food waste, and still making something delicious.
*Even with baking, I find that sometimes I can bake more by feel – especially bread. It seems it’s intuitive but I think if anything, it’s muscle memory – the dough feels right when it’s ready, and if it’s not, you know what you need to do to get it where it needs to go. But it take experience and repetition, like learning anything else.