recipe, disaster!

if blog posts got dedications, this one would totally be dedicated to nn for being so patient waiting for it.

 

for some odd reason i've had an incredibly difficult time trying to write this post. i've gone through several drafts, including one that contained stick figures and another that consisted of a mind map that was too big to load onto the page. and each version just felt blah and boring and depressing. even the stick figure one.

i feel bad, too. i promised a week ago (or more now. let's not count the days) a post explaining the lack of recipes here, and so far nothing. what's worse is it's not that i don't know what to say, i'm just not sure how to say it.

the truth is i'm a bit of a disaster right now. i'm bored. i don't like winter that much. and even hula hooping can't cure this funk i'm in. so, if we want to talk about recipes for disasters, let's just post my picture next to the ingredients list as the final product.

there's nothing really wrong with recipes. i like flipping through cookbooks as much as anyone who enjoys reading cookbooks. but there's something i've noticed about recipes: the more of them you read, the less exciting they are. it's too easy to get numb or overwhelmed. and that's just not cool.

numb and overwhelmed seem to be two of the big problems with cooking these days. a lot of my friends don't cook (jl), say they can't cook (jt), would like to cook but are afraid to try or don't know where to start (nn, but you're at least trying, which is good. and yum, borscht), say they don't have time to cook (sb), or would live off of macaroni and cheese if no one stopped them (js). (and if i didn't mention you, you know where you fit in all of those categories, so no complaints. save it for an interesting post, if such a thing happens.) (by the way, wow, i know a lot of people who's first name starts with 'j.')

very few people i know feel comfortable in the kitchen, and fewer still want to experiment – with a recipe or without. and those who are at that level tend to be in a different generation bracket. my parents and their friends know how to boil water and make a complete dinner from there, which is far more than a lot of people my age seem to claim. and my aunt jm (another 'j') is one of the few people i talk to on a fairly regular basis about meal ideas.

still, that doesn't mean this generational gap is a scientific genetic rule. we don't magically know how to cook after a certain age. and i am gradually meeting more people who aren't old enough to be my parents who are at least trying. and my young, newly teenage cousin jm (yet another 'j') out in seattle was more excited about getting a cookbook for his birthday than a book about dogs. (at least, i think the other book was about dogs. if i'm wrong, replace trains or something else we don't eat here in america.)

there's another thing about recipes, though, that is part of this whole cooking/not cooking and why issue. recipes either work or they don't. and if you're not confident and your recipe ends up as a disaster, you're going to end up s.o.l. and hungry. the more experience you have and the more confidence the more likely you'll be able to identify those recipes that just won't work or tweak them so they will. i have a bad habit of finding recipes, starting to cook using them, and halfway through ditching the directions and just doing whatever the hell i want. it's a lot more fun, i think i've come up with a lot more enjoyable meals, and it's exactly the reason why i'll never work in a professional kitchen. just as i was trying to explain earlier, i get bored too easily. i go grocery shopping like that, too. as much as i like writing them, lists just don't work for me.

i don't love and i don't hate reading recipes online. there are several personal food blogs i glance at. these blogs are a bit different than the links you'll find on the daring destinations page. they're recipe focused and driven, tend to contain a lot more personal life information (which can be good or bad depending), and that's about it. sometimes there's a bit of reflection on how the recipe turned out, if a few variations were tried, etc. the pictures range in quality and quantity. i haven't posted links to these blogs (and you'd be surprised how many food bloggers there are out there. we're really nothing special) because i have a serious problem with them. they're kind of boring. after reading one or two, a lot of these blogs all sound the same. i have difficulties telling the writers apart. even all of their personal accounts sort of seem to blend together (and it doesn't help that a couple of them have just had babies, so even the cute baby photos i mix up). and the irony of having a blog titled "no recipes" that consists entirely of recipes is funny, but not quite funny enough to create a unique writing voice. maybe i'm just too scatterbrained for that style of writing, but i guess i'd just like to have the stuff i read have some substance. but after reading so many recipes, you can only learn so much. and how numbing is that?

there's another big difference between recipes online and recipes in print. cookbooks have a focus. and a format. there'll be a style or a genre of food. if it's an ethnicity or a special dietary cuisine, you'll probably start with appetizers, move on through breads, soups, and salads to main courses and finish with dessert - all exactly like a meal. this very format encourages meal making and creates a safe environment to pick and choose dishes without feeling like you’re being inundated with choices. online recipe banks, like allrecipes.com, while useful tools when you know what you're looking for, are overwhelming when you don't. you can search by ingredient or ethnicity or dish, but there's nothing cohesive about it. a few food bloggers focus on a certain ethnicity food or style of cooking, but their recipes are posted based off of whim, not any sense of order. after some time and a good many posts, those recipes become just as overwhelming as a general recipe bank. i have yet to see a blogger post in an orderly fashion, such as having a soup sunday, appetizer monday, side dish tuesday, and so on.

so, combining my lack of excitement about recipes online with my inability to follow recipes exactly and topping it off with the simple fact that most of the time i just don't use recipes - i have an even stronger tendency to just use whatever's on hand and screw using cookbooks altogether - it's pretty unlikely you'll see many recipes here or find a recipe bank page with a pithy title. sorry. it's just not my style.