I can’t say when I really decided to start cooking beyond the safety of well-worn recipes and the bounds of a defined book, but I do remember fearing to cook without a net. I watched my grandmothers cook for years where they would review the recipe, nod, put it away, and then start cooking. The food always came out tasting the same great way, but upon trying some of those recipes myself I realized they weren’t following them. To borrow a line from a favorite movie “[The recipes] are really more like guidelines than rules…” Of course, some of those recipes had arcane measurements such as “bowl” and “cup” (not meaning off-the-shelf measured), so interpretation was essential. In itself, that interpretation was a form of creative cooking.
Upon being out on my own, I knew enough about cooking to avoid eating from cans and boxes regularly. But that wasn’t enough — because I like food. I like tasty meals that make me smile when I have it the next day as my “brown bag” lunch. It took trial-and-error, adventures, and only a few choked-down dishes to get me to read and experiment a little more.
I am not yet where I want to be in my cooking adventure, but the real adventure is in the journey. I most often cook for just my wife and I, though I sometimes have the pleasure of cooking for a small group or contributing a dish to a gathering. My recipes cover beef, fish, poultry, and vegetarian dishes.
My act of cooking is about creativity, making messes, and almost always burning myself — which seems to be some kind of primal guarantee that the meal will be good. The results have (almost) always been good meals, and for that I’m thankful. Sometimes when asked what I’m cooking, my answer is “I don’t know”. That has always been a good answer to those who know it means an adventure is happening. The guidelines of cooking recipes leave me a lot of room to wander, ponder, adventure, and flirt with failure. I do a little baking too, but that enters more into the realm of precision — which I can handle, but generally lends itself to far less entertaining stories.