Throw Away The Book

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: get your nose out of the cookbook and put it over the pot. That’s cooking pot, or pan, bowl or baking dish.

Whenever I talk to new cooks and fans of The Bachelor’s Kitchen, they all ask for recipes. And, if you’ve looked round this website, you know I’ve got those — a whole special section of them. And they range from the simple to the more complex, and a range of types and ethnicities. Feel free to take a look at them at your liesure. Also, if you’d like to contribute one, I’ll be happy to put it up. See the Recipes Page or Contact Us for more information about how to do that.

But getting back to the subject, I came across an interesting article from Food Republic. It reiterates what I always say: use a recipe as a guideline, as a starting point, then put your own stamp and taste on it. If you’ve ever asked your mother or grandmother for a recipe you remember fondly from your childhood, you’ve probably run into this response: “Oh, I don’t use a recipe, hon. I don’t measure things, I just add them in the way I was taught when I was a girl.”

The morale of that story is: using a few basic guidelines, your taste and a dash of common sense and you’ll do fine, usually.

The article by Nathan Krishnamuthy is about chili, which he calls The Anti-Recipe.

“Chili con carne is a frontier food: it’s made by shooting from the hip. Some cuisines call for rigid recipes, specific ingredients, exact measurements and expert timing. Chili is not one of those foods. Step away from the cookbook.”

Recently, I had the opportunity to make chili for new friends who wanted to know how I made it, what was the recipe. My answer was that recipes are only guidelines. My chili comes out a little different every time I make it. Sometimes it’s super spicy. Other times it’s thick, mild and makes a better topping for other dishes than in a bowl by itself. But no matter how it turns out, it’s almost always delicious.

It’s also easy, filling, nutritious and lasts for at least a few days. You’ll find my basic slow cooker recipe here. Note that you can just use a stock pot instead of a slow cooker if you need or want to.

Chili or stew is always a great place to begin when you want to do more cooking for yourself. Both are easy, versatile, forgiving and open for all sorts of interpretations. Most cooks have a collection of recipes, often with personal notes about modifications and lessons learned from failures. But it’s nearly always just a way to get you started. Let the creativity flow! That’s part of the fun.