Monday, June 06, 2011

Simple Cooking

Cooking is good fun. At it's core, it's simple chemistry and physics. At it's most flamboyant, it is art and a form of expression.

The problem I find, though, is that I'm not looking for art. I just want to eat. I have the BBC on, I just got back from work, and I'm at my kitchen counter, and I want to make food.

I had trouble finding good websites online that give you simple recipes. Most of them:
  1. Have too many ingredients
  2. Have too detailed and lengthy protocols
  3. Often express key ingredients in grams (impossible to visualize since density is difficult to intuit), which makes the rest of the ingredients expressed in more easy terms (like teaspoons or pinches) impossible to follow, since your base assumption is suspect (what does 250 grams of chicken really look like?)
You can work around these, certainly. Estimate the weight. A normal chicken weighs about a kilo, so 250 grams is about a quarter of that. None of these are major roadblocks.

But it's annoying. Simple things should be simple.

Which is why I'm publishing a few of the basic recipes I've picked up in my very brief time cooking. My recipes will:
  1. Express ancillary ingredients as percentages by volume of your primary ingredient
  2. Express time as percentages of completion rather than minutes (since cooking styles, timeframes, electric or gas stove, all constrain the pace at which you can move)
  3. Have a clearly defined core
  4. Be extensible
Points 3 and 4 need some explanation.

By "clearly defined core," I mean that there are a few things in the protocol that absolutely have to be done. If any of these break, you're breaking the recipe. Everything beyond those core points are negotiable, and variable.

Most people don't like eating the same thing everyday. So this is an important part of cooking. The assumption here is that you are looking to use the same recipes, but vary certain parameters. Mixing and matching should be a foregone conclusion.

"Extensible" is a continuation of the point on "clearly defined core," as it is a step further than merely tweaking certain parameters. It connotes modularity. One recipe should easily be the precursor for further recipes, and one should be able to swap certain key ingredients in a recipe for something completely different, but keep the basic principles the same. For example, a recipe on chicken curry should be just as applicable to mutton or beef, with only slight variations unique to the ingredient.

I'll publish them as I get better at them. Till then, goedenavond!

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I write essays in my spare time on things that are important to me. The ones that I feel are any good, or make any sense, I put them up here. :)