recipes, spiritual life

The road to swell is NOT paved with recipe substitutions

“This is my advice to people: Learn how to cook, try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun” Julia Child, master chef

Notice that Queen Julia didn’t advise tinkering with recipes. Really tinkering. Which I do. Often with wild recipe substitutions. Sometimes it works brilliantly. Sometimes it fails. Other times, it’s just meh.

My apologies to “America’s Test Kitchen.” I should have followed your advice!

The beans in this picture were a meh moment — even though there was no reason for anything less than brilliant. The recipe came from a fun TV show called, America’s Test Kitchen. Its chefs also tinker with recipes, just with more skill. They run through them in various ways until they find the “best” way of doing something.

That should have told me something — I love this show — but, I couldn’t resist doing even more tinkering with their recipe for perfect New England Baked Beans. I followed their directions to a T to a certain point — brining the beans overnight to avoid split skins, cutting down the molasses to avoid gackiness. But, I diverged when it came to the salt pork. I’m not a fan, even though the chef clearly said the creamy texture of the recipe comes from, you guessed it, salt pork.

Instead, I went all vegan.

That alone might not have sunk the beans. They were a bit soupy rather than creamy, as you can see, but the flavor was wonderful. But, you guessed it again, I also tinkered with something else. I used prepared mustard instead of dry mustard.

Ha, the hard-core cooks out there are thinking. And, you are so right. The amount of vinegar in just that tiny bit of mustard was evidently enough to keep the beans from fully softening even though I thought it wouldn’t be. So, we ended up with wonderfully flavored, soupy, slightly hard beans.

We ate them, but it could have been so much better if I had simply followed the recipe.

Church-lady moment here. Life is exactly the same way. There is a recipe for joy, peace, love, hope — all the things we so desperately seek. It’s written down, but even those who’ve never read one verse of the Bible pretty much know how humans are supposed to live. God seems to have hard wired His ways into our conscience.

We know. We just often don’t do. We diverge from His recipe — putting in less than what is required or adding ingredients that simply do not belong — at our own peril.

It’s true. And, our life — here and now and the forever-after side — is way more important than a pot of beans.

20 thoughts on “The road to swell is NOT paved with recipe substitutions”

    1. So true. I actually think cooking is my most practical skill in terms of managing a household. It save a lot of money to do it yourself, keeps the family healthier and can be a source of inexpensive gifts. And, you’re right, it does work while dating!! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. You know, beans are funny. Their ultimate texture depends on so many things, including how long they have been dried. I suspect that you just needed to cook the beans much longer than you did. We’ve had this happen, and I remember my mother cooking baked beans, using the same recipe always, and once in a while she would have to cook them for even a couple of hours longer. I seriously doubt that that using prepared mustard or omitting the salt pork were responsible. My mom always used salt pork, but I never use it, and my beans usually come out nice and thick and creamy. Don’t let this discourage your fiddling!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oops. This got caught in my spam filter. 🙂 Don’t worry, I’m still fiddling. A week or two ago, I posted my latest experimenting as a recipe! It’s under Speed-of-Light Baked Beans. I think you’re right, BTW, they did just need more time. But, who knows? Beans really are funny!

      Liked by 2 people

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