“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.
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.