Cooking Philosophy

I want to use this site, at least temporarily, as a repository for some of the recipes I’ve adapted/made up, and I thought I should preface that with a little bit of an explanation why my recipes are the way they are.

1) A number of my recipes use spelt flour and gluten-free flours. This is because I was diagnosed with a wheat allergy (among others) last August after several months of being constantly, increasingly, and sometimes embarrassingly sick. I’m aware of the recent research that suggests that non-celiac gluten sensitivity is not a real thing. I’ve never claimed to be allergic to gluten (except sometimes at restaurants, where the typical exchange is “So, does X have wheat in it?” “Oh, ok, you’re gluten-free?” “…Um, yeah.”). Spelt has gluten in it and I’m pretty much fine eating that, whereas wheat really does a number on my GI tract.

Long story short: if you don’t need to avoid wheat, feel free to substitute in all-purpose or whole-wheat flour. If you need to actually be gluten-free, substitute in your favorite GF flour mix for spelt. This brings me to my second, and more important point:

2) I don’t really follow recipes. When I could still eat wheat, my family would make quite a few things from mixes: brownies, cornbread, my grandma’s Kahlua cake, etc. I would follow the recipes on those, because the whole point of a mix is to  make baking a particular thing really easy. However, now that I’ve gotten more into cooking, and I can’t use most of those mixes anymore, I’ve started adapting and messing around with recipes in books and online. Usually it’s because I don’t have all the ingredients (every single GF baker with a blog has their own special combination of flours they like to use; at the moment, I only have spelt, buckwheat, a bit of almond, and a pre-mixed all-purpose GF  blend from Costco with xanthan gum already in it). Sometimes I feel like making a recipe a little healthier, and will substitute in applesauce and/or Greek yogurt for some of the butter.  Sometimes I just have a gut feeling that X would go really well with Y.

The point is, I’m an experimentalist at heart.  I don’t think recipes should be followed to the letter unless there’s a really, really good reason for doing so. Some recipes are more temperamental than others. I have more experience in some types of cooking than others. I’m more likely to improvise making cookies than I am making a souffle, for instance, because the latter requires some degree of finesse in order to turn out nicely, while the former basically just need flour, fat, sugar and something to add flavor and texture in order to be recognizably cookie-like.

The corollary to (2) is that you shouldn’t follow my recipes either! Add different spices, substitute different flours, use different fruits, totally change the recipe. And then write it down. That’s an important part of the scientific method as well.

Happy cooking!


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