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On Why Recipes Suck

January 2, 2012
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Recipes suck. Yeah, that’s right. I said it. I love to cook. And bake. And eat. I eat a lot. But recipes suck.

I meant to write about my extreme distaste way back in October when I was on my soup o’ the week kick. For a good month or so I was using the vegetables from our CSA to make all kinds of soups. Egg drop! Winter squash soup! Broccoli cheese!  It was that last one that gave me trouble.

I followed this recipe from AllRecipes, which turned out to be delicious. That was not the problem. I always feel like the “Prep Time” and “Cook Time” things are grossly underestimated. Actually they’re total liars, because they never include all the cubing, dicing, or karate chopping you are supposed to do before the recipe actually STARTS. I am just picking on broccoli cheese soup here, but instead of being “Ready in 40 minutes,” the whole process took about two and a half hours. You should make it. It was yummy. Just misleadingly time intensive.

Beyond that there is always some obscure  ingredient in recipes. I will be reading a magazine, and find one that looks delicious. But then I notice it requires elderberry juice, or head cheese, or something else remarkably difficult to find. And I set off on a search for said ingredient, often only to give up and choose something that could pass if you squint your eyes really tight. Another big waste of my time, and my recipes often turn out just as well.

I am also a fan of recipes in kid recipe books and magazines. For instance last week I made Crazy-Good Buttermilk Biscuits from Chop Chop magazine. Delicious biscuits, easy recipe. Except I have the opposite problem that I do of “grown-up” recipes – I finished in less than time than the total time states. I know, I know, the recipe is for 8-year-olds, and I am 24 and 1/2. (I always start to think more kid-like when I bust out the kid recipes!) But it is hard to budget one’s time when the recipe lies and takes less time than it should.

Maybe it’s that my expectations are too high. Maybe I’m spectacular at kids’ recipes. Maybe I’m terrible at grown-up recipes. Or maybe I just need to leave my cooking and baking for when I have gobs of time. In any case, I am 100% convinced that recipes are out to get me.

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