Rule № Four
No Recipe Is Holy Writ
Do not be afraid to experiment. Cookbooks and recipes are notorious for one tablespoon of this and one and half-cups of that. Add or subtract according to your own experience as it grows in the kitchen. Of course, too much salt or sugar is yucky. Indeed, a rule of thumb is to avoid putting salt in anything unless it is crucial to the cooking process (like Pumpkin soup). Watch your guests and kids. Do they add salt to the soup? Know their tastes. Some people will add salt to everything.
An artist friend, who does some incredible work, once was recounting how he loves to cook. However, he is very didactic in his cooking. When the recipe calls for a tablespoon of salt, he measures it out very carefully and puts it in. He lays out all the ingredients before he even begins to consider boiling the water or heating the oven. He laughed at how his didactic approach to cooking drives his wife crazy. When she cooks, she never measures anything, but goes by instinct. The ingredients fly into the pot and she naturally knows what is just enough, not to little and not to much. Personally, I am much more like his wife when it comes to cooking. But you will find your own pace and methods. Just let it flow. Work in the kitchen like you do anything else.
A cousin of mine cannot eat soup, no matter what kind, unless he dumps piles of ketchup in it. That does not mean you should be cooking the soup with a bottle of ketchup. It just means he has screwed up taste-buds. But they are his taste-buds. When he comes over to eat, I just put a bottle of ketchup on the table. He is happy and so am I.
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