A friend and I were talking about cookbooks. She asked me if I had a lot . . . yes. I say I need another cookbook like I need a hole in the head. But we both agreed that "cookbook people" read cookbooks almost like novels, perusing the ingredient lists, techniques and photos, storing them away for future reference.
In a recent post, I talked about how practice makes more perfect with cooking. The more you do it, the more comfortable you are with cooking, the more your intuition kicks for knowing things like how much, how long, etc.
My son recently asked me, "Mom, do you ever measure anything?" Mostly, no. Very little except baked goods require precise measuring.
To me, measuring takes a lot of the fun and whimsy out of cooking. It also requires more planning to follow a recipe (having the proper ingredients in the house) than to cook off hand.
In parent and child cooking classes I have taught, called "Chef Smarts", patterned after an extension program in North Caroline called "Eat Smart, Cook Smart", we talk a lot about substitutions. That's the reality of many a quick family meal - making a meal out of what's on hand. But a premise of the class series is keeping a well, fundamentally stocked pantry. This allows you some flexibility and options.
Think about My Plate for a healthy, well stocked pantry/freezer. It includes basics in the grain group: whole grain pastas, brown rice, frozen dinner rolls, tortillas. It has protein options: chicken breasts or thighs, frozen tilapia or salmon, lean ground beef, boneless sirloin, and tuna. And it has veggie options, including frozen veggies of your choice, salad fixings, or better yet, an abundant garden with seasonal options. From these, you can make variations of your favorite Italian, Mexican, Asian, comfort food and other dishes by adding sauces and condiments.
My favorite cookbook is one I received as a wedding gift, "The Fannie Farmer Cookbook". What's yours?