Is this the stuff of nightmares for you? You spot a mouth watering recipe on Pinterest. It’s from scratch, a real, real-food recipe so you’re pretty excited! Your gonna make this one yourself! You go to the store, get the stuff, come back and start working but that beautiful recipe turns out like this:
Pretty discouraging, huh? We’ve all done it! In fact I shared one of my recipe fails in this post with the successful healthy white cake post coming one week later 🙂 . (Sorry ladies, but I lost those posts!)
The question is, if you’re new to cooking from scratch just how do you minimize these kinds of epic failures?
If you don’t know what it is you don’t know, then how can you pick a good recipe to follow that you’re likely to be successful with? Step 2 in The Granny Plan has you picking a recipe to make for dinner … but how do you do that when you don’t know a hard recipe from an easy one?
Let’s go over a few guiding principles that can help ensure success!
Stick with recipes with Common Ingredients
Choose recipes with simple ordinary common ingredients for the most part. It’s much tougher to start making real foods with substitute ingredients like coconut flour for instance. The properties of these substitute ingredients can be very different from the item they are replacing and are often tricky to deal with. Stick with the basics. Stuff Granny would have had on hand and leave the more difficult substitutions for later, if you want to do them at all. If it contains ingredients that wouldn’t have been available in a 1930 general store skip it for now.
Choose Recipes with Minimal Ingredients
Some recipes have an ingredient list as long as your arm! Avoid these for the most part. While I’m sure many are delicious it’s trickier to remember if you added the ginger or the cinnamon yet when you have a loooonnnggg list of ingredients. This leads to forgetting ingredients entirely or doubling them up. This is how you end up with stuffing that positively reaks of sage … confession, guilty ;-). Plus, you need to have a fuller pantry to be ready for these recipes making keeping the kitchen ready for cooking tougher.
Stick to the Recipe!
I know it’s hard to imagine now but the ultimate goal of Granny cooking is to get to an experience level where you no longer need a recipe to manage in the kitchen. Until then though stick to the recipe! You can think of recipes as a sort of kitchen training wheels designed to help ensure your success. After you repeated the recipe many times and mastered it you can start to make adjustments.
So in choosing a recipe pick one you don’t need to make any adjustments to. Don’t pick something with eggs in it if you know little Johnny can’t eat eggs. Pick something without any eggs instead. Leave learning how to do substitutions for later.
Choose Recipes with Minimal Monitoring
Avoid recipes that have you standing over the stove stirring for 20 minutes straight. Avoid recipes that require you do something critical at just the right moment, say when the onions look just a certain way, or the top of the dish feels spongy, or, well you get the picture 😉 . Ideally pick things that can be made quickly or can be left to cook slowly on their own for a set amount of time.
Some things are Much Harder Than Others – Save Them for When You Have Experience
Many of the things we’re avoiding here aren’t a problem for more experienced cooks. Still, they often avoid these kinds of recipes because they require a greater degree of attention than the average household cook can give on any average day. So maybe they’re saved for the holidays or slow cozy days at home where the extra cooking can feel relaxing.
Basically, avoid making things that are viewed as moderately difficult to really hard. Avoid cakes, souffles, aspics, croussants, sourdough or bread in general and pastry too. Absolutely avoid baked alaska, paella, and beef wellington, as if you had thought about making them 😉 .
You’ll find the ideas in this post helpful when working thru the steps in the book The Granny Plan. In it Granny will walk you thru 12 babysteps to building a strong kitchen routine that makes everyday home cooking possible.