Sunday, February 19, 2017

I'm Not The Best Person To Ask For A Recipe, But That's Going To Change

I've been cooking and baking for well over 30 years. I don't use actual recipes. Most of what I make is embedded in my brain. If I want to try something new, I just do it. I think about what it is that I want to whip up, the ingredients I'll need to make it, and I go from there. Sometimes I nail it on the first try. Other times, on my second and third attempt. This is the method I use when creating new dog treat recipes every week.

The only exception to this rule is if I want to bake something I've never tried my hand at. Breads. Delicate pastries. Pączki. Baking is a science. When eggs, baking powder, and yeast are involved, exact measurements are necessary.

As of late, I've been posting some photos of the Crock-Pot meals I make for our kids. In the hours to follow, people reply or reach out personally to ask for the recipe.

Unfortunately, I don't have a recipe with exact measurements of the ingredients. I do my best to give an estimate of each, but for those who want the one-cup-of-this or half-teaspoon-of-that version,'s not happening.


Early on, when I started publishing the recipes for our homemade dog treats, people reached out with questions. After I posted a few photos of the meals we made our kids, more people reached out wanting to know how much of each ingredient.

I'll admit, at first, I replied with what I thought were simple instructions.

If the dog treat dough was too sticky, add a little more flour.

Yes, you can add more carrot and less apples.

No, you don't need to add cinnamon.

If you wanted to make your fur-kids a Crock-Pot meal, simply add lean meat, pup friendly vegetables, a pinch of this or that, let simmer for 4-6 hours and...presto!

Most of the time, when I replied with my simple-to-me-instructions, people wrote back with more questions.

I couldn't figure out why. 

Then, about a month ago, the proverbial light bulb went off in my head. I can thank a really cool 17 year old for that.

I've been tutoring this young lady for over a month. Part of my curriculum for her tutoring sessions is cooking. She loves my homemade corn chowder. For her first cooking class, that's what I had her make.

I made this corn chowder for the first time over 20 years ago. It's the only "recipe" I've used. I can make it with my eyes closed.

The day before her cooking class, I had to type out and print the recipe. It wasn't easy to do that. When I make my corn chowder, I don't measure. I eyeball the herbs, salt, and pepper. I've never taken notice to how long I saute the onions and potatoes or how much butter and flour I use when making the roux.

If I was going to teach this young lady, who has very little experience in the kitchen, how to make this, I needed to be as thorough as possible.

It took me almost an hour to do this. I had to think about each ingredient. Exact amounts. Exact timing. It made my brain hurt.

Before printing, I went through the recipe with a fine toothed comb.

Yep. I nailed it.

Or so I thought. 

Midway through the instructions, and while this young lady was stirring the ingredients in the soup kettle, she asked the big question.

"When do I add the corn?"

Wait. What?

I skimmed through the recipe I had typed out and printed.

The corn was on the list of ingredients. I had even specified the amount.


I never included when to add the corn in the instructions.

That's when the proverbial light bulb glowed radiantly.

Sure, as someone who has spent over 30 years in the kitchen, I would automatically know when to add the corn. I wouldn't need to ask that question.


This young lady standing in my kitchen, hands on her hips, had no clue.

Asking that question didn't mean she was clueless. She's actually quite smart. She's also very enthusiastic about her cooking classes and, to date, has nailed all of the recipes.

In fact, over the weekend, she taught me that Kimchi is just as delicious incorporated in fried rice as it is eaten cold from the jar. 

What it did mean is that I needed to take a few steps back. To be on the outside looking in. I needed a better understanding of what it's like to not have much experience in the kitchen.

When a recipe calls for a teaspoon of parsley, I don't need to take out the teaspoon and measure. I can eyeball it in the palm of my hand.

Not everyone can do that. And, that's okay.

In the weeks following the corn chowder cooking class, I've been very observant about the questions this young lady has been asking, when following recipes, and certain instructions that take her a little more time to get through.

I've learned from watching her.

She has definitely taught me a thing or two.

All around, she has helped me to gain a better understanding.

When people ask for a Crock-Pot "dog food" recipe, I can't reply with, "Oh, 5 pounds of boneless chicken breasts, a handful or two of sliced carrots, a handful of shredded apples, a bunch of sweet potatoes, and a pinch of oregano and cinnamon."

I need to be more specific. With ingredients. Measurements. Instructions. Cook time. Etc.

In doing that, I've become more aware of how much of this or that I'm adding to the meals we make our kids. I'm jotting down the amounts and creating thorough recipes.

I'm also addressing the "what if's" with all of our homemade dog treat recipes.

What does this mean for you?

At some point in March, I'm going to add another page to this blog site. It will include our homemade creations for the meals we serve our kids. Complete recipes.

I'll also be adding some "side notes" to our homemade dog treat recipes.

I'm excited about this.

I'll keep you posted...

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