Three Ways Not to Make a Recipe

One thing I’ve been trying to do to keep general morale up while the “shelter at home” drives us all stir crazy is pull out a few recipes we haven’t tried before. For variety. One or two have been decent; the wikibooks simple Alfredo sauce on noodles is tasty, warm, and excellent with a vegetable and protein on the side.

Other experiments…  have not been so successful. Here are three of the worst.

Gluten-free orange chicken. Source: strengthandsunshine.com

Well, it’s free of ingredients that I find problematic, true. And it’s edible. But the taste… is like leftover takeout. You know, the kind that’s had all the yummy aromas evaporate, and then you put it in the fridge and warmed it up later because you were hungry, and – eh. For the effort involved, I might as well have made a batch of spaghetti sauce. Or skipped the effort and cooked the chicken plain in a frying pan. It’d have been tastier.

Spicy Burgers. Source: allrecipes.com

Caveat here. I find jalapenos a bit bitter, so I left out most of the hot peppers in the recipe and used half a diced habanero instead. I use them all the time in jambalaya, with the amount of meat involved I figured it’d be fine.

(Narrator: It was not fine.)

Whooooof. Hot. Very hot. And – well – more suited to a taco than a hamburger. Might be the cumin. It’s edible, even to a degree tasty. But… not the taste we were looking for. I tried making another batch and using half of it with 2 more pounds of meat, cheese, and mustard to make a meatloaf. Still too hot, and still better as tacos.

But all was not lost. We have an older dog that 1) needs to take medicine he doesn’t like and 2) absolutely loves spicy foods. A little of this recipe at a time, and the medicine went down.

Thai Noodles with Spicy Peanut Sauce. Source: http://www.geniuskitchen.com

For this I had to substitute sunbutter for the PB and honey, and coco aminos for the soy sauce. Verdict… eh. It’s edible? But too sweet; yes, even after leaving out the honey. And the heat from the ginger has a way of sneaking up and stabbing you in the back of the throat, instead of trying to honestly murder your tongue like a nice up-front barbarian of an habanero. I find this recipe tied with GF orange chicken for “would not make again”. Though the base concept of stir-frying vegetables and putting them on noodles might be sound.

So. Experiments. Yeah.

Think I’m going to cook a plain hamburger now….

25 thoughts on “Three Ways Not to Make a Recipe

  1. I’ve been getting a lot of mileage out of using liquid smoke with our roasts– use the Stubbs brand. They’re not joking about measuring it in drops, but dang does it take a “this is ham?” chunk of meat and kick it up to “but I was going to use that for sandwiches!”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Finally got around to trying out a local Lebanese/Arabian take-out place, but either I had a brain-fart when ordering, or some massive miscommunication, because I’d intended to order Shawarma pocket, and got a Falafel instead. Still yummy, and no price disadvantage, but for the life of me I couldn’t figure out where the mix-up happened…

    Also sad that a Korean Barbecue Chicken (Angry Angry Chicken they call themselves
    :p) place deeper into Berlin is closed during the emergency, even though other take-out/delivery places have remained open.

    Finally got around to making one of the packages of “Hurst’s HamBeens brand 15 Bean Soup” mix I’d picked up during my family visits in Washington. Also rated delicious by me and my uncle. Though 16 servings lasted us 3-4 meals…

    Made some Szegediner Gulasch for the first time in ages, quite simple too. I used ~1lb/~500g cubed pork roast, though beef (or mixed) is fine. Fry it and some onions up, add tomato paste/sauce, caraway seeds, paprika, salt, pepper (whatever else), then sauerkraut. Finish with some heavy cream. Goes great with potatoes.

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  3. I’ve found a hot chocolate recipe you might be able to have. It’s about 100 ml water to three tablets of baking chocolate (or to taste), as much sugar/sweetener as desired. Melt together. The original recipe calls for sliding in some butter, but you could probably sub whatever fat you wanted. When you pull it off the heat you could mix in either milk or cream.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I am lazy, so I just use the powdered cocoa powder for baking when I make hot chocolate.

      Apparently it is good to make brownies by mixing melted plain chocolate and lard in a pot on the stove (with some other ingredients) and then baking it. I want to try it.

      The main thing with orange stuff is that orange rind/zest does make things taste more orange.

      Father Z just posted a very nice risotto recipe/explanation with pictures. It doesn’t look hard. He made his with cheese and pieces of pear, but obviously you could use all sorts of flavors.

      You might want to try looking up medieval recipes. There are a lot of good ways to get around allergy stuff, and still have it taste good.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think I see the problem. They’ve got zest. But they took out most of the sugar from the orange sauce, and that means only the starch is holding it together. Brown sugar is sticky, but not that sticky. The chicken is neither breaded, nor just getting spiced and sauced (because there’s cornstarch on the chicken first).

        I don’t really understand why the starch on the surface of the chicken.

        I have had a fair amount of success with cooking meat in orange juice in my crockpot. (And in vinegar. And in wine. And in salsa. And in tomato sauce.) And marination is always good, although I guess you don’t want stir fried chicken to start out damp.

        Aeh, I’m just guessing and flailing.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Your description of the ginger was really interesting to me. I’m kind of a wimp about spicy-hot in general, but I’ve definitely noticed a difference in different kinds of spicy. I basically Do Not Do hot peppers — well, honestly, I don’t even do bell peppers most of the time because there is something about the flavor unrelated to the heat that really puts me off. Capsaicin heat actually seems a lot more painful to me than… whatever the heat compounds are in ginger. I’m not sure about cinnamon.

    I hope you have better luck with the next recipe for variety, though! The orange chicken one just sounded so sad.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Capsaicin Heat is not a flavor, it’s pain. No, I’m not being sarcastic. The burning of capsaicin is because it is literally chemically burning your mouth.

      Note, I still appreciate capsaicin in moderate amounts.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes, but various chilis also have their own flavor. Habanero in particular has citrus overtones – which makes it great for jambalaya, where you want a chili heat and lime sort of combo. It’s just you need to use it in very small amounts!

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      2. Yeah. I’m sensitive enough to capsaicin that it overwhelms other flavors in almost any quantity. Which makes my wife sad, because she loves hot foods.

        One of the simpler meal elements we’ve come to enjoy is smashed baby potatoes – toss with olive oil (or favorite substitute), salt, and whatever spices you feel go with them (rosemary from our garden was nice). Bake at 425 for 15 minutes or so, until none are still hard. Remove from oven, turn it up to at least 450 (broil if you’re feeling adventurous and have the patience to keep an eye on them), and flatten the potatoes to about 1/3-1/4 inch thickness. I generally use a mug with a glazed bottom, lightly oiled. Then, drizzle some more oil and salt on them, and stick back in the oven for another 10-12 minutes, until most of the skins are crispy.

        Times vary by oven, of course.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh, me and recipes have so much drama. I grew up with a mom who was a territorial cook, and a dad who had trouble making sandwiches. The only food he could make hot was eggs, and he’d make a horrific mess doing so, as he’d melt like a quarter stick of butter in the pan for two “sunny side up” eggs, which were actually over medium eggs, as he flipped them to cook on both sides, but called them sunny side up eggs, which led me to ordering the wrong thing when we ate out and being so confused.

    But anyway, mom cooking began with “everyone out of my kitchen.” So, I did not learn how to cook. I took home ec at school, and the bullies were so bad the teacher made me a TA and had me do prep and such for the next class after a very near miss with an “accidental” hot oil spill, and too many “oops, didn’t see you!” hot pans to count. So I did not learn to cook there either.

    I’ve been figuring it out since I moved on my own, and so many recipes are flat out lies. When they say a thing should take five minutes, and forty five minutes later it hasn’t happened? Ugh. Also, no one can agree on what “medium” heat is. I tend to gravitate towards cookbooks and recipes for people in dorm rooms, broke students, and clueless cooks, because they tend to give more and better instruction and assume I’m a complete newbie to cooking and actually accommodate that. Only problem is, so many of them ADORE peppers. Color! Nutrients! Texture! Flavor!

    But peppers….taste BAD. So many people use them and love them. Green bell peppers make me queasy, and even just a little completely ruins a dish. Even the smell is awful. Red/orange/yellow are…less awful, but I can’t see why anyone who wasn’t experiencing severe food shortage or nutrient deficiencies would eat them by choice. I…can tolerate them if they come in something, and I sometimes push myself to eat them because I should eat a variety of things, and they’re already on my plate at this restaurant, okay fine, I’ll choke them down. But why. As to other peppers….Okay, I like a little hot pepper oil when we go out to mongolian bbq, where you season your own bowl. Hot pepper oil, sugar water, teriyaki sauce, whatever else looks good, I like a sweet’n’spicy in some situations. But actual chunks of hot peppers in things? I’m good, thanks. More for you? To me, pepper chunks are about as appealing as the thick pith from a grapefruit. Unpleasant texture, and bitter for both, but peppers have spicy instead of sweet as their secondary flavor. The combination of bitter/spicy isn’t really my thing, and biting into a chunk of any kind of pepper is a horrible taste that depending on heat level may also be painful.

    I haven’t starved yet, and I’m gradually getting better at figuring stuff out, but….bleh. The cooking skill tree has a way too sharp learning curve, come on game designers.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh man, I agree on the learning curve.

      Fannie Farmer is a place to start for basic info on how to cook, but a lot of the recipes I’ve tried out of it are… eh, not the best. The dessert recipes tend to be better than the meat recipes, for example.

      I dice up habaneros very finely when I use them, and use about 1 habanero to about 3.5 pounds of meat. And that’s plenty hot for jambalaya, which also has lots of rice and veggies added as well. Outside of that i don’t use hot peppers much, the one exception being when I (rarely) make a batch of bacon-wrapped stuffed jalapenos.

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    2. One thing I’ve noticed is that cooking times vary depending on the sort of oven/stove/etc. Cook the same recipe at the same temperatures on a wood stove, a gas stove, and an electric stove, and you will find it needing different times to cook and producing different results. And it’s not just that one is better than another in an absolute sense. Certain recipes cook better on one stove than on another.

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  6. Several acquaintances of mine frequently like to eat very spicy dishes. The kind of stuff that has to be special ordered, or found in specialty shops for exotic foods, where dipping a toothpick into the hot sauce/oil is enough to thoroughly (overly)spice up a large saucepan of curry/stir-fry/etc.

    No, I don’t eat that kind of stuff. It’s not easy finding really hot sauces in Germany in normal stores, but I did run into a selection of “Painmaker” sauces. The less hot ones still tended to just be too hot for my taste…

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  7. My cooking is… simple. My best dish is pan frying potato chunks, onion, garlic, meat of choice (ham, bacon, or breakfast sausage works well with Sweet Potato, beef tips or ham with a normal potato), and a chopped veggie of choice (asparagus is a pretty safe choice if it’s young. Peppers count too, but it’s not my first choice, personally) in a massive pan with a fat of choice. Salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste.

    Filling, and you can make several meals worth in one go. Depending on the meat, your fat of choice is already covered if you cook the meat first and put aside.

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  8. I think more than half the recipes my family follows with any regularity are all ones that we developed in-the-family (i.e. not from a cookbook) – meatloaf, baked chicken breast in Cream of Mushroom soup over rice, homemade spaghetti sauce, our own moo goo gai pan recipe, beef stroganoff… Yum.

    I think about the only things of ours that actually came from cards are our recipes for Alfredo Florentine sauce and Chicken Marsala. (One came printed on the nutrition label for a package of frozen ravioli at Costco, as a sort-of bonus feature; the other was one of those pre-measured spice packets sold by McCormick. Both are head-and-shoulders better than any pre-made, jarred sauces I’ve tried, however.)

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  9. Bell peppers have some stuff in them that tastes more bitter to some people than to others. Also, tastebuds can change as one gets older to permit more bitter eats.

    But red bell peppers are sweeter and more mature than green, yellow, or orange ones.

    Also, make sure you cut out the seeds and the whitish-looking bits of the core. They are bitter.

    If you pre-cook the bell peppers in the oven and blister their skins, you can peel off the bitter parts of the skins. Or you can cook them the whole way, as with stuffed peppers. They will be a little sweeter when cooked.

    But in general, you might want to just skip bell peppers if the bitterness really bothers you. No reason to fight your tastebuds.

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  10. I have found recipes for Thai curry… Both green and red.

    I now have ingredients for said recipes.

    I am also very terrified for my taste buds.

    I should mention I have never cooked Thai before.

    Liked by 1 person

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