Do It Your Way: Are You a Recipe Person?

I was making dinner the other night; salmon fillets wrapped in parma ham, steamed in the oven with a bit of wine and broth, with a bashed-up Vivaldi potatoes in a wasabi mayo dressing and some nice green beans. I popped the salmon in the oven hoping it would turn out right, hoping the parma ham would give the salmon flavour and guestimating the cooking time.

While pottering around the kitchen, I was thinking: I don’t think I’ve ever cooked the same thing twice in the same way. Every time, I tweak, adapt or change based on what’s in the fridge, the mood I’m in or the seasonal produce available. In my opinion, recipes are a great way to get inspiration, little else. My mom, on the other hand, always had a great little handwritten recipe book – covered in splatters from teaching us to make pancake mix – and usually followed recipes closely.

The same applies to business; Why do some of us love clear, repeatable processes while others prefer to try something new every time? Rationality versus instinct. Structure versus winging it. One’s not better than the other, necessarily. My mom probably ended up with a lot less weird-tasting dinners than I did, that’s for sure.

Personally, I’m certainly leaning towards the “creative thinking” end of the scale. I have processes and skeleton structures for projects I manage yet no two ever turn out the same. I’d be a terrible analytical chemist, air traffic controller or software tester but for what I do, it’s great; It allows me to nurture that bit of magic (wow, that sounds cheesy…) that’s unique to every new project.

I’m curious whether anyone consciously chooses to swing one way or the other, or whether we’re just made a certain way. What’s your style? What excites you enough to drop all normal procedures and just go for instinct?

5 thoughts on “Do It Your Way: Are You a Recipe Person?

  1. Ricky Cadden

    I’m very much a ‘hmmm, hope this works’ chef, as well. However, *sometimes* I’ll start with a recipe to give me a framework, and then customize it as I go.

  2. Adam

    I winged it on Saturday and that seemed to turn out OK 😉

    Business wise though it varies depending on what’s happening. Companies would certainly benefit from the speed and flexibility in a lot of areas, but sometimes (when I’m running maintenance on our Master DB for instance) I’m not even going to start work until I’ve got a fully tested point by point script to work from . . . horses for courses I guess 😉

  3. Francine

    Well my Dear VĂ©ro, your Mom has evolved and become more creative in her kitchen and in her studio. Just came back from a 3-day workshop in mixed media painting and let me tell you that the recipe for success in creating a painting is: paint with your heart, think with your head (composition) for a couple of minutes and let yourself go where your creative mind takes you. Lots of fun!!
    Maman XX

  4. Francine

    Nice touch. Tu as de beaux souvenirs. Je pense que tu as rĂ©ussi.. cuisine, travail, amis. Mais la nouvelle recette de crĂ«pe de Francine est unique. Le cahier rouge est encore en service. Quand je pense Ă  Catou aussi, avec les expĂ©riences de chimie extrĂȘmement prĂ©cise et rĂ©pĂ©titive. Elle doit rĂ©flĂ©chir beaucoup en lisant les blogs de tout le monde.
    Happy cooking. I bet Andrew can’t wait to get in the BBQ season.

  5. Chris

    Yes and no – in terms of cooking, I’ll generally cook to a recipe first time around, then once I know what it tastes like, start messing with it. I suspect that’s how I do most things to be honest. I’m creative, but I like to have a grounding in at least *some* knowable facts.

    On an entertaining note, a friend of mine has actually gone so far as to turn this freewheeling practice into a video blog about baking:

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