This might veer off a bit, but keep with me, I swear I'm going somewhere.:razz:
Alton Brown created a great analogy in which dishes are the destination and you are a traveller. A recipe is like step by step directions--they will get you there without fail, as long as nothing changes and you make no mistakes. They also won't get you anywhere else. He calls himself a "Culinary Cartographer" because he wants to give you a map, and then you can just find the food you want, and get yourself there--if there is a detour, you can manage. I love this concept, and feel that it works well--I grew up tightly following recipe books, and my mom taught me why to cook. Alton Brown and Harold McGee taught me how to cook.
I work in food, and considered putting this in the BoH section, but figured a lot of home cooks can get in on my feelings, or not.
That said, I do not follow recipes. I read them often, but just to get a sense of what a dish is. Name it explicitly enough, and I will make it for you(e.g. Beef and Tofu stir-fry in a Honey-ginger sauce over soba noodles). I also don't make recipes, because I don't need them--I know what the dish is, so I know how to make it. It makes it hard when I am leaving work for a day, because nobody makes anything the right way and customers complain.:angry1:
And I invariably get asked for "the recipe".:slaphead:
I do try to give it, but I wind up writing a detailed story of what to DO to the food, not what is in it. I don't feel like I need to share that my Broccoli Cheese Soup has paprika in it, or that I use chicken broth, and a tiny bit of beef base in it. That isn't what gets me excited about a batch of Broccoli Cheese soup. It's that perfect velvety consistency and balance that expresses a well cared for blend of common basic ingredients, thickening agents, and flavorants.
Heck yes I have secrets and tricks! But the secret to great chicken salad is not "use pecans and fresh grapes", it's "get the flavor and texture IN the chicken, or else they are dry nuggets of bland in a sea of sauce". I had someone ask how I make the chicken salad one day, and about a minute into the explanation, she laughed and said "Wow, you are really passionate about food" and I thought, "No, you just asked a much more complicated question than you think!":headbonk:
Anyone else run into this?
I will be putting up "recipes" in here as time goes by, but don't expect a list and a set of pictures!:lol2: