The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


December 13, 2012

Amanda Stone: Clever cooks learn to adapt

JOPLIN, Mo. — I am not capable of following a recipe. There. I said it.

Perhaps you've noticed that my recipes often include "adapted from so-and-so." Now you know why. It's an illness. A compulsion. Or maybe it's a way to wield my power over the recipe, to stay in control, to show that I am confident over my ingredients and measurements.

But sometimes I'm just out of something and refuse to go to the store. So I adapt.

I view recipes as a mere guideline. For me, they serve as a suggestion rather than a lost cause if I don't have the correct ingredients. I read about a Tuscan cookbook full of recipes with no measurements.

This sounds like a great book for me because I love having a general outline of ingredients that come together to make a dish taste fantastic. Then I take it from there.

Unfortunately for my family, the finished product isn't always as delicious as it could be had I actually made the dish as it was intended.

I yearn to be one of those cooks that sprinkles and tosses ingredients into the pan with wild abandon. But of course I also want the result to be tasty. So I take note of my mistakes and try not to make the same ones.

I'm always on the lookout for ways to make a recipe healthier while not compromising taste or texture TOO much.

That being said, my version of "healthy" these days involves using real food that hasn't been processed until it's unrecognizable. For example, butter takes the place of margarine, honey or real maple syrup takes the place of sugar, and whole grains are always substituted for white.

Baking is tricky, though. Baking is a science. Tweaking a baked recipe that has been tested and considered sharable is risky business.

Don't get me wrong, I still do it. But the results are often not as edible as I'd like. Bread ends up hard as a rock on the outside, doughy on the inside. Cookies and muffins become rubbery and taste too healthy.

I have no problem choking down my creations.

But sharing is most of the fun in cooking, so trust that I've given my stamp of approval to these adapted recipes.

I included the original recipes with my adaptations so that you can see how the magic happens. Let me know if you have a different yummy way to adapt them.


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