Rocket Bomber - article - recipes - commentary - Kitchen Journal


Kitchen Journal

filed under , 2 October 2014, 15:17 by

In the past, I’ve kept notes for recipes on my computer — bookmarked links, mostly — while also using what might be called “grandma measures” when cooking day-to-day: grandma never needs to measure anything because she’s made each of those recipes so many times — she can eyeball it and knows when a dish ‘looks right’ or ‘feels right’.

That said, I did have to get a bit more scientific in the kitchen last year when I tried making my own sourdough starter. I have a text file on my hard drive where I tracked a dozen or so various iterations on whole wheat sourdough bread, but that stalled when my baking experiments shifted to biscuits and tortillas (both of which are yeast-free, so easier to make on the spur-of-the-moment) (also, the key to both: give your dough an hour to rest in the fridge so the flour has a chance to fully hydrate – makes a world of difference).

The sourdough starter prompted me to buy a digital kitchen scale, which came in handy later when I also found myself trying out some DIY Soylent (It’s not as gross as you think, especially when you mix your own and know what went into it — think oatmeal smoothie, not 70s Heston).

So quietly, behind-the-scenes, I’ve been doing quite a bit of ‘kitchen science’ while attempting to keep myself fed (and lose some weight) and while I might not get around to blogging any of it any time soon, I just wanted to say that keeping a kitchen journal is a great idea for even a casual chef. Whenever you’re forced to make a substitution (yogurt for buttermilk, say, or banana for eggs in a bread or brownie mix) or are just trying something new — write it down! Make notes not just on the results but also the process, and the motivations:

“Ran out of eggs so I’m going to try half a can of pumpkin pie filling as a substitute in a muffin recipe. Found the suggestion after Googling ‘egg substitutes for baking’”
“Pumpkin pie muffins were Aces! Repeating recipe but dropping a chunk of cream cheese in each”
“Cheese filling was OK but could be better: switching to a mix of mascarpone with a drop of vanilla and a little sugar”
“Mascarpone filling in the pumpkin muffins was fantastic – really, really good. Doing the same with blueberry this Sunday”
“Had a little bit of the mascarpone muffin filling left, didn’t want to throw it out. Made french toast and sandwiched the cheese filling inside — just enough for one! really good with syrup. might be good with pancakes too”

You don’t have to keep a kitchen journal like you would a log book for your college chemistry class — brief notes are all you need. Reminders, sign posts, warnings, just a little something to keep you on the right path. Think of it as a map — a treasure map, even, as you never know when you’re going to go from Googling for an egg substitute to instead find yourself, 11 recipes later, enjoying pecan-pumpkin pancakes and maple-candied bacon for brunch.

“The only difference between screwing around and science is writing it down.”

When my employment prospects improve and I move past a beans-and-rice survival diet, I think I’ll go back to posting ‘sunday supper’ recipes once a week. I came across the Adam Savage quote, though, and it prompted me to write about how important just ‘writing things down’ can be. Get a cheap spiral bound notebook (note: cheap, as it *is* going to get stuff spilled on it) and keep it on your counter (maybe next to or under the paper towels). Take notes. Drop some science on it.

You’ll likely be surprise how much it will augment, and improve, your skills in the kitchen.



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