If you pay attention to the way people cook, you will probably find as many different styles as you do cooks.
Some people are very much “by the book” cooks. My mom is like that. She won’t make anything without a recipe, except for the handful of “staples” that she just knows how to make – things like pot roast, or cornbread, or green beans. Everything else requires a recipe and she follows it to the letter. No substitutions or creative combinations for her, no sir! She won’t even add more chocolate chips than what the recipe on the back of the Toll House morsels package calls for. Her reason? “Well, I just don’t know what might happen.” Le sigh.
Other people like to measure out all the ingredients before they start, like you see on cooking shows. They like to have all the little bowls and containers with just a bit of something in it. Now I’m all for making sure you have enough of everything before starting to cook, but I sure hate messing up that many dishes if I don’t have to. A recipe that requires dirtying every dish in the kitchen is probably never going to be made very often at my house.
Of course, there are those people on the other end of the spectrum. These are the ones who discover halfway through a recipe that they don’t have enough of a key ingredient, but decide it will be okay without it. They are usually the same ones who put something in the oven and then forget about it until they smell smoke. (Not that either of those things has EVER happened to me. Nope. Not me. . . and no, my nose isn’t growing!) Often, they are the ones who are told to bring the paper goods or a drink to a pot luck.
My style falls somewhere in the middle of all of this. I like using recipes from a cookbook or a magazine, and I MIGHT even follow the recipe exactly the first time I try it. (After the first trial, all bets are off!) But I am just as likely to make substitutions, either because I don’t have one of the ingredients and I don’t want to go to the store AGAIN, or because I have an idea that I think will be better. I usually check on all the ingredients before I start, but I will probably just eyeball how much there is, instead of measuring it out ahead of time (messing up dishes, remember?)
I am just as likely to open the pantry and/or the fridge to see what all I have and then decide what I can create using those ingredients. I call it TST cooking…you know, Throw **** Together. (The asterisks stand for “stuff”…this is a family friendly blog, y’all. Geesh.) Sometimes this technique results in wonderful, yummy results. When that happens, I try to write down what I did, so I can do it again later. (You should see the looks I get when people ask for those recipes.) Of course, sometimes the result is something I’m not sure the dog would eat. Fortunately, that doesn’t happen very often.
When it does, I just remind myself that I don’t always know what might happen.