When I was little I used to love to play with food. Often to the exasperation of my mother who would say how expensive all that food and ingredients were. I understand that now, I didn’t then. You don’t want to waste your food budget on items that don’t taste good or use exotic ingredients you can only use once.
The other day I gave my partner (a better cook since we began this experiment but still an advanced beginner at cooking) a recipe to make for dinner. I was busy doing something and had trouble getting to making dinner. I handed her the recipe and walked away. Well, we ended up with something completely different for dinner as she never read the full recipe first. I never thought I needed to say that but I guess we all need a reminder from time to time. The recipe called for ground beef, cooked first the ingredient list said. In the directions it was to be formed into a loaf and baked first. You know what she did? Saw the cooked first part and started cooking it crumbled on the stove top. So, she learned and I was reminded read the entire recipe before you begin.
In the four-ish years that I have consistently been writing this blog I have had far more hits than misses with my family as far as meals go. I believe just about everything can be fixed or saved if it doesn’t end up being a dish you or your family like the flavor of. In four years I have thrown two dishes into the trash because they were so bad – one was a Weight Watchers-esque Shrimp Scampi recipe and the other was an idea I had for a Ketchup Brown Gravy. I cried over both. But I learned.
Taste along the way. If you feel a recipe going off the rails for you stop and assess where you are. Will my family like this and eat this? What needs to change for them to like this dish? Sweeter? More tart? Sometimes it comes down to adding more salt or pepper for your taste. Taste is a very personal thing. Does your family like their pasta more Al dente? Cook it a bit less in a casserole or add a bit less liquid to the dish. Only you know your taste and what they like.
Try something new once in awhile. Give your family the words to properly critique the dish. Do they not like the texture? Does the pasta need to be cooked a bit less to have more bite? Does it need more flavor? What spices may make it taste better? These are all ways to get your family involved and find out what they really like. My son is more texture oriented, while I want more tart flavors with lots of vinegary goodness. It just depends on each person and the more you can teach them the different components of the dishes the more you will understand what they really like and can feel confidence branching out in getting them to try new foods and dishes.