Cooking may sound like it should be an easy one to start with for me, after all, I have a whole category of my blog for recipes and I love checking out new cooking ideas whenever I can (my latest successful experiment was in trying the Sunday Night Stew over at The Pioneer Woman – if you like beef stew, you should definitely check it out!)
A simple chicken dinner…
Things don’t always go according to plan, though. Even with tried and tested old favourites, sometimes you have to improvise and things can get a bit interesting! At the weekend I was making Greek Lemon Chicken. The recipe is from one of those freebie cooking with spices type books, but is quite similar to the one at The Joys of Life, albeit without olives.
So there I was, with chicken all browned ready, sauteing away the onions, celery and carrot when I realised that we’d run out of cayenne. I decided to substitute it with paprika and after a bit of rummaging in the back of the spice shelf, found it and gave it a hefty shake into the casserole. I finished off adding the stock and the other ingredients, popped the lid on to let it simmer and went off to tidy the table. But something was nagging at the back of my mind. Had I forgotten something?
One tiny mistake…
Just as I was setting out knives and forks, it suddenly came to me. That paprika I’d added, it had been sweet paprika, right? Wrong! It was hot paprika and wow it gave the chicken a kick! As it happened, I quite liked it, as did my eldest. But my husband was quite sulky about it and sighing, asked me why I could never just stick to the recipe. In this case, it wasn’t my fault, but I realised that he did have a point.
But is experimental cooking really that bad?
I just can’t help myself; whenever I cook a new recipe my rebellious side comes out and I am determined to do something to the recipe to put my own stamp on it. Sometimes it works really well, like when I decided to start adding cinnamon and cardamom to my gingerbread cookie dough. But I will admit there are times when the results are, shall we say, less inspired. Like the time I decided to see whether vodka and fresh coconut would work in a stir fry, or the time I tried to caramelise a saucepan of raisins steeped in rather old cooking sherry on the stove (did you know sherry makes pink flames?!)
It may not be for the fainthearted, but overall, I prefer to be a bit experimental than to feel constrained to stick 100% to a recipe. I’ve noticed though, that quite a few of the men I know seem to prefer sticking to the same tried and tested method every time. My husband would happily eat the same five meals on rotation for the rest of his life and calls my kitchen experiments “pears and cinnamon” after the tendency on shows like Masterchef to keep piling on different flavours, sometimes just for the sake of it. He’s not alone, my boyfriend back in college used to look on with horror as I refused to weigh ingredients when I was cooking (and again, I suppose he may have had a point when it came to things like baking cakes) but hey, where’s the excitement in always following the rules?
The burning question…
So here’s my question. Bearing in mind my admittedly small sample size, do you think that men are inherently more conservative when it comes to cooking? Or is that totally wrong headed? And am I a horrible sexist for even suggesting such a thing? Thoughts on a postcard, or in the comments below, please!