Friday, April 23, 2010

Recipe Development

I spent most of the day researching, developing and testing a recipe I'm working on.

Let me just say how surreal it is for me to say that. By the time I graduated from high school, I didn't even know how to brown hamburger meat. I knew how to bake. Mostly cookies. I made bread several times. It was even edible once or twice. (badumpbump!)

I learned a few things over the years, but just enough to get by. Before I went gluten free, I barely cooked at all. I could make dinner, but I never really knew how to cook. Let's just say that I could do everything they asked me to do on the back of a box of Hamburger Helper. There were a couple "from scratch" recipes I knew how to make, but the only additional skill those recipes required was chopping an onion. Which I didn't even do most of the time because they sell prechopped onions right by the bagged salad at the grocery store. I did make pot roast using the bag and season packet a few times, so I quartered some potatoes for that.

I was comfortable browning hamburger meat, chopping an onion (if I had to), doing that bag and season roast, cooking pasta and... I think that's about it. I couldn't have told you what I was supposed to do with a steak. As for chicken.. Chicken scared the heck out of me. You have to be careful with raw chicken or you could DIE. You have to cook it all the way or you could DIE. Seriously. I can't deal with that kind of pressure. When I did cook chicken I was so freaked out about making sure it was done that I cooked it so long it was dead all over again.

When I went gluten free, I spent the first few weeks just trying to figure out what I could eat that wouldn't make me sick. I ate like a teenage boy trapped in a convenience store. Cool Ranch Doritos are gluten free? Awesome! I also discovered that most flavors of EZ Cheese, that aerosol spray cheese, are gluten free. So are cheetos, lots of different candy, some chips and salsa, peanut butter, soda, some mixed nuts, etc.

I've come a LONG way since then. There isn't much I don't know how to do as far as basic cooking goes. And more advanced cooking techniques don't intimidate me like they used to. I'm willing to try just about anything.

I'm not so worried anymore about wasting food. I used to be so worried about it that I wouldn't try making anything. I figured whatever I made wouldn't be as good. Now I figure why not try something. It might be awesome.

My husband is even more adventurous than I am. He's the better cook in the family. He likes the process. The chopping, the prepping, the simmering, the stirring.

The waiting. And the more waiting.


I'm not so much with the waiting.

I'm more of an end result kind of girl. I want to see if what I'm doing is going to turn out like I want it to.

This recipe that I'm working on is a baking recipe actually. It's the first time that I've tried to take something that was pretty darn good, but I wanted to see if I could make better and more dependable from a gluten-free standpoint. It's a traditional recipe that has been made from scratch for probably hundreds of years. So I'm going back to basics and figuring out some of those traditional techniques and see if they transfer to the gluten free version.

That's one thing that I've learned. Sometimes it's not the gluten, but the technique that makes the recipe do what it does. It's really quite amazing. One of these days I swear I'm going to try pita bread, which I've never been a fan of, JUST to see if I can get it to do that splitty thing.

I had a lot of fun today. I'm not quite there with this recipe. I've done a pretty standard, modern version of the traditional recipe. The one that most gluten-eaters who make this from scratch use. But then there are some people who go really old school with it and use an ingredient that I've never used before that they say is the key to an even better result. So I'm going to see what I can do to find that final ingredient that I need.

I did do some pretty successful temperature testing today though. Now I know cooking it hotter and faster is the technique I need to use. So we'll see if the traditional ingredient helps our gluten-free flour do it's thing just a little bit better.

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