When I cook, I always use a recipe. Always!
The problem is, I rarely follow it.
I view a recipe as a helpful guide, a list of loosely-suggested food combinations accompanied by approximate quantities. Nothing is taken very seriously. I freely (Martin would say recklessly) substitute major ingredients, alter their amounts and cooking times, and change the order in which items are added. Every recipe seems to get modified, somewhere along the line.
Sometimes I do it because my way is just easier and faster. I mean, who wants to spend time boiling pasta, grating cheese, making a red sauce, cooking meat, meticulously layering everything in a dish, and then still have to bake it? That takes way too long! Throw it all into a pot, give the whole thing a stir, and call it done! Time to eat!
Success is, admittedly, varied. Not every recipe survives my careless measurements and sheer bravado.
Take cream puffs, for instance.
I was baffled when mine ended up the size, consistency, and flavor of hockey pucks. Throw one of my cream puffs, and you could reasonably be charged with assault with a deadly weapon. Rock hard and virtually indestructible, they would have made excellent patio pavers, had I made enough.
I couldn’t fathom my complete lack of success. I had followed the recipe exactly! Then I learned that apparently you can’t just eyeball the required amount of flour by shaking it straight out of the bag. You have to actually measure it. Who knew? Likewise, you can’t slash the number of eggs by over half in a misguided attempt at being “healthy,” a questionable endeavor in itself, given that I was making cream puffs.
Live and learn.