Today’s message is about southern cooks – those people in my family of origin who really do not use recipes, including me. Every now and then I ‘think’ I am going to follow a recipe. LOL. My husband says that I use a recipe only to find out what the ingredients are, which I may or may not use, depending on my whim at the moment … and that I definitely do not follow the directions. I suspect he’s right on the money here.
I mean, why on earth should I add four eggs one at a time to a cheese cake, beating with the mixer after each one, when I can dump all four in at once? What possible difference could it make? Nobody has ever been able to explain it to me.
My friend, Gail, years ago in Upper Michigan, explained to me, “If you want it to come out exactly right, you have to measure exactly right.” Nah … not me. This way it’s … well, it’s always a surprise as to how it comes out!
Yesterday afternoon I baked a wonderful chocolate cheese cake, whick actually came out more of a mocha cheese cake … but not with any coffee, although I could add a touch next time, couldn’t I? The recipe actually called for 18 chocolate cream cookies for the crust – Oreos, I thought, but didn’t want that much chocolate in my cheese cake, or that much sugar, so I used regular graham cracker crumbs. Besides, I had two boxes of graham cracker crumbs in the pantry. Then it called for four (gasp!) 8-oz. packages of cream cheese. How many calories is that? Needless to say I bought the low-fat cream cheese.
The only other substitution I made was to use 4 oz. of bittersweet chocolate squares, rather than the 4 oz. of semi-sweet chocolate squares it called for, because that’s what I had in the pantry, and when I checked for which ingredients I already had before I went to the store, I marked off ‘chocolate squares’ and didn’t bother to notice if it was bitter-sweet or semi-sweet. Again, it was what I had in the pantry, and with a whole cup of sugar added earlier, how much difference could it make? Okay – good to go here.
It actually turned out beautifully, it’s really delicious, and I did have fresh blue berries and confectioners sugar for the top of the dessert. I felt supreme of all cooks when I finished. Even came out of the spring form pan nicely. Imagine that!
But you know ~ a part of me really does wonder what would have happened if I’d actually followed the real recipe? And not just ingredients. What would actually happen if I did slow down and take the time to beat those eggs, one at a time, if I had bought the chocolate cream filled cookies for the crust, and had used semi-sweet chocolate instead of bitter- sweet? I guess I’ll have to do that sometime this summer.
For a party, I think. That would be nice! And then a little voice in my head tells me, if I have a party, I won’t have time to spend on this chocolate cheese cake, and I’ll cut corners all over again. And I might even add a wee bit of instant coffee to the next one. Deep down I know it’s ingrained in my soul. I think I would’ve been bumped from a cooking school if I’d ever tried to attend!!