Monday Mission: Learn a Recipe by Heart

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Cream of Potato Vegetable Soup (20) (475x317)

Your mission, if you choose to accept, is to learn a recipe by heart (or a new one).

It’s so exhilarating and freeing to be able to walk into the kitchen, NOT worry about searching for a recipe and jump right in. I’m at this weird point where I have most of my recipes on the computer, but I hate dragging it into the kitchen. I spend a lot of dinner prep time running back and forth between the office and the kitchen, looking at a few ingredients and then remembering them and adding things to the pot. (Another way I’m not so efficient all the time…)

Some that I can do by heart are very basic recipes, like chicken rice soup or stir fry, and others just have a few ingredients, like grain-free crepes. I can make spaghetti squash lasagna without looking, although it’s different every time, and I love late summer when zucchini is in season to make sausage zucchini bake without any paper.

Tomorrow as part of the Nourishing Soup Series, I’m going to share a video of making my favorite soup from childhood, cream of potato. (I shot it this afternoon…but I’m afraid it’s all blurry and I don’t know why! We’ll see if it’s even worth sharing, blah.)

It’s changed a bit over the years, but I haven’t looked at a recipe for cream of vegetable soup in a long time.

I’d love to hear what kinds of recipes you don’t need a recipe card to make happen, whether it’s “just that easy” or one you’ve made so many times, you could do it in your sleep (and sometimes might on a bleary-eyed morning, right?).

Now…go find a great recipe or pick one of your already-favorites and commit to learning it by memory! (Alternately, you could tape just the ingredients to the inside cupboard door…)

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9 Bites of Conversation So Far

  1. Sharon says

    It’s only on special occasions I use a recipe for cooking dinner. There’s a lot of random stews (in cold weather) and random stir-frys and currys (in warm weather), based on what needs to be used up and what was cheap at the market/store.

    Now, for baking I do use recipes. But I have my basic muffin and scone recipes stuck on the inside of a cabinet, so I don’t have to look them up. My bread recipe is committed to memory, however; as I’ve been baking my own exclusively for 6 years now I’d better not need to look it up anymore!

  2. AshleyB says

    It is freeing to not have to look at a recipe! A good amount of what I make is by ‘winging it’, except when I bake :)

    Since you have so many recipes electronically, have you considered a tablet? I didn’t like how much room my laptop took up on the counter, not to mention that I didn’t want to get food all over it! My tablet doesn’t take up any room, and I don’t have to print new recipes (no paper clutter, yay!). Just a suggestion for you :)

      • Stephanie says

        I ended up with an Ipad 2 several years ago and it’s still going strong. Just a tip, if what you get is small enough, you can put it in a gallon zip lock bag while you’re cooking. It’ll keep the screen clean no matter what’s flying around in the kitchen or what you have on your hands.

  3. BeccaM says

    I love it! I am learning to be more free in the kitchen this past year, and it has caused me to love cooking more than ever!

    One of my go-to “recipe that isn’t a real recipe anymore” are my “Silver Dollar pancakes” that I have adapted to be gluten free and to use real-food ingredients, instead of the original. I can whip those up really quickly!

    Also, I am learning to wing it with many soups and stews and stir-fries. Rather liberating, actually.

    (I totally do the “run between the kitchen and laptop thing”, which is totally easier than just printing the recipe or carrying the laptop onto the kitchen table, right? :-) )

  4. Jennifer says

    I love looking through clipped recipes and cookbooks and getting inspired! I jot down ingredients on small slips of scratch paper, and then figure out the amounts as I go and taste test in the kitchen. So, I’m part recipe-follower, part-winger. I have surprised myself with how many things I have learned over the years to whip up without a recipe, especially Mexican dishes most often requested by my husband. He’s so impressed!

    If you are looking into tablets, I will add that I LOVE my mini-iPad. It was way more affordable than the iPad and still large enough to see recipes or read articles easily. I’m near blind, seriously. I bought a cover that was fairly cheap and has a magnetic closure. I can open it and stick it on the side of my refrigerator and have easy access without it being on the counter. I love it for many more reasons, but we’re talking cooking.

  5. Sandra Goldstein says

    What a great challenge! I think we all have bookmarked or Pinterest boards overflowing with recipes. It’s rather annoying (and messy!) to bring a laptop into the kitchen. I’ve tried printing out recipes, but they somehow just get lost in the shuffle and I’m not at the point where I can make time to organize them all nicely.

    I am going to need to make the challenge a little more difficult for myself because I will just end up eating veggies and grilled meat –not that there’s anything wrong with that! Maybe the challenge could be taken a step further. Adding a complexity factor would be a great addition. How complicated do these recipes need to be? Meat and potatoes may be too easy. I would love to perfect and commit to memory a recipe that I often have trouble with. I think I will work on my mom’s lasagna recipe. I’ve made it so many times and yet, I always need the recipe card as a security blanket.

    I do have some tried and true recipes in my cooking repertoire that I don’t need a real recipe for. Things like butternut squash soup, chili and oatmeal are comforting and reliable. I know I can pull out a stunner every time! I totally agree that the recipes we know by heart always turn out a little different each time. Why is that?

    I’m looking forward to implementing this challenge in my kitchen! I’m not sure how my lasagna will turn out but here’s hoping I can pull it off. Other than your delicious soup, are there extremely complex recipes you have committed to memory? I would love to hear that I’m not the only one who needs that recipe card security blanket.

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