Unless we are having company over I rarely know exactly what I am making for supper any given night. I might have an idea of what the protein will be but that's as far as it gets. We kind of have a routine here, I ask Michael what he feels like for supper and he asks me what we have. The list usually goes chicken or some type (or at the moment types) of fish as there is rarely any type of red meat in the freezer of death.
Armed with the protein of choice I make a cursory glance in the vegetable rotters (also known as drawers but that is a whole different blog) and see what is still edible then off to the Internet I go.
If you type in the ingredients you have (the other night it was talapia and black beans) you get about a million recipes, some of them good some of them not so good (as was the case Wednesday). I suspect it wasn't that Wednesday wasn't so good it was more that it didn't taste as I expected, you know how you can usually get an idea of how something is going to turn out.
So armed with the recipe off I go to the kitchen to adjust it! For the life of me unless I am baking good enough is not good enough for me. In the past year or so I have learned that you are usually okay leaving things out of recipes if you don't have them or you can substitute something else. That was a big step for me...if someone put the recipe out there, that must be the way you have to make it! No more of that!
This method of course does not always work, baked macaroni and cheese is a case in point. My mother never made it and I swore that scrawny women from New York could not make it. Michael's family always got a chuckle out of the fact that I was baked mac and cheese impaired especially since he so often tells them that I am the only skinny cook he trusts! I would take the seemingly easy recipe and make adjustments. Poor guy would try it eat it and tell me it was tasty but leftovers tell the truth, that is the real honest truth of how something tastes. Finally earlier this year I found a recipe (which I have since lost) stuck to the letter of it and made an amazing creamy, cheesy baked mac. He said it was almost as good as his Moms!
Another thing I have learned is to not shy away from what appear to be long lists of things that go into recipes. It was in the past that if a recipe had more than 5 or 6 ingredients there was no way I was going to make it. The same with directions, if they went onto a second page they were out! Once I started really reading the directions and the ingredients I discovered that often they were spices and that the directions often contained and awful lot of extra words! Now this too can get me into trouble as I think I know what it says and I will skip a step or do it out of order. Sometimes this works sometimes...well you know!
So how do you decide what you are cooking? Do you plan out the whole week ahead (no way I could ever do that) or are you a fly by night cook?