Thursday, November 8, 2012

FUN New Cookbook and Recipe-Fail Prevention

Many of you know that I am a cookbook-addict. You might be rendered speechless, should you ever see just how many I actually have - let alone, recipes I've printed off the internet, or magazine recipes. It could be an episode of Hoarders. Just sayin'.  Anyway, I found myself in Barnes and Noble yesterday - I went there for 3 specific reasons - the new Nora Roberts book, the new Eating Clean Cookbook 3, and the Nov/Dec issue of Clean Eating Magazine. Well, the Nora Roberts and Clean Eating Magazine were right where they belonged, but the cookbook was out of stock. I checked the inventory in my area - out of stock within a 20 mile range. Boooo.

So what's a girl to do? Peruse the other cookbooks, of course. ;-) I'm always on the lookout for what is "hot" - the trends in diet and non-diet resources. As I meandered through the stacks, I spied a title that stopped me cold. No way. Really? I read it again - nope, hadn't mis-read it - and HAD to pull it out and give it a look-see.

It's called LooneySpoons - and it's HYSTERICAL! These two sisters are fabulous! Healthy recipes with great nutrition info and tips - plus the puns. Oh, the puns! I was rolling! Especially, once I found the recipe to the right... When you can work Darth Vader into a recipe title, you have earned my respect! LOL! Here's a link to their book info:

There are several (and I mean SEVERAL) recipes that made it to my 'must try' list, and I really love the sense of balance they portray. Plus, they have a recipe called Obi Wonton Kenobi ;-)   How can I go wrong?? hehehe! (SciFi Geeks UNITE!)

As I finished up the book (yes, I went through every page last night), I found a poem right at the end. As I read it (and re-read it) my husband thought I'd lost my mind. I was laughing so hard I was crying, and just kept gasping, "Yeah! What SHE said!"

What was this mirth that stole my breath? 

Well, see, here's the backstory... I'm a recipe developer. That's a very, very big part of what I do. I create recipes for Champion Nutrition USA (facebook), I create recipes for World Physique Magazine Women, I create recipes for Like any recipe developer, I get emails from people who have made my recipes. The vast majority are positive. But then there are those few (and thankfully far between) that are... well, peeved. The recipe didn't work, they tell me. They tried it twice, and there's something wrong with it.

Fix it, they say.

Hmmmm. Let's chat, I say.

Back and forth we go as I try to pinpoint the problem.

Ahhhh, there it is. Yes, I see now. It's actually quite simple... You didn't follow the recipe.

Eh? Yes, I did, and it didn't work!! 

No. You didn't. You substituted X for Y. You eliminated Z. You added A, B, and C. And you used a different pan. That's not my recipe. 


Try it again, this time following the recipe, and let me know how it comes out.


Typically, at this point, I don't ever hear back.

Recipes are specific. While there's room to tweak them and make them your own (which I encourage), drastically changing them will drastically change the outcome. Period. It's like math. 2+2=4. If you make one of the 2's into a 3, you do NOT get 4. While 5 might be nice, it's still not 4. Or 5 might be a flat, tasteless, hard blob instead of the round, flavorful, cookie/muffin that 4 is. Make sense?

Again, I'm not saying don't tweak - A perfect example of how tweaking a recipes can result in success is BeneficialBento's meatballs based on my Chicken Loaves. She did a great job and created her own tasty recipe!  So what am I saying? What I'm sayin' is follow the recipe or don't blame me for the results ;-)

So what are some of the usual suspects? 

Flour is first and foremost. Typically, in a recipe calling for coconut flour, someone will substitute a different choice. Here's the problem. Coconut flour has a unique personality. It absorbs liquid like there's no tomorrow, and it bakes up into a density that is all its own. Switch the flour, change the personality. Go ahead and experiment if you like - but if you do, and the recipe falls flat, remember that you didn't follow my recipe.

Protein Powder is next. In my recipes, I use either Champion Nutrition Pure Whey or Beverly International Ultimate Muscle Protein (UMP). The Pure Whey is, of course, pure whey protein. The UMP is a blend of casein and whey (80:20). Each powder has individual properties, and results can vary. For instance, protein pudding is best made with a whey/casein blend. It's the casein that causes it to swell and get creamy. Fudgy sauce is best made with whey, as it stays thinner and richer. Another important point is that each of these products contains a minimum of 20 grams protein and less than 4 grams carbs per scoop, with a scoop being about 1/3 cup. When you're dealing with a recipe, volume (the size of the scoop) matters. When you're dealing with nutrition, those grams of protein and carbs matter. A lot. If you use a Meal Replacement powder instead of a Protein Powder, you've just changed the entire nutritional profile of the recipe.

Baking Soda vs Baking Powder.  Ahhh, yes. This one rears up quite often. If you are kitchen-savvy, you know that there are specific reasons for the usage of either ingredient and they are NOT interchangeable (I learned that the hard way, lol). So, if my recipe calls for Baking Soda - use baking soda. If it calls for Baking Powder - use baking powder. Want to know more? Here's some info.

So there it is in a nutshell, a few tips and pointers to help you reach success with my recipes ;-)  And... as always, if you have questions, don't hesitate to email me. Unless, of course, you've changed the whole recipe, it didn't work, and now you're blaming me. ;-)

Now I'd like to share with you the poem that began my descent into hysteria. Without further ado, I bring you Greta's Recipe For Disaster (original can be found here):

You didn't have the pasta so you substituted rice
You didn't have the curry so you used another spice
You didn't add the onions plus you used a different pan
Forgot to buy tomatoes so you used them from a can
You simmered it too long because your mom called on the phone
The chicken that you bought was not the kind without the bone
“There must be something wrong with it, I couldn't even eat it!”
Well what do you expect when all the good stuff’s been deleted?
Oh tell me, upset cookbook fan, whatever can I do
To make you follow recipes so that they’ll “work” for you?

The end.

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