Today I want to share with you a final meal planning tip that has been a hard lesson to learn for me. As a classic over-achieving, rule-follower, when I start out to follow a recipe I can be very particular about following it to the letter. However, over time I’ve come to realize that recipes are really just guidelines, not a rule book. Each recipe should be taken with a grain of salt (pardon the pun!), and adapted to your kitchen and tastes.
The most common misrepresentation (IMHO) in recipes is usually the area that tells you how long it takes to prepare the dish. This estimate will vary wildly from kitchen to kitchen and cook to cook, and it very rarely takes into account the additional time it takes to read the recipe as well as assemble and prep the ingredients. So that “1 onion, diced” can add chunk of time before you can get that dish in the oven, especially if you’re slow and deliberate with a knife like me. Also, when using a new recipe that employs a new cooking technique, there will be a chunk of time spent just trying to understand what needs to happen. My hubby finally told me to stick to an “Extra Hour Rule” when making a new recipe, and it has served me well (you know, when I finally caved and realized he was right).
So, think about how long the recipe (and you) think it should take to make, and if it’s a brand new, from-scratch recipe, I’d suggest starting in on it an hour ahead of what you think is necessary, as inevitably something will add time, either your oven isn’t as hot as the writers or there’s more peeling than you thought. My family has regularly gotten their dinner a good hour after when I promised dinner would b eon the table… So if it helps you to learn from my mistakes, just add an hour when planning to finally try your hand at risotto or a soufflé, and you’ll be golden, and your dinner guests will be in awe… Promise!