How to Rate a Recipe, Part 2

The battle is over. There’s only the sound of silence in your kitchen. Your brother, who had invited himself for dinner is sitting there, looking for something to complain about. The meal actually doesn’t give him much ammunition and the dirty dishes, pots and pans left in the kitchen aren’t much of his concern. He’ll leave eventually, his need to insult me unsatisfied, but at least he got something to eat. No, I am not going to glorify your cooking here, although it would have made a nice counterpoint.

And you are still facing those dirty dishes. Let’s have a look at the aftermath. Two flat plates, cutlery, a skillet, a pot you used for the rice, lids, the cutting board, cutting and peeling knives, a wooden spoon, a spatula and a spoon for tasting. The stove is semi messy, but still needs some love.

That stack of dishes can be classified in a couple of ways: dishwasher safe, with or without rinsing, hand wash, with or without scrubbing, surfaces for preparation and cooking surfaces. There are more cooking utensils which haven’t been mentioned here, but need some cleaning eventually: baking dishes and casseroles which usually need some soaking before they can be scrubbed. The crock pot is the biggest example here. The oven will need some serious cleaning every now and then. A food processor usually needs special attention as well, due to the knives and cutters involved. Baking sheets are usually just large, but easy to clean. A muffin sheet however can turn nasty if you don’t use cups. Don’t forget garlic presses and graters. Beverage containers open up a new dimension, and serving dishes rarely come self cleaning. The later is of lesser concern, since guys don’t do serving dishes.

I find myself wanting to go to the kitchen and rummage through the cabinets for the one item that would be the nastiest to clean. I am holding myself back, since I made my point already. There are many cooking utensils out there, each with its own cleaning requirements. If you add it all up, the result will be some extra work the lazy cook can’t stand. If you didn’t like cooking to begin with, don’t tell me you like cleaning dishes. And preferring doing the dishes over cooking doesn’t count. It’s time to come up with a rating system that explains how involved cleaning up will be afterwards.

(to be continued)

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How to Rate a Recipe

Here’s a big question with plenty of answers:

Taste is already not very objective. Tastes good, bad or indifferent isn’t very reliable. Some like it hot and others sour and with some qualifiers things can become clearer: 5 chili beans, 3 lemons or 4 little tenderizers.

Can smell be rated? Does Harzer or Limburger cheese smell good or bad? How about garlic and onions? Ginger on your stir fry? Freshly baked muffins? There’s just no way to measure, the only way is to describe how it smells, or supposed to smell if things go wrong.

To judge looks is difficult in the frame of Cook-Like-a-Guy. Most of our efforts go into getting it done and getting the taste right. Presenting it on an oversized square plate, drawing smiley faces with the sauce and top the perfectly rounded rice ball with a mint leaf is just not going to happen. Unless it’s a high maintenance date, then we want to hear all the details, but you’ll have to get your recipe over there ->

Feel and sound would get all five senses engaged. And the sound of fajitas served on a hot iron skillet certainly adds to the atmosphere, but describing how that slice of pizza felt in your hand is clearly over the top.

Then there’s how difficult it is to make and the time how long it takes to prepare. How many ingredients are needed and does it need constant supervision while cooking. We want low scores here for our purposes.

Can the dish be salvaged when something goes wrong during the cooking? What happens if 3 more guests show up? And not to forget, important for the bachelor cook, can the dish be re-heated without much loss. What happens if an ingredient is missing, something not uncommon for the visitors of this site? We either didn’t have it on the shopping list, or we just forgot to take it out of the cabinet when we started.

And here’s one of my favorites: How many utensils do I need to prepare the dish? How much work is it to clean up afterwards. A single pot for stew is great, but knives, cutting boards and ladles count as well.

I haven’t come to a final conclusion, yet. Taste should be in there. You want to hear “Hmmm, that was yummy” or “I didn’t expect you can cook” as well as the scraping noise when they scrape the last pieces from the bowl. The second rating should certainly be how easy it is to make the dish and how low the chance is to create a mess. Two criteria. Sounds good to me so far.

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