The Recipe Challenge



Did you ever read something that seemed like a riddle at first but seems obvious when looking back?

I had that experience the first time I read a cooking recipe by Jacob at ERE.  It was a recipe with no amounts, no times, and optional ingredients.  And it turned into my favorite dish.

Jacob wrote that to become familiar with a dish you have to make it your own.  Experiment with ingredients and flavors and spices.  Make it differently every day and keep changes you like and discard the ones you don’t.  And it’s best to make it every single day for a month or two so you can get really good at it (plus it will make any break in routine even more enjoyable than normal).

Today I looked back at his original recipe and realized that mine had evolved into something that had almost no relation to the original one.  .  Mine has onions, garlic, water, and  brown (not red) lentils but shares no other ingredients with his.  I’ve ended up adding fresh tomato, red pepper, sea salt, a (large) amount of whole peppercorn, dried Thai chiles, and whatever hot peppers are fresh and in season.  Typically I eat two bowls – the first with fresh squeezed lemon, and the second with a large helping of Tumeric.

I probably dropped the first ten pounds of my accidental 40 pound weight loss while figuring out what was my optimal flavoring.  The dish I ended up with is designed for my tastes, and I can easily adjust it for whatever I have the taste for that day.

So if you want the most delicious dish in the world, I will issue a challenge.  Start with a lentil soup recipe (you can use Jacob’s if you want, but there are plenty of others on the web to start with).  Commit to making it every day for a month (perhaps 2) and making at least one or two changes every time.  Change the spices, add different veggies or other ingredients, optimize the cooking times for your style of local lentils.  Customize it for your taste through continuous experimentation.  If  the challenge is successful you will end up with the most delicious dish in the world (for you).  Ironically, your final recipe will be both cheap and priceless!

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