Cooking – Art or Science

The simple answer to this question is, “BOTH”.

When you consider it, baking is a science in that we are taking different ingredients, mixing them together to create something of a completely different state.  When we roast meat we are using temperature and time to change meat from raw to cooked, and dangerous to safe.  We have to consider at what temperature such things as salmonella die, or become safe to consume.  Not only that, but we need to know how to cook our roasts so the meat is tender, juicy, and tasty, and not like shoe leather.  Cooking is a combination of sciences, including chemistry and physics.  Of course it is more fun than figuring out string theory, but nowhere near as fun as putting two or more chemicals together and blowing sh** up.

Something as easy to make as Yorkshire pudding can be complicated by temperature, one tbsp too much of water, or the size of the eggs being used.

There is a science to creating great Yorkshire pudding.  It all comes down to ratio of dry to wet ingredients, sit time, temperature of the batter when added to the oil, and the temperature of the oil itself.  When any factor is off, the yorkies are affected. I researched the science of liquid to dry ingredient ratios.  I have tried to convert these ratios into cups, tbsp, and other common measurements, rather than give people ratios and expect them to figure out the cups.  Food like Yorkies and breads take a lot of experimentation.  any time you make a recipe, or change one, write down the changes.  This way you have the ability to go back and see what worked and what didn’t. Actually, when I was serious about making the perfect yorkies, I made three batches using three different rest times.  Nothing else changed.  The ingredients, oven temperature, and cook time remained constant.  The recipe I posted on this site is the one that worked out best.  All three were tasty, but the 3 day rest time produced the highest rise and best browning.

“Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.”
Mark Twain

I do not put a whole lot of weight on what food looks like.  I am a redneck home cook.  I want the food to be healthy and taste amazing.  I want people to leave the table full and happy.  Of course I don’t want to make something that looks like vomit on a plate, but I don’t go all crazy making little flowers, or making purees out of vegetables no one wants to eat.  In my opinion, if the meat looks good, the vegetables are cooked properly and the potatoes are mouth watering my job is done.

For this reason I spend more time on the science of cooking, and less time on the art.  I’ll leave the art to TV and restaurant chefs, and worry more about great taste.

The recipes you find on this website have originated either from someone else, recipe books and online recipes.  However, none of them are the original recipe.  I play with the recipes and take what I know about blending flavours and change almost every recipe of someone else’s I make.  Many of the recipes, like Biscuits and Sausage Gravy came from having eaten the dish in a restaurant and then coming home and throwing together the ingredients I think were in the original recipe.  Then I make it again and again until I find the flavour profiles I want.  Once I have the flavour I want, the recipe gets added to the website.

Keep in mind, no two ovens are alike.  Mine may cook faster or slower than yours.  All of my recipes are prepared in a Maytag conventional and convection oven, though none of the times are for convection cooking.  The oven doesn’t have manual convection controls, so I don’t use it.  So while I only use conventional settings, elevation, temperature, and barometric pressure can affect such things as rise time and cook time.  For this very reason, none of my meat recipes should be cooked without having a meat thermometer to check internal temperatures.  As an example, as I am typing this, the cook time on my prime rib roast is bang on, but I have been experimenting with the cooking temperature, so I am checking the internal temperature of the meat every 15 minutes or so.  The difference between medium rare, medium, and destroyed is only between 10 and 20 degrees.

“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations.”
Oscar Wilde, A Woman of No Importance

Cooking has to be fun.  Once it is no longer fun I won’t do it anymore.  I don’t see that happening for quite some time.  Nothing is more rewarding than putting a new dish on the table and having the finicky teenagers say “wow, this is awesome.”  Sometimes the recipe flops.  This is part of the fun. When the food is great, the political conversations and politician bashing around the table is more fun, especially when our conservative family invites liberals over to break bread.  Nothing softens the blow of being tag teamed by conservatives better than a mouthful of tasty moose stew made from meat you shot yourself.  So cooking is also a medical science, I suppose.

Please enjoy the recipes on this website.  Feel free to comment and discuss how you may have changed recipes, and what the outcome was.