Friday, February 19, 2010

Cooking Up a Story

My mom's side of the family cooks without a written recipe. My dad's side wouldn't think of cooking without one. And then there's DH who's still learning to cook because his mom's idea of cooking means anything that comes out of a box.

Great-Grandma Leona's recipe for meatloaf or Grandma M.J.'s recipe for sloppy joes drive DH crazy because the general rule of thumb is put stuff in "until it looks right."

Seriously, this is how I learned to cook. I can whip together creations like pies and cookies by this method. But the thing is I learned what each ingredient contributes to the mix. I'm trying to convey those concepts to GK as I teach him. He's figured out most carb recipes start with flour, a liquid, and a fat, but it's the ratios that make different products.

Flour provides thickness and texture. Liquids add moisture , of course. Fats and oils emphasize flavor and establish tenderness. Knowing the ratios and deciding the addition of other ingredients, such as eggs for cohesiveness, makes the difference between gravy and cinnamon rolls.

Writing's no different. You need to know the basics (POV, plotting, grammar) and the ratios to put together a story. Once you've mastered the key elements, then you can start experimenting with flavors.

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