Folks often ask how I come to invent so many successful
recipes. With hope that this piece will be an inspiration to readers, I'll tell
you how it's done.
The first thing to know is that not all of my inventions turn out well. In order
to be creative, you must also be willing to fail. This is something people know,
when trying other crafts, but forget when entering the kitchen. Yes, failure may
mean wasting food, but there is no reason to view that as being more heinous
than wasting yarn when learning to knit, or wood when trying to build a
Once upon a time, someone who was trying to get you to finish dinner, told you
it was a sin to waste food because children were starving elsewhere. Yes, there
is much hunger in the world, but you will not alleviate it by refusing to
experiment at the stove. If you feel guilt, make a donation to your local food
for the homeless program; that will really be a help.
This was impressed upon me at an early age. As a little girl, I started a
collection box in my closet for foods I hated, with the intention of shipping
them to the Chinese children I had been assured would be delighted with the
bounty. Honestly, I couldn't imagine any child who would be pleased with
asparagus or liver, but if they wanted such things, I was glad to help. After
about a week, my by then odoriferous hoard was discovered and discarded, by
those same adults who had inspired my attempt at charity.
My consumption of detested substances would not feed starving children. It was
not possible to give them to those who would find them welcome. Lesson learned:
grown-ups will say any sort of nonsense to gain compliance; don't trust them.
From that time, I've been willing to play with food, and highly recommend you do
The following is an example of my experimental process. Using a classic recipe,
we'll explore different ways to make other enjoyable treats.
Standard Pecan Pie Recipe
1 cup Corn Syrup
1/2 cup Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 cup shelled Pecans
1 9-inch Sort Pastry Crust, unbaked
Beat the Eggs. Add the next four ingredients and mix thoroughly. Pour into the
Crust. Bake at 325 degrees for 45-60 minutes. Pie is done when the top has risen
and browned; it will flatten when removed from the oven. Cool and serve. This
formula may be doubled to fill a 10- inch Crust.
Playing the Game
One of our most adored American goodies is Pecan Pie; there's a formula in any
standard cookbook. This dessert has been baked since our first settlers
discovered Pecans. For about the last eighty years, unfortunately, so has corn
syrup, an ingredient which has nothing to offer but sweetness. Now, I wouldn't
eat a pie made with corn syrup, but it has been included in most recipes for all
that time. Lucky me, I learned to bake from Letha Mae Matthews, who made her
version with either pure Maple Syrup, or a half-and-half combination of light
Molasses and Honey.
Take her idea further. Any gooey sweet substance will work, so try your favorite
flavor of Fruit Jam or Marmalade.
Sugar can be White, Brown, Maple, Demerara, or Date.
Another change is the nuts. There's no reason the recipe needs to be made with
Pecans. Why not try Almonds, Hazelnuts, Peanuts, or Walnuts?
You Chocolate lovers should know that you can pour a cup of chopped Chocolate
into the pastry, before adding whatever else you want to use. Not necessary, but
very nice indeed. If you like, try Cinnamon, Peanut Butter, or Butterscotch
chips. Why not?
Now, reinvent that pie. Since I know Leslie loves Orange Marmalade, that will be
the sweet substance for the recipe. First, put Chocolate chips in the crust,
then add the pie mixture using Marmalade and Walnuts. Those of you who like a
combination of Chocolate and Raspberries should try this with Raspberry Jam and
You can use any flavor of jam, any sort of nuts, any type of Sugar. Like Peanut
Butter and Jam Sandwiches? Use Peanuts and Strawberry Jam.
That's how I play with food to invent successful recipes. Hope you enjoy the
Copyright 2010 Eddy Robey