Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Deal Breakers

There is a great article in today's New York Times about "recipe deal breakers." You know, those directions, ingredients, or called-for utensils in a recipe that make you think, "What? Forget it," and skip to the next recipe.

I had a giggle reading this article because I realized I am mostly pretty lazy when it comes to recipes. I have a lot of deal breakers. And I'm okay with that, because I cook a lot and find I still have a whole stack of recipes in my file that I haven't gotten to yet. And I also do sometimes push past a deal breaker to make a recipe that seems overly fussy, often for special occasions or because it just sounds too yummy to forego. Those are recipes I save for Sundays, when you can take all afternoon if you need to.

So what are my deal breakers? Well, it's slightly embarassing because really, you will read this list and go Dena what the heck? What is deal-breaking about THAT? And my friends, I cannot explain it to you, but these things just usually aren't worth it to me.

  • Deep-frying

  • Use of a food processor (I just don't have one, so...unless I can replicate it by hand, that recipe's getting skipped)

  • Too many steps -- if it looks complicated on the page, then I know I will not enjoy doing it in the kitchen

  • Candy thermometer

  • Too many ingredients that are one-time use only -- I will happily buy new ingredients for a dish, but if it calls for some strange flour which I can only buy in a 5-lb. bag of which I will only be using 1 cup and will likely only use once a year, then forget it.

  • Any pot or pan that is outside the standard cook's set -- I don't really have any specialty pots or pans, and I'm okay with that. If I can replicate the desired effect (like a double boiler for melting chocolate or a butter-melting pan), then I'll stick with it.

  • Rare cuts of meat that require work at home-- I *hate* trimming and cutting meat. I'll do it with standard chicken and beef cuts, but if I have to do more than is required for that, forget it. It just grosses me out.

  • Chicken breast cutlets -- I know, I know, this is my weirdest one. It's so easy to turn a breast into a cutlet: just pound it! But I hate doing it. And I always botch it. So I stay away from it.

And now, I want to hear from you. What are yours? I'm dying to know.


  1. Marinate, soak, chill, or let set overnight. I don't want to eat it tomorrow, I want to eat it today.

  2. I am totally with you, UNLESS the marinate time is like 15-30 minutes. Then it's fine.

    Also I make one exception to the embargo on let chill overnight -- the Black Bean Brownies that I eat for dessert every night. Those suckers are really so much better after they've chilled. I don't know why, but they are. And I adore them, so I hold my horses when I bake them and wait til the next day.

  3. I've got a few that are the same as you - odd ingredients, strange utensils, food processors. You should see mine, it's sooo tiny. More like a fun little toy to play with. LOL I did get a stick blender for soups though, and that thing is awesome. I'm also terrible with the cutlets. I bought a 48 blade meat tenderizer thinking I'd use the heck out of it. Not so much.
    The thing I hate the most is trying to bread stuff. I never get that to work out.

  4. OMG totally with the breading -- I don't think I've ever done that successfully. Now a light flour or cornstarch dusting, fine. But like crumbs that stick evenly and stay that way? Forget about it. Once I tried to make these chicken cutlets (I should have known right then) that were breaded with a mushroom-crumb mixture. That was a disaster.

    Oddly enough, I have a stick blender, but haven't gotten in the hang of using it. I've tried twice and both times, I obviously was using it wrong, because it just got stuck and the motor made a terrible noise.



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