Are you a recipe follower or dissenter?

Set up to cook a new recipe.

“Anyway, your aunt could be a witch,” said Pepper. “In secret. She could be your aunt all day and go witching at night.”

“Not my aunt,” said Wensleydale darkly.

“An’ recipes,” said Brian. “New uses for leftover toad.”

— Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch
by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

The first time I make anything, I always follow the recipe.

Before you start sending me messages, of course there are exceptions to this! I will substitute ingredients I know I dislike, such as celery or raisins, for broccoli and chocolate chips. And I will adapt a baking recipe by substituting for whole wheat flour or adding extra cinnamon or other spices. Things I know have worked elsewhere.

I’m a scientific tinkerer. I treat my kitchen like a big laboratory and run experiments when I bake something new.

For this reason, I love using recipes from chef’s and cooks that have tested it out. They have tried it in different kitchens, with different ovens. They have substituted different flour brands, and have even noticed the different saltiness of Morton’s and Diamond Crystal salt. If you’re curious, Morton’s is twice as salty, so you would use half as much in recipes if you’ve switched salt. I learned this from watching Bon Appétit’s youtube channel. If you haven’t watched their shows, I highly recommend it!

I spent over 10 years working in a lab studying bacteria, designing experiments to ask very specific questions of how a very specific part of the cellular machinery works. The main difference there and in my kitchen is that I never got to eat my experiments and the results were presented in data instead of delicious goods. The other major difference is smell. While bread making can sometimes remind me of the yeasty lab smell, overall, the lab never smelled like baking cinnamon or chocolate chip cookies. And of course, there is much less PPE required in the kitchen, even if it can be just as dangerous.

Carolina in 2015 working in the lab after having come back from maternity leave with my second kid.

These last few weeks with a lot of time at home, I have thought about all the scientists who are unable to continue to run their experiments. I wonder if they are itching to tinker in the kitchen as well.

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