Okay, I’ve mostly worked out my immediate angst about cooking (though I’m not entirely done yet), thank you all for listening and commenting. My current method of trying to become a better cook by just cooking is clearly not moving me forward at all. I’m going for look for local cooking classes, make more use of the Joy of Cooking that’s been on my shelf for 10 years, and maybe invest in a better rice cooker.

By the way—it’s not like I’ve been eating cookout since I left the dorms in 1997. But trying to cook healthy food basically is forcing me to redo everything (since I had a tendency to live on cheese toast. Yum, cheese toast). So I think I will also order the Engine2Diet book, which I read at my sister’s a while back and didn’t object to, and spend more time with it. The desire for health is what scares me off the “my first kitchen” books—I’ll have to check those first.

But here’s a great rant from an software engineer about cooking, who provided my post title. Basically similar to mine, but I think funnier.

Can I still make this recipe? What is the purpose of this ingredient? Why is it in the recipe? Is it critical to the process? Can I do without it? What are the possible substitutes that I could use?

And I think it highlights why I get so angry. When I write assignment handouts for students, I at least apologize for the equivalent of requiring cups of something that is sold by weight in ounces. I mean, yeah, sometimes that’s unavoidable, but I try not to leave them hanging out flapping in the wind. I know that I have a lot of detailed knowledge and certain instincts that I don’t expect them to have. I try to describe and prioritize the necessary function and explain why the form I suggest supports the function, at least in class or feedback if not in the handout. So I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect recipe writers to do the same, or to feel let down when they don’t.