Yeah, you know me – because apparently, I am. I’ll be honest: I learned to cook by following other people’s recipes first, then adapting what I learned. At this point I’m by NO mean a master chef or anything, but I can usually scare up something tasty even in the most extreme cooking situations by applying what other people have taught me.
In fact, that’s the best way to learn most things – just jump right in and figure it out as you go. Now, I’m not going to say this is easy. I’m completely Type A/control freak about most things, but for some reason when I** cook, I’m OK with just seeing what happens.
So, I had a party this last weekend for my birthday and I did the food. Instead of coming up with some crazy and elaborate recipes, I just decided to go with some standards based on O.P.P. Some of the recipes are stand-by’s, others are new, but definitely in my wheelhouse. Here’s what I made:
Bourbon Mustard BBQ Sauce – This is my go-to BBQ sauce recipe. I really like it***. I like other BBQ sauces as well, and I’m happy to try any kind; but if I’m going to put in the effort, this is The One. My only modification is to use about three peeled and chopped apples in the place of the apple juice. For some reason, I ALWAYS forget to buy it and I never have it on hand.
BBQ Baked Beans – Ok, I’m going to be honest, I tried to do this hardcore and make it from dried navy beans – but I over cooked the beans in the pressure cooker. So I ran to the store and bought canned pork ‘n beans and made this recipe. I used the overcooked beans to make bean and ham soup. Another truth: I’m not a big fan of baked beans, but the recipe was so well-received that I thought I would just go ahead. I used the BBQ sauce above. Apparently, the beans were good. I really didn’t try them****.
Fifi’s Potato Salad – Fifi was my mom. She was an absolutely TERRIBLE cook. She could make two things well: chili and potato salad. My potato salad is based on her original mustard potato salad. I’m not going to go into detail here, but some day I will write it down and post it. It’s really quite good.
Strawberry Shortcake Cake with Whipped Cream Frosting – I LOVE STRAWBERRY DESSERTS. Especially in summer. You can take your chocolate and save it until December. It’s summer and FRUIT RULES (insert devil fingers here). I saw this recipe and thought it was perfect, except for the frosting. First, I like my cream cheese frosting flipped: 2 cream cheese to one butter. The other way is just too much butter and not enough tang. Second, I don’t like frosting, at least traditional frosting, all over anything. Too me it’s just too much. I like my sweets a bit more subtle. So, I used the cream cheese frosting as a layer in the cake and then frosted everything with the whipped cream frosting flavored with lemon extract. My only modification to the recipe would be to use a more tender cake recipe next time. I found the cake too dense.
And there you have it! O.P.P. is where it’s AT! Especially if you are learning or experimenting. There truly is nothing new under the sun, but that’s OK. Take it, learn from it and make it your own.
* For any youngsters, O.P.P = Other People’s Property. It was the title for a popular “hip-hop” song early 1990s***** performed by a band name Naughty By Nature******.
** MAJOR Caveat: When I’m cooking with someone else, my control freak comes out. Especially if it’s my recipe or one I’ve made before. I’ve been told I “hover” and need to “back off”. I won’t name names, but you know who you are and I’m sorry! I will continue to try to not boss people around.
*** It does have bourbon in it (a LOT of bourbon, actually), which might be a significant factor in my liking of this particular recipe.
**** It was my birthday party. Here’s the thing, I can either drink or eat – not both. I chose the former.
***** This time period now somehow falls into the category of “vintage”. Seriously? Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.
****** Not ’cause I hate ‘cha.