I’m a strict recipe-follower.

I have this obsessive need to have control over everything. Cooking has only reinforced that fact about myself. I want to follow a recipe, and I want to follow it exactly. Neat, tidy, no surprises. It’s in this way only that I guarantee that it will turn out as it’s supposed to. Perfection. If I can’t follow it exactly, it doesn’t get made. Just as in other areas of my life, spontaneity is uncomfortable and an end-result need not be unseen.

Because of the artic freeze that is Provo, Utah, I have really been craving some hearty chili. I scoured Pinterest and I couldn’t find the exact recipe that I wanted. They either omitted ingredients I wanted or added strange ones I didn’t. Frustrated, I printed a few different ones, warily assuming that I could combine them in some neat way. Not so.


(photo via)

I added the sure ingredients first, then quickly reached a point of unfamiliarity. Total helplessness. (Well, for an obsessive compulsive cooker like me.) I was frustrated, but I had already gotten pot-full-of-beans far. So I just accepted the possibility of failure. I began to let myself being creative. I added brown sugar. I added onion, garlic, tomato paste. NOTHING that the recipe suggested. And I have to say, it was liberating! A culinary epiphany! I realized that this is a major part of why cooking is so wonderful. Not planning. Not necessarily knowing if it would turn out as planned, or at all. Surprises! Letting go of those safe-but-oh-so-limiting reins.

And you know what? The chili tasted amazing! Maybe it was just the spontaneity high, but cooking that chili became even more exciting and rewarding. I like that feeling. Another beautiful thing? I can keep tweaking, keep updating, because I’m not bound by mine or anybody else’s expectations. I can make it my own!

Aaaaand I might’ve had thirds.


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