These days, men who want to cook, or anybody with a modem and two fingers, can find a so-called easy dinner recipe. They are as plentiful as singles sites, and there’s something for any taste, from the best darned chile con veggie in West Texas to a Cambodian tarantula fry. There are recipes for dummies, diabetics, divorcees, dogs, and darn near everyone else on the planet. Finding a recipe is not a problem.
The problem is, a new recipe is actually a blind date. Until you sit looking at each other across the table you will have no idea whether they are what they promised they’d be. Or whether you’ll be up half the night wishing you hadn’t let your appetite get the better of your good sense.
Some recipes have really been around. Others are missing important little details they’re hoping you won’t notice, til you’re in too deep. Some you will never figure out, no matter how long you try. And there’s a whole lot of recipes that think really highly of themselves, but the reason they’re spread all over the net is because they’re really just interested in being popular. They’re only looking for attention, and they’ll leave you hungry.
So, how do you tell a good recipe from one you should run, not walk, away from?
First, it goes without saying, don’t pay any attention to the picture. Really. You know everything’s photoshopped these days, right? All pink and perky healthy on the preview, but at dinner, fatty, grey and can’t even sit up.
And don’t be afraid to check, are we talking natural here, or artificial enhancements? Is it really ‘beouf en croute’ or just hot dogs rolled in doughboy pastry? If there’s any ingredient you don’t like, give it a pass. It may seem like just a little thing now, but later on that wart will be the only thing you’ll notice.
Next, consider who introduced you. Do they have any taste at all? If they don’t, why would you even think about getting this anywhere near your mouth?
Does the recipe look like it’s going to take a whole lot of time and effort, with complications and special handling? Are you going to have to shell out and spend all day running around just for one night’s quick disappointing dinner?
And beware the recipes that look too good to be true. Some folks I have personally known will sabotage a favorite recipe before they give it out, just to keep their big cooking secret to themselves. You think you’ve got a winner for the school potluck. Then the principal waves the science teacher over to take a look at it.
The best recipes are dishes you’ve met and liked, introduced by someone you know. Having them come from a friend let’s you call for help, if you hit a snag or question. That’s a big advantage right there. Say you were trying to do a recipe you were watching on the Food Channel, and you need some help with parts you missed while you were in the fridge. Don’t expect anyone you call there to have the slightest idea what you’re talking about, or to know what you should do next.
The best way to know a good easy dinner recipe from a one night mistake is to get to know what tastes you and the family like, and then look for the ingredients and dishes that have those tastes. You’ll still have some flops and experiments, but you won’t waste your time hoping fishcakes are gonna show up looking like steak.