September 17 ~  Careful Tinkering Easy Cooking With Zing

"(In cooking), there is always room for careful tinkering." ~ Nigella Lawson, NY Times, 9/15/04

In cooking, as in life, I tinker. Like my grandmother and mother before me, I rarely use a recipe. And if I do, I always seem to deviate from the instructions... just a little bit.

As king-daddy of nonconformity, Frank Zappa once put it, "Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible."

So in the name of progress, I tinker. I add fresh sundried tomatoes, green olives, and artichokes to my tuna salad for the color and zing. Not very revolutionary, but the addition is a subtle celebration of sweetness and depth and gives the dish my personal touch. The unique flavors compliment each another. Trust me, it's more than just tuna salad, it's art.

"Art," said philosopher Benedetto Croce, "is ruled uniquely by the imagination."

I try to be careful when I tinker. Light experimentation. With confidence and time, I grow bolder, of course, but generally, I am not too outrageous.

Once I added three tablespoons instead of teaspoons to an apple pie crust. That was unintentional. My mom-in-law still jokes about that boo-boo. My father-in-law says it's the best pie I've ever made.

What can I say? If they love you, even unintentional deviations may work out okay...

So, in cooking as in life, experiment. (And hold the salt.)

More COOKING Quotations

Tinker... and add your personal stamp to what you do.