We get two main kinds of cooking questions from our readers. The first type runs along the lines of "here's what I did, why didn't it work, please help," and the second type is usually some variation of "will this work?" We like both types because we learn new and interesting things from both. Of course I've not yet mentioned my very favorite type of email, which is when someone tells us about something that they've tried or extrapolated that did work. There's a sense of discovery and excitement about those that always make us happy to read. What strikes me about the second question is how easy it would be, most of the time, for the writer to just go ahead and try doing whatever it is they are asking about. There are a lot of reasons to take a step back and ask questions before cooking but we want to encourage people to take that step forward and try something new. If you're not sure of your idea, do a small batch instead of a standard size, just try it. There's nothing like success to make you more confident in the kitchen and everywhere else.
It doesn't have to be a big leap. This morning I had a craving for Texas toast. In my mind, Texas toast is thickly sliced bread griddled in butter, so that you end up with a crisp, crunchy outer layer around a soft, tender center. I sliced Tuscan bread, spread it with salted butter and cooked it on the electric griddle. While the first side was frying I pulled out the strawberry jelly for Amaya. I flipped the toast and eyed that jar sitting on the counter. On an impulse I pulled the first finished piece off the griddle and slathered one side with jelly. Then I put it back on the griddle, jelly side down. I let it cook until the sugar stopped sizzling and then flipped it out onto a cutting board. The jelly cooked into the crevices and caramelized, creating a sweet, chewy layer of goodness on the top side of my Texas toast. Needless to say I quickly finished the rest of the toast the same way and a new breakfast favorite was born. Not a huge leap or a big risk but it still brought a grin to my face and set me up for the rest of the day. Taking small chances leads to big ones. Building confidence makes you stronger. Then anything can happen. All you have to do is take that first step forward.