So, when you are deciding what to cook for dinner (or breakfast or lunch), the author (of the book or blog) posts a picture of the final product. It looks glorious because all food looks pretty. And then the author says it took no time at all! It was the quickest meal ever!Most of the time, their time or promise of a quick meal isn’t quite right. Not on purpose of course. They are just used to cooking the dish, have made it a few times to make it the best it can be and the recipe becomes easy for them. Or they will have their prep done ahead of time (like when you see butternut squash, cubed under the ingredient, the time to cook the meal might not include cubing the butternut squash).
I’ll be honest, I don’t prep ahead of time. I usually don’t take everything out beforehand either. I’ll be looking for a pot while my veggies and chicken are cooking. Then I pull out my tongs to flip the chicken. And I forgot to put my tongs in the usually place and by the time I find it to flip the chicken, OMG THE VEGGIES ARE BURNING. Hypothetically.
But a real life example is when I tried to make egg rolls with rice paper. I didn’t have a large enough bowl to keep warm water in (to soften the rice paper), so I kept the plate in my sink and the water flowing on top of it so it would stay warm. Then the plate would fall into the sink with the rice paper in it. When I finally finished wrapping the egg rolls, I rushed to put them in the stove. And then they stuck to the wax paper because I forgot to brush them with oil. So those egg rolls would be a 3 on my Rocket Science Scale, which is a rating for Moderately Complicated.
What IS the Rocket Science Scale you ask? Well I made it up to rate the difficulty of a recipe. It goes from 1 to 5 with 1 being THAT WAS EASY (Definitely not Rocket Science), all the way to 5 OMG THAT WAS AWFULLY HARD, (Like Rocket Science). I plan to use this scale as my impression of the recipe as I make it (usually for the first time). I’ll try and explain why I gave it that rating (it will usually be prep time, how many pots were needed, did I have a plate fall into the sink while I tried to make it etc).
The egg rolls above were a 3 (It took effort, like my homework) because the filling wasn’t hard to prep and cook, but my first time using rice paper was a mini disaster. But the Egg rolls turned out to be delicious, so it was worth the effort. Unlike the EPIC gorgonzola chicken disaster of 2011, which is about a 4.5 on my rocket science scale (Worst dish I have ever attempted to make in my life). It involved having chicken that didn’t cook right, cheese that didn’t melt right, buying prosciutto instead of pancetta and when you make that many mistakes the recipe was not clear. Hence, the 4.5, Complicated.
Look for the Rocket Science Scale at the top of the dish and hopefully you can judge whether the dish is worth your time.
P.S. Nothing I have ever cooked has reached a 5 (Rocket Science hard) since I have started cooking in 2011. And I’m going to keep it that way. Because, let’s be honest, Cooking IS NOT Rocket Science.