I always hesitate to give out instructions on how to prepare my favorite recipes, because cooking is such a singularly personal endeavor. Experience has taught me that cooks may vary greatly in expertise, tastes, common sense and even frugality. The question is how do I tailor a recipe so that it works well for everyone who tries it, taking into account all these variations?

Do you know the basics?

There are so many techniques and bits of knowledge involved in cooking and baking, that it is often difficult to know how much information to include in the instructions. In other words, how much basic cooking knowledge can we assume?


There is also the problem that I rarely measure ingredients, except when baking. Baking is a more exact science than mere cooking, because the proportions of say, yeast, salt, baking powder, etc., will have a momentous effect on the quality of the finished baked goods. Time and temperature in the oven is also a critical part of the baking process, so you dare not tamper with these if you want your baked goods to look and taste as promised.

As you like it

On the other hand, if you are cooking soup, you may alter the amount of seasonings and other ingredients to taste, or even make the soup thicker or thinner according to your personal preference. You may also simmer it for a longer or shorter period without too much difficulty. Of course, this is where common sense should intrude. You probably shouldn’t add ½ cup of cayenne pepper to the recipe, regardless of your culinary tastes. If the recipe calls for that amount, your common sense should tell you that it is a typo that should probably read ½ teaspoon! In addition, you will need to simmer your soup long enough for it to be cooked properly, but not so long that the ingredients turn to mush!

You might not think that frugality would affect a person’s ability to follow instructions. However, I have learned that a frugal cook will approach cooking in a way that would not occur to a more extravagant person. If the instructions call for what a frugal person might consider “expensive” ingredients, that person may alter the outcome by changing the amount or type of ingredients it includes. This could be disastrous to some taste buds.

Dive in at your own risk!

With the above-mentioned caveats in mind, I have included here for your delectation some of my favorite dishes. Most of these I have developed on my own, either from scratch or by altering other dishes that I have discovered over the years.

Please feel free to change them and make them your own. Keep in mind, though, if you change the recipe too much, I cannot be responsible for the results! Those of you who are frugal must grit your teeth and put in all the cheese, or eggs or asparagus, etc. that the instructions require--or accept the consequences!


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Potato Salad

Four-Bean Chili

Vegetarian Lasagna 

Meatless Meatballs

Tofu Sloppy Joes

Nut Loaf

Cottage Cheese Loaf


Lentil Soup

Fruit and Nut Casserole

Split Pea Soup

Navy Bean Soup

Potato Borscht

French Onion Soup

Refried Beans

Vegetarian Calzones

Peanut Butter Fudge


100% Whole Wheat Bread


Wassail (Hot Spiced Punch)

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