Cook with a book, but make it your own recipe

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I’m embarrassed every time someone asks: can I have the recipe?  I reply, sure you can, but it um, won’t taste exactly like this…  Which leads the consumer of said tasty goods to ask a perplexed “why not?”  They then proceed to give me that, “you stopped at D&W’s deli counter on the way over here didn’t you bitch!!?”  To which I must defend with a totally lame-o explanation:  No!  I didn’t buy it!  I um, don’t follow directions, really, well, exactly.  Which is true.  I don’t.  It’s ironic actually, because I am a fantastic rule-follower, order-taker and baker (which requires precise, level it off with the back of a knife measurements-my worst nightmare).  It makes my friend LEP really frustrated as every time she encounters a new recipe, she follows it to the letter so as to produce the EXACT item and then the next time she will re-make it according to what she likes, wants, etc.  I myself don’t mess around with that first step…I feel like the integrity of the dish is what I make of it, the original recipe is sorta like the skeleton, I provide the flesh for it.  This way, I can LOVE or sometimes, loathe what I have created, claim the recipe as my own and then fix it or nix it as inspired by another recipe.  The trick is…writing it down.  As a result of this behavior, ALL of my cookbooks and recipe print outs have “x’s” through some things and a ton of margin notes.  It’s an illness.

Here is a great example.  Most mornings, breakfast is two whole grain pieces of toast slathered with EVOO butter, OJ and #Freshpots.  Today, no bread to make toast…damn.  I did however have whole wheat tortillas, lots of eggs, red peppers (on sale!!!), onion, a jalapeno fresh from my garden, a handful of cilantro from a pot on my deck, a sweet potato, some really limp sad spinach in clam shell box ready to go to old food heaven, queso fresco, and a beautiful shiny poblano pepper in the crisper.  So I dug through a file folder for a recipe I know I fished off the Internet about 100 years ago, and whew…I still had it!  This is the recipe I used as the base, with the ingredients up above as subs, adds, etc.  Since I’m planning on using tofu in my dinner dish tonight, I opted to omit the soy protein.  It freaks me out to eat so much soy in a day-I try to follow these guidelines, but also my brain that says, too much of anything, while tasting wonderful, will probably turn out to be bad for me (this is true for more than just food it may seem).

The end result?  Here is my breakfast burrito recipe as adapted from the Cooking Light Tofu Breakfast Burrito recipe from the May ’09 issue-and yes, I did write it down.


  • 1  teaspoon  EVOO
  • 1  teaspoon  chili powder
  • 1/2  teaspoon  ground cumin
  • 1/4 of each, diced finely, sweet onion, red pepper, poblano pepper, jalapeno pepper
  • 1/4  cup  (1 ounce) queso fresco crumbled
  • 2  tablespoons  minced fresh cilantro
  • 1/8  teaspoon  salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 4  (8-inch) flour tortillas
  • 1  cup  baby spinach leaves, close to compost (good save!)
  • 1/2 sweet potato, peeled and grated (yep like cheese–cooks faster)
  • 4 large eggs
  • Frank’s Red Hot

In a saute pan, heat EVOO gently over medium heat, add all veggies at same time, cook until just tender.  While veggies are cooking, scramble eggs and seasonings in a bowl.  Add eggs to veggies after they reach your desired level of “doneness”  scramble until you don’t gag anymore when you see wetness of the eggs.  Remove from heat, sprinkle with queso fresco, liberally cover in Frank’s Red Hot, then add some more because you can never have too much Frank’s Red Hot.  Fill each tortilla with about 1/4 of the mixture, roll and eat from your hand, preferably over the kitchen sink as you wouldn’t want to appear to be too dignified (you don’t need a plate!!) and certainly you do not want to pick up all those diced veggies that will fall out of the back of your burrito onto the floor.

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