Recipes are a guide to be adjusted as needed

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Hello once again my friends. Here we are, rolling right along into summer, firing up the barbecues and grilling to our hearts desires. Everyone knows I love grilling just as much as the next person — maybe slightly more than that. I wanted to go a little different route though.


Anyone who keeps up with my articles or has been to my cooking classes knows that instead of teaching a specific recipe, I tend to teach techniques far more. This article is going to be an example of that, sort of the teach to fish rather than giving a fish if you will.

One thing that I rarely do is measure ingredients. It was hard when I wrote my first cookbook because I had no idea on the measurements of any recipe I had. In some ways, I think it’s a good way of cooking. I never worry about how things will turn out. I simply add ingredients, tweak them as needed and even though the end result might be slightly different each time, it’s always good. Using a precise measuring system will yield similar results but in some ways, I think the beauty of cooking is having the ability to change things on the fly. Making a recipe your own means adding or subtracting a little here or there and the confidence to do that comes from having done it before.

A couple of Saturdays ago I was making pancakes. To make my pancakes I use:

2 cups of all purpose flour

1/2 cup of sugar

1/2 cup of milk

1 tsp. of baking powder

1 tsp. of baking soda

1 tsp. of citrus juice, either lemon, lime or orange

3/4 cup of fruit; peaches, blueberries etc.

A dash of cinnamon

So let’s say you are home this Saturday with time on your hands and you get a hankering for pancakes. You get out this week’s issue of The News-Democrat and look at my recipe. You grab a bowl, add all those goodies and mix it up. Then it hits you, it’s not right. It’s either too thick or too thin — it’s not like it should be. There’s a reason for that. It’s like most recipes I put on here. It’s a framework to get you close. You mix up those ingredients and it’s too thick. Just add a little more milk and mix it in. If it’s too thin add a little more flour. If you like them a little sweeter add more sugar. If you want extra flavor add some chocolate chips or caramel bits. You can also add flavorings such as vanilla or even a tiny splash of bourbon. Yes, bourbon. The alcohol will cook right out leaving you a hint of the bourbon flavor. Honey is another good addition and even peanut butter adds a nice touch of flavor without overpowering.

Once you have all your ingredients you simply mix it to the right consistency. What’s the right consistency? Well, it should be like pancake batter, thin enough that it rolls off a spoon but not so thin that it runs all over your skillet and won’t hold a shape.

Trust me, it’s super easy and once you get it the first time you will be whipping up batches in no time.

The great thing is you are making them from scratch knowing what is in them, not using a premix that has all kinds of fillers and preservatives. As always if you have questions about this or any recipe send them to the newspaper and I will do my best to get them answered.

Enjoy and eat well always my friends.


Shawn Keeton is author of the cookbook, “Keeton in the Kitchen, A Celebration of Family, Friends and Food.” He resides in Carrollton, Ky.