In the years I spent single, cooking for myself, my friends, and my family (when they agreed to be my guinea pigs and allow me to make messes in their kitchens), I learned a few things about cooking.
Mostly, I learned what I won't do.
I won't... Spend a fortune on fancy ingredients like truffles or Kobe beef or organic asparagus year round. Of course, on the right day and on the right item, I'll put my money where it needs to be. Vanilla, for instance. You can't buy cheap vanilla and get away with it.
I won't... Spend hours tracking down fancy ingredients in my semi-small, semi-remote town. I just have other things to do. That leads me right into the next one...
I won't... Spend much time painstakingly cutting and rolling and braiding dough or mincing three onions or rolling fifty tiny meatballs. I love being in the kitchen. But I don't want to spend all evening there, or all day before a party. Kitchen time in moderation.
I won't... Follow a complicated recipe. I have tried and almost every time, I fail. I dump everything together when I'm supposed to mix the wet ingredients alone and add vinegar after adding the dry ingredients, or I cook the egg before adding it to the stir-fry rice, or whatever.
So my Kitchen Philosophy was born. I believe very strongly in Real Eating.
Real Eating is probably different for everyone. But for me, Real Eating is defined as -
Reliable (Good Every Time I Make It)
Sometimes I break every single one of these rules.
Because really, cooking is not about following the rules! It's about having fun with the food that fuels our bodies, and showing our love for the people in our lives by cooking for them. In my attempts to do these things, I have spent an afternoon with my mom and sister-in-law making a Jamaican feast that we ate in thirty minutes, spent an afternoon with my grandma making and braiding Swedish rye bread, and carefully created a layered red velvet cake for my mom (it was a crumbly mess, but it tasted good).
So maybe I'm saying forget philosophy. Remember why you cook. And have fun doing it!
Addendum: After this completing this post, maybe I should change my kitchen philosophy to "Real Crazy Eating!"