I have noticed that each person has a unique style of cooking.
My sister follows the recipe exactly and makes sure she measures each ingredient precisely. My mom looks at her recipe cards and decides what to cook. Then she sort of dumps or pours ingredients together until it looks and tastes right.
I tend to use a combination of my sister’s and my mom’s cooking styles. First, I spend hours on Pinterest looking at food. Then I print out a recipe I like or I find a recipe in one of my cookbooks because I like to have hard copies.
Then I read the recipe until I get tired of reading it and decide what steps I can leave out because they seem unnecessary. If I have never made something before, I will usually follow the recipe pretty exactly until I realize that I forgot to buy an ingredient and then I will give up and improvise.
When it comes to spices, I hardly ever measure. I do rely on several taste tests to make sure that I’m not going to serve something too bland or too flavorful.
Baking is a different matter entirely. I rarely bake, but when I do it is either chocolate chip cookies or cheesecake.
I have both of those recipes memorized so I sort of just throw it together. The chocolate chip cookie recipe I use is from the back of a Nestle chocolate chip bag and the recipe I use for my cheesecake is my mother’s.
The first time I asked her how to make a cheesecake, she took out four different cookbooks and said “I use the first one for steps 1-3, the second I use for steps 4-6, I use the 3rd for to make the crust, and I use all four recipes for an ingredient list.”
Thankfully I had the good sense to write everything down on a recipe card so now my mother’s famous cheesecake recipe is no longer kept in her memory and everyone can make it.