Ever wonder why your fried chicken never tastes like your grandmother’s? There’s a reason for that. You see in the south people didn’t grow up following recipes, they watched and learned. Don’t get me wrong, there were measurements involved, but those were mostly used for baking cakes and pies. The real everyday cooking was based on how it looked.
I grew up watching my mother cook and to this day the only thing I use a recipe for are cakes, cookies and pies. The rest you just learn. If I had to tell someone how to cook pork chops or write down the recipe for them it would be a lot of guessing and chances are theirs would be nothing like mine. My sister, for example, still can’t make cornbread like mine and my mother’s, not that she isn’t a good cook, it’s just that she has to have a recipe and it never turns out the same, she uses a cup of milk, I was taught to add milk until it looks right. It might be a cup, it might be a little more, when it looks right that’s it.
It was never a big deal to make an entire meal from scratch because that’s what they did everyday. You knew what it was supposed to look like and taste like and you learned what to do to fix it if something wasn’t right. I can remember asking my mother once how long to cook the chicken and she said “till its done” it was that simple. I think a lot of people are scared of food for some unknown reason and they feel safer with a recipe even if it turns out awful.
It doesn’t take great skill or super intelligence to be a good cook, all it takes is common sense. If the recipe says cook for 30 minutes and when you take it out it looks raw, don’t eat it and say “I followed the recipe” cook it longer. If you want to learn how to cook real southern food put down your cookbook and watch someone cook. It won’t take long for you to know when its done.