I just made the most perfect kale and onion Okonomiyaki for my lunch today. (for the recipe click here) I probably should never make them again, because nothing will live up to the incredible crisp outside, soft comforting middle and the exact balance of sweet and salt in the sauce. Unlike my pumpkin pie recipe (click here for that recipe) where every time I make it, it comes out exactly the same, Okonomiyaki doesn't have exact measurements. How you make the dashi with the size of kombu and amount of bonito varies. The amount of vegetables varies. The pan temperature varies. There are too many variables to have it come out the same.
That's part of the charm of cooking and making things from scratch. Of course it happens in restaurants too. How often have you gone back to a place where you had the perfect burger and fries or a magical dish that you would never make at home, and when you return to relish the experience all over again - and it just isn't the same?
When I teach cooking, I often get students who are scared. They think they can't cook. They think that it is a special skill they are bad at, and they hope I can help them to at least do something basic, so they don't feel like complete fools. Usually what they learn is that - hey - it's all a process. I burn stuff too - I just call it blackened or carmelized and reframe my mistake into a win. As long as it tastes good, it doesn't have to be perfect. Eventually with practice, you have more wins than goofs - more delectable outcomes and less need to rely on recipes. Going out is for things that are different from what you cook at home. Restaurant meals naturally use strong flavors, more oil and have more calories than what you would make at home. They want you to keep eating and come back so they load up on addictive sugars, and heavy fats with salt. If you want to live healthy, slender, and free from most annoying dis-ease - than you get to eat home cooked food more often and learn to enjoy the big wins, don't sweat the mistakes, and reframe when necessary.
Of course I will be making my favorite savory pancakes again. I just won't expect it to be exactly like the one I had today. Maybe that's the lesson of life. Always be open to the new adventure in front of you and constantly rediscover what shows up.