It’s assumed that we do a lot of cooking in the test kitchen, and we do. But where do the recipes come from? They are not just random recipes from cookbooks or online directories; we make them up.

But before any cooking can actually happen, we spend hours on research. Some recipes take less research, like Nutty Trail Mix, and some take more, like the tamales recipe in our soon-to-come “Mexico Staycation” feature.

While I enjoy eating tamales, making tamales does not come naturally to a girl from Wisconsin. It is quite familiar, however, to our resident nueva Latina, Kate, and our Southern California girl, Aida. Yesterday, when tamale making commenced, Kate was forming tamales, Aida was dictating what she was doing, and I was noting the written directions so that any novice could successfully make a proper tamale. Although it usually does not take all three of us at once to complete a recipe, certain situations call for extra care and clarity, and especially accuracy. What’s the point of investing in a time-consuming recipe if it’s not accurate and won’t turn out delicious? Collectively, we were able to come up with a process that would make sense to any novice.

If I had it my way, I would be able to spend at least twice as much time researching a recipe and leave no stone unturned, no question unanswered. Unfortunately, the food dork in me could also spend two weeks here in the kitchen reading up on how colonial women used to kill and dress turtles for soup. For now, I’ll just have to continue to read my food dictionary on the bus.

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