I've been cooking for about 50 of my 64 years & have gone through all the stages; never veer from the recipe, get a bit adventurous, nouvelle cuisine, politically & environmentally correct ingredients, everything made from scratch & now that i'm older & wiser i've found that a combination of all the above makes a good cook.I will travel wherever I need to for an unusual ingredient that really does make a difference. By the same token, I like street food & the little diner around the corner. If i'm out of an ingredient I have no problem substituting, as long as the dish doesn't suffer for it. As my southern mom always said "There's more than one way to skin a cat". If you're a good cook you can improvise, compromise & get creative in a pinch, without any negative results. How do you cook? Always follow the "right" way or you've cooked long enough to know what can't be substituted & compromised & what can?