I am not a chef.
Or a writer.
Nor am I a person who follows a recipe very well. On my first attempt, I try to stick close to the original (maybe swapping out a spice here, adding an ingredient there). But many times I find myself straying more than a little, using the recipe as a base for an idea and pretty much flying by the seat of my pants.
I see questions on other food websites: Can I substitute basil for cilantro?, How big do I cut the pieces of squash?, What if I don’t like bacon, can I make it without?
OK, the last question is obviously fake because, bacon. But the answer to the others is “YES!”. If you like basil, you will probably like the substitution. If you cut the squash too big, next time you will cut it smaller. Cooking should be creative and fun. It’s not always picture perfect, but if you use good ingredients you will always end up with something to put on the table, and it gives you a place to start for the next experiment. GO. COOK. HAVE FUN. :)
Cook with abandon, be fearless, and do not apologize (Julia taught me that).