“Cindy, you’re so hard on yourself.” This statement came from a friend in response to the apologies I offered my guests as I set out a plate of lemon bars made from a new recipe that didn’t come out quite as described by its given name, The Perfect Lemon Bar.

Yes, I can be hard on myself because I know I can do better. And yet, it doesn’t stop me from serving new or imperfect kitchen creations. I admit that in the past, I would have thrown out the batch because, while delicious, it doesn’t look just as I want. Then I would make a batch of my tried and true chocolate chip cookies, perfect every time.

But what is the fun in that? As I refine my technique, I learn something new – nuances of food chemistry, different cooking methods, and delicious recipes. If I stopped when things didn’t work out the first time, then my cooking career would have had a premature ending after the orange chicken debacle (which did end up in the garbage) my freshman year in college.
After years of experimentation in the kitchen, I’ve learned that to become an expert at anything, you need to take a risk, be willing to fail, and try again. It can be humbling at times but well worth it.