Why your gramma’s recipes taste so good

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Thanksgiving is coming soon. All around the country, people will be making special dishes for Thanksgiving dinner. Many of those special dishes will have been handed down for at least a couple of generations. They are family favorites.

Gramma’s recipes are delicious. If you understand why, you can make your team better. Let’s start with the basics.

The Basics

Thomas Keller knows a bit about recipes and good food. He’s the owner of The French Laundry and other award-winning restaurants. According to him, it’s simple.

“Success is about ingredients and execution.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself. Let’s start with ingredients.


Back in gramma’s day, you didn’t need advanced study in chemistry to understand what went into the food you cooked. You can’t replicate those thrilling days of yesteryear, but you can pay special attention to the ingredients you put in your dishes.

Pay attention to the people on your team, too. You want people who are hardworking, good at what they do, and work well together. Toxic stars and slackers poison the team and your work.

Recipes are processes

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a process as, “a series of actions or operations conducing to an end.” If you follow the recipe, you’ll get a good result.

The same thing is true on your team. If you follow good processes, you will produce good work. If you’re doing your job right, you and your teammates are always looking for ways to tweak the process and make things better.

Making Gramma’s recipe better

That’s really why gramma’s recipes are so good. She probably didn’t make the recipe up from scratch. Instead, she took someone else’s recipe and made it better. Good cooks modify their recipes. Leaders tweak their processes.

My wife inherited a box of recipe cards that her mother and grandmothers used. Those cards have adjustments to the recipe in different handwritings.

The real secret to why gramma’s recipes taste so good is that the recipes have been improved by several people, usually over decades. At our house, most of the family’s favorite recipes have been modified by at least three generations of cooks.

You may have to modify the recipe for your situation

Sometimes, you modify a recipe because of a special situation. Maybe Aunt Sally doesn’t like celery in her dressing. Perhaps Uncle Bob has food allergies. If you move from Houston to Albuquerque, you’ll have to modify your cake recipes because of the altitude.

Whether you’re cooking Thanksgiving dinner or leading a team, success will be about ingredients and execution. Pick competent, complementary, and compatible people for your team. Modify your recipes and your work processes so you’re constantly producing better results.


“Success is about ingredients and execution.”

You want a team of people who are hard-working, good at what they do and work well together.

A process is “a series of actions or operations conducing to an end.”

Improve your process and you improve your output.

Good cooks and bakers modify the recipes they use. So can you.

Over time and generations, the recipes improve.

Good cooks and bakers adjust the recipe for specific situations.

Gramma’s Recipes

If you want old-timey recipes like Gramma used to make pick up a copy of the Charleston Receipts cookbook. Here’s the blurb you’ll find on Amazon.

“Charleston Receipts was first published in 1950 and is the oldest Junior League cookbook still in print. It contains 750 recipes, Gullah verses, and sketches by Charleston artists. Inside, you’ll find classic recipes such as Sweet and Sour Pork, Charleston Gumbo, Angel Food Charlotte Russe Cake, and Sweet Green Tomato Pickle. This classic cookbook is a must-have for any collector!”

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