In an effort to thicken up a gravy that I was making, I made the mistake of putting flour directly into the hot liquid that I was stirring.

The flour curdled up and the gravy now has white bits of curdled up flour. Oops.

I should have dissolved the flour first in some kind of room temperature liquid, like the stock I was using or just plain water before putting it into the hot liquid.

This is a good lesson in cooking because cooking is not about simply combining ingredients to arrive at a dish. There are other dimensions, like how to prepare those ingredients or combinations of ingredients. Whether something is hot or not influences all of the physical and chemical reactions that occurs with other ingredients when mixed together.

It's important to understand the various dimensions that play into cooking, in order to be able to make smart decisions on adjusting your recipe.

Following recipes line-by-line will surely get you close to a promised result. But it doesn't teach you why the recipe is able to achieve what it achieves. Completing a dish certainly feels good, but the "why it works" is the more interesting part because it paves the way for you to be able to concoct your own delicious creations.

The "why it works" mindset is what leads to being able to hear the art in music, see the art in a painting, and taste the artistic decisions of a dish.

"Why does this work?" is a powerful question, and I ought to ask myself that more often.