I like to cook. Not in a “creating fancy five-course dinners” kind of way, more “it’s nice to enjoy home-cooked food that required more effort than popping a ready meal in the microwave”. This probably comes from having parents who both cooked (and wouldn’t touch a ready meal with a barge pole), and growing up in a small village where there was no chance of takeout.

From an early age, my sister and I were expected to help out in the kitchen – not just by doing the washing up, but as sous-chefs too. I never came to see cooking as some mysterious and difficult art, or recipes as hallowed documents which must be followed exactly lest disaster befall your dinner. I suggest that you treat recipes with the same reverence as you would the pirates’ code.

In the immortal words of Captain Barbossa in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl:

The code is more what you’d call “guidelines” than actual rules.

By that I mean not to worry if you need to fudge quantities or substitute ingredients to fit with what you have available. Simplify steps to save some time, or just because you're feeling lazy. Tweak the recipe to suit your tastes, or just use it as inspiration. There are things I cook regularly that started out as something I improvised when I’d forgotten to go shopping and had to make do with what I had left.

Sure, once in a while, things won’t quite work out, but 99% of the time you’ll still get something tasty. Go on, be a pirate, not a chef.