I have often expressed to Handsome that I don't understand why my cooking is special - "I just follow the recipe!" The response I get is, "When have you ever followed a recipe exactly?" And it's so true! I nearly always change some ingredient or method to make the recipe my own. Often, it's things that are easily overlooked or that people think don't matter or won't make a difference. In my experience, though, it really DOES matter! I always try to make every ingredient count. If it doesn't add flavor or nutrition or both - it doesn't make the cut! Sometimes I'll be out of a "special" ingredient so I leave it out or use a substitute - and invariably Handsome says it doesn't taste as good. A perfect example is the apple pie I made for him recently. I didn't have any apple juice, which I usually use in my crust, so I subbed in water. Though he didn't know I'd changed anything he remarked that it wasn't up to my usual standard. I was shocked (and a little pleased!) that he noticed.
All that to say ... The little things matter. We've all heard the somewhat trite expression that the most important ingredient is love, but it's actually true! When you love your family and friends enough to go that extra mile to make the food they eat special, it means a lot. Sure, it's easy (and sometimes necessary!) to open a box of Hamburger Helper or whatever, but when you make it from scratch with healthful ingredients, adapting it to suit their preferences, your love and care over them really shows.