Cooking the Same Recipe Again and Again

As a relatively new cook, I don't have years of experience making the same recipe under my belt. And since I'm a recipe fiend, I tend to continuously seek new recipes or ideas for meals. As odd as it sounds, I haven't made the same recipe dozens of times. There are only a few recipes that I've made repeatedly.

And I've made a discovery. My skill at making those repeat recipes seems to dwindle the more I make them. Here's an outline of what I go through:
  1. First time with the recipe. I pay special attention to directions, ensuring I have each ingredient (or just about). It's tasty and worth the effort.
  2. I make it again. Pretty good.
  3. I make it again. Hmmm. Something isn't right. Potatoes too firm. Or the onions disintegrated.
  4. Eh. I'm not really sure what I saw about this recipe.
  5. What the heck? This is embarrassing!
Shouldn't I get better at making recipes the more I make them? Why do I get worse? And my biggest question--does anyone else have this problem?

Theories:
  1. Laziness. I think, "Hey. I did it before, and I can do it again. But this time with less effort/while watching Everybody Loves Raymond." Then I don't pay the attention that I should. Then onions overcook.
  2. Over-confidence. "I'm a pro. I've made this before. No biggie." Like when you get an A on a test so the next time you don't study as much and then you're staring at a C+.
  3. Cutting corners. "Well, I have 90% of the ingredients. It'll do."
I guess the moral of this story is that I need to focus. But then again, doesn't cooking require a bit of luck? The freshness of the basil, the humidity of your kitchen, the exactness of the measurements.... Moods change too. Maybe I overestimate a recipe and how good I thought it was. Then next time it can only be a disappointment.

I guess the thing with cooking is that it isn't an exact science. It won't always produce identical results. Well, this is a new challenge. How good can I get this recipe to be?

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