A bit more here on the genesis of To the Lighthouse:
"But this theme may be sentimental; father & mother & child in the garden: the death; the sail to the lighthouse. I think, though, that when I begin it I shall enrich it in all sorts of ways; thicken it; give it branches & roots which I do not perceive now. It might contain all characters boiled down; & my childhood; & then this impersonal thing, which I'm dared to do by my friends, the flight of time, 7 the consequent break of unity in my design".
This reads like a recipe, with its references to thickening and boiling down. The result is certainly a very satisfactory repast.