When I first started this blog, 2 1/2 years ago, I rarely wrote up actual recipes. The entries were more free form typically. I was trying to capture what I’d cooked, not necessarily exactly how I’d cooked it. As time went on, I’ve tried more to create actual recipes I could repeat and began working on formatting them so they were easier to read.
There are things that some cookbooks do that drive me crazy, personally. One of the ones I like alternates between listing ingredients in bullet point lists (my preferred style) and just bolding them within the recipe like I did here for taco meat pies. I can deal with either but to alternate back and forth drives me crazy!
And some cookbooks list the ingredients in seemingly random order. I can understand putting the main “hunk of meat” up front if you’re trying to scan for something to do with a particular cut, but in general I like the ingredients to be listed in the order used. And if an ingredient is used in two different steps, it should be either clearly labeled “divided” or just put in the list twice.
In a blog, I can’t easily do side by side listings, but when I write things out by hand I frequently list the ingredients of a step to the left with the instructions to the right, so it might say:
* ingredient 1 * ingredient 2 }
* ingredient 3 > blend together 3 minutes
* ingredient 4 }
* ingredient 5 /
That makes a very easily scannable recipe and takes up less vertical space. I can quickly see the ingredients I need scanning down the left and the equipment and approximate time required by scanning down the right.
Even when ingredients are listed in the order of use, I frequently use a highlighter to highlight the main ingredient and any odd ingredient I might not have around. This makes it very easy to take advantage of grocery sales (by scanning for main ingredients) and make up a grocery list (since the odd “might not have on hand” ingredients jump out at me).
When I was first learning to cook, I was very dependent on clear directions. I would easily get confused about when to cover a dish or not, when to lower the heat, how often to stir. Now, unless I’m learning some new technique or ethnic method, I don’t need the fine details, although they don’t get in my way either. What seems obvious to an experienced cook can be utter confusion to the new one.
Anyway, I was reflecting on this as I typed up the creamy lentil soup recipe. I’d made changes to the original recipe as I made the soup and could easily change it again the next time I make it. But I now try to record as accurately as possible what I did and make notes about what I might do differently next time.
One thing I find myself drawn to in cookbooks is the stories behind the recipes or the introductory descriptions of how certain recipes came about, when particular dishes are served most often, details of what might seem odd but why it’s good, and what substitutions can easily be made. This could be why I like food blogs so much. There’s some real person cooking for a real family or real friends (or themselves!) and I like that connection.0