Five rules for online recipe writers

The Buzz Bin

It's the golden age for home cooking. The world may be burning, but our chicken cutlets remain moist and well-marinated.

The days of needing to lug out some thick and dusty Betty Crocker cookbook every time you want to try some new dish are over. YouTube is boiling over with cooking tutorials, Pinterest is fully stocked with fancy pastry ideas, while cooking blogs of all sorts of flavors have decades of archives. You've got sites like perfect for the beginning home chef, Serious Eats for the ambitious one, and New York Times Cooking for the people who can afford to still subscribe to New York Times Cooking.

But here are a few things I want from my online recipes to kick things up a notch:

1. I get that you recipe writers want to include obscure or difficult to obtain ingredients, like aardvark tongue or melange or ectoplasmic powder so rich people can impress their fellow hedge fund managers at dinner parties. That's fine. But for us plebes whose gourmet grocery options don't get much fancier than the Chinese/Mexican aisle at Safeway, include some more plausible substitutions. Maybe you don't need Pommery, when any whole-grain mustard will do.

2. Separate out each step with bullet points so I don't miss a crucial step crammed in the middle of a paragraph. We live in the ADHD-addled age of Twitter. There's no excuse for not dicing your recipe into bite-sized chunks. For that matter, in the age of iPhones, there's nothing stopping you from snapping a pic of every step, so we know exactly what, say, seared catfish is supposed to look like.

3. Don't assume I know how to do anything. Does the recipe require a poached egg? Link me to a good video about egg poaching. Linking is free. And for that matter, on those videos? Include some text. I don't want to have to rewatch the video 20 times while I'm cooking.

4. Stop lying to me about cooking times. Sure, a Top Chef Quickfire competitor can prep, dice and mince seven different types of veggies in five minutes. But me? Assume it will take at least three Netflix episodes.

5. Starting every recipe with an ode to how your dish recalls the sunlight streaming through the curtains when you were but a wide-eyed child visiting your nana in Tuscany just wears out my scroll wheel. Use your unlimited online word count to tell me why and how the dish works. Why do the ingredients work together? What's the most important step? How did you screw up this dish the first three times you made it? ♦

FeastFest 2022 @ Feast World Kitchen

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About The Author

Daniel Walters

A lifelong Spokane native, Daniel Walters is the Inlander's senior investigative reporter. But he also reports on a wide swath of other topics, including business, education, real estate development, land use, and other stories throughout North Idaho and Spokane County.He's reported on deep flaws in the Washington...