Posts Tagged writing

Writing modern recipes well

Traditionally, recipes in books tend to be on one page, with an ingredient list specifying quantities at the top, and the instructions following that.

One very important thing has changed: many, many people are no longer getting their recipes from books. Instead, the web is the source, and in some cases, great applications like Paprika* which can take a web page and extract the recipe details into a structured format, basically a scalable quantities ingredients list in one pane, and the instructions in another. Both are editable.

So when I go shopping, I reference the ingredients pane and simply work down the list, making sure I have the right things in the right quantities. Easy, direct, no messing around.

However, when I go to make the recipe, the recipe instructions almost always lack the quantities. Here’s an example:

    Ingredients list contains:
    2 tablespoons butter

    Recipe instructions say:
    Melt butter in pan

Which means that unless I’ve memorized the recipe (not likely, or I wouldn’t be trying to read the instructions), now I have to go look at the ingredients list and hunt down the quantity of butter. Which is annoying: I’m trying to cook over here!

So my suggestion, and what I’ve begun doing with all the recipes I grab off the web as soon as I get them into Paprika, is to edit the recipe thusly:

    Ingredients list contains:
    2 tablespoons butter

    Recipe instructions say:
    Melt 2 tablespoons butter in pan

Problem solved. Shopping, the ingredients list is all I need. Cooking, the recipe is all I need.

* I have no business connection with Paprika; I’m just a very happy paid user of the pro version.

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Why Video Fails It

When it comes to opinion, commentary, and interviews, I am not enthusiastic about video. Not at all. Never really have been. But I hadn’t given it much thought; just sort of lumped the whole thing in with commercials, which I despise, “DJ” babbling, which I also despise, and the general failure of the mass media to properly do what I consider to be its job, which is report things as they are and as they happen, rather than give me their opinions, which I am not interested in.

So today I ran into a link on a website that announced that it led to an interview with someone of general interest to me (it doesn’t really matter who.) I clicked on the link, it is fair to say, with considerable interest. But as it turned out, the link led to a video of an interview. I felt let down. Not a little bit; a lot. I lost interest in pursuing the presentation; and this change of heart happened fast enough that it caught my attention as a mini-event all by itself. I didn’t watch. Instead, I did a little thinking, and here’s what I came up with.

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