Cook long enough and you will eventually make an utter kitchen failure. Whether you read the ingredient proportions wrong, make an unfortunate substitution or just plain vaporized it, you just have to shrug it off and move on. But what if the dozen muffin-shaped bricks feeding your trash can were the product of a recipe that you followed to the letter? Were you just a terrible baker, giving the touch of death to what should have been twelve angelic pillows of surgery wonder? Heck, they even looked just like the one's from the blog! Hmmm.....
Let's pause for a little reality check here:
- Most professionals of the culinary or crafting arts are, in fact, too busy to run a blog unless they really enjoy the aspects of writing and reader engagement in their spare time. Content production similarly takes a surprising amount of time and effort, and we only have just so much time in the day.While we never stop learning and improving, its far too easy to assume that a blogger with excellent photography skills never fails at cooking (or crafting and gardening for that matter!).
While some bloggers may have some level of training (I'm a jeweler, for example), most are simply passionate about their topics and seek to share their experiences with others. Lack of formal training does not by any means disqualify someone from writing about food, crafting, gardening, etc, but where we lack in professional training we must make up for in quality and diligence. Have we tested our tutorials repeatedly under varying conditions, thinking of the many ways our wording may confuse our readers? Is this recipe truly as good as it can be considering the technique and ingredients? Have we removed all the needless complexity that can lead to failure? Have we even served the food to another human being for feedback?
It can be disappointing to make, film and photograph a recipe or tutorial, only to find it really doesn't work in the end. There is expense, time and for some sites, a whole production schedule that needs to be written off entirely. While failure should have been realized in the testing phase, clunkers somehow still make it live. I'm not sure what the production cycle is like for other sites, but my articles average 2 months from conception to publication with a 25% abandon rate. Fortunately, I have several ideas working at once between research, testing, production, etc, but it can be very difficult to pull the plug on something that just isn't meeting my standards.
While integrity is indeed the rule rather than the exception for most sites, I have encounter a number of recipes over the years that left me wondering "Did they even try eating this?" Right from the get go, ratios were off, leaveners excluded (or overly increased!), techniques utterly glazed over, but somehow, a picture perfect cake in the end. When I first started cooking, I just assumed that I was at fault and left the kitchen frustrated and defeated. Fortunately, I was stubborn and kept trying, building my confidence from a few trusted sites (especially King Arthur Flour, they are seriously amazing), but how many people might have been turned off to cooking entirely by these sub standard recipes? I have met more than a few, which was the catalyst for the way in which I chose to treat my articles as both recipes and a chance for learning something new about the process.
is not intended to shame anyone, which is why I will never link back to the site that originally posted the recipe or tutorial. This series is intended to open dialog about what went wrong with a recipe or tutorial and ways in which it can be improved. While I'll offer my impressions and thoughts, my hope is that the comments will be filled with helpful tips that will make us all better at cooking, crafting and gardening.