Last night, I came across this thought-provoking article via Running to the Kitchen. In her article, Jamie Schler articulates thoughts that I've had, but haven't done much to share.
Schler is 100% right:
Beautifully photographed recipes, which I tend to consider not so much recipes as arts & crafts' instructions, are rampant: meals made from cans and prepackaged sauces, desserts based on boxed cake and brownie mixes, canned frosting, jars of marshmallow fluff and then stuffed or topped with industrial marshmallows and chopped candy bars. Layers of gaudy, day-glo snacks and desserts on more than one high-trafficked, well-known blog feature Twinkies or Oreos as the main ingredient, seemingly now a widespread trend. Call me a food snob, if you will, but I don't get it. Haven't we moved on? Don't we in the food blogging world have the desire and the goal to achieve something healthier, tastier, slightly more elevated than what my own parents made 40 years ago when all of this boxed and packaged stuff was new and exciting? We have knowledge and information at our fingertips, we have time and all the necessary technology so why not use it all towards something a tad more noble?
She's also correct that these so-called recipes are oh-so-alluring. Let's face it: if you browse sites like Tastespotting or FoodGawker, the photos that jump out to catch your eye are often cupcakes and cookies. I click on a lot of dessert submissions, and even though I've admitted to occasionally succumbing to the ease of boxed cake or brownie mix, I always close the tab disgustedly when Cake Batter Truffles turn out to be made from a box of cake mix. I look to cookbooks and food blogs for Real Food.
Real Food, to me, is created by a person with ingredients that are actually food, rather than modified corn or soy stuff, and, ideally, with foods that are both local and seasonal. Some of the recipes you find here do stretch this definition- these are generally dessert recipes that use vegan butter. I understand there's a trade off for dairy-free butter, so I try not to use it all the time. Cakes made with olive oil are just as good.
As a food blogger, however, and now one that has ads (sorry, folks, I need some income to help support this baking habit!), one goal is to get a lot of visitors, or hits, to my blog. And desserts do that. The recipe posts that got the most traffic last week were Chocolate Stout Cupcakes, Chewy Brownies, and Chocolate Avocado Cupcakes. If I look at the past month, Romesco Sauce breaks into position #2, but all-time stats are right back to sugar: Gingerbread Ice Cream, Valentine Red Velvet Cupcakes, and Applesauce Cookies. What I (humbly) think are some of the best recipes here, like Oatmeal Bread and Avocado Sandwiches, don't even produce a blip.
So the moral of the story, I suppose, is that one of the harder aspects of food blogging, and one that is talked about the least, is the balance between producing simply popular content and producing truly good content.
So fellow food bloggers, I challenge you to publish more photographs and more recipes for Real Food. Recently, I've been talking more about savory dinners, salads, and bread. I've found it both challenging and satisfying, and I urge you to do the same.
Readers, what do you think? How do you respond to faux "recipes"? Do you like blogs that have a balanced collection of recipes? Or am I just making a mountain of a molehill?
(*Like me, do you see "Food Bloggers of the World, Unite" and think of that tshirt with "Bad Spellers of the World, Untie"?)