Apr 6, 2009

Cookbooks vs. Cooking Blogs

by Ellen Wilson

Last time I stepped into the kitchen with a cookbook, I was at home with my mother, baking candy cane cookies for Christmas. On a daily basis, my recipe is generally coming from a bright laptop screen resting on the kitchen table, a safe distance from the counter covered with bowls of hardware-frying liquids. As laptops become a regular visitor to the kitchen, some have begun to wonder if cooking blogs are taking over cookbooks. For the college audience, cookbooks are another item to cram into an already overflowing apartment or condo. Blogs are no cost and you can find exactly what you need without flipping through hundreds of pages or searching the indexes. But swiping your finger over your mouse pad to keep your laptop from sleeping can not only make a mess of a fairly delicate machine but also doesn't hold the same thrill as turning the warped, stained pages of a old family cookbook.

When cooking with a blog, it's almost guaranteed that you'll have a picture to base your final product from. Most times, not only will you have a finished picture, but many bloggers post pictures of each step of the recipe. With the steps explained and demonstrated for you, it's simpler to follow a challenging recipe from beginning to end. However, if you discover a better technique or ingredient, it's difficult to make note of that on your computer screen. Unless you want to copy and past the article and then add notes to it in Microsoft Word or another word-processing program, you're stuck with just a web address and your memory. A partial solution for this is the comment section on the blog found on many blog or recipe sites. This user feedback offers helpful insights or alterations. A mediocre recipe can be altered and improved through the collective wisdom of the Internet community.

While your cookbook may only contain a few choice photos, it's your cookbook and the pages are open to doodles, notes, crossing out and altering. Not to mention that there is no risk of your recipe disappearing somewhere in the blogosphere. However, what you lose in flexibility, you gain in experience. Typically, a cookbook will contain the traditional recipes you and your family have been using for years. Or it might include recipes of a famous chef whom you can trust without having to check the ratings. You know your standard recipes and can flip to them easily. The overturned jar of rhubarb syrup won't cost you hundreds in repairs either. One avid baker, BYU student Eric Severson, sums up the debate with victories on both sides; "If I'm making an old favorite or a standard recipe, I'll use one of my books; I know where most of the recipes I want are, if I don't have them memorized by now. If I'm looking up something new, I probably use the internet to explore and get ideas." With all the benefits of each, there is no firm winner; blogs and books are best when used to supplement each other.

Some cooking blogs we suggest:

101 Cookbooks

Chocolate and Zucchini

The Crepes of Wrath

Dinner Tonight

I Shot the Chef

Kitchen Unplugged

The Kitchn

Nook and Pantry

Simply Recipes

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