Crotchety old lady time: is it just me, or have recipe titles gone haywire? By the time I get to the “with” part of recipes, I’m gasping for air and wondering WILL I HAVE ANY FOOD LEFT IN MY KITCHEN IF I MAKE THIS? and SHOULD I HAVE DONE A MASTER’S THESIS ON THE COMPLEXITY OF RECIPE SYSTEMS? Here are some real-life examples. These aren’t even the worst offenders because I threw away/stopped following the worst offenders.
- Spiced Sweet Potato and Roasted Broccoli Toasts (know how to make toast, roast broccoli, and add spices to sweet potato? You got it!)
- Spicy Lime-Ginger Grilled Shrimp (No, Lime-Ginger is not some mysterious hybrid. To make recipes look shorter, cooks have started adding hyphens. This recipe requires you to marinate shrimp in lime, ginger, and spices, and grill it.)
- Asian Glazed Salmon with Roasted Broccoli and Asparagus (Asian-glazed, or is the salmon Asian? Again, the problem of too many words. . .)
- Aleppo Pepper-Roasted Pork with Shallot Vinagrete
- Strawberry-Brown Butter Banana Bread (again with the hyphen?)
Recipes are like old friends. My brownie recipe has been re-written and folded over and over, and passed around to various people. OK. . .maybe like slutty friends. It has a butter smear on it, a speck of vanilla and, of course, a couple drops of chocolate. But you know what it’s called? “Heather’s Brownie Recipe,” just like Betty Crocker used to name them. Don’t you miss the chance of reading a recipe like a delicious secret that’s going to unfold before you? For example, Recipe #1 above could be titled “Vegetable Toasts” or “Sweet Potato and Broccoli on Toast,” and then you would read on and find out how everything is spiced, and roasted (ooh, yay, roasted!) and that not just any kind of toast will do. I’m much more likely to read someone’s recipe if I can’t figure out how to make it from the title. Then the ingredients/how to lists read like a mystery I can’t wait to dive into.
Pet peeve #2: Jane Austen said “I do not want people to be very agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them a great deal.” This always convicts me because I try to be too agreeable, but that’s another blog post. Recipes can be too agreeable, especially when they are labeled “healthy.” Healthy is such a relative term. It’s so agreeable. It’s the new kale of the culinary world, right up there with aleppo pepper. I’m pretty sure fatty foods are not healthy for people with cholesterol problems, and even desserts heavy in fruit sugar are not good for severe diabetics, and banana nut muffins aren’t healthy for people with nut allergies, etc. “Healthy” has become a marketing tool. Let’s all agree that anything with lots of unprocessed ingredients is better than the McDonald’s egg sandwich and large coffee I had yesterday for breakfast, mmmmmkay?
Pet peeve #3 with recipe writing: when foodies wax philosophic in a really weird way. Like one food blogger who shall remain nameless compared a dead friend to spiced meat, because this friend had the spice of life too. Not. Kidding. The post was really about the friend but the blogger had ten photos of this dish, complete with a full recipe. I want that to be my legacy: “Heather was hearty and comforting, just like these Healthy Slow-Cooker Parmesan-Aleppo Pepper Chicken Dumplings, which you should TOTALLY try this weekend.” Americans are one of the few cultural groups who can elevate a necessity like eating into an art form, while so many people lack access to food and water. Let’s not add insult to injury by making recipes poetic. Complex dishes are a privilege, fun to eat, and fun to share. That’s about it.
And in conclusion, it does NOT say RSVP on the Statue of Liberty. . .sorry, I can’t say “In conclusion” without hearing Cher’s voice in my head. But in conclusion, I will be posting a recipe for Pumpkin Zucchini Bread soon. It’s gluten-free, has browned butter and all those other lovely things. But it’s a recipe worth reading!