Five easy steps for navigating food on the web

The Internet is a great source for recipes from both professionals and amateur cooks alike. But, it can be hard to know whether the recipe is going to produce a quality product, especially from user-generated recipe sites like cooks.com.

Here are some tips to help make sure the recipes you find online taste just as good as they look and sound.

1) Read through the entire recipe carefully in advance of going to the grocery store

It’s happened to me a few times where an ingredient not found on the ingredient list, has found its way into the recipe later on in the directions. Although it’s usually been a kitchen staple like vanilla, salt or garlic, I always panic a little until I know I have enough of it on hand. So far, I think I’ve only made one mad dash to the grocery store for eggs…

2) Read the reviews of the recipe

Most recipe sites have a comments or reviews section underneath the recipe and some even offer a rating system. If I’m trying out a dish that I’ve never cooked before, I’ll generally stick to a recipe that has the best comments. But, if I’m just looking for a new spin on chocolate chip cookies or spaghetti, I’m OK to try out recipes with a smaller number of reviews because I already have an idea of what the recipe is supposed to turn out like.

Another advantage to reading the reviews of the recipe is that you will learn how others have adapted the recipe to suit their needs. This is especially important with bake times, as they will alter depending on the altitude of the city you live in (higher altitude = longer bake time).If you print your recipes off the internet, try keeping them organized in a binder with plastic protector sheets. This allows you to make your own notes on the recipes too.
Photo by: Laura Lushington

3) Check out food blogs

When you don’t have a specific recipe in mind, browsing through food blogs can bring you inspiration. They usually have step-by-step photos of the recipes as well as detailed directions. There is also usually a story behind the recipe, which makes the whole process a bit more fun. To find food blogs, I like to search for a type of food and then go from there. For example, I will search for “Italian food blogs” and scroll through the results until the name of one catches my eye.

4) Find a chef, baker or user you like

On most of the websites it will list who submitted the recipe. Once you have tried the recipe out, go back and see what else that person might have to offer. If you liked one of their recipes, chances are you will like how the other ones taste as well. But, still make sure to follow tip number one — no one is perfect!

5) Websites to try:

epicurious.com

food.com

cooks.com

allrecipes.com

foodily.com

vegweb.com

llushington@cjournal.ca