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A question for the questionable cooks

recipe ingredient lists recipe directions

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Poll: Prep instructions repeated in directions? (10 member(s) have cast votes)

Do you want prep instructions that are in the ingredient list repeated in the directions?

  1. Yes. I want to be sure I got it right. (1 votes [10.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 10.00%

  2. Voted No. I would wonder why I have to do something I already did. (4 votes [40.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 40.00%

  3. Yes. I want to be sure the recipe writer got it right. (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

  4. No. I don't want to repeat myself. I don't want to repeat myself. (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

  5. Hell no. That's the most confusing thing I've ever heard of in a recipe. Who in his/her right mind writes a recipe that way? (5 votes [50.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 50.00%

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#1 Suzanne F

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 10:48 PM

To all those who try to follow written recipes:

 

If a recipe lists an ingredient already prepped (e.g., 3 tablespoons butter, melted) and then in the directions says "Melt the 3 tablespoons butter," what is your reaction? Are you confused? Thrilled that there's a double-check? Bored?

 

I ask because I'm proofing a cookbook for people who can't cook, that purports to walk the reader through everything, simply and clearly. The content editor thinks it add "clarity" to repeat what already should have been done. The copy editor, production editor, and I all think it's confusing to do what I quote above.


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#2 Lippy

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 11:00 PM

I think it would be confusing,.  The directions should just say when and how to use the [already melted] butter.  Alternatively, the list could just specify butter and the directions could start with preparing the mise en place or just telling the cook when to melt the butter during the preparation of the dish, if it's simple enough not to require a mise.  For a new cook, one of the most difficult things is timing.   Cooks written by professional chefs always assume that the mise is necessary, but often, it is faster and more convenient to complete chopping, melting, etc. when another part of the dish is simmering, etc., but an inexperienced cook doesn't know how to use the time effectively.  



#3 Orik

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 11:40 PM

Lippy's nailed it. The best view for beginners is a timeline view.


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#4 Sneakeater

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 12:26 AM

As exactly the kind of person this book is probably aimed at, I want EVERY step I have to take spelled out in the narrative.

 

When I see "butter (melted)" in the ingredient list, I get scared.  HOW IS THE BUTTER SUPPOSED TO GET MELTED????, I ask myself.  If you want me to put the butter in a pan and melt it, tell me.  Also, I need to have the steps laid out in order.  WHEN do I melt the butter (in relation to other prep steps)?

 

If you think it's too confusing to have it in both places (which I can see -- although even we inept cooks aren't totally stupid), I'd vote very strongly to leave the prep steps out of the ingredients list and include them only in the narrative instructions.


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#5 Sneakeater

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 12:29 AM

For a new cook, one of the most difficult things is timing.

 

Maybe not even only "one" of the most difficult things.

 

This trips me up time and again.


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#6 memesuze

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 12:56 AM

maybe it should be "3 TBS butter [for melting]" and then an instruction for melting at the appropriate time. Who knows how long that melted butter would be sitting there, slowly coagulating out of its melted glory.


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#7 Orik

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 01:11 AM

Four editors [for fighting]


sandwiches that are large and filling and do not contain tuna or prawns

#8 foodie52

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 01:33 AM

I like cookbooks that list the ingredients and then NUMBER the steps. For people who can't/don't cook, sometimes for them it is a question of not SEEING the directions. It's just one big splodge to them. The numbering system not only helps you focus, but also tells you where you are in the process.

 

You shop the ingredients. Then you follow the numbered steps. As opposed to directions.


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#9 Lippy

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 02:08 AM

I also like  numbered steps, even with experience.  



#10 Peter Creasey

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 02:24 AM

The ingredients need to be listed so the wine pairing can easily be planned.


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#11 Suzanne F

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 02:42 AM

This is very, very helpful. Keep 'em coming! :)


I don't actually know what a handbasket is -- but whatever they are, singer-songwriters are in the first ones going to hell. -- Sneakeater, 29 March 2018 - 12:06 AM

 

notorious stickler -- NY Times
deeply annoying and nitpicking -- Molly O'Neill, One Big Table


#12 TaliesinNYC

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 05:27 AM

I think it would be confusing,.  The directions should just say when and how to use the [already melted] butter.  Alternatively, the list could just specify butter and the directions could start with preparing the mise en place or just telling the cook when to melt the butter during the preparation of the dish, if it's simple enough not to require a mise.  For a new cook, one of the most difficult things is timing.   Cooks written by professional chefs always assume that the mise is necessary, but often, it is faster and more convenient to complete chopping, melting, etc. when another part of the dish is simmering, etc., but an inexperienced cook doesn't know how to use the time effectively.  

 

 

I agree.



#13 squibble

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 01:26 PM

<p>I had a too-loose sauce Cumberland sauce that I was preserving in jars recently. &nbsp;It may have helped if the amount of juice was given, not just juice of 4 oranges. &nbsp;My oranges were enormous. &nbsp;I tried to guess how much peel and juice to hold back.</p>
<p>&nbsp;</p>
<p>I like exact measurements, love the numbered steps, but I don't require that to have success as long as the recipe is very clear - 'boil until most of the liquid is evaporated', boil to a syrupy consistency'.</p>

#14 foodie52

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 02:01 PM

What do Bittman's cookbooks look like? Or even cookbooks for kids. I remember buying a good one for my children when they were little. It had steps AND it had sidebars with  explanations of terms that might be confusing.


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#15 Sneakeater

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 03:25 PM

Numbered steps are the norm, aren't they?  (Shows how often I open a cookbook.)  DEFINITELY highly preferable.


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