Eggs à l’Oignon and a Defense of Food Bloggers

by Julie Ruble on May 28, 2012 · 148 comments

I want you to know just if you can / where I stand. / Tell myself that a new day is rising, / get on the rise. / A new day is dawning; / here I am.

Bob Marley’s voice is currently trickling out of the speakers of the deli I visit once a week or so. The reggae beat floats down to meet black and white tile, rain-stained windows, a soda fountain.

Tonight’s dinner was half a tuna salad sandwich and a cup of hot soup. I finished it a few minutes ago and I’m now paying only occasional attention to my Coke Zero while I compose this post.

Marley’s words come at an apt time, because I want to tell you about where I stand. The International Association of Culinary Professionals’ website just published an incendiary (but nothing new, actually, and nothing unexpected) opinion article by Amy Reiley that charged food bloggers with “faking it”: faking the recipe development, food journalism, and cooking expertise that the culinary industry is supposedly painstakingly cultivating.

Essentially, upon realizing that food bloggers are not testing their recipes dozens of times but are still being employed by companies to create recipes (like this one I created for McCormick — and tested, by the way — that is flippin’ awesome and you should make immediately), Reiley decided that food blogging represents a “dumbing down” of food culture. The IACP has since published a piece noting that these are solely Reiley’s opinions and don’t reflect the view of the association as a whole, saying, “OBVIOUSLY, at the end day, it isn’t really the medium that matters, but the work itself” (okay, I added the OBVIOUSLY part. But really!)

I say this is nothing new because the article is doing the same thing the Marie Claire article about health food bloggers was doing a year ago. The same thing Mario Batali was doing when he discussed food bloggers on Eater. That is, trying to discredit a medium that seems like an imminent threat to their fancy-official-cooking-people-ness. They have everything to gain from doing so, but it’s not going to work (unless bloggers shoot themselves in the foot; more on this later) because real people love hearing from other real people about food.

Here’s why Amy Reiley is wrong about food writing and the role blogging plays in it:

1. Real people have always shared food ideas with other real people — blogs just make it more convenient.

People visit major cooking websites, read cooking magazines, visit restaurants, and watch cooking shows to have enjoyable food experiences. But they also talk to other people to share ideas — and they always have. When I started cooking, I called my mom for ideas and received recipes from grandparents, friends, and coworkers. But blogging means that instead of limiting my personal culinary network to our friends and family, I can now search an extended network of personal ideas and experiences. I have hundreds of blogs on my regular reading rotation and I can’t imagine how limited my exposure to food and ideas would be without them.

2. People don’t go to blogs for rigorously tested recipes. They go to blogs for carefully created recipes that, from the blogger’s perspective, are worth trying.

When I log onto Suzie’s blog and she shares her creation, I know that her standard for how much testing needs to be done before publishing a recipe might be different than America’s Test Kitchen, but if I love Suzie’s personality, have similar food preferences, and think she’s creating neat recipes, I might want to try her ideas anyway. If I try something that doesn’t work for me, I can choose to try again or to stop visiting Suzie’s site. Or even better, I can let Suzie know what happened and we can troubleshoot it together, thus improving both of our culinary experiences — because Suzie is a real person just like me.

This is no different than if my Aunt Matilda made up a killer recipe and shared it with me at our last board game night. I’m not going to tell Aunt Matilda to stop sharing her awesome creations with me unless she’s tested the recipe 5 times, and I’m not going to tell Suzie that either. I get recipes from America’s Test Kitchen sometimes, and I get recipes from Aunt Matilda sometimes (well not really, because I made Aunt Matilda up, but you get the idea) — and they both play an important role in my culinary life.

3. Blogs provide something that food journalism, cooking shows, restaurants, and commercial test kitchens do not.

People know that when they visit blogs, they’re getting personal cooking wisdom that’s not produced by a company. If people only wanted recipes, blogs wouldn’t be so popular. Folks would just grab a cookbook or log onto Food Network’s website and be done with it. But sometimes people want more than that: they want a relationship with a person. They want to get to know you through your writing, hear your personal experiences with the dish, or take part in the community you create on your blog. They want to enjoy social networking with bloggers they love (Joy the Baker’s tweets regularly make my day.) They want to discuss what to do with Maple Balsamic Vinegar on your Facebook page. They want you to show off the awesome cake they made (the first they’d ever made from scratch!)

They might also want personal attention. I troubleshooted a pie with a lovely reader for her Memorial Day celebration today, and I can honestly say that I don’t think Mario Batali’s gonna bother emailing you back about that lasagna you have in the oven.

4. You don’t get to dictate what someone else wants from their food experiences.

In a recent article cataloging a few chefs’ opinions on food photography in restaurants, most chefs seemed to realize that guests get to choose, as long as they aren’t infringing on the rights of others, what they want from their evening. If this means taking a bad instagram photo of the dishes they ate and posting them in an album called, “GoOd EaTz!!” on Facebook, so be it. R.J. Cooper was the only chef who seemed to think he knew his guests’ goals for the evening, and as a result, he came off sounding pretty pompous: “You’re there for the dining experience with your companion, not to take photos of food.”

The truth is, R.J. Cooper doesn’t get to decide what you’re there for. Maybe you’re in his restaurant because you can’t wait to try a certain dish on his menu. Maybe you’re there to catch a glance of the jerkazoid who justified his hatred of restaurant photography by saying that it makes your dinner take too long and hurts his bottom line (he really said that!) Maybe you’re there because the sparkly disco decor reminds you of those awesome go-go boots you used to own (full disclosure: I have no idea how Rogue 24 is decorated — and don’t ever intend to visit — but disco is doubtful.)

Just like Cooper doesn’t have a stranglehold on diners’ opinions, “culinary professionals” don’t have a stranglehold on eaters’ opinions. They don’t get to decide that people only want recipes that have been tested dozens of times (or even that companies do — companies have realized, finally, that people enjoy hearing from bloggers). Each person can decide for themselves what information they’re interested in consuming.

5. Democratization always lets in “riff raff,” but the influx of amazing ideas is so worth it.

There are people with fantastic ideas that haven’t had the money, time, or life circumstances to become a “culinary professional.” We love the shows where hometown cooks try out to be the Next Food Star Master Cook and always root for the underdog. Until that underdog gets a blog and starts claiming they actually know what they’re talking about, that is.

The truth is, lots of people have great ideas and everyone deserves to share theirs. This does mean some silly ideas — maybe even a lot of silly ideas! — will find their way into a public forum. But first of all, there already were a lot of silly ideas, mostly thanks to companies that cared more about profit than about health, food, or people. Second, people are allowed to choose which ideas they want to pay attention to. If they do choose to pay attention to the pumpkin dump cake that uses a cake mix and a can of pumpkin instead of your religiously tested croquembouche, that’s their right. (Not to mention that I’ve tried plenty of those religiously tested recipes that ended up sucking. Just sayin’.)

6. We’re still gonna visit those “culinary professionals’” restaurants, read their books, subscribe to their magazines, value their carefully tested recipes, etc.

Blogs won’t stop people from paying “culinary professionals.” We think they’re kind of cute when they’re all angry and fussing about people stealing jobs. But more importantly, we’ll still care about their work because we love food, and just like blogs play a valuable piece in the food puzzle, they do too! We love those crazy “professionals” and all of their compulsive testing (here’s looking at you, ATK), fancy affirmations and accolades, and expensive equipment.

I’m being slightly tongue-in-cheek, here, though, because the truth is, plenty of bloggers are as professional as any “professional.” Plenty do test recipes repeatedly, plenty have written books, plenty have been to culinary school or worked in the culinary industry in other capacities. And those of us who haven’t are still pretty crafty.

Now for the caveat. There is a way that food bloggers can inadvertently justify Reiley’s concerns: by forgetting our place and our role, and pretending to be something we’re not. More and more bloggers are concerned with their “brand” and merging the world of blogging and business. To an extent, there’s nothing wrong with that; this is a business, even for me, and I’m concerned about maintaining the right image for Willow Bird Baking. I’m flippin’ overjoyed that I can get paid to create recipes, share stories, and host a little meeting place here for all of us. But I have to remember that my “business” is to be a real person communicating with other real people.

This means I won’t sacrifice my honest relationship with my readers for the sake of partnering with a business. It means I won’t represent myself as a “culinary professional” in any sense that’s misleading to readers. They’ll know that they’re getting simple recipes from a creative home cook in Charlotte, NC, and not from Cook’s Illustrated. I won’t mention products or companies that don’t fit in this space for the sake of getting paid. And I also won’t turn down products and companies that should show up in this space due to lack of payment. I’ll share with readers what I’d appreciate being shared with me as someone who loves food, loves people and their passionate endeavors, and loves honest discourse.

Basically, bloggers need to be real people, not businesses parading as real people (and not real people parading as businesses.) As long as we’re all honest about our experience and our culinary viewpoint, I think we should let the public decide on their own who’s “faking it” and who’s not. Deal? Deal.

In keeping with the spirit of this post, here’s a homey little recipe I made up for Mike and have made a few times since then. It’s a pantry meal packed with a mellow, gorgeous onion flavor and a creamy secret ingredient — mayonnaise! Don’t shy away if you’re not a mayo fan; it lends the slightest tanginess and a gorgeous texture to the dish that I think you’ll love.

I’ve “tested” this recipe in my own kitchen a few times, and I hope it works for you, too! If not, let me know, and we’ll fix it together while Mario Batali is out being too fancy to respond to your emails. Okay?

One year ago: (Freshly Picked!) Strawberry Cream Pie
Two years ago: Caramel Cream Croquembouche

Eggs à l’Oignon



Recipe by: Willow Bird Baking
Yield: 2 servings

These eggs begin with aromatic minced shallots and garlic sautéed in butter. Mayonnaise lends a slight tanginess and a gorgeous texture after cooking, and the green onions sprinkled on top round out the delicate onion flavor. You’ll love these for breakfast or even as a quick, simple dinner, which is how Mike and I enjoyed them.

Ingredients:
4 eggs
2 tablespoons heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise (Hellmann’s, preferably)
1 tablespoon butter
green onions and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese for topping

Directions:
Whisk eggs, cream, salt, and pepper together in a medium bowl. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and melt the butter in it. Add the garlic and shallots and sauté for about 30 seconds or until very fragrant. Pour in eggs and scramble them, removing them to a plate when they appear just slightly moist (they will finish cooking on the plate). Smear them with mayonnaise and Parmesan cheese and mix them to combine. Top with green onions and serve immediately.

Other great pieces on food blogging that you should read:
In Defense of Food Blogging on Amateur Gourmet
Are Food Bloggers ‘Faking It?’ on Lighter and Local

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{ 146 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathy Walton May 28, 2012 at 3:52 am

Just shared this on FB. Preach it, sistah!

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 28, 2012 at 3:53 am

Thanks, Kathy! :)

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Naomi May 28, 2012 at 4:24 am

Bravo ! Well written. I love this response. Elitism of any kind in any space drives me nuts.

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 28, 2012 at 4:33 am

ME TOO, Naomi! I call myself the anti-snob snob ;) Thank you!!

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Aggie May 30, 2012 at 11:24 pm

first time here…love your words…anti-snob snob – yes!

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 30, 2012 at 11:29 pm

Thanks, Aggie! And welcome :)

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wytchcroft May 28, 2012 at 4:32 am

Yep, they sound a little crazed, i guess everyone wants to protect their commerce/art and income from the filthy internet but… sheesh.

anyhoo, go you! :))
and now i am not only hungry but, thanks to your intro, nostalgic as well.

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 28, 2012 at 4:33 am

Thank you :)

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Averie @ Averie Cooks May 28, 2012 at 4:55 am

This is an absolutely fabulous, well-thought out, and extremely well-articulated post/”rebuttal” to Amy’s points. I love everything you just said and found myself nodding with each and every paragraph. AWESOME job, Julie!

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 28, 2012 at 4:56 am

Thanks so much, Averie!

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Marcia May 28, 2012 at 4:56 am

Julie, you are right! As a home cook I really enjoy getting new recipes from food bloggers that are cooking in their kitchens for the people that they love. It doesn’t matter if the recipes aren’t tested 10 times with 4 sous chefs to help. What does matter is that you are honest and love what you do and that comes through with every one of your posts. Keep up the good work!

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 28, 2012 at 4:57 am

Aw, thank you so much, Marcia!! And thanks for reading :)

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Foodiewife May 28, 2012 at 5:11 am

I read the original article and just shook my head. Well done! I whole-heartedly agree, that my inspiration to try a recipe (from– gasp– a food blog) has a few important criteria: visual appealing (which yours always are), good ingredient’s list (I can almost visualize taste), and the integrity of the food blogger. I like to know that is someone says it’s good, I believe it! Likewise, I will critique my own recipes honestly. I always give credit, where credit is due. If it’s not my own recipe, I won’t claim it. Great job. Oh, and the secret ingredient had me intrigued. Mayo? OK, I can see how it would work…eggs and oil. Yep, I believe you, that it’s great!

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 28, 2012 at 1:32 pm

I hope you love the mayo! It was so yummy :)

I agree with you completely — we all have our own criteria about what we want in a recipe.

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Noey May 28, 2012 at 5:19 am

Your rebuttal is perfect, in my humble opinion. I prefer getting my recipes from a wide range of sources and usually go for what I think sounds good and what my family will like. Sometimes that’s fancy, sometimes it’s simple, (and sometimes I *tweak* recipes till my family and I like them best!) but it all boils down to feeding my family good food and seeing them happy, while enjoying myself in my little kitchen. Honestly, I think all my “best” recipes have come from my grandmother. She grew up during the Great Depression on a farm, so they’re simple, homey, filling and taste oh so good.

But your recipes are quickly gaining on Gramma’s recipes. I think she’d be okay with that if she was still with us. :-)

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 28, 2012 at 1:33 pm

Aw, that is too sweet. Thank you so much, Noey, and thank you to Gramma for all the culinary inspiration she passed down :)

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Jules May 28, 2012 at 6:09 am

I think what Amy Reilly is forgetting is that people like you and me put up content because we want to do it, not because we get paid to, and people who click on our blogs realize this and realize that there is a certain degree of “caveat emptor” involved if you choose to follow a recipe.

And, might I add: I like your recipes far more than the recipes from many cookbooks. 98% of the time it’s guesstimating and winging it, but the few times that I do follow a recipe, I like it to have a lot of directions.

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 28, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Thank you, Jules! I agree with your first point — there’s definitely something of a different motivating force, even if we’re getting paid as well, since this is not a job that supports most of us. The motivation to actually cook and share has to be there.

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Becca @ Amuse Your Bouche May 28, 2012 at 7:25 am

Well said! What a ridiculous article.

Also these eggs look gorgeous, I’ve never tried adding mayo to scrambled eggs but I’ll try to remember this for next time!

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 28, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Thanks, Becca :)

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Prof. von Explaino May 28, 2012 at 10:03 am

An interesting article by Amy, I do look forward to her recipe for sour grapes.

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 28, 2012 at 1:36 pm

LOL. Thanks, Prof.

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Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar May 28, 2012 at 11:03 am

Wow, well said. It doesn’t matter what kind of work you do – someone is going to try and discredit you by saying they’re better. Sad really, but true. I enjoyed this post a lot!

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 28, 2012 at 1:37 pm

Thanks, Katrina!

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Hannah @ All-Purpose and Semi-Sweet May 28, 2012 at 11:21 am

Just shared this on Twitter…you managed to the high road in your rebuttal while describing the heart of food blogging/sharing!

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 28, 2012 at 1:37 pm

Thanks so much, Hannah!

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Emily May 28, 2012 at 11:33 am

What an excellent post! It makes me want to resurrect my food blog (sadly, studying got in the way). For now I’ll just grab recipes from blogs and cookbooks and grandma and my own inventions as I see fit, and nobody can stop me :P

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 28, 2012 at 1:38 pm

Thanks, Emily! I know you’ll get back to it someday ;) In the meantime, just enjoy your time in the kitchen :D

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Smani May 28, 2012 at 12:57 pm

Well said! I read your blog daily and really appreciate you work, keep it up!

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 28, 2012 at 1:38 pm

Thanks so much, Smani!

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Maranda May 28, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Well said darling. I’m so glad our community has a voice like yours to help us all speak out on these topics. Thank you for this post!

And I’m pretty excited to try this dish!

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 28, 2012 at 11:54 pm

Thank you, Manna :D

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Anne May 28, 2012 at 2:08 pm

Excellent post! I can’t believe the culinary people have their panties in a wad over this. I follow tons of food bloggers for new recipes to make for my family. Honestly, a food blogger is more likely to make a recipe my family will enjoy rather than a chef. They cook for real people with kids! You know, those pesky buggers that are picky eaters. LOL

I really enjoy the interaction and closeness of food bloggers. If I have a question on a recipe, the blogger is more than happy to help me. Like you said, you won’t get that from a big name chef.

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 28, 2012 at 11:56 pm

Thanks, Anne — I agree that the personal interaction is a huge draw for people looking for recipes. I know it is for me!

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Anne May 28, 2012 at 2:09 pm

Another thought. Food bloggers use ingredients that I can get at my local grocery store without having to order it online or go to a specialty store.

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 28, 2012 at 11:57 pm

True! Since many of us are home cooks, we’re often working with similar circumstances (and preferences — like not driving across town to a specialty store every day! LOL.)

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Anton May 28, 2012 at 2:23 pm

These comments about how food bloggers aren’t “pro” reminds me of the frequent accusations that bloggers could never be real writers or journalists, back in 2000. It’s elitist in the most ridiculous way because it is so patently false. I appreciate your spirited defense of the medium and the method.

The actual life experiences presented in many of the food blogs are the reasons I keep coming back to them. The internet is all about bringing us together, all over the place.

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 28, 2012 at 11:57 pm

Thanks, Anton! I agree!

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Andrea May 28, 2012 at 4:41 pm

My food blog is fairly new, and I do not really develop my own recipes. I don’t have the skills just yet to do so. But any and every recipe I post on my blog has been cooked and/or baked in my kitchen, by me. Unless it is a guest post ( of which I had two at moment of posting this), then I obviously didn’t test the recipe but I expect my guest blogger to do so.
I read the article over at IACP and all I am thinking is “Hold your breath, lady.” Considering the economy I am not surprised that companies ask food bloggers to develop recipes. It’s cheaper obviously. I am not sure about the quality but I somehow doubt that testing a recipe twice or three times over lets say 50 times will make a difference.
The person who uses a recipe can still make a mistake, it still can not work out due to a different oven, different humidity, different elevation. As you said, Mr. Batali won’t get back to me, telling me where I might made a mistake. But I can guarantee you that I will answer anybody who comes to me asking me why his German Cheese Cake didn’t work out.
Yes, most of us are not professionals, but all of us try to improve there skills every day. We wish to present the best food we can with the resources we have. That means to learn from other professionals and/or food bloggers, to read articles, to connect to the food world, to pay attention to new developments, to improve our photography skills and so.
I know that I won’t be a professional but that is ok, because I know the recipes I use and test are pretty awesome. Especially those from my family. The ladies in my family are kick ass cooks and bakers and I rather have my grandmother cook a meal for me (with an experience of over 60 years under her belt, through trying times, e.g. World War) than an arrogant chef who can’t see beyond his plate.

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 28, 2012 at 11:59 pm

“I rather have my grandmother cook a meal for me (with an experience of over 60 years under her belt, through trying times, e.g. World War) than an arrogant chef who can’t see beyond his plate.”

ME TOO! Well said. Lots to be said for humility and passion in the place of snobbery and arrogance.

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Kimmy @ Lighter and Local May 28, 2012 at 11:29 pm

Thanks so much for the link over. :-) You hit the nail right on the head. Sharing recipes and talking about cooking and baking should not be left to the so-called experts. It’s something so many people do, love doing, and love talking about. That’s exactly how it should be. You are so right about the fact that no one is going to abandon the so-called “professionals”, bloggers just make the conversation a little bit louder!

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 28, 2012 at 11:59 pm

You bet! Awesome response article.

Thanks, Kimmy!

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sayre weir May 28, 2012 at 11:39 pm

You go, girl! Keep doing what you do best.

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 28, 2012 at 11:59 pm

Thanks, Sayre! You know how passionate I am about this topic ;)

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Melissa May 28, 2012 at 11:50 pm

YES! Balance is key in everything, food blogging (and the internet in general, in any industry) just lengthens the agenda of stuff to be balanced. So glad that someone has the foresight to note this while all of the food industry is reeling from what seems to me like an imaginary crisis. Thank you for writing such a thoughtful yet accessible post!

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 29, 2012 at 12:01 am

Thanks, Melissa! I totally want to preserve folks’ jobs, but I think in an industry as dynamic as the culinary industry, people have to find niches and adapt. I think there’s PLENTY of room for those who are testing recipes in scientific, compulsive ways (as I mentioned, I LOVE America’s Test Kitchen). And plenty of room for those of us who just baked a rockin’ cake and want everyone to see and have a chance to try it out, too ;)

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Joanne May 29, 2012 at 12:36 am

This is so beautifully written, Julie, and true. Every word. I wouldn’t classify myself as a health food blogger but I was outraged when the Marie Claire article last year because in some ways, I felt like it was an attack on us all. And obviously this article that was just written…I’m livid. Especially given that I’ve tried more failed recipes from so called “culinary professionals” who test their recipes multiple times than I have from food bloggers. So…not sure what that’s about. Maybe it just means we should go with our gut instincts more and not worry so much about the fine details.

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 29, 2012 at 1:23 am

It made me livid, too, Joanne — and that article in particular was researched and written in the most underhanded way, imo.

I’m with you on the failed recipes thing, too. I won’t name names, naturally, but I’ve had my share of “professional” flops ;)

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Juliana May 29, 2012 at 12:53 am

I’m so trying this out RIGHT NOW. (puts on clothes and gets off of bed)

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 29, 2012 at 1:23 am

Yay!!

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Kelsey May 29, 2012 at 1:05 am

I love everything about this post so much. Cooking, baking, and eating are highly personal activities/loves/passions. Nobody–NOBODY–can tell you you’re doing it right or wrong. If you’ve created something with love and shared it in love, it can’t be wrong. It may not have a professional degree or a Michelin star restaurant behind it, but who cares. I bet even Mr. Batali, if asked about his favorite meal ever, would spin a tale of a childhood lunch spent at grandma’s table featuring the best homemade goodies lovingly made from scratch–no culinary degree or paycheck required.

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 29, 2012 at 1:23 am

That’d be an interesting exercise for sure!! Thanks, Kelsey! Love your thoughts.

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Juliana May 29, 2012 at 1:12 am

Living proof that this is a delicious and fast recipe: here I am back in my bed, with a full plate of those eggs. Awesome, Julie! Just awesome! Thanks for the recipe :)

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 29, 2012 at 1:24 am

LOVE IT! So glad you’re enjoying them and that they were quick and simple. MAYO, RIGHT?! It seemed so obvious once I did it. LOL. Thanks so much, Juliana, for being my recipe tester ;)

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Carol May 29, 2012 at 3:13 am

Thank you so much for this post. I don’t appreciate being crammed into a box, and I don’t appreciate the rather recent demonization of the food bloggers community. I have been self-taught and cooking by inspiration for thirty years. I don’t cook anything like I was ‘taught’ by my mother, and I have been learning new techniques and acquiring new ideas from my first days away from home. I used to collect magazines for their recipes and photos. I used to watch Great Chefs on PBS. I used to collect cookbooks, and until Amazon where I could browse through some pages online, I was often disappointed. It turns out, I discovered I want a photo for each recipe….gosh, just like food bloggers do. I want recipes I know will work, gosh , just like the food bloggers I continue to follow provide.
The thing is, I find myself inspired. I cook by inspiration, not necessarily by recipe. It is NORMAL for me to have three different recipes in front of me, and to draw from each of them what it is I like about that recipe….a technique, an ingredient, an idea. That is one of the reasons it is so difficult for me to ever, EVER be a blogger. (okay, the major reasons are that I don’t have a camera, and my oven is nicknamed Easy-Bake). I can usually never re-create the exact same dish twice. The dishes I create are fabulous, mind you, but I don’t measure, and I don’t write down down what I’ve done. (except for baking…for some reason I make notes on recipes and note changes…and measure)
The blogging community is what I have been waiting for.
The blogs that don’t measure up or disappoint, I don’t look back at. I find so many more every day that light me up, I have more inspiration than ever. With Pinterest, I am finding more and more and more. When I make a new discovery, I check out the site, and subscribe if I like it. Sure, my mail box is full every day, but I enjoy sifting through and finding my inspiration.
I feel like I’m behind the curve; I’m too old, too behind in learning how to blog, too inexperienced, too shy and awkward to ever get a blog going on my own. But I have always made a great audience, and I whole-heartedly cheer on my kindred spirits.
Like every occupation, there are many that probably should be doing something else. On the flip side, there are some very talented bloggers out there and I am GREATLY appreciative of the hard work they do and their burning desire to share it with the world. I benefit from it, as do all those I love to cook and bake for. Keep up the great work. Don’t let anybody bring your spirits down. You have passion and talent (and a camera!)

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 29, 2012 at 3:15 am

Well said, Carol! I love this comment with ONE exception: you are most certainly not too old or too anything else to start a blog, missy ;) And if you ever do, you better send me the address, because I’d love to read. Sounds like you’re a kitchen adventurer, just like me.

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MariaK May 29, 2012 at 3:54 pm

Hi Julie,

I agree with just about everything point you make in your post. I follow home cooks and fancy panted chefs alike. My technique has improved as a result of taking the best of what I find and incorporating it into what I do. I will say that I follow Mario on twitter and a very large percentage of his tweets are in response to people reaching out to him for advice and help. Much like you do.

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 30, 2012 at 4:10 pm

I’m so glad you noted this, Maria, because I want to give credit where credit is due — I think that’s awesome! I’m sure he doesn’t have the time to answer everyone’s inquiries (which is understandable, and I think he serves a different function in his job as described above) but it’s fantastic that he tries to assist people.

Thanks!

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Kendra Lee May 29, 2012 at 4:38 pm

Julie,
You are a wonderful inspiration! Just this last month I started a blog after moving to Charlotte from California. Since I don’t know a soul here and feeling so separated from my usual social life I am finding a real sense of community within the blogging world. Your blog and others are becoming my therapy and I hope to find the confidence to share myself on my blog as you do in yours. Thank you for defending the merits of food blogging and being a “real” person!

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 30, 2012 at 4:11 pm

Thank you, Kendra Lee! I’m so glad you can feel connected through blogs — that’s a huge move! We should get together sometime! :)

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Eileen May 29, 2012 at 6:24 pm

Hear, hear! The way I see it, more interest creates more interest–and so people go seek out more knowledge and new ingredients, and experiment more, and share their successes and failures. It makes me want MORE, and not only from foodblogs, but from all parts of the food industry–magazines, cookbooks, chefs, restaurants, whatever.

I’d like to know why these articles never seem to indict big media like Food Network, personally. (Well, because they Are big media, right?) To my mind, the constant competition and search for “the best” is unrealistic, and can be actively intimidating–whereas foodblogs &etc are approachable and allow for experiments, mistakes, and just having fun in the kitchen. I definitely am not looking for expertly tested recipes when I’m reading foodblogs–I’ll change the recipes when I make them anyway! It’s all about getting your hands dirty and playing.

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 30, 2012 at 4:14 pm

That’s what I feel, too, Eileen — I love Food Network, but blogs really are a personal expression and a safe place for failing, trying again, and sorting things out. Thanks for your thoughts!

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Sharon May 29, 2012 at 6:43 pm

Amen, and pass the mayo!

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 30, 2012 at 4:15 pm
DessertForTwo May 29, 2012 at 8:06 pm

Thanks so much for writing this, Julie.
I haven’t read her critical article, but honestly, I don’t know that I want to because it will probably make me angry. I admire you for calming your anger and writing such a focused, wonderful article.

Blogging takes up so much of my time, it truly is a labor of love. And clearly others enjoy it or they wouldn’t read/comment/make the recipes. Can we take a peek at Reiley’s hobbies and critique them as well?

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 30, 2012 at 4:18 pm

It did make me angry — particularly how she chose to word it. Instead of recognizing there are different functions for different people in the food industry, she chose to call us “fakes.” Really? I’m faking my personal cooking explorations? Here are, um, pictures of what I cooked. Here are stories about them. What part am I “faking” exactly? I suppose she would say that when a company publishes my recipe there’s a public expectation for recipe testing that has not necessarily been fulfilled and that’s what she thinks is being “faked,” but even then, if the recipe is from a blogger, I think folks know to expect a real person’s recipe idea. Not to mention that plenty of bloggers do test recipes (I always replicate things if I know I’m creating recipes for someone else, though not to America’s Test Kitchen standards, naturally).

I truly love it too! I’m glad we met through it :)

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Colleen May 30, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Thank you for writing this article and standing up for food bloggers world wide. I salute you!

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 30, 2012 at 4:18 pm

Thanks, Colleen!

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KMont May 30, 2012 at 12:59 pm

My sister and I are fledgling food bloggers who don’t develop recipes as much as we try out ones that interest us from magazines, cookbooks and such (we do all our photography, writing and credit, credit, credit sources). We have really enjoyed it and I personally love the inspiration I find in other food blogs. We’re so new to food blogging that we haven’t really seen or noticed too much yet the controversies in this segment of blogging. I book blog a well and it’s really not so different; the same basic issues arise there as well. Especially the arguments over whether or not book blogs make a difference or not. I think if you’re enjoying what you’re doing and not hurting people in the process, well, it matters to someone then.

This was such a well-done article on issues in the food blogging arena. Thanks for the heads up and support overall and the clear-headed thoughtfulness.

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 30, 2012 at 4:19 pm

Interesting that this issue transcends blog types. I just wish the world were more acclimated to there being a multitude of voices with different experience levels and ideas — and that we would stop competing to have the “official voice.” I know this is easier said than done considering people have historically been PAID to create that official voice and dismantling it means perhaps risking people’s jobs until we find the balance. I truly hate that. There is room for all of us.

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Claire-o May 30, 2012 at 3:45 pm

All I can say is: Julie-Bulie, you’re brilliant! Thank you for standing up for food bloggers, and for putting some in their place :)

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 30, 2012 at 4:20 pm

Thanks, Claire-o! :) I think YOU are brilliant!

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Ally May 30, 2012 at 6:20 pm

Well put Julie!

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 30, 2012 at 6:20 pm

Thanks, Ally!

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Lori @ RecipeGirl May 30, 2012 at 8:20 pm

Ditto everything you said, Julie! There are a few food bloggers out there who actually “pay” people to develop recipes on their own site, hire people to travel for them to meet brands, etc. I don’t get that!! Yes, this is a business for me too… but it’s sure nice to keep things more personal and call it all my own. The connection with my readers and what they want from my blog is most important to me. That whole article just made me… angry. Who the heck does she think she is? There are plenty of us food bloggers who have grown into this profession, love it to pieces, and work very hard at what we do. Dumbing down/faking? I don’t think so…

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 30, 2012 at 10:02 pm

I LOVE how you put that, Lori: “grown into this profession.” Come to think of it, there’s a debate in teaching as well (I’m a teacher in my “day job,” but it’s really a “24/7 job”!) about folks who have been trained in education versus folks who have “grown into it,” and in BOTH fields I find that talent can exist WITH or WITHOUT formal training — and can be developed in so many different ways! We’ve become a society where everything has to have a piece of paper, and I view blogging as one of the lovely exceptions to that. Everyone from a 9-year-old in Scotland to a doctor from New England can be a food blogger (though unfortunately it’s not FULLY democratic until everyone has access to food/knowledge/equipment/time) and grow however they do.

I hope companies can form a mutual relationship with who we REALLY are instead of just trying to put their claws into us and exploit us (and I hope we don’t let that happen, because we ARE the ones who have the say!) If we can really be employed for who we are and other “culinary professionals” can be employed in roles that suit who they are, I really think there’s room for all of us!

Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, Lori! I love your opinions.

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Jessica | Oh Cake May 30, 2012 at 8:30 pm

I wish I had known you when I still lived in Charlotte. :) I like #4 the best – I’m all about inclusive food experiences and I hate some of the “food classism” associated with the industry. Hey, just because I prefer homemade whipped cream to Cool Whip doesn’t mean I don’t also have serious love for Cool Ranch Doritos. Who I am as a recipe developer, writer, and cook, does not define who anyone else is. Food is so intensely personal in and of itself it’s no wonder the blogging world has exploded. You’re 100% correct about the personal connection. Readers want to know the blogger and bloggers want to know each other (and of course, the reader!) I remember reading your posts on the cooking comm on LiveJournal back in ’08-’09. In March I founded the Food Bloggers Network and some days, if it weren’t for that connection to other bloggers, I wouldn’t be able to keep going. I also agree with you about ethics. It’s very tough for new bloggers to navigate this world and frankly, only the savvy survive and prosper. I’m still figuring out if I’m savvy, but I do know where my ethics stand. Great post. Thanks for writing it.

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 30, 2012 at 10:02 pm

Love these thoughts, Jessica! I wish we’d known each other, too. I’m all about defining the ethics for ourselves personally before we dive into the deep end with ANY company for sure!

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Jackie @ The Beeroness May 30, 2012 at 8:31 pm

Very,very, very well put. Best rebuttal to the “Food Bloggers Blow” argument I’ve heard yet. And you can now Mic Drop

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 30, 2012 at 10:02 pm

Thanks, Jackie ;)

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Katrina @ In Katrina's Kitchen May 30, 2012 at 8:50 pm

I loved this post! Thanks for writing it. I’m a real person and I LOVE blogging. I couldn’t imagine not blogging now.

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 31, 2012 at 12:12 am

Thank you, Katrina!

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bridget {bake at 350} May 30, 2012 at 10:23 pm

Love. This.

PS…love your point about getting a recipe from Aunt Matilda. You know, some of my best recipes came from my mom, my aunt, and those school and junior league cookbooks. Some of my biggest disappointments? Oh, from the “big name” cookbooks and recipes that have been “tested” supposedly 25 times.

Great post.

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 30, 2012 at 10:31 pm

Thanks, Bridget! Some of my best recipes came from similar sources — and some had very bare bones directions and even some questionable techniques. LOL.

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Jennifer-The Adventuresome Kitchen May 30, 2012 at 10:41 pm

Brilliantly put! I’ve been receiving your blog in my in-box for over a year now, but rarely comment because I’m celiac. That said- I do love reading your recipes and they inspire me to try new things (all gf of course) in my kitchen. I’m proud of the work I do and would never just throw something out on my site- and for GF baking that means lots of trial and error. I also have to say that I’ve quit purchasing at least one magazine that offers lots of GF recipes because every recipe I’ve made has been awful, and if you read the fine print, the pictures they use on the cover are NOT GF. Like you, I’d rather get real information from real people who I can question if something doesn’t work in my kitchen. Thanks for your writing- I’m going to tweet a link to it right now! Cheers!

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 30, 2012 at 10:46 pm

Thanks so much, Jennifer! And thank you for reading :) I know GF cooking especially takes so much trial/error and you all really “earn your keep” — you are pioneers in the food world.

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Jennifer-The Adventuresome Kitchen May 30, 2012 at 10:54 pm

PS- the eggs rock!

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 30, 2012 at 11:30 pm

Thank you :D

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Fred Rickson May 30, 2012 at 11:22 pm

Anyone with a high school education should be able to write a blog paragraph, however about 95% of the food blog content is drivel designed for folks who probably can’t spell cooking, much less do anything really interesting. Sorry (a cook for 60 years). Food blogs remind me of someone you meet at a bar who talk about themselves for an hour and never once ask a question about “you.”

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 30, 2012 at 11:28 pm

You’re entitled to your opinion, Fred, but if that’s how you feel, I wonder what you think of the internet as a whole or even cooking publications, many of which are also targeted toward home cooks. I agree that being able to write a paragraph doesn’t make you a writer, but I’m curious what blogs you’re basing your generalization on. Here are some lovely writers you ought to check out before firming up your opinion:

http://thespinningplate.com/
http://orangette.blogspot.com/
http://smittenkitchen.com/

Frankly, I also find your last sentence laughable — what professional chef or test kitchen has shown concern or interest for you? I’m sure they care, but their role in the food world is very different. Bloggers are about a billion times more likely to actually interact with you personally, besides the occasional pro chef retweet on Twitter, apparently.

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Rachel Cooks May 30, 2012 at 11:36 pm

My first time here! Saw a link to you on FB. Great post! And those egggggs! Wow.

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 30, 2012 at 11:37 pm

Thank you, Rachel, and welcome! :D

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Sabrina Smith May 30, 2012 at 11:39 pm

Thank you for this awesome post! I loved reading every moment of it and will make my husband do the same. We are getting ready to branch out into the blogosphere from our little safe haven we have created on Facebook. I think we are ready and your thoughts have really helped us feel better about it. I am going to share this on our page to get the word out there and I can’t wait to visit your blog again. You have been added to my bookmarks. :)

Sincerely,
Sabrina

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 30, 2012 at 11:44 pm

Thanks, Sabrina! Can’t wait to see what you all create! Blogging is so rewarding.

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Aggie May 30, 2012 at 11:39 pm

Gosh, I never can understand why things have to be so complicated. I started my blog 4 years ago on a whim to talk about food, to myself and to anyone who would listen. It made me alive!! I am not a chef, not a professional writer or journalist, I (at the time) was a mom of 2 youngins who needed food people to connect with (and this was unknowingly to me at the time). I love watching professional chefs cook on tv, reading beautiful cookbooks, getting recipes from Aunt Matilda at Thanksgiving, and following a gazillion blogs that have caught my eye over the last few years.
I will also never apologize for this gift of a “career” that I’ve been given in the process…I couldn’t apply for a better job in my opinion. I love what I do.
Thank you for your well written post – I love everything that you said. It’s all about the food and connecting with others as far as I’m concerned! :)

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 30, 2012 at 11:44 pm

I agree, Aggie. I really believe there’s a niche for all of us; I hope the culinary world can settle into the balance. I also know there are “growing pains” that involve less work for some people, and I do hate that. But I agree that the fact that folks value advertising space on my blog and my ideas on cooking is NOT a problem; it’s a blessing.

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Robin @ Simply Southern Baking May 30, 2012 at 11:53 pm

Well said Julie! Thank you for putting into words what so many of us feel. Food bloggers put a lot of work into each recipe post and I don’t think some people realize how long it takes to accomplish everything that needs to be done before you hit “publish.” With creating or tweaking a recipe, cooking/baking the dish, setting up for the photo shoot, taking photos, selecting & editing the chosen photo(s), typing up your recipe in the proper format, writing your story, etc., we could spend several hours on just one post…and we do all this in conjunction with everyday life! I think we all deserve a round of applause for sharing our love of food with the virtual world.

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 30, 2012 at 11:58 pm

I so agree, Robin! I know each post generally takes me upwards of 10-12 hours from conceiving of a recipe idea to publicizing the finished post. This is a ton of work, and while we do get paid, it’s GENERALLY not payment we could live on. We do this because we love this, and what a blessing that we can also be compensated a bit. And don’t we WANT more people in food who love food?

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Fred Rickson May 31, 2012 at 12:17 am

Julie……after reading most magazines over the years, the only one I now enjoy is Saveur…….if only blogs were written (and edited) this well.

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 31, 2012 at 12:28 am

I share your enthusiasm for SAVEUR. Did you check out the links above? I love me some SAVEUR, but I’d feel comfortable comparing the three blogs I linked above to SAVEUR’s writing any day. In fact, I think SAVEUR loves them, too! :)

Curious — is your opinion of blogs due to typos? Style of writing (more journal and anecdote than journalistic)? Everyone has different preferences, but that’s why I love blogs — they complement the more objective/journalistic reading I also enjoy.

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Amber | Bluebonnets & Brownies May 31, 2012 at 12:54 am

So so SO well said! I tried to make some of these points when the IACP post imploded on itself and stopped posting comments. But you’ve made them far more succinctly and salient than I ever could.

As for those eggs – YUM. I always put cream cheese in my scrambled eggs, but I think I’ll try mayo the next time I get a hankerin’.

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 31, 2012 at 12:57 am

I’ve never tried cream cheese! It’s on my to-try list now! Hope you love the mayo tang/creaminess!

Thanks, Amber. I think the IACP shut down comments to direct them instead to its response article — or did they shut them down there, too? Discussion got pretty vehement! I just knew I had to leave that forum and compose my thoughts. It took a bit, but I feel better now that it’s all out there. I’m so glad they resonate with you!!

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Amber | Bluebonnets & Brownies May 31, 2012 at 2:30 pm

Julie,

The site definitely broke, because the comment form was still there. If you commented and subscribed to responses, you would get emails with new commenter’s posts, but they never appeared on the site.

Later, Kat Flinn posted to the IACP response stating that they were trying to pull all those responses over to it, but having trouble. I think it just made a bad situation worse, because people were physically able to comment, but then that comment never appeared. It looked like IACP purposely shut them down, when in reality it was a technical fault.

It’s what those of us of a geeky persuasion like to refer to as a “clusterf*ck”. :)

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 31, 2012 at 2:40 pm

Oh my gosh! WHAT a situation! I didn’t even realize that had happened. I’m betting there was considerable frustrating involved with that.

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Kathy Walton May 31, 2012 at 1:02 am
Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 31, 2012 at 1:06 am

I just saw it earlier today, Kathy, and was so bowled over! Isn’t that so neat?! Couldn’t believe the mention. Thanks so much for sharing my excitement :D

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LeAndra May 31, 2012 at 1:24 am

Wonderfully written, and for me, timely. It was just one year ago tomorrow that I sat down to write my first blog post. The biggest obstacle I put in front of myself was my lack of “credentials.” I liked to bake on the weekends, and I didn’t even own a digital camera, so why should anyone read a blog I wrote about baking?

What I learned is what you so eloquently wrote above. People relate to authenticity, whether that comes from a culinary professional or a self-trained cook. I chose to focus my blog on baking because I had a desire to write. The enjoyment I received from dabbling in the kitchen just happened to translate to a readily available topic relevant to all.

Nothing is more frustrating than to spend hours of my free time on a recipe that does not turn out as I had hoped, though oftentimes, I’ll still post those recipes. I don’t post my ugly dishes in an attempt to delude a reader into thinking I’m a great baker. I know readers can see right through that nonsense. I post the ugly because they were the results of real experience.

I haven’t surveyed the few readers of my blog who aren’t bound to me by blood or some other sort of personal obligation. But if I did, I’d bet they’d say they continue to read not because I develop brilliant recipes, but because I’m just a real person trying to figure things out.

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 31, 2012 at 2:09 am

Love your thoughts, LeAndra, and your lovely blog and honest writing. Thanks so much for sharing!

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Fred Rickson May 31, 2012 at 1:26 am

Julie…..no, not typos as we all do those (typing on this iPad is killing me), or style as every author has a style which we mostly expect or are disappointed, rather an emptiness of original ideas or methods. When there are no ideas, we find the blog telling us what happened to “the kids and I” this weekend. We cooked!!!!……who cares, as most of us cooked this weekend. Look, food is to examined, played with, ruined by a new effort, and even culturally mashed-up into something different and enjoyable. I want to read a food blog not a personal life diary…….I really don’t care about your day (although I do hope it went well), I care about your food and what ideas you have to offer. As I said before, anything else is drivel. I worked throughout Asia, from Bornio to India, for 40 years and the one food constant I found was that a dish had to always be the same as the last 100 years, plus grandma and mother. So, what your life is up to is boring, new food is not.

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 31, 2012 at 2:08 am

Wow, Fred. All I can say is we’re reading VERY different blogs. For instance, almost 100% of my recipes at this point are original — the result of examining, playing with, and mashing up foods. I hardly ever simply write about “my day” — but I actually love reading blogs of all types, including journal-type blogs.

In short, I think you’re really missing what blogs are about. So many of them are writing thoughtful, well-written anecdotes and articles. So many of them are creating original, exciting recipes. I encourage you to take a look around :) My link section (“Others” on the left sidebar) is a great place to start.

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trisha May 31, 2012 at 4:19 am

I am professionally a mom blogger but casually a food sharing blogger….I always find it interesting that others try to dictate rules that blogs are supposed to follow. A blog is simply that…a ” web log”. It can be ANYTHING the writer wants. Hello Kitty socks today and How to grow a garden tommorow.

Just find what suits you, but for all that is holy, I wish people would stop trying to put blogging genres into boxes of do’s and dont’s.

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Miss @ Miss in the Kitchen May 31, 2012 at 2:25 am

Well put! Love the eggs, I’m sure they are every bit as tasty as they look.

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 31, 2012 at 2:37 am

Thank you! :)

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trisha May 31, 2012 at 4:13 am

I just wanted to say I cant wait to try this!

trisha

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 31, 2012 at 4:14 am

Hope you enjoy, Trisha!

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Jenny @ BAKE May 31, 2012 at 10:55 am

here here! I completely agree with you! That recipe look insanely good too!

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 31, 2012 at 8:49 pm

Thanks, Jenny!

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TidyMom May 31, 2012 at 1:18 pm

you verbalized every thought in my head!! this post is fabulous!!

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 31, 2012 at 1:28 pm

Thanks, Cheryl!

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brandi May 31, 2012 at 2:02 pm

love this, Julie. well said!

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 31, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Thank you, Brandi!

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Kim - Liv Life May 31, 2012 at 3:19 pm

First of all…those eggs look fabulous!! The addition of the cream would make my morning breakfast a treat from the start while the garlic puts these babies in to the must try category!
And Secondly, your post represents food bloggers wonderfully. Well done!

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 31, 2012 at 3:23 pm

Thank you, Kim!!

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Nell May 31, 2012 at 4:49 pm

How ridiculous! I love my food bloggers and trust them far more implicitly than the cookbook because they give me an experience of cooking alongside me. Keep up the great work!!

And I’m a natural mommy blogger–the parallel implication of this article would be that because I only have two children and don’t have a PhD in Birth, Babies, Parenting, Food, and Gardening, I shouldn’t be relied upon as proffering a valid opinion. Ridiculous!

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 31, 2012 at 7:42 pm

That’s a great analogy, Nell! I agree.

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Kaity P. May 31, 2012 at 5:38 pm

Hi Julie,
I can see why the NYT is taking note of your blog, that was an excellent post. I think that the message of what you’re saying applies to many areas where “professionals” feel threatened by “amateurs” who have not paid their dues. Although you’re addressing the “fancy official cooking people-ness” (I LOVE that line, by the way), there are also “fancy official writing people-ness,” “fancy official crafty people-ness,” “fancy official mom-ness,” “fancy official smart people-ness,” and the list goes on and on. These folks will have you thinking that your legitimacy comes from them or from some all knowing accrediting body within their field and that is not the case.

Keep up the good work… one day I when I’m not so intimidated by the pretty pictures and the long line of ingredients I’m going to try one of your dessert recipes…

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 31, 2012 at 7:44 pm

Thanks so much, Kaity, and what a well-written point (as always). This is not just a food industry problem, it’s a snobbery problem, period. I actually get the very real concern about jobs, but then when you step back and analyze the situation, the solution is NOT to act like some people are somehow objectively more qualified to cook/share food than others. Everyone has different talents and skill levels, but there’s not a cutoff for being able to join the conversation, nor should there be.

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 31, 2012 at 7:44 pm

P.S. I think you should try a recipe for sure! You’d be surprised how easy plenty of them are ;) Then there are a few challenges thrown in as well, of course…

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June g. May 31, 2012 at 8:26 pm

I’d much rather get my recipes from a food blogger (most) ;) tried and true from a home cook than some foo foo shi shi culinary expert:)

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking May 31, 2012 at 8:50 pm

Thanks, June! I love the experts too, but for different things. I really think everyone can find their niche — and even get paid for it too, hopefully — if we can be a little nicer to each other. Food is a huge industry and after all, everyone eats!

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Dan June 1, 2012 at 12:46 am

What a great Defense! And well thought out and written too.

The argument by culinary professionals reminds me of a couple of things I observed in the past. The first was the rise of “desktop publishing,” which directly threatened the printing industry. I worked the DTP and digital graphic design side of the business in the late 1980s-early 1990s, and some of our dealing with printing houses were… ugly. We were faster, cheaper and non-unionized (Guild) and relations were poor. But the new way of publishing was here to stay, and those printers who embraced the digital side of consumer production (see VistaPrint for just one current example) succeeded and expanded.

The second threat came from high-quality consumer digital cameras. No longer did one need to go to a mall portrait company, or hire a professional wedding photographer. The quality of images made by Jane and Joe Blows (and once in a blue moon, even by me) cut into a territory controlled by trained/experienced professionals. Pro photographers still survive, but cannot be certain they dominate the market now or in the future. Successful ones now embrace the same techniques and procedures I do (albeit with wildly expensive gear, of course).

I guess there’s a third: photography, in its infancy, threatened the art industry (though photography eventually became its own form of art to be later threatened).

If culinary professionals see food bloggers as a threat — or an insurgency — it serves them right. For all the chops a Batali had to go through to get to a widely-watched TV show, it doesn’t take away from the fact that Batali makes a ton of dosh from TV, books and appearances; or that he obviously prefers the celebrity chef circuit to the restaurant kitchen nightly circuit. Who wouldn’t? But for that famous chef industry — the TV shows where someone is introduced one year, gets a show the second year, and is presented as a “senior judge” on another show the third year, I say no thanks. That industry is bland, packaged, pre-processed and exceedingly dull. As a consumer, I like the Ft Lauderdale retired admin assistant who has an RV with her hubby and puts a picture of her own kitchen on her blog, and then blogs about whatever recipe is on her counter. It’s higher quality (OK, maybe not the photos), honestly written with no thought of a bottom line, and I don’t expect or need to see her in three years on a pre-formatted “cooking” show as a senior expert on Korean pork belly chigae, or whatever.

PS: Food Network and Cooking Channel presentations are so off these days I don’t bother much, because you really can’t learn much from them, due to the rapid transitions, recipes that you can see the cooks not always adhering to, the need for incessant chatter, the kicky music that doesn’t always fit, the requisite O-Face when the cooks eat their own food at the end, and an endless parade of perky people you don’t know and at the end might well not want to have in your poor, insufficient food blogger’s kitchen.

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking June 1, 2012 at 3:00 pm

LOL, very succinctly said!

I have sympathies for the print industry right now (my wonderful dad has been a pressman his whole life and is currently a pressroom manager, and it’s a scary time for everyone in the industry.) I believe there’s room for that in the world and love the art — and I don’t want to “steal” anyone’s job. But I truly believe there’s no reason to think a blogger is undermining a pro chef’s job. We fill very different roles. Answer the rebuttal that companies are coming to us for roles previously held by pros, all I can say is that I think that’s a natural shift as we progress and that I hope they’re being thoughtful about their company’s goals. I know I’m being thoughtful about mine.

There’s always this tension, as you mention, between progress and the jobs people have trained and settled into over time.

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Adrienne @ How to Ice a Cake June 1, 2012 at 1:58 am

Love this! I couldn’t believe that article when I first read it. But I guess we’re all entitled to our opinions. I don’t really get paid a dime for my blog, but I still love to do it. Maybe some day it will turn into more, but like you said these blogs present an opportunity to spread food traditions and ideas. Isn’t that what everyone in the culinary world should be supporting? Isn’t it better that we’re out here cooking instead of popping open a package of ramen? Just saying.

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking June 1, 2012 at 3:00 pm

I agree — and I think there’s room for all of our unique voices!

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Jennie June 1, 2012 at 12:28 pm

Great post Julie. And you probably already know this but Julia Moskin also called this out as a good read in the NY Times the other day – very cool!
http://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/30/what-were-reading-446/

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking June 1, 2012 at 3:02 pm

Thanks, Jennie! I was so excited to see that NYT mention! So grateful for Julia Moskin for it. :)

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Elizabeth @Mango_Queen June 2, 2012 at 4:00 pm

Thanks for coming to our defense. Bloggers defending bloggers. Now that’s a great line, but who else will do it? You just made me feel much better about myself, my homemade recipes, my efforts to share what I learned from my late mom, my attempts to be a better mom and overall, my cooking and writing. And throw in the attempts at food photography in on my makeshift “studio” a.k.a. dining table by the good window. You are so right on all counts. We are real, we are genuine and it comes through on each blog post. I’d like to think something good will come out of all this “friction”. Perhaps, as bloggers, we’ll all try harder and at the end of the day, we’ll all sit down to better food, better blog posts. And thanks for the eggs- a l’ Oignon recipe. It left me with a warm, fuzzy feeling :-) Cheers!

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking June 5, 2012 at 2:50 am

Thanks so much, Elizabeth!! I agree that we can use this unfavorable critique as motivation instead of discouragement!

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ace @ the toasted sprinkle June 13, 2012 at 9:21 pm

Thank you so so much for this response. I read Riley’s opinion piece and was really surprised that IACP hosted it. I’ve been to a few of their lectures while in grad school and as a total fledgling blogger I was really hurt by what she said; not to mention stunned that IACP gave her that forum. And the way I see it, any home cooking is good cooking. No need to get all judgy, this stuff is supposed to be comfort food. She needs to pull that stick out of her butt and lighten up.

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking June 13, 2012 at 11:11 pm

Thanks, Ace! I was glad the IACP posted it, actually, because I have the feeling for every 1 or 2 people getting quoted in news outlets or writing articles invalidating food bloggers, plenty more were thinking the same things — best to get it out there and address it appropriately, I think. Free discourse, and all that. But it certainly (obviously) rubbed me the wrong way!

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Susan in the Boonies June 21, 2012 at 12:28 pm

Ooooooooh! Right on, sistah!
GREAT article! Thoughtfully written, well presented defense.

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking June 23, 2012 at 3:48 am

Thank you, Susan!!

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Sophia June 23, 2012 at 3:36 pm

Hi,

I just stumbled upon your blog and loved this article. I was shocked when I read what A.A. Gill had to say about food bloggers (it actually hurt a little given how much I love his writing!) and the story seems to go on and on and on.

I completely agree with you that there is definitely a space for foodbloggers out there and
I echo your thoughts that you cannot label all foodbloggers the same way – plent are culinary professionals, plenty would like to be culinary professionals and a blog lets them experiment with that world in a risk-free way, and plenty are not. And all have an equal right to blog about food. I know that when I look at a blog I might not get a perfect recipe, but that is ok – just like cookbooks can be full of mistakes so can blogs be a little inaccurate with measurements etc. But I know that so I just make sure I check a recipe somewhere else. Besides, you can normally tell from a blog, the way it is written, the little snippets about the bloggers background etc whether to trust the recipes or not.

The most important thing for me though is that I. Love. Reading. Foodblogs. I am the biggest daydreamer in the world and food is my favourite subject matter to dream about. And foodblogs let me do just that. Read about other people’s mouthwatering creations, their trips to restaurants I have been meaning to try out etc. My Saturday morning ritual is literally to sit in a cafe, use the free wifi, dunk an almond croissant into a flat white and browse foodblogs. For me that is pure bliss. Yes I love professional foodwriters as well, whether it be Nigel Slater, A. A. Gill, Ruth Reich, you name it … But blogs are portable, they are full of pictures and they tell stories about real people, not stories about meals in restaurants I cannot afford to go to (let alone three times to make sure my review of the restaurant is accurate and I didn’t go there on an “off” nite.

Although this turned into a bit of a rant, all I really wanted to say is that I love love love foodblogs. Reading them has brought me so much joy, has expanded my horizons in so many ways (getting to know new ingredients I am too proud to admit are new to me, new restaurants I am dying to try, even if they are halfway across the globe and to know that I am not alone in my passion for all things food, even if I am not a culinary professional I am certainly professionally passionate about all culinary things)!

All the best

Sophia

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Christophine June 25, 2012 at 8:23 am

I’ve been reading your blog for some time – ever since you first posted in the LiveJournal cooking community, where I’ve been a member for years. I love your pictures, the stories you share, and your recipes. I love your creativity, inventiveness, and the warmth and, well, human-ness, that shine through your writing.

I meant to reply to this sooner, but at the time you first posted this I was far too full of ire after reading the opinion piece you linked. I’d much rather be coherent than full of froth. Then life got away from me for a while, as it seems to sometimes.

One of the things that bothered me most about that opinion piece is the assumption that you absolutely must have had formal training and work in what she considers some kind of legitimate field within the culinary milieu. I may not have cooked for a restaurant or graduated from culinary academy, but I would say that I have as much experience with cooking as many professionals, and more than some. I started learning to cook when I was in the single digits. I cooked my first family dinner (nothing fancy, just nice medium-rare garlic steaks, baked potatoes, and steamed broccoli with lemon and sunflower seeds) at the age of 7. A couple years later, my mom was in a car accident and was laid up for a month with a compound fracture. My dad left for his job at 6 in the morning and didn’t get back home until midnight. I took over cooking the family dinner. That’s when I began inventing my own recipes.

I have been cooking for 36 years, and coming up with my own recipes for 34 years. My experience with cooking alone is longer than some of these professionals’ *lives*. I’m not the only one among home cooks of which this is true, not by a long shot. Yeah, we home cooks and/or food bloggers may not know all the protocols for, say, working a restaurant kitchen and turning out dishes for a steady stream of customers at high speed. But on the other hand, when we share recipes we’ve invented or inspired us, we’re not *trying* to cook like an executive chef or come up with things for inclusion on some fancy menu. So why judge home cooks and food bloggers on a basis for which they are not even aiming?

My father was the chef/owner of a Mexican restaurant. My mother did not work in any culinary field, but was an enthusiastic home cook who specialized in French cuisine, and I have yet to eat at any French restaurant that produced anything better than what she made. Once in a while I’ll find something as good, but not better. I myself specialized in Chinese cuisines, particularly Szechuan and Hunan, 20 years ago and have been told repeatedly by those who’ve tried them that my dishes are better than almost anything they’ve had in a restaurant. But the amount of experience I have, and those like me have, is somehow lesser because we didn’t have formal training? No, wrong. Experience is experience, no matter how you come by it.

And I can see from your recipes that you certainly have experience, no matter how much things like that opinion piece try to devalue it. Wonderful experience, which generally makes my mouth water just from reading your recipes. Don’t let the small-minded, fearful, and arrogant put a damper on your cooking or your spirit. They are both far too fabulous for that.

/long-winded rant

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Kay January 16, 2013 at 6:45 am

I wholeheartedly agree with everything you expressed. I love to read food blogs. If I’m looking for a recipe, I look through some of my favorite blogs just as much as I look through “paid” sites. I also love reading the comments to find out what kinds of changes others are making to the original recipe.

And I look forward to trying your eggs. I don’t really care for mayo, but will try it. I’m trying to eat low carb right now, and this will fit right into my menu.

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Laura October 18, 2013 at 1:42 am

Late to the party but I LOVED this post!

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