Thursday, February 22, 2007

Why, Oh Why

So I thought I'd done my daily post, and that would be that. Then I was over on Recipezaar looking for a couple things, and something really annoyed me. When I look up recipes there, I love to read the reviews of recipes. I can learn what other people liked or didn't like about a particular recipe before I take it on myself. But then there are the people who substitute so many ingredients that the finished dish doesn't resemble the original in any form... and then they give the recipe a poor review! What is that!?

As an example, I was looking at an Italian Sausage soup-simple and basic, but one I've made and it is quite good. Well, one of the reviewers says "I didn't have Italian Sausage, so I used ground turkey. And I reduced the salt because we're watching our salt, and we don't really like spinach, so instead I used some sliced carrots. Oh, and we left off the Parmesan cheese on top. This was a really bland and boring soup, we won't be making it again." What?? You replaced a major flavor component of the soup (Italian sausage) with boring and flavorless ground turkey, reduced other flavor components (salt and cheese) and eliminated the spinach, and you're surprised the soup didn't turn out!!!!??? Shame on them for giving a great recipe a poor review.

Now, I'm all for substitutions when they make sense and you know what you are doing. Cooking, after all, means tailoring a recipe to you and your families preferences. But first of all to bash someone else's recipe because you made too many changes (And poor ones at that) is just plain rude. And secondly, you can't just randomly swap out ingredients in a recipe. The worst offenders are bakers. Baking is a science. Chemistry happens during the baking process. And any professional will tell you that even changing an ingredient by a teaspoon will alter the finished product. So why would someone eliminate sugar from a quick bread and use honey? And replace the eggs with yogurt, and then also eliminate the butter in favor of applesauce? You can't make all those changes and expect goodness to come out of the oven. If you want a sugar-free, reduced fat recipe for banana bread, you need to find a specific recipe or create your own.

Sugar is the biggest victim of substitutions.

So many people have come to think that sugar is the big bad evil. And it is, if you sit down with a bag and a spoon and eat it like cereal. But one dessert or quick bread a week made with real sugar is not going to shave years off your life. (And please note, that I am not speaking to those who, for medical reasons, should avoid sweets at all costs.) Sugar has a place in cakes and cookies and quickbreads- and it's so much more than just adding sweetness. Eliminating the sugar and using an artificial sweetener, honey, or sucanat is not going to produce a favorable product. It just isn't. You need a specific recipe for that, and if you are up to the challenge, work on developing one, just know that it is going to take a bit of time, and plenty of trial and error. But please don't mess with someone else's recipe and then tell them that their recipe isn't any good. As Captain Hook would say, that's bad form.


Anonymous said...

LOVE the post! I agree. This is one thing that really makes me mad also. I see it so many times where people make so many changes it doesn't resemble the original recipe that they then trash. Get a clue people.

Erika said...

Thanks anonymous!