Today I wanted to do a different kind of post.
Since beginning Go Eat and Repeat in December of last year, I have had the opportunity to learn A TON about food and about food blogging. I started the site sort of on a whim to keep me busy doing something that I really was passionate about. Little did I know how much truly went into it. From forming and creating a website, to learning best practices with cooking, my knowledge has expanded significantly to this day. I also compare myself to more established food bloggers and can only imagine the wealth of knowledge and skill they possess in their craft.
The truth is that it isn’t all fun and games. It is a lot of work to maintain an active website. There are days when you simply cannot get a dish to look good on camera. There are days where every recipe you test just seems to fail. And then there are days where you just don’t feel like doing it.
What prompted this post was a series of unsuccessful recipe testing days. I spent all day Wednesday and Thursday this week testing recipes which ended up failing miserably. There is nothing more frustrating to me than putting in all that effort and getting no blog post in return.
The positive is that I can say that even through those failures I have learned new things about cooking. Be it about freshness or balancing ingredients, there is something to learn from every failure.
Therefore, in light of the failures I’ve been experiencing the last few days, I wanted to share 5 things I have learned from testing and failing at recipes. My hope is that these tips help you to become a better cook and help us all learn from one another.
1. Start small, test small
One thing that frustrates me is that after whipping together a whole batch of cupcakes, they all end up tasting horribly due to some mistake or the other. It’s annoying because I spent all that time making all of that food, and having to waste all of those ingredients, and therefore money, on a failed product. To help alleviate this, I have been in the practice of testing a recipe by making a half batch. If I am not sure how it will turn out, I do this to save myself time, money, and ingredients. After several failed dishes, and several emergency runs to the store, I learned my lesson.
2. If something sounds wrong, it probably is
I can’t tell you the number of times I was cooking and thought to myself, “Gee, that seems like a lot of [insert ingredient].” Then, of course, when I taste the dish for flavor the taste of that ingredient is way too overpowering. I get into this problem a lot with soy sauce. It is easy to get carried away with it and end up with a dish that is salty beyond belief. I wish in those times I had the foresight to add a little at a time until it reached a good flavor. So, try adding ingredients in small batches if you question them first. Oh, and be careful with soy sauce.
3. The breading trinity is holy for a reason
When I refer to the holy trinity of breading I mean flour, egg, and breadcrumbs/panko. I have found that this leads to the best crispy topping that will not flake off. When testing the recipe for Bang Bang Shrimp, I initially only coated the shrimp in eggs and panko. When I went to toss the shrimp in the sauce, however, all of the coating fell off! When I redid it with flour, the coating stayed on just fine. Because of this, I will rarely deviate from those three when I bread something.
4. Two parts cheese, one part milk
I am a mac and cheese fiend. I’ve been blogging for about 6 months now and already have two mac and cheese recipes! When I was first testing my recipes, however, they were coming out horribly! After a while, I realized it was because my milk/cheese ratio was off. Instead of being nice and cheesy, my noodles just tasted like warm milk! Therefore I learned that in a good mac and cheese, I love two parts cheese to one part milk. My favorite cheeses to use? Velveeta, sharp cheddar, or a store-bought mac and cheese blend.
5. Stayin’ alive
Yeast. Just this week I learned how important it is, when baking bread, to have fresh yeast. I made my dough and set it aside to rise. One hour went by, nothing. Two hours went by. Nothing. The reason? Dead yeast. If your yeast is old or stored in an environment that was too warm, the yeast will die. Make sure to take care of it.
I hope you were able to get some helpful information from this post. Although frustrating, we are now all the wiser for it!