I'm a little under the weather today, so I'm cashing in my last free post card and referring you to a short piece I wrote for the alumni advice column of my college magazine. I described the process I use to write recipes; you may find this helpful if you want to record old family favorites, submit recipes for publication, or incorporate more recipes into your own food blog. If you're already expert at writing recipes, what are your tricks, and what advice have I left out? The original piece is here (scroll down about halfway), but I've cut and pasted it below:
Writing Your Own Recipes
Share Your Kitchen Creativity with Confidence
With the growing popularity of food blogs and forums, opportunities abound for creative home cooks to share their recipes online. These steps will ensure that readers can reliably reproduce your signature dishes in their own kitchens:
Prepare the dish yourself. Keep a pencil handy to list ingredients, record procedures, and note cooking times. Number the steps and indicate any that occur simultaneously. Don’t overlook preparatory steps like greasing cookie sheets; jot down a reminder to include these at the beginning of the recipe or during a waiting period while vegetables marinate or dough chills.
Make writerly decisions early on. Will your tone will be chatty or matter-of-fact? Will you spell out or abbreviate words like teaspoon and tablespoon? Be consistent. Use frequent paragraph breaks and numbered lists to help readers orient themselves in the text.
Be precise. There’s a difference between “2 cups of walnuts, chopped” and “2 cups of chopped walnuts.” Use specific measures, rather than “a pinch” or “a dash.” If your recipe calls for chopped, sliced, or minced ingredients, list the size and number of items to be used, not just the measured amounts needed—for example, “1 cup sliced carrots (2 large)”— so readers will know how much to buy.
Describe how the food should look, smell, and feel. Don’t just say “saute the onions.” Instead, say “saute the onions for 3-4 minutes over medium heat, until they become fragrant and turn golden.”
Go easy on the dishwasher. If groups of ingredients are to be prepared separately and later combined, avoid dirtying extra bowls and pots. If dry ingredients should be mixed in a large, deep bowl to allow room for liquid ingredients later, say so.
Prepare the dish yourself—again. Follow your own recipe step by step, and make corrections as needed.