A Question for You About Recipes

June 25th, 2011 · 122 Comments · Uncategorized

Which recipe style do you like better?

RECIPE STYLE 1: Conventional The style most magazines and cookbooks go with where all ingredients written in a list before the instructions. Like this delicious looking tagliatelle I will be making soon.

OR

RECIPE STYLE 2: Casual Ingredients are integrated with instruction using casual estimates for measurements (“a handful of walnuts” or “a few glugs of olive oil” or “a big heaping spoonful of Dijon”). Like this recipe for easy shrimp tacos (and like 95% of recipes that appear on DALS.)

I’m torn. The dinner diarist in me gets comfort from seeing a clear list and exact plan and everything in order. But sometimes, I feel like it can have the opposite effect. A long list of ingredients can scare me off. And I worry that being so exact about measurements makes readers less likely to improvise, i.e. less likely to learn and experiment and, ultimately, feel confident. That’s why I usually write in Recipe Style 2. But I could see that this might alienate people would rather be told exactly what to do and how to do it.

Anyway, I would love to hear your thoughts — beginning cooks are especially welcome — even if it’s just a quick comment below voting for “Casual” or “Conventional.”  Thanks!

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122 responses so far ↓

  • 1 DeeDee // Jun 25, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    I like both. I know, not helpful. If it’s something flexible – tacos, grilling, pasta sauce then casual all the way! However, if it’s something that needs to have a specific recipe – cookies, pie crust – then I like the conventional format.

  • 2 Amy // Jun 25, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    I prefer style one. I find it a bit more difficult to scan through a recipe to see what ingredients I need and I think it’s just hard to adjust my brain when I’m more used to seeing a traditional format.

  • 3 juliana // Jun 25, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    Casual (in the way that you do it) unless the recipe has a lot of ingredients, then I think conventional is easier to process/plan for.

  • 4 Kelly // Jun 25, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    Oh, casual all the way, unless it’s baking. I come to be inspired, and I never cook from recipes. Besides, multiple food allergies in this family combined with persnickety preschooler means I almost always need to adjust something anyway…

  • 5 katie // Jun 25, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    i prefer the conventional… it makes it easier for me to see if i’ve got what i need in the house already, or if there are ingredients i can’t use (gluten, sighhhh!)

  • 6 Jenny // Jun 25, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    Oh, DeeDee! Thank you for bringing that up. I’m strictly referring to cooking — not baking. For baking I need everything laid out exactly or it’s 100% guaranteed to be a disaster. At least in my kitchen.
    Thanks Julie, Amy, Juliana, too.

  • 7 Sarah // Jun 25, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    I agree with Juliana, keep is casual for a basic list of ingredients, but if its a longer list, and if the correct measurements might make a difference (ie for a sauce to thicken, or dough to rise, etc.), then style #1 is the way to go.

    I think you guys strike a great balance in the way that you blend the two styles as needed. But thanks for thinking of your readers!

  • 8 Aleisha // Jun 25, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    Why not marry the two?…Provide a list of main ingredients so one does not have to scour the directions for them when creating a shopping list or digging through cupboards and then keep everything else casual (i.e. directions, amounts, etc.).

  • 9 Mary Leonard // Jun 25, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    We don’t mind references to “handfuls” or “glugs”, but a list at the top for the ingredients is essential for preparation. Who wants to find out mid meal making that she has to run out to the store?

  • 10 alison // Jun 25, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    I’m pro-casual no matter what the recipe – Joy of Cooking formats in a sort of hybrid casual/conventional style that I find very easy to follow as well.

  • 11 Mindy // Jun 25, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    Count another vote here for casual…with the ingredients in bold! Just feels more doable, friendly than conventional.

  • 12 Jenni // Jun 25, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    I like to read a recipe in the more casual style, but when it comes to actually sitting down and making a grocery list or pulling the recipe out to cook, I love having a handy list of ingredients.

    Could you try a hybrid of the two? Say, a list of ingredients, then the instructions in a more casual, narrative style referring back to the ingredients with bolded characters for ease of use.

  • 13 Melissa // Jun 25, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    I think it depends on the recipe. If it’s something that will benefit from some improvisation, then definitely the casual style. If it is something that must, must, must be followed to a T, then Conventional.

  • 14 shannon // Jun 25, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    I prefer the more conventional method. Its easier to check off my ingredients before making the grocery list. I’ve also started using a website to track my recipes, meal plan it works so much better with conventionally formated recipes.

    I love the idea of a hybrid though, like Jenni suggested.

  • 15 MemeGRL // Jun 25, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    Jenni beat me to it. In need all the ingredients at the start or I get to the fourth line and have to abort for lack of critical ingredient or confidence to fake it.

  • 16 Caitlin // Jun 25, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    While I agree that both have their advantages, I personally prefer the “conventional” method. I like being able to scan the ingredient list and know instantly what I have on hand, as well as what I need to go and purchase, and then being able to get everything out and ready!

  • 17 Amy // Jun 25, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    I prefer the more conventional method for most recipes. It ensures my shopping list is complete and when I am prepping I can assemble all ingredients without reading and re-reading the entire recipe.

    All that said, there are certain recipes which have so few ingredients and which require less rigidity in proportions. In such case, I think the latter choice works well.

    Clear as mud?

  • 18 Sophie // Jun 25, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    CASUAL!
    I’ve never commented before, but I feel very strongly about this one.

    I hate measurements. That’s why I don’t sew. And rarely bake. For me, having to measure everything out can turn a fun and creative process into an extremely frustrating one.

    I tend to use recipes as inspiration, not instructions. I like to be able to read through a recipe and know generally how to make something. So somewhere floating around in my head are the ideas that you can coat cheese with olive oil and grill it, that asparagus plus a bit of oil and dijon makes a tasty and unusual dip, and that chard might actually taste good if I add white balsamic and horseradish. But I’d rather not ever have to go back to the recipe and write down exactly how much of which ingredients I need, and spend my cooking time running back and forth from the computer to the counter.

    I find it much easier to absorb recipes that are casually summarized in a few sentences than those that are laid out piece by piece, step by step in the conventional way.

    But a hybrid version people are suggesting sounds like a good compromise, since we all have different preferences.

  • 19 kristy // Jun 25, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    I’m a middle of the road gal. Sometimes I like conventional methods, especially the first time I make something. But after that, I’m totally casual.

  • 20 Alison // Jun 25, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    I’m pro casual – BUT like to know what I need before I start (and might miss it if it’s not in some sort of list – heck I sometimes miss things in a list!). :-)

  • 21 Candice // Jun 25, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    Conventional. I have to be able to read succinctly what I’ll need to have on hand.

  • 22 Christina // Jun 25, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    Casual Casual Casual! But I am an experienced cook, and I hate measuring. Unless of course I’m baking… actually not even then. Keep it casual.

  • 23 Heidi // Jun 25, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    Conventional. So much easier to decipher if I have something on hand. Although I don’t mind a list of ingredients like glug of olive oil either!

  • 24 ms.v. // Jun 25, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    Casual. I’m more likely to follow a recipe if it seems like you told me how to do it from your head. Something I could memorize and make myself frequently.

  • 25 Melissa@Julia's Bookbag // Jun 25, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    I’m a conventional type o’ gal — (and I like to bake) — I like to see everything laid out so I1 can sweep the recipe at a glance and see what’s going on and what I’ll need before I get going on it ….

  • 26 Jen // Jun 25, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    I’m with the hybrid voters– a list of the ingredients at the beginning, but a casual style. That way I know if I have everything, but I’m perfectly happy throwing in glugs, handfuls and pinches.

  • 27 Michelle // Jun 25, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    Casual — in fact, one of my favorite posts of yours was when you showed the photo of chicken with brussels sprouts and challenged us to figure out how to make it. My husband and I love that dish and make it all the time now!

  • 28 Ariel // Jun 25, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    I prefer baking to cooking and maybe that’s why I prefer conventional to casual. I just like to know how much of everything I need. But I am also a die-hard Cooks Illustrated person, so that’s probably playing a role here as well. Sadly, improvising during dinner does not happen much at my house. Lots of good things to eat, surely, but they are not improvised. They are planned to a T. (I should mention that I don’t have kids, so planning is probably much easier.)

  • 29 Mary Ann // Jun 25, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    I don’t mind casual measurements/instructions, but I like being able to scan an ingredient list to see what I need to pick up from the store.

  • 30 Mary // Jun 25, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    Jenny, I like a hybrid- the casual with a list so when I print it out it’s easier to shop for.

  • 31 Christine // Jun 25, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    Conventional for all the reasons already stated – but then notes at the beginning or end of the recipe stating where possible adjustments and variations can be made to allow for creativity. Most experienced cooks know where they can adjust/vary without having a casual style whereas most beginner cooks need direction or are intimidated by a lack of ingredients and structure.

  • 32 Lizzie // Jun 25, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    My mom always did sort of a combination between the two: on the left side, a list of ingredients and quantities in the order that they enter the process, and on the right side, brackets that list of the instructions for the recipe, indicating which ingredients are involved. Maybe not the easiest to replicate on a blog…?

  • 33 Nancy // Jun 25, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    I prefer conventional. Easier to follow, easier to shop, just…easier. :)

  • 34 Amy // Jun 25, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    Conventional – I like to see a simple list of ingredients. Makes shopping so much easier.

  • 35 Jessica // Jun 25, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    I like casually written instructions, but definitely prefer to have a seperate list of ingredients. If I have to search through paragraphs of instructions for the ingredients I always end up missing something when I go to the grocery store.

  • 36 Kate // Jun 25, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    Conventional! There is something about the casual style that actually makes me overlook ingredients; it’s happened to me more than once that I’ve gotten midway through a recipe and noticed I have none of something important or I’ve completely omitted something and only realized after the fact. I think it’s the fact that I speed/skim over written paragraphs; I love reading anything, but I do read quickly, and when it comes to a recipe, my brain has apparently been trained to register the conventional format.

  • 37 Matt // Jun 25, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    I’d say conventional. I’ve started many a casually written recipe only to find that things take MUCH longer than the casual writer cared to indicate. Then dinner’s late, and mama gets grumpy.

  • 38 Deborah C. // Jun 25, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    Conventional. I like to know what all the ingredients are and a list above the directions makes it easier for me to make sure I have everything. I agree that when they are written in casual style that I sometimes miss an ingredient.
    It’s easier on the eye too when you are looking back n’ forth from the recipe to your food prep.

  • 39 Mary // Jun 25, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    Casual!

  • 40 Chrisina // Jun 25, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    Conventional. It’s easier to scan for things I may (or may not) have or like in a recipe and the format is easier to cut and paste into my digital recipe book.

  • 41 Amanda // Jun 25, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    Conventional for me. i like directions and instructions broken out. i am more likely to screw up if its all in one paragraph.

  • 42 Jessica // Jun 25, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    Conventional or hybrid, otherwise I have to carefully read the entire recipe first, which I’d rather not have to do.

  • 43 elizabeth // Jun 25, 2011 at 5:40 pm

    A hybrid. Casual instructions with a shopping list or list of ingredients at the end or in a sidebar.

  • 44 Elizabeth // Jun 25, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    I prefer conventional. When I print your recipes, I find myself having to underline ingredients and re-read too often. I end up marking it up to add ingredients to add to my recipe book.

  • 45 Gina // Jun 25, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    I agree with some earlier comments. A little of both. If it’s a really easy recipe with just a few ingredients, I love casual. But, if it’s more involved, conventional, at the very least a list of ingredients so I don’t miss anything important when I’m shopping. Then the instructions can be more casual.

  • 46 julie // Jun 25, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    If everyday was a Saturday and I could spend my day perusing cook books and then making dinner- I would go for casual. But as a working mom who likes to try new things, even mid week, I love the conventional. I can quickly scan the ingredient list and see what I have. BTW- you blog has added a great dimension to what is served on my table. Thanks!

  • 47 Lee // Jun 25, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    Conventional for baking, where measurements usually count (maybe not so much in pies, which I never measure…). Casual for everything else. Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Essentials is our favorite cookbook precisely because of its casual style.

  • 48 Lee // Jun 25, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    I mean, of course, our SECOND favorite cookbook. Whoops.

  • 49 Michelle // Jun 25, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    I prefer casual, but that being said… most cooks who are comfortable with casual style recipes will take a traditional recipe and just toss in things anyway. I can not remember the last time I followed a recipe to a T. For this site, I would think that traditional would work better simply because you have all manner of cooks coming for ideas.

    I almost always hear from my friends that they want measurements (mostly because the vast majority of my ‘recipes’ are super casual) and they aren’t comfortable just throwing things in. It can be intimidating for people who aren’t comfortable in the kitchen to have to figure out how much of what to add.

  • 50 mek // Jun 25, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    Casual, most of the time, with ingredients in bold for pre-shopping scanning. :)

    But, I don’t find conventional off-putting, either.

  • 51 Jeanne // Jun 25, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    I like a combo. Conventional listing of ingredients merged w/ casual instructions.
    Do let us know the final preference tally please.

  • 52 Vanessa // Jun 25, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    While I appreciate conventional, casual is great because it feels more flexible. As a college student, budgets and ingredients are always limited, so casual styles make swapping something out more doable and less of a travesty of the original recipe.
    That being said, as a beginning cook, I can deal with glugs and pinches, but technical advice must be sound, ie how to tell when something is done, or I’m going to end up poisoning myself. :-)

  • 53 Susan // Jun 25, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    Combo please! I really do like the casual style but when it comes to not just reading a recipe but making a recipe I want a list of ingredients at the start so that I know what I need.

  • 54 Kathleen // Jun 25, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    I like conventional recipes–it’s hard for me to see within the recipe what I’ll need and I like it all spelled out in the beginning. And I’ve been cooking for a long time!

  • 55 Jessuca // Jun 25, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    My biggest pet peeve is when a recipe will list an ingredient once, but doesn’t note it is divided. I always dump the whole amount in and don’t realize until I need the rest! So, in that case, I guess I prefer the integrated method.

  • 56 Nina // Jun 25, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    I like the idea of marrying the two approaches too… I like the list of ingredients laid out up front to increase the likelihood that I have what I need before I start but then I love pinches/glugs/substitutions!

  • 57 karla // Jun 25, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    ok. if it’s a new recipe that i’ve never tried before i like #1….because i can take everything out or make a shopping list…it just feels more organized and not as intimidating. Also, i find that if it’s a recipe that i’m making with my kids #1 is the top choice…organized and manageable. BUT i love the feel of the casual #2 style…for recipes that i’ve been making a long time and i just need a reminder. Also, if it’s a family/friend recipe it should be casual with lots of stains.

  • 58 Laurie Young // Jun 25, 2011 at 10:28 pm

    Definitely conventional since I have the tendency to start a recipe and overlook the fact that I’m missing a major ingredient. I never follow recipes exactly, but it helps me to see the ingredients up front before I start making my own changes.

  • 59 Leah // Jun 25, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    I vote for conventional, but what I really love about DALS (and most of my favorite cookbook authors) is the inclusion of a headnote, with a little anecdote about the recipe, followed by the conventional layout. It gives things the chatty feeling inherent in the casual approach, yet provides a clear list of easily scanned ingredients. That’s a good place, too, of course, to note any possible substitutions.

  • 60 Pam // Jun 25, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    Like many others have already suggested, I best like a hybrid: casual recipe supplemented with a list of ingredients.

  • 61 Tanya // Jun 25, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    Has to be conventional – that way when I’m in a rush I can easily see what needs to be bought and can cut and paste into a list.

  • 62 Sunny // Jun 25, 2011 at 11:13 pm

    Casual because that’s what a recipe essentially boils down to anyways. When I print out a recipe with a long list of ingredients, it always makes me cringe for wasting paper and or ink.

  • 63 alyssa // Jun 26, 2011 at 12:22 am

    Conventional 100%. I have been burned too many times before by skimming non-conventionally written recipes and thinking I have everything (and enough time) and getting halfway through and realizing I don’t have enough of either. If it’s not written conventionally, I’m likely to skip it.

    That said I’m comfortable with quantities with quantities such as a glug of this or a handful of that. But I need to see all the ingredients up front.

  • 64 Ramona // Jun 26, 2011 at 6:39 am

    I like conventional when making out a grocery list, but while cooking-I’m fine with casual.

  • 65 heather // Jun 26, 2011 at 6:44 am

    I like when the instructions portion of a recipe is has a nice flow to it; like we’re talking about what to do. However, I do like the list of ingredients at the top so I can gather everything ahead of time. I find that when I use a recipe that has ingredients integrated into the instructions, I’ll miss something and not have enough time to dice four onions before they need to go in NOW! Ha. Maybe that’s just me and my twitchiness in the kitchen, though.

    Hope that helps. And by the way… porcupine meatballs was a classic my grandma made growing up!

    Cheers,

    *Heather*

  • 66 Andrea // Jun 26, 2011 at 6:48 am

    Conventional. (I’m a beginning cook.) I don’t mind it when, say, a writer says “toss a handful” or “saute in olive oil” but doesn’t say X Tbsp oil, but I do like the list and I like it clear. Would you say your TIME FOR DINNER was casual or conventional? I found that very easy and helpful as a cook (plus the photos in that were really nice).

  • 67 Jennifer // Jun 26, 2011 at 8:43 am

    Years ago I could only handle conventional recipies – then my mother-in-law (who is Vietnamese) taught me some of my husband’s favorite recipies. She does not own one single measuring spoon or cup. Those recipies were shared and recorded in the casual style and I feel such a deeper connection to her when I see them written down. I also think that those recipies are the reason we have such a great relationship!

  • 68 Darrian // Jun 26, 2011 at 9:56 am

    Conventional! I like to know at a glance what ingredients I need to have for a recipe.

  • 69 Deirdre // Jun 26, 2011 at 10:08 am

    Conventional, just for the ease of assessing if I have enough of everything.

  • 70 Tara // Jun 26, 2011 at 11:28 am

    Conventional, definitely, so I can quickly check ingredients before beginning and scan throughout to make sure I haven’t forgotten something, which I frequently have!

  • 71 Emma // Jun 26, 2011 at 11:38 am

    I think a hybrid of the two might work well. A list of ingredients up at the top (no details on quantity, just so you can quickly scan and make sure you have what you need), and then a conversational tone walking you through the details. Just like my mother did it !

  • 72 HeatherLynn // Jun 26, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    I REALLY dislike having to read the whole recipe to find out what is in it-the ingredients play the biggest part in deciding whether or not I’m going to cook the recipe, not the instructions.

    As far as the instructions themselves, casual is great for me because I am an experienced cook, but I know when I was learning additional detail was appreciated.

  • 73 30 and counting // Jun 26, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    Style #1 makes it easier to get your brain around your grocery list.

  • 74 Marykaye // Jun 26, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    Like the idea of a hybrid with a narrative but need ,sat list or I’ll definitely miss something!

  • 75 Marykaye // Jun 26, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    Like the idea of a hybrid with a narrative but need that list or I’ll definitely miss something!

  • 76 Laurie // Jun 26, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    I adore reading the fun, newsy, casual style. Could you still do it that way and just put the conventional “recipe card” at the bottom?

  • 77 Heidi // Jun 26, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    I like conventional because I findthat I often miss ingredients/steps in a casual formatl. I don’t usually follow recipes (unless I am baking) – I just use them fot inspiration. The conventional format makes it easier to grab the info I want from the recipe and be on my way to cooking.

  • 78 Jen // Jun 26, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    I think either style would work for me as long as there was a printable version available. It is helpful to have a list of ingredients up front though, to see if there is anything I’d need to shop for or don’t like and can’t easily substitute for. I don’t mind the casual style (like, throw in a handful of nuts, or a spoon or two of oil, or whatever), but I lean toward a conventional style. But then, I’m an uptight Type-A kind of person so I might not be your typical reader ;) I do think having a printable recipe would help a lot of people though.

  • 79 Rani // Jun 26, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    Both! I like scanning the list of ingredients in a traditional recipe quickly so I know if I have everything. But while cooking, I prefer your casual style. How about a casual recipe with a shopping list?

  • 80 Heather B // Jun 26, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    Conventional all the way! I’m surprised by all the votes for casual. I’m a very linear thinker, though, so conventional is just easier from an organizational standpoint (scan ingredients, easy shopping lists, etc). I can move to a more casual style once I know the recipe better, but by then its often committed to memory.

  • 81 cindy // Jun 26, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    I’m cooking for a family. Children are tugging at my leg. Conventional!

  • 82 Charissa - The Gifted Blog // Jun 26, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    On this website, I love your casual-style recipes. Measurements and techniques are helpful, but when I need to whip something up for dinner, I like when the recipe seems casual and approachable.

  • 83 Nancy @Rivertree kitchen // Jun 26, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    Mostly conventional–an occupational hazard, since I’m a freelance cookbook editor. I find it helpful to see exactly what I’ll need up front. But I do love when the cook’s voice comes through in the recipe.

  • 84 liz // Jun 26, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    I like casual, but with a list of ingredients at the beginning so I can check that I have everything. I think casual works well with a blog or mag article, but if I go to a website to search for a recipe, I prefer the traditional style. Keep up the good work!

  • 85 Michele // Jun 26, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    I am also torn. When you create recipes in your head it’s very hard to write a conventional recipe. Sometimes I’m afraid that if I approximated and someone uses my recipe exactly as written that someone could be off and they’ll be disappointed. I think for those of us who cook often and are even somewhat good at it, we are fine with casual but people new to cooking and not yet sure how to experiment are going to prefer conventional.

  • 86 mamacita // Jun 26, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    I vote for conventional. Sorry to be boring, but it’s easier to use that way.

    PS–What is up with the new security question? I WAS TOLD THERE WOULD BE NO MATH.

  • 87 Gretchen // Jun 26, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    I’m throwing my vote in with the people who want a list of ingredients up top and then casual directions to follow.

    Also, a side note, I live alone and your quick, thrown together dinners are not just for ppl with kids – the rest of us cook your dinners too (even if just the grown up version)

  • 88 megan // Jun 26, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    Conventional, because I almost always miss something key with the more casual format.

  • 89 TopCat // Jun 26, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    Well, as a new cook, I like style 1, combining both would also be nice. Since I have engineering background, I like precise, at least the first time I make the dish. Then I make notes to add a little more of this or that for my tastes. Plus, since I’m learning about seasonings and tastes, I would rather see “teaspoon” rather than “bunch” or “some” since I have way over seasoned some receipes. BTW, thanks for all the family and marriage anecdotes…you guys are hoots!

  • 90 Jenny // Jun 26, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    Thank you to everyone who weighed in. This information is extremely helpful — not just for the blog, but also for the book. I’ll let you know what I decide, but I think hybrid seems to be the way to go, or to judge each recipe on a case by case basis — some might be better suited to casual and some to conventional. Anyway, thank you!

  • 91 Mary Ann // Jun 26, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    I’m sort of for a mixed approach. If I don’t have the items all listed out at the beginning, I inherently leave something out. On the other hand, I really don’t NEED an exact measurement of everything. I generally follow a new recipe “exact” the first time, and do “about’s” after that anyway. All my mom’s best cooking was done without exact measurements, and that’s how I learned to do it, too.

  • 92 Tracy // Jun 26, 2011 at 10:44 pm

    I’m excited for your book either way! But, if this is helpful, I like the way the Everyday Food Magazine does it – there isn’t a separate list of ingredients, but the ingredients are in bold so I can easily scan the list, and the measurements are exact. I agree with TopCat that, as a new cook, I find “glub” or “handful” somewhat frustrating. Something to aspire to though…

  • 93 diana // Jun 27, 2011 at 12:21 am

    Conventional. I tend to be a little haphazard in the kitchen, careening from one thing to the next (no mise en place in my world), and I get interrupted by my kids, the realization that the compost has to go out or that I have to go pick some oregano–so I need the recipe to be written in a way that’s nice and organized. Not that I necessarily follow it as written!

  • 94 Audrey // Jun 27, 2011 at 3:19 am

    I prefer conventional for other people’s recipes. If it’s my own, I think of it in the casual style, but the first time I make someone else’s recipe, I want to get it the way they meant it to be. Then I start to fudge with it myself, so I do think of my own recipes and variations in the casual way, but getting it from someone else, I want the traditional version so I can understand your intention *and* make sure I have all the ingredients, even if I theoretically have them in my pantry…

  • 95 Kristina P-M // Jun 27, 2011 at 9:03 am

    Conventional. Big surprise there since I professionally bake :) , inflexible, rigid bakers. Pooo!

  • 96 erika // Jun 27, 2011 at 10:45 am

    I like the casual approach for readibility, but would love a shopping list with every recipe. It makes life much easier than scanning through a recipe.

  • 97 Sarah // Jun 27, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    I think it depends on the type of recipe: something that I am more likely to make for a weeknight dinner, then I prefer a casual recipe. But if it is something fancier (dinner party) or any kind of baking, then definitely a more traditional recipe.

  • 98 Chris // Jun 27, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    I can follow both types, but I prefer conventional recipes. Although for conventional style, I don’t need exact measurements listed out since I’m usually eye-balling things anyway.

  • 99 Andrea // Jun 27, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    Split decision… Simpler recipe (5-6 ingredients that you have on hand, no fancy cooking required) I vote casual… more complex ingredients or technique I vote conventional…

  • 100 Sarah S // Jun 27, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    I prefer conventional, esp. if it’s a recipe that I’ll print out or refer to later. It stinks to have to flip back and forth to figure out what you need. But casual measurements are fine…I usually adjust things to taste anyway.

  • 101 Katrina // Jun 27, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    I’m a traditionalist when it comes to recipes…I know this is terrible, but I just cannot get myself to carefully read the recipe all the way through before I begin, no matter how I try. Which usually means I end up rushing around to complete some step or other that I wasn’t anticipating, but if I get halfway through and realize there’s an ingredient I wasn’t expecting? That can mean the end of the attempt, which can be pretty crushing. So I really need to have a list of ingredients up top.

  • 102 JC // Jun 27, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    When there’s a great story attached to the recipe, I like Style 2. The story helps me to recall the recipe later on and making it feels like making my own story.
    For a more complicated recipe, though, Style 1 makes it more likely that I’ll actually attempt it.

    I think you strike a pretty good balance in the way you present the recipes on DALS.

  • 103 BreannaS // Jun 27, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    I love casual recipes because I feel like I am sitting in the cooks kitchen learning how to make the recipe.

  • 104 Jenni // Jun 27, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    I agree with #8. A list of ingredients (and rough amounts) up front, and then casual from then on, would be my ideal combo!

  • 105 Maggie // Jun 27, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    There are recipes for which the standard format makes sense, but I have to comment about this because your “casual” style was completely revolutionary for me when I first started reading your blog. I’ve been cooking for a few years but I’m terrible about skipping steps in recipes or not doing whatever required prep work was mentioned in the ingredients list. I just find the casual format to be super easy when I’m making dinner. It’s also the style that works best for me when I jot down my own versions of recipes. So I vote for casual!

  • 106 Cay // Jun 27, 2011 at 10:27 pm

    Conventional! I like to see what I’m gonna need right up front. But I still want the back (or front story!). You guys rock. You are my pretend friends and no matter how “braggy” you are, you’re welcome in Brooklyn any time.

  • 107 Nicole // Jun 27, 2011 at 10:34 pm

    While I like reading the casual style, when it actually comes to making a recipe I prefer the more conventional style recipe, at least if it involves more than 3 -4 ingredients. It’s just easier to have things prepped when there is a cut and dry ingredients list. I’m all for recipes using terms such as a handful or to taste though. So, really a combination of both!

  • 108 zee // Jun 28, 2011 at 12:08 am

    Conventional. I believe that people can always improvise after reading a detailed recipe :)

  • 109 Wendy // Jun 28, 2011 at 1:40 am

    To be honest. I fell in love with DALS when I saw a recipe called for “a few generous glugs of olive oil”. I think it’s brilliant.

  • 110 Molly // Jun 28, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    Conventional – it makes it easier to gather the ingredient before you start the recipe or make the grocery list of the items you need. I do, however, like the informal quanities (pinch, handful) when cooking.

  • 111 atroon // Jun 28, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    As long as you define the term ‘glug’ or ‘handful’ or ‘smidgen’ somewhere near the end for the control freaks, I think the casual style works best for the modern reader. The long list of ingredients works really well for mise en place, but if you can’t extract the list from the recipe, I’m not sure you have any business cooking in the first place.

  • 112 Karin // Jun 30, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    Definitely conventional. As a less experienced cook, I prefer to have “guaranteed results” before I attempt changing a recipe.

  • 113 Su // Jun 30, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    Casual! So much more fun to read. I normally skip the ingredient list anyway and wait and see how they appear in the preparation. I hate it when it says things like “mix all the dry ingredients”.

  • 114 Anna // Jun 30, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    I vote for a combo approach too. More open-ended recipes with few ingredients and a couple lines of instructions–casual with ingredients in bold.

    Longer ingredient lists–conventional.

    I like the balance you have now….

    PS: I read your newsletter, do I win the wine?

  • 115 Aileen W // Jul 1, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    The science major within me loves the first style — the ingredients are laid out beforehand like a materials list in an experiment. That way you’re prepared ahead of time! :)

    PS: I read your newsletter, do I win the wine?

  • 116 philosophotarian // Jul 5, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    For recipes with more than 5 ingredients, I do like a list so I can check against what I have/am likely to be willing to acquire. For very simple things, casual helps to get me out of my comfort zones and also helps to nudge me toward variations on common themes.

    Ideal for me? A chatty conversation about a recipe with a more conventional (even if the ingredients are simply listed without measurements) list with notes (steps I can figure out. but dice vs. slice? add a note).

    It occurs to me that I might not be making much sense.

  • 117 Melinda // Jul 6, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    I really, really dislike the casual style. It is fine if I’m just reading the recipe for fun and have no intentions of ever making it. But, for those of us who cook every day, work full time, and have a family, PLEASE do an ingredient list and amounts like in a conventional recipe. I need this so that I can a) make my grocery list and b) set out all of the ingredients before I begin cooking. It honestly saves time. I don’t find this format “unfriendly.” Rather, it is practical. And isn’t that one of the things we need when cooking?

  • 118 valerie // Jul 7, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    conventional! i prefer to be able to scan the ingredients quickly and see the steps laid out (are there 4 things to do with this recipe or 7?) and then i can jump back and forth between cooking, cleaning, watching kids and the recipe more easily.

    i have not made some of the recipes you post that look totally delicious b/c of the paragraph format.

    thanks for asking.

  • 119 Serena // Sep 10, 2011 at 10:57 pm

    I definitely prefer the first method you describe better. As someone who has only recently embraced cooking, I find I do better with exact instructions. That said, rest assured that I do tend to improvise as well, particularly if I don’t have an ingredient and don’t want to buy it.

  • 120 Brigid // Oct 6, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    I know this is ancient history by now, but it’s new to me! I prefer a mash up of the two. Or rather, a reverse of the first. When writing my own for my recipe box, I usually start with the description part and then end it with the list of ingredients since that’s almost always the way I read recipes anyway. I find it hard to absorb the ingredient list when I don’t know what I’ll be doing with it. : )

  • 121 Brigid // Oct 6, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    PS, casual measurements all the way. I don’t think I’ve ever measured olive oil in my life.

  • 122 C.M. Adams // Oct 2, 2012 at 10:59 am

    I know I’m late to this post/comment, but I am a hybrid-recipe gal: I like the LIST of ingredients laid out, but the directions CASUAL. I also like the “substitute THIS if you don’t have THAT”.

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