Recipes often call for a cup of a vegetable. Vegetables don’t come in cups.
When I first started cooking for myself freshman fall, I didn’t know which recipes to try. I didn’t want to buy a vegetable, only use a fraction of it, and then throw the rest away. Rounding up to the nearest whole unit required extensive research: How many potatoes are in a cup? How many medium potatoes are in a pound? How big is a medium potato even?
Recipes also call for loads of spices. If I actually followed recipes for every dish I make, my cabinets would overflow with containers: apple pie spice and pumpkin pie spice, hot curry powder and mild curry powder, onion powder and onion flakes.
To avoid buying tons of ingredients and to use up the ones I already had on hand, I feverishly looked up how to modify recipes by scrolling through comment sections and scanning multiple sources. Unfortunately, research took a while for each new recipe I tried.
Tired of having to constantly look up recipes, I decided to start a food blog, FoodParsed, so that I could keep track of the recipes I use and offer more flexibility with the ingredients.
It took me a while to learn which modifications would be OK. Rounding to the nearest cup of flour results in cookie rocks. Rounding to the nearest potato makes it so much easier to buy groceries and make a dish.
In the process of experimenting, I messed up quite a few dishes; I once forgot to add oil to chocolate cake, and I undercooked potatoes for African peanut stew. Fortunately, the results were still fairly tasty, so I fed them to my floormates who never turn down free food. Unlike most food bloggers, I always include these sad anecdotes of rubbery cakes and crunchy raw potatoes for entertainment and education.
I hope that through sharing these stories I can help people become better cooks. My favorite thing about blogging, though? Hearing back from my readers. The first time somebody left a nice comment on my blog, I told all of my friends and started jumping up and down my hall.
However, don’t get me wrong. I don’t have nearly enough readers to make a profit: my blog made two dollars of ad revenue in the month of October. I paid far more than that for hosting and a blog theme, but the freedom to write content and the joy of blogging are priceless.
Even if my blog never becomes mega popular, I have already paid blog hosting for three years, so you can rest assured that I’ll be sticking with this venture and rounding up recipes for years to come.
Elaine Lin is a member of the Class of 2018.