April Showers Bring May Flowers

I can’t believe tomorrow is May 1st already! I guess this month has just been busy, causing it to fly by.
Here are the links from this past week:

April 19-23: links

Over the past week, there was Israel Memorial Day, and Israel Independence Day, as well as Earth Day. Did you do anything special to celebrate any of these occasions? Were there any other occasions that you celebrated this past week? As always, I bring you the articles that interested me this past week:

Yummly: “Foodie Facebook” UPDATED

(This was originally posted on Apr. 21, 2010. I have updated this to reflect the changes that have been made to the site as of today, May 22, 2010.)

There is a new website that just launched today called Yummly.

It is a recipe website, which promises “The best recipes on the web in a (much) better package.”

The “FoodFinder” brings you to a recipe search page that has multiple drop down menus including selecting ingredients to be included in the recipe (or what you do not want), taste slide bars, time and price slide bars, a place for type of cuisine, nutrition, diet, and allergies information, such as calories, and fat. There is also a way to select which source your recipe comes from, including Martha Stewart and Allrecipes.

Yummly  could be compared to Blogher, a website made for women who blog, and a way to find blogs with similar interests. It could also be compared to such sites as Foodbuzz, another recipe site that also has a way to find people with similar tastes, as well as food blogs that you might want to read. These websites are great because they are easy to navigate and are easy to understand.

At first glance, Yummly looks promising, but after a while, it can get confusing and hard to use. It invites a new way to look at recipes, with the option of finding a recipe based on salty, sweet, bitter, sour, and savory. However, I am not sure who rated the recipes, but there are some “tastes” I disagree with. For example, I looked at moved the slide bar for “sour” up all the way (kept everything else in the middle) and got recipes that I think of as more “tangy” than “sour”, including recipes for potato salad and guava barbecue sauce. Maybe I am being a bit picky, but the only “taste” that they seemed to get right was “sweet” and that is only because when that slide bar is brought all the way up, I am given dessert recipes. I also did not find much difference between “sour” and “bitter”, but that could just be the lack of recipes, and will hopefully improve as more recipes get added to the website. (Though I am not sure how new recipes are added, or if you can add some of your own recipes.)

Being a baker, I am concerned with time, so I checked out that feature next. This seemed to be an accurate feature, when I slid the time bar all the way down, I got recipes that took 5 minutes at the top of the list. The price feature is a bit tricky to understand because it only shows price per serving. How many cookies is a serving? This question presented itself again, when I actually looked at the cookie recipe. The cookie recipe said serves 8. This website is great, and allows (registered) users to change the recipes as they please (removing or adding items from the ingredients list, changing quantities) but there is no indication as to how many cookies I get when the serving size is set to 8 people. I like my baking recipes to have a yield count, rather than a serving count. This might be “one 9-inch pie” or “24 cookies”.  I can then decide how many servings this gives me. This is not a problem that only applies to Yummly, I find it on the other recipe sites as well.

I am not a person generally concerned with calories or any other dietary issues (allergies, salt intake, etc.) so I did not play around with those options, but I did see one comment saying that the vegan and gluten-free recipes were not labeled properly.

You need to be a registered user to use one of the best features of the website, the way to change the recipe around to your liking (remove those nut from those cookies!) So I registered, and realized that there was a profile page. I thought “that’s right, this is supposed to be a foodie Facebook.” A place where people can share recipes and find people with similar tastes. Their “friends” are called “tastebuds”. However, as of right now, there was no way for me to find other users. There should be a way to find people that I may know that are already on Yummly, or to search for people with similar tastes and/or recipes that they have posted that I might want to try.

Yummly has a blog, that features recipes, but there was no way (except for the small print on the bottom of the screen) to get to that blog. This was also the only place where you could find more information about the Yummly team and how the website was created.

There was a place on the Yummly website (after much searching) for feedback, including adding ideas, problems, and questions, and comments. This was nice, but you needed to sign up or connect either through google (gmail), facebook, or twitter. I could not believe that a website (especially a new one) would have a feedback feature that was almost not accessible. I wanted to see exactly what the “summertime dinner” idea was, but did not seem to be able to.

Overall, I think Yummly has potential to be a great website to find recipes specific to your diet, taste, even your budget. However, there are glitches to fix, and little things to add here and there to make the site more user friendly. The “bells and whistles” are supposed to be added on May 18, so I will update this post with (hopefully) the improvements that they’ve made to make Yummly a better site.

UPDATE: I have been back on the Yummly site (as of May 22, 2010) and I have found some minor improvements.  I noticed the much needed “reset all” button for the slide bars. I also noticed a little part of the side bar that included other people that liked the recipe you clicked on and a place with similar recipes. There was also a way to share the recipe on Facebook. I also saw that there are little changes to the slide bars, under which there are words that come up as you slide them left or right. For example, in the taste section, they all start in the middle and say “no preference” but when slid all the way to the right it says “love”. Or, under the time slide bar, it says the time it takes. This helps me understand the way the recipes are rated a bit better, but I still disagree with some of that, but that is just my personal palate. I like the improvements they have made (and to see a complete list of these improvements, click here for their site update page.) I think I will try the site some time in the future when I need a savory recipe, because I do not have a lot of those. Also, I do recommend the site to people with specific diets, and/or to people that do not cook a lot and like to follow recipes. Thanks again to the Yummly team for creating such a great way to look for recipes online.

***Note: I am not getting paid by Yummly, or anyone else to post this review. ***

Cookies for a Cause: Pictures

I didn’t want to make the last post too long, so I am added all of the pictures I have as a slide show. (This also gives me an excuse to use the slide show feature for the first time!)

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Cookies for a Cause

Even though I don’t need a reason to bake, I think this was a pretty good one: It was the National Food Bloggers’ Bake Sale, for which all of the money raised helps “Share Our Strength”,  which is an organization that helps end childhood hunger. I found out about the bake sale on this blog: Dessert First, and from there, you can find out more information about the charity. I made the Better Than Brownie cookies, so I will finally add that recipe to the site (follow the jump or go to the “recipes” page, found at the top of the screen.)

I had a lot of fun at the sale, even though I was there at the end, and didn’t get a chance to talk to the other bloggers/bakers. I did get a chance to hear the author of Cake Bible, and her newest book, Rose’s Heavenly Cakes, (among other cookbooks) talk about the cakes and baking and I got her signature in the book! I loved every minute of that!

I have many more pictures to share, so I will post them as a slide show.

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