It’s about time to wrap up and take a break from homeschool for the holidays, if you haven’t already.
Hanukah is almost over, and Christmas is around the corner. Yay!
What’s going through your mind as you homeschool this week?
Be honest. It’s your holiday prep To Do list. Am I right?
I’ve certainly been struggling. Every day I log into the Essay Rockstar teacher portal to review my students’ submissions and give them feedback on their work.
But all I really want to think about is what cookies I’m going to bake with my son and mother-in-law when she comes to visit next week.
We’re finally going to go through my mom’s old Greek pastry and cookie recipes and try them out. I used to make them with her, but I haven’t done it since she passed away three years ago.
You know what I’m talking about. Those desserts you can get at your local Greek church’s annual festival. Baklava, finikia, courabeithes, loukoumades, etc. Think nuts, phyllo, and honey.
The thing is, my mother’s English was never top-notch. And her writing? Well, let’s just say her recipes may be a little challenging to work through. But she was a great cook and especially liked to bake.
So I was thinking... why not multi-task? This Greek baking extravaganza can actually be a writing project too.
A writing project for my teenager, I mean. And we're NOT homeschooling during the holidays, mind you!
Writing a recipe –- an accurate recipe that anybody can follow and succeed with -- demands a lot of attention to detail. It requires a lot of organization and clarity, too.
In fact, it’s a form of expository writing. Yes!
While you’re on break from homeschooling, you can still sneak in a little writing practice during the holidays.
Would you like to join me?
After all, we’ll all be inside these days while we wait for the covid numbers to go down. There won’t be a ton to do.
I found an article by an experienced long-time food blogger on TheKitchn.com. It’s a checklist of items to include in a well-written recipe. I’m using it as a guideline for my recipe-deciphering and baking project next week. I’ll include it here for your use too.
This is an abridged version of the article, since it’s something we’re only using with the kids at home. It’s also copied here because the webpage where it’s published has a lot of visually distracting pop-up ads on it.
Here you go.
How To Write A Recipe Like A Professional
By SARA KATE GILLINGHAM
published AUG 5, 2008
I write recipes, among other things, for a living. It may seem easy, but it isn’t always. It takes practice and adherence to a few rules.
Knowing how to write a recipe is something even an amateur cook can benefit from knowing. Especially when it comes to entering our contests… (hint hint).
There are two main parts of a recipe, the Ingredient List and the Preparation Method. I’ll take you through some basic guidelines for writing both parts.
Before the ingredients, comes the title, number of servings and serving size if appropriate. The ingredient list and the preparation method come next. If the recipe’s adapted from another recipe, a credit is due (“Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s World Peace Cookies”) below the method.
The Ingredient List
1. List all ingredients in order of use, as described in step-by-step instructions.
2. List the most important ingredients first, if it can be consistent with order of use.
3. Spell out everything: tablespoons, ounces, etc.
4. If the recipe has different elements (a pie, for example has a crust, a filling), break up the ingredient list with headings such as “Crust” and “Filling.”
5. When several ingredients are used at the same time, for example, as dry ingredients often are, list them in descending order according to volume.
6. Do not use two numerals together. You need to set off the second number in parenthesis. This comes up with sizes of packages. For example, “1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese.”
7. If an ingredient begins with a letter instead of a number, capitalize the first letter, as in “Freshly ground black pepper.”
8. If the preparation of an ingredient is simple, place that technique in the ingredient list, as in “2 eggs, beaten” or “1 stick butter, softened.”
9. If an ingredient is used more than once in a recipe, list the total amount at the place in the ingredient list where it is first used. Then add “divided.” In the method part of the recipe, state the amount used at each step. For example write “1 cup all-purpose flour, divided” in the ingredient list. Then in the method, “Sift 3/4 cup of the flour with the…” and later “Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of flour on top of…”
10. Use generic names of ingredients (semi-sweet chocolate chips, not “Tollhouse chips”).
The Preparation Method
1. Where helpful, state the size of bowls and cookware. For example, “In a large mixing bowl….”
2. You do not have to write complete sentences. Be as short and concise as possible.
3. With instructions for the stove-top, state the level of heat. For example, “Simmer over low heat.”
4. State exact or approximate cooking times, with descriptive hints for doneness, if appropriate. For example, “Sear 1 minute on each side,” and “Bake 18-22 minutes, or until crust is light golden brown.”
5. As in the ingredient list, if there are different elements to the recipe, for example the crust and filling of a pie, separate out each element in the method. Begin with the crust and write a header “For the Crust” and give the method. Then do “For the Filling” and give filling instructions.
6. Separate each step into a different paragraph. If you are mixing dry ingredients in a bowl, for example, use one paragraph for all the instructions for that step.
7. Finish with serving instructions including how to plate, at what temperature to serve, and how to garnish.
8. The last instruction should be about storage, if applicable. For example, “Cookies will keep at room temperature in an airtight container for 3-4 days.”
Please click here to visit Thekitchn and read Sara Gillingham’s full article https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-write-a-recipe-58522.
Have a wonderful holiday! If you want a copy of the recipes we come up with and/ or a picture of our finished products, let me know in a comment below. I’ll email it to you!