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When is a review not a review?  when it’s a total re-write.  I don’t get it.  I’ve been reading recipe reviews online, and have yet to find one that didn’t tweak the bejeezus out of the recipe being reviewed.  After glowing praise about how this was the best version of lemon meringue pie ever eaten, the reviewer inevitably goes on to mention, in an off-handed way, how she had modified it.  The additions, omissions, substitutions, and quantity adjustments are amazing.  Or, at least it amazes me that the writer seems unaware that she is reviewing her own recipe, not the one on the website.

For example, I ran across a meatloaf recipe this morning that made me laugh out loud.  Perhaps the funniest part is that it is so…typical.

I am not a meatloaf eater, but I found this recipe to be absolutely wonderful!  My husband agreed (And he’s a picky eater).  I did have to tweak the ingredients a little.  I used 1/3 cup brown sugar instead of 1/2; ground turkey instead of ground beef; one packet of onion soup mix instead of a chopped onion; and 3/4 cup of bread crumbs instead of saltine crackers.  I also mixed the ketchup with the brown sugar into a glaze and used it on top of the meatloaf.  I let the glaze cook on the meat the last 15 minutes of oven time.  It was great.

My first question to the happy reviewer is How did you know you had to “tweak the ingredients a little” if you had not tried the recipe before?  Do you consider one packet of onion soup mix to be the equivalent of a chopped onion?  When you say “It was great,” are you referring to the recipe you are reviewing, or the tweaked version you created?

For the newbie, or the occasional visitor to a recipe blog, it must be very confusing.  Besides the individual reviewers tweaking the original recipe, they all refer to the tweaks of other reviewers until you don’t know what the dickens this fabulous recipe actually is.  Or was.

Of course, I don’t have to read the reviews if I don’t find them helpful, but I’ve bought into the whole ‘ feedback’ thing such that I can’t ignore it.  And just occasionally there is information that is useful.

The convenience of having so many choices right at your fingertips is highly seductive.  But that’s where the reviews come in– how else are you gonna be able to choose from amongst so many?  I’m starting to think I’d just as soon go back to the old-fashioned days of CookBooks.  Yes!  Those wonderful tomes, filled with pictures and instructions, recipes for every season, or from around the world. Right there for one to browse through, without the need of a (forgotten) password or a battery re-charge.  Oh, yes!

At the moment I’m looking for a recipe for Osso Bucco. I wanted to use one from an old Italian cookbook, but when I tried to open it to the favorite recipe the pages were stuck together with tomato sauce.                 MM

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