Link to my blog

Here is the direct link taking you to my food blog

www.t1cklemytastebuds.wordpress.com

Overall I am very pleased with the outcome of my blog. I feel its layout looks smart and professional as well as being easy to read and follow. I feel it has taken the reader on a journey of cooking rather than just listing pages of recipes like many cooking blogs. For me personally it has inspired me to get cooking more often and has shown me how simple our favourite foods can actually be to cook.

My only issue with my blog is the imagery of my own food. Unfortunately my digital camera had broken so I was only reliant on my iphone. Although I’d to capture the dishes as best as I could, if this blog were to look more professional the image quality of my final dishes would have needed to be a lot higher.

I debated whether to change the format of my blog to ascending order as it makes the most sense when being read from the bottom to the top, however ideally my blog followers would have read my blog daily or at least every few days so they would have been taken directly on the journey of my posts.

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Must reads

When researching the concept of my blog I stumbled across two very influential articles online.

The first – The cooking crisis

This article agreed with the concept of my blog. It stated that in today’s society more and more people are reaching for the takeaway menus instead of cooking their own meals. It also gave me confidence in my blog when it stated people don’t know how to cook, so I hope by following the simple recipes I have found and adapted, it will inspire people to have more confidence in themselves when cooking. It was also interesting when the article revealed how purposely addictive ready made foods are due to their vast amounts of salt and sugar. It spoke of white bread being more addictive than brown bread due to its small amounts of fibre, fibre being the key ingredient needed to fill you up.

Another very helpful article I read online was Britain’s national takeaway dish

This was a very influential read as it is referred to chinese, indian and pizza being the top three takeaway foods in the UK. Therefore I thought it would be important to make a dish from each one of these categories in blog. It was also interesting to learn that chinese was the most popular takeaway cuisine followed by indian then pizza.

Social media

To try and attract more attention for my cooking blog i’ve started to use social networking sites to promote my posts. The main social networking site I use is twitter so I’ve begun posting direct links to each of my posts written on my blog. When analysing my stats on wordpress I observed that most of my traffic came from twitter so this has proved to be a fairly effective tool in promoting my blog.

Another social media platform I used was instagram. Seeing as its believed we eat with our eyes I’ve posted photographs of my finished dishes on this site which also contains a direct link to my blog. Several of these photographs have received ‘likes’ from other users so I can observe my meals getting direct recognition.

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Cooking online

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Seeing as the project is based on using online media I thought it best to find all my recipes online. To make sure all my recipes are reliable I’ve opted to use recipes taken from more mainstream sites like BBC Food and the Good Food Channel. Most well-known chefs also have their own websites publishing recipes so I will probably find recipes from here too.

The online advances of today have certainly impacted our attitude to cooking. By simply logging online a person’s whole cooking experience can be changed. Long gone are the days of sifting through recipe books for that perfect dish. By merely searching a desired recipe on google you will be spoilt for choice on a huge variety of dishes and various adaptions.  Youtube has a great range of cook along recipes ranging from a short video showing you how to prepare a specific vegetable to a video showing you how to cook a full blown Sunday roast. In my blog I will be sure to take advantage of youtube and its videos allowing them to aid in the cooking of my recipes.

When buying all my ingredients I also went online. If you’re buying a specific list of ingredients it’s far easier to quick search your foods online than frantically walking up and down the aisles of the supermarkets. An article in the Telegraph proved how more and more people are doing their food shop online and its believed this figures will double within the next five years. Click here to view the article.

Similar to my blog idea there is also a great variety of websites helping to aid inexperienced cooks. When browsing online I came across a website called Smart Kitchen. This websites offers cooking tutorials for beginners, intermediates and experienced cooks. Although this site requires a membership fee it offers cooking lessons on a variety of skills and a large database of recipes. When describing what their online site has to offer they wrote:

“We’ve put all this proprietary education online because our goal is to spread culinary knowledge as far as possible. We want people to improve their gastronomic experiences, build their palettes, save money on eating out (by cooking in), and create more healthful meals for themselves and their families.”

Clearly this enhances the idea that cooking has now taken to its new form online. Although i’m sure some people still turn to old recipe books for certain traditional dishes, it is clear that more and more people are turning to blogs and websites to find recipes and aid in cooking technique.

Competitors

Cooking is a hugely popular topic amongst bloggers today. Many love posting their favourite recipes or reviews on tried and tested foods. I believe my blog will differ to traditional cooking blogs as it will take the reader on a journey before simply presenting a recipe or photo of the final product. My blog will look at the origins of my dishes, a wide variety of recipes and different reviews. My blog will also incorporate the use of various other media platforms like images and video.

However to maximise the professionalism and success of my blog, it was vital for me to look at a variety of competitors. Here are some of the most interesting cooking blogs I found…

A popular cooking blog is Lottie + Doof  This blog is not only impressive for its creative photography (it makes all foods look mouth wateringly delicious) but the fact there is a slight story behind each recipe presented, instead of just saying ‘you must cook this!’ There is also a wide variety of foods presented ranging between sweet treats and luxurious dinners.

Another influential cooking blog was cookingwithamy Similar to some of the dishes in my blog she has taken to cooking international cuisine that may be seen as intimidating to new cookers. She has also included posts surrounding the culture of dishes and where they have stemmed from. This is certainly an aspect I want to include in my blog.

A final cooking blog I really enjoyed reading was gastrofotonomia Although this blog does not include step by step recipes like my blog, it uses fantastic photography when revealing dishes. The pictures also include photographs of the whereabouts of the dish which make it even more interesting.

There is clearly a lot of competition out there when creating a cooking blog. Yet I believe by researching other blogs it has helped me to define key aspects that I will use in my blog as well as noting differentiations between my blog idea against competitors. As previously mentioned my blog will take the reader on a journey of several posts before presenting my dish which contradicts typical cooking blogs that use a single post for each dish. From researching other blogs, I have realised the importance of visual images when presenting each post as many people are drawn to the way a dish looks before even tasting it! Recipes need to be short and revealed in an easy to read format and to create more depth to my blog I will research various cooking skills and techniques.

What’s cooking??

Now that i’ve decided on my blog idea, it’s time reveal the three dishes in which I will be cooking. But before I get on to the fun stuff, its time to face the facts on why I felt the need to post this blog.  A report published by the BBC claimed a staggering 60% of adults in the UK are over weight whilst 30% of children in the UK are also over weight. Whilst a study produced in  2009 by Forbes magazine placed the UK 28th on the list of the fattest countries!

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Clearly something has to change. I myself admit to being lazy when it comes to cooking. Although I try to eat healthier meals such as soups and salads, as soon as it comes to the weekend I’m straight back to the takeaways and ready meals. With such a wide variety of prepared foods, is it hardly surprising people are tucking into quick and easy ready meals and takeaways?  Cooking can often be seen as chore as well as expensive, so inevitably people nowadays are more likely to opt for the microwaved dish rather than spend time chopping and preparing foods.

The vast amounts of over weight people in the UK is certainly a wide spread concern. A recent article in The Guardian reports on the proposed tax increase on sugary softs drinks in a bid to reduce obesity levels in the UK. Click here to watch their video.

The fast food intake in the UK is also on the rise. Opting for these tasty takeaways makes it even easier to get your food and it hardly crosses people’s minds what cooking methods are used to create them. Most of these takeaway dishes will be swimming in grease and contain excessive amounts of salt putting people at greater risk developing high blood pressure and heart disease. A recent article in the BBC even noted how several consumptions of fast food per week puts young children at risk of developing allergy related conditions. Click here to read the whole story.

This is where I have taken inspiration when cooking my dishes. A takeaway once a week my seem fine but why not try cooking your own tasty comforts? They will probably be nicer than the ones purchased, not to mention you can keep an eye on the ingredients and amount of salt and fats used.

Dish 1.

My first dish will be inspired from those favourite chinese takeaways. I will be cooking a beef and black bean dish, served with egg noodles. Then to top of this tasty treat I will be making my own spring rolls.

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Dish 2.

The second is one of most the popular foods, the much loved pizza. I will be creating the dough from scratch and add a more sophisticated topping of caramelised onions and goats cheese, served with salad and coleslaw.

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Dish 3.

The third is inspired from popular indian takeaway dishes. I will be cooking up my own chicken korma, served with boiled rice. I will also attempt to cook my own naan bread from scratch.

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I hope by being able to create these favourite takeaway treats, i will inspire others, as well as myself to get cooking more often. Although these dishes are not particularly healthy, I will be careful to opt for low fat versions and do my best to see them being as light as possible. At least by cooking these dishes from scratch, we will become more aware of what we are putting into our bodies which will help when trying to  maintain a healthy controlled diet.

My Blog Idea

After much debate on what to blog about I’ve decided I will partake in a challenge blog. So,what could really challenge me? Well i’m already a fitness freak and super scrimper so anything regarding excessive exercise or living off minimal amounts of money per week wouldn’t challenge me. I’m already a fashion and lifestyle blogger so wouldn’t want to do anything fashion or relationship related. But there is one basic skill that would surely challenge me….. cooking. I admit it, I can’t cook to save my life. I can bake, (I love baking cakes and all things nice!) but when it comes to cooking proper food dishes i’m not very good at all! Perhaps a key problem is that i’m lazy when it comes to cooking. If i’m tired even watching the soup bubble in the microwave proves as too time consuming.  Along with this, I don’t really ‘challenge my taste buds’. I stick to boring basic foods like beans, eggs, chicken, salads etc.

So my blog idea is to challenge myself to cook three different dishes for friends and blog about my experience. To make my blog more interesting I want to research the origins of recipes and will specifically pick foods from different cultures. I want to research the specific skills needed to make such dishes and research various ideas and advice found online when cooking challenging foods. With obesity in England currently on the rise, I want to encourage people (like myself) to start spending more time in the kitchen and less time in fast food restaurants.  We live in a society where ready meals are classed as sufficient family dinners when really they are filled with excessive amounts salts and sugars. I hope my blog will break people’s fear of getting in the kitchen and hopefully prove that if I can do it, almost anyone can!!

Now to decide on my three dishes…..