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Porthos

Offputting Ingredient Lists

57 posts in this topic

I am not interested in starting a range war between organic ingredient enthusiasts and supermarket shoppers such as myself. I do have a question that relates to how I respond to some recipes that I find on the internet.

I was following a link that my adult daughter put up on facebook about "Nourishing Thankgiving Foods." Included in the ingredient list for one dish were organic onions, grassfed ghee and organic wine. Prejudiced as it may be I find that I typically stop reading recipes written like this. I suspect that it has to do with my general lack of satisfaction from way back when when I would prepare dishes with similarly-written recipes only to find the food so-so at best. I figure that if I wanted organic whatever I would not need to be told in a recipe that it needed to be organic. I would choose that because of personal preference.

My question is simple. Am I a rarity in having the organic/healthy push in recipes make me lose interest or do some others respond this way also.

Organic advocates, I would prefer that you not express what could be the value of organic in your responses. I have enough face-to-face friends that perform that task already.

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Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

 

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If it looks like a good recipe, I ignore those types of particulars....I don't get worked up over it.

You see it a heck of a lot in some cookbooks, I just look past it.

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~Martin

Unsupervised rebellious radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, self-reliant homesteader and adventurous cook. Crotchety cantankerous terse curmudgeon, nonconformist, contrarian and natural born skeptic who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it! 

 

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I react in the same way as you do to recipes written in this way - I feel that the author is condescending to me or subtly trying to make me feel like an inadequate cook if I don't have the exact ingredients mentioned. The same thing goes for recipes that call for specific brands of things (500g of Pura Crema butter, e.g.) I'm actually less inclined to even try a recipe when it's written in this manner. I think it's probably something endemic to the whole "nanny state" thing that's going on in North America - it's like recipe writers don't trust us to make our own informed decisions regarding ingredients.

Honestly, organic veg are normally what's in the crisper at my house, but that's a choice that I've made based on economy (at my farmer's markets, organic is cheaper than chemically treated) more than anything else.

And seriously, Grassfed ghee? Gimme a break. Ghee is a clarified fat - if it's properly made, it should have no flavour other than that of butterfat, regardless of the milk source. Same goes for "organic" vs conventional oils - the only real difference is the cost.

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Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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I am an organic enthusiast and hate supermarket shopping. Just stating that I am probably biased the opposite way.

And I agree with the organic push In recipes being annoying. But like above I also consider the quality of the recipe and overlook it if the recipe is good. You never see it going the other way...

I have many organically oriented cookbooks, but I can't recall any with this push. More in blogs and stuff IIRC. I have seen it.

And, not trying to get into good vs bad, my understanding is that grassfed ghee would have a different fat profile (omega 3, etc.) whether or not it has a different taste. That would be a selling point for me. Grassfed butter is entirely different though.


Edited by Ttogull (log)

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In this case, I don't focus much on the organic aspect...it's the adjective "nourishing" that immediately tells me we are talking about a recipe in the Weston Price foundation style, hence the grass-fed ghee. This is amusing to me, because I come from a traditional diet in their terms, while these authors would like to educate the public accustomed to SAD (Standard American Diet)

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Honestly, when I saw the title, I assumed this would be a discussion of ingredients like fresh intestinal tract for sausage-making that specified needing to rinse it clean of feces and parasites, or possibly lists with 'fat-free'/'sugar replacement' everything. Those are seriously offputting.

I'm pretty sure people stipulate 'organic' and related qualifiers to demonstrate how aware, and therefore enlightened, they are, but I inevitably tune them out (and I'm 100% behind sustainable, ethical production). If I can get my hands on organic/grass-fed/whatever versions of something, I'm using them anyway, and if I can't find these alternatives, well, that happens sometimes.

'Nourishing' was what grabbed my eye. If traditional Thanksgiving foods were built around chalk, or wood chips, or grass, or other things humans cannot get nourishment from, it would make sense, but this is such bullshit. It makes no sense at all: a given food, whether laced with toxins (e.g. pesticides) and the product of unethical methods, or produced as cleanly, sustainably, and ethically as possible will, all other things being equal, also be equally nourishing.

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Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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I've found, as a general rule, ideological cooks are worse than non-ideological cooks, whether it's vegetarian, paleo, low fat, organic, whatever. The best vegetarian food I've had comes from non-vegetarian chefs who just happen to be making a vegetarian dish.

If a recipe writer is specifying a single organic ingredient in a recipe, that means that they've noticed a clear difference in the way organic and non-organic foods behave and the difference is notable enough to be worth calling out. If they specify every ingredient should be organic, that means they don't really know how to taste and are just driven by ideology.

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PS: I am a guy.

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Ditto what Shalmanese said. I don't want to be preached at by my food; I just object to being bossed around.

It also annoys me that the author has made their recipe deliberately as exclusive as possible, as if if you can't afford or don't want or just can't access organics then the recipe is not for you.


Edited by Plantes Vertes (log)

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While I prefer organic, sustainable, yadayadayada food, I am not wedded to those types of ingredients. For example, there's a local dairy company that produces both organic and nonorganic products, and I most often, but not always, buy their regular milk and cream over the organic. Why? Because I know their regular products are clean, are from well cared-for cows, are all local, etc., and are sometimes only different by certification, plus the organics are about 30% to 40% more expensive.

That said, how a recipe author presents his or her ingredient list makes little difference to me, other than sometimes being annoying. So, if a recipe says to use organic, grass-fed, non-irradiated, glow-in-the-dark cheddar cheese, I know enough about what's available in my area, and probably have established preferences, that I just buy the cheddar that seems most appropriated for the recipe, or the one I feel I'd enjoy the most. The same for those recipes that call for specific brands of ingredients, like the "500g of Pura Crema butter" mentioned up thread. Heck, a lot of times one is unable to get a specific brand of something in their area, so a substitute is necessary anyway.

OTOH, if, in a recipe, the author suggested using an ingredient like the one he or she uses, such as to use a butter like Vermont Creamery butter (http://www.vermontcreamery.com/cultured-butter-1), I'd know that a high fat content, cultured butter might be the preference, and may look for something similar in my area - although I can get VC butter here.

TTFN,


 ... Shel

"... ya can't please everyone, so ya got to please yourself "

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I am picturing large herds of free range ghee, quietly munching away on the local grasses. Be careful, they are easily startled, and we don't want a ghee stampede.

Had I seen grass fed ghee in a recipe, I would have quickly looked elsewhere.


Edited by alanz (log)
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I am picturing large herds of free range ghee, quietly munching away on the local grasses. Be careful, they are easily startled, and we don't want a ghee stampede.

Ghee Stampede:

http://manchester-reviews.blogspot.com/2011/06/akbars-ghee-monster-stampedes-through.html


Edited by Shel_B (log)
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 ... Shel

"... ya can't please everyone, so ya got to please yourself "

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I react in the same way as you do to recipes written in this way - I feel that the author is condescending to me or subtly trying to make me feel like an inadequate cook if I don't have the exact ingredients mentioned. The same thing goes for recipes that call for specific brands of things (500g of Pura Crema butter, e.g.) I'm actually less inclined to even try a recipe when it's written in this manner. I think it's probably something endemic to the whole "nanny state" thing that's going on in North America - it's like recipe writers don't trust us to make our own informed decisions regarding ingredients.

As a recipe writer, I find it's difficult sometimes not to specify a particular brand of an ingredient, if I think it's going to make a big difference in the way the recipe will turn out. But in that case I always try to explain why, and if possible give other options. For instance, I use Valentina brand Mexican hot sauce in a several recipes, so I say that, but I also give a couple other brand names and just say that if my readers use anything else, they may have to adjust the acid level, because that can affect the results.

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Janet A. Zimmerman, aka "JAZ"
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If a recipe writer is specifying a single organic ingredient in a recipe, that means that they've noticed a clear difference in the way organic and non-organic foods behave and the difference is notable enough to be worth calling out. If they specify every ingredient should be organic, that means they don't really know how to taste and are just driven by ideology.

I agree, as an example I specify Bragg or Eden Organic Apple cider vinegar in recipes when homemade isn't available, not because it's organic but because it tastes FAR better than Heinz or other pedestrian apple cider vinegars.

As far as butter goes and IMHO, I don't think that there's a product that is as remarkably different from it's commercial counterpart (no matter how fancy or organic or whatever) as raw sweet cream butter from pasture-fed cows (cattle eat far more than grass), especially made from Jersey cream or the like.

It's the one product that I wish all folks could try.

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~Martin

Unsupervised rebellious radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, self-reliant homesteader and adventurous cook. Crotchety cantankerous terse curmudgeon, nonconformist, contrarian and natural born skeptic who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it! 

 

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I react in the same way as you do to recipes written in this way - I feel that the author is condescending to me or subtly trying to make me feel like an inadequate cook if I don't have the exact ingredients mentioned. The same thing goes for recipes that call for specific brands of things (500g of Pura Crema butter, e.g.) I'm actually less inclined to even try a recipe when it's written in this manner. I think it's probably something endemic to the whole "nanny state" thing that's going on in North America - it's like recipe writers don't trust us to make our own informed decisions regarding ingredients.

As a recipe writer, I find it's difficult sometimes not to specify a particular brand of an ingredient, if I think it's going to make a big difference in the way the recipe will turn out. But in that case I always try to explain why, and if possible give other options. For instance, I use Valentina brand Mexican hot sauce in a several recipes, so I say that, but I also give a couple other brand names and just say that if my readers use anything else, they may have to adjust the acid level, because that can affect the results.

There's a big difference when the writer of the recipe gives their reasons for the specificity (I do this myself) but when it's just put there for what seems like the sake of advertising and little else (the butter I cited in that quote is a good example - it's a standard 85% butterfat product) is when it irks me most. If there's a rationale behind things, like Jersey cream or Guernsey cream, which do have different flavour and fat contents from "standard" cream, then it's not such an issue.


Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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I'd never be in the position to read a recipe like this, but if I were I'd probably get annoyed as all hell. Buy the best tasting ingredients you can. Simple as that, for me.

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"Extra Virgin Olive Oil" on everything.

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This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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If the link had not been on your daughter's facebook page, would you have followed it? If an article titled "Nourishing Thankgiving Foods." were in my morning newspaper, I probably would have read it, because 1) I hadn't finished my coffee 2) I didn't feel like getting out of my recliner already 3) I was bored.

I only bought organic plum tomatoes today because the regular plum tomatoes didn't look particularly good.

"Extra Virgin Olive Oil" on everything.

I stopped watching Ciao Italia because I couldn't face having to hear Rosemary Esposito say "EVOO" one more time.


Edited by Arey (log)
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"A fool", he said, "would have swallowed it". Samuel Johnson

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I also found the following offputting back when. My DW and I used to watch a late-night Martha Stewart cooking show. Her pet phrase was "using the highest quality (insert ingredient here)." Yeah. 'cause we're too stupid to know that ingredient quality affects the dish. And Martha, some of the people who watch you are not in the economic sphere that make the price of ingredients of no consequence. /end rant.

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Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

 

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I also found the following offputting back when. My DW and I used to watch a late-night Martha Stewart cooking show. Her pet phrase was "using the highest quality (insert ingredient here)." Yeah. 'cause we're too stupid to know that ingredient quality affects the dish. And Martha, some of the people who watch you are not in the economic sphere that make the price of ingredients of no consequence. /end rant.

A lot of people don't realize the contribution made by high quality ingredients. They think a recipe should turn out a good result simply because it is followed, so her admonition isn't dumb at all. Focusing on organic rather than quality is.

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I try to tune out the "organic" push and just concentrate on reading the recipe, but yes it is an exasperating trend. What really gets me is reading a recipe for cake or some other dessert and the writer stresses that it is "guilt free" and/or "healthy." This usually means they used whole wheat flour or brown sugar or something presumed to be "better" than regular baking ingredients. "Without the guilt!!" For goodness sake, it's a cake. Make it well, eat it and enjoy it. And I don't want kidney beans in my brownies, thank you. :shock:

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And I don't want kidney beans in my brownies, thank you. :shock:

Can I tell ytou my stomach lurched when I read that. Brownies are NOT to be messed with.

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Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

 

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Somehow in all recipes, all olive oil must be extra virgin, and all salt must be Kosher.

dcarch

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Actually, the specification of kosher salt is not an affectation. It is approximately half as salty, depending on brand, as, say, Morton's table salt. Weight them out sometime and you will see that the table salt weighs twice as much as the kosher salt. In baking especially this could be a meaningful difference.


"Half of cooking is thinking about cooking." ---Michael Roberts

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Somehow in all recipes, all olive oil must be extra virgin, and all salt must be Kosher.

dcarch

That's a somewhat hyperbolic statement. I've seen many recipes, often from CI or ATK, but other sources as well, that specify table salt. In some recipes it's a welcome specification. Other times a recipe will mention both types of salts with an equivalency. Now that sometimes frosts my pumpkin, as different kosher salts have different amounts of sodium, sometimes by a large degree. Not all kosher salts are the same, for example, per 1/4 tsp Diamond Crystal has 280mg of sodium, Morton 480mg, Trader Joe's 770mg (IIRC - I'd love to be corrected on that)

Likewise, but to a somewhat lesser extent, is the specification of oil in cooking. Many recipes suggest "regular" olive oil, even pointing out the EV would be a waste. Other recipes suggest a high quality EVOO. One may point to the fact that many recipes specifically mention canola oil, although when reading the recipe or cooking it, it becomes clear that there's no reason why many other vegetable oils will work just as well, and, arguably, are a better choice.

That said, I do believe I understand the point you're making, and am not really in disagreement to it.


 ... Shel

"... ya can't please everyone, so ya got to please yourself "

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