What I learned from a failed recipe
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Adina Bailey, Co-Founder, TakeThemAMeal.com on May 21, 2012
The creative users of TakeThemAMeal have many great ideas that are helpful when taking meals to a friend in need. Recently, I was also hoping to share a delicious and simple meal with a friend. I thought to myself...
"Iím going to test this noodle bake recipe from a trusted site that seems like the perfect dish to take to a friend. Iíll get a lovely photo of the finished dish before my family dives in and then Iíll post the recipe along with my familyís praises."
But... hereís what really happened. I made the recipe one evening and took a photo of the casserole unassembled, assembled, and then baked. I cut the first piece and put it on a plate to get one of those lovely photos that I always see online. Finally, I called my hungry family for dinner. Unfortunately, after all my planning and preparation, the dish turned out to be very bland and I decided I wouldnít want to make it for a friend.
I wanted it to be good, so I could share it with the caring people who use our site, giving them another easily transportable meal for their repertoires. Instead, the recipe was a flop and it looked much better than it tasted.
As I was looking back over the photos of the failed recipe, I noticed that the dish looked delicious in my cropped final photo even though it wasnít.
Then, what really caught my attention was my unedited photo prior to assembling the dish. This uncropped photo communicates several realities:
- My daughter snacked on mini M&Ms from Easter while I was cooking because dinner was taking a little longer than usual to prepare (probably from me snapping photos along the way).
- My sons had "decorated" my counter with cap gun rolls. I hadnít noticed this while preparing the recipe because Iíve become used to life with young boys.
- Only 1/2 of my cheese grater was on the counter because I recently "misplaced" the other half. Iím guessing I inadvertently threw it away while cleaning up one day.
Thatís a typical state of my counter as Iím preparing meals for my own family and meals for friends. As I was looking at the unedited photo, I was struck by the contrast between many of the images I see on my favorite web sites and the reality of my own surroundings. Iím drawn to images of beautiful spaces and meals - gathering ideas about something I can create in my very spare, spare time, is relaxing to me.
On the other hand, when I look at my own surroundings, they are not always tidy, serene, or appetizing. I appreciate the attractive boxed images I see online, but thatís not the typical appearance of my home, kids, or dinner table. The finished photo of my failed recipe taught me that images are just that - images - and my full, messy-a-lot-of-the-time-counter is still a pretty picture.
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