Frequently asked questions on the website, blogging in general, and recipe conundrums.
Why the name?
I’m not Italian (though my recipes would probably be much better if I was!) I just thought the play on words (ciao / chow) was cute. It’s also a good description for where I am right now with my cooking habits. I used to think I disliked sooo many vegetables. But lately I’ve tried to get reacquainted with as many of those as possible, and find ways to enjoy them. A lot of my posts start with the confession that I used to hate the vegetable that’s in the recipe, and explains how I came to change my mind. It’s one of my Things.
How did you build this website?
Ciao Veggie is a WordPress site, and I use the Fun Theme by Pretty Darn Cute Designs (which runs on the Genesis Framework). I LOVE this theme. It’s really easy to make a customized homepage. I have tried a few different layouts. It really lives up to it’s name- so much fun to play with (if you’re a geek like me).
My recipe index and category pages are courtesy of EasyIndex, the same team behind EasyRecipe which I use to make those little printable recipe cards. These are essential plugins when you want to build a food blog from a more general theme.
My logo uses the Stylish Brush font which I purchased. I use PicMonkey Premium which allows me to access the fonts on my computer so that when I make collages for Pinterest or social media graphics, I can use that and the fonts on my website.
My social media sharing buttons come from the Social Warfare plugin.
So those are my tools… the rest just comes from playing around with stuff and having a weird love for changing my website around.
I’ve used People Per Hour for tech help from time to time, mainly when things break and I start to flip out that ITS GONE EVERYTHING IS GONE. <— This happens. A lot.
How do you find time for blogging?
Mr. Veggie works some evenings and weekends – so I often use that me-time to write posts, edit photos etc. I do my experimenting during the week and then when I have recipes I think are perfect, I will make them over a weekend to take photos in natural daylight. It means we sometimes eat dinner food at weird times on the weekend, or I make batches of food while he’s working and then we feast on leftovers and freeze lunch portions.
But – it’s still not easy, and I’m always walking a fine line. Blogging does get a little addictive, especially when you see traffic going up and lovely comments coming in, and have an ever-growing list of ideas! Sometimes I try to commit to posting more regularly on a schedule, but that inevitably leads to stress and lacklustre writing which is no good.
I make a little money from the blog, but it’s not my job so I try to avoid imposing obligations and deadlines that make it feel too much like a balancing act.
How are you on Pinterest 24/7?
Two schedulers? I know, I know. I’m making things complicated for myself.
BoardBooster lets me run set-and-forget campaigns which repeatedly pin things that I know work well. But I don’t want to spam everybody with pins for recipes that no one likes. So, Tailwind App lets me better control and analyse my pinning when I have new recipes to share, so that I know what is worthy of putting into the ever-lasting BoardBooster programme.
Can I use one of your photos or recipes?
If you are posting a link to one of my recipes and would like to use a photo to accompany that link, that is always OK. You don’t need to ask permission first.
If you want to use a full recipe and photos, please do ask.
If you are a blogger and you want to make one of my recipes for your blog, so long as you use your own photos and put the recipe in your own words, that is totally fine! Credit for inspiration is always nice though.
Are these recipes original? Where do you get your ideas?
I do my best to tell you where I get my ideas from, and that usually forms the basis of the recipe posts. I am not interested in presenting myself as a creative genius- there are limited food ingredients in the world and I can’t imagine there are any original ideas left. Having said that, where I draw the line on appropriate attribution may differ to where you draw it, so please let me know if you have any concerns.
This recipe is terrible, can you take it down?
Ouch. I’ve had one negative comment here, where it was suggested that I should remove the recipe from my blog, and I was devastated. But I won’t take recipes down. It’s so important to remember that I am not a professional chef or a professional food writer and I am approaching this from the angle of “I made this, it was good, here’s what I did”. Whereas if I wrote a cookbook, all the recipes would have to be tested to be sure they can be recreated in different environments with different variables. So, as with any blog, you need to bring some instinct to the table if you’re tackling a more complex recipe. I honestly feel terrible if something doesn’t work, but I do welcome the feedback and can generally incorporate it in the recipe instructions.
I don’t use cups / own a scale / etc – how can I translate a recipe?
I try to include both metric and imperial, weight and volume measurements to cater to home cooks everywhere. But in general…
If you want to convert weight to weight (ounces to grams) or volume to volume (cups to liters), you can google it. “5 ounces in grams” will translate it right there in Google.
Problems arise because some countries (like the UK) might measure an ingredient by weighing it when other countries (like the US) would measure it by scooping it into cups. So you’ll get a weight for sugar or a cup amount for nuts but you may not own the right equipment to measure in that way. There is no way to simply translate in these cases. But this guide from Dove’s Farm does the hard work for you with a lot of the usual baking ingredients, which is where it really matters. And measuring cups and scales are sold worldwide, so if you like cooking internet recipes, it’s worth having both!
Being half American and half British, do you cook with weight or volume?
Both! Personally I find weights for baking simpler. I can just sit the mixing bowl on top of my little scale, pour ingredients straight in, re-setting it to 0 it every time a new ingredient goes us. It’s also more accurate for very tricky recipes. I prefer cups for rice and grains, because it’s a lot easier to scoop them into the pan or rice cooker from a measuring cup and the water amounts are done by relative volume so it makes sense to be consistent. Seeing amounts of chopped vegetables measured in cups is annoying – everyone chops their broccoli differently! – but it makes sense for things like peas which don’t need chopping and weigh different amounts when frozen or fresh. So overall, I like having the option to do both.
Both countries use volume for smaller quantities (tsp and Tblsp) and weight for things that are typically packaged (pasta or canned tomatoes) so sometimes entire recipes are consistent anyhow. I like those recipes.
Why do you measure some things in “handfuls”?
I do this sometimes with herbs and cheese. Either way, if I am saying “handfuls”, it’s because the exact amount doesn’t matter too much and you should go by your own tastes and your own dietary preferences.