In this episode, Megan chats to Sally Cameron about the process of recipe development, including thorough testing, catering for your readers’ needs, and building trust through recipes that succeed time and time again.

We cover information the different steps of developing great recipes and why this is a crucial element to a successful, revenue-generating blog. Sally provides practical tips about recipe writing and revision, including keyword consideration and making the most of flavor profiles.

Listen on the player below or on iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast player. Or scroll down to read a full transcript.

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Guest Details

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Bio Sally is a professionally trained chef, recipe developer, online content creator, speaker, and certified health and nutrition coach. She created all of the recipes for Dr. Mark Hyman’s NYT best seller Eat Fat Get Thin, the NYT million copy bestseller “The Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life” companion cookbook, and Sony Five Essentials video series. She’s been blogging at A Foodcentric Life longer than she’d like to admit. Changing her diet by going gluten-free and focusing on whole fresh foods, lots of plants, nuts, seeds, healthy fats and quality proteins helped her lose weight, get healthy, detox from heavy metals, and recover from Lyme, mold, and gut issues. With all of that, it’s no surprise that special diets are her forte, because healthy is a lifestyle.

Fun Fact: Sally’s fun fact is they did a two week expedition to Antarctica because they like to shoot landscape photography too. It was utterly amazing.


  • Definition and Purpose: What is the purpose of the recipe? Is it for your blog or for a sponsored post or a client?
  • Find Inspiration: Keep notes about flavors, ingredients, beautiful photos and restaurant meals and other recipes that inspire you.
  • Find the Right Keyword: Before putting effort into recipe testing, research keywords and brainstorm ideas around your recipe (e.g. does your recipe fit within your niche, how is it different?).
  • Be Creative: Find ways to make it easier, faster and more fun for readers or ways to cater for specific dietary needs.
  • Recipe Testing and Revision: Test, revise, and make adjustments to your recipes to ensure your readers are able to reproduce it.
  • Equipment Considerations: Consider readers’ kitchen equipment and provide alternative methods for those with limited tools.
  • Food Safety and Testing: Do a thorough test for food safety, including cooling and storage trials and check verified online resources for food safety information.
  • Consistency in Recipe Writing: Be consistent in recipe writing, including clear instructions, accurate measurements, and detailed notes for successful replication.

Resources Mentioned


Multiple Timer

Food Safety Resources:

Recipe Developement

The Definitive Guide to Recipes and Copyright

Dianne Jacob’s Food Writing Skills


Click for full script.

EBT507 – Sally Cameron

Intro 00:00

Food bloggers. Hi, how are you today? Thank you so much for tuning in to the Eat Blog Talk podcast. This is the place for food bloggers to get information and inspiration to accelerate your blog’s growth, and ultimately help you to achieve your freedom. Whether that’s financial, personal, or professional. I’m Megan Porta. I have been a food blogger for 13 years, so I understand how isolating food blogging can be. I’m on a mission to motivate, inspire, and most importantly, let each and every food blogger, including you, know that you are heard and supported. 

If there is one piece of food blogging that I believe we don’t pay a whole lot of attention to, but we should, it is recipe development. Sally Cameron joins me. She is a food blogger over at a Foodcentric Life. She’s also a professionally trained chef and she has a lot of experience with just food in general. She has such a passion for recipe development and brings this topic to the table in a really unique way. She gives us a lot to think about, such as putting really detailed notes together when you’re testing recipes, considering your equipment, considering flavors, considering colors, also considering substitutions and ways that people can change the recipe or maybe ways that people might make it in a different altitude. Really developing a recipe that is helpful for your user, and also being willing to hear feedback and adapt your recipe accordingly. She gave me so much to think about that I’ve literally never even considered before. So I think you’re going to pull some really valuable nuggets from this episode. It is episode number 507, sponsored by RankIQ.

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Megan Porta 02:46

Sally is a professionally trained chef, recipe developer, online content creator, speaker, and certified health and nutrition coach. She created all of the recipes for Dr. Mark Hyman’s NYT best seller Eat Fat Get Thin, the NYT million copy bestseller “The Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life” companion cookbook, and Sony Five Essentials video series. She’s been blogging at A Foodcentric Life longer than she’d like to admit. Changing her diet by going gluten-free and focusing on whole fresh foods, lots of plants, nuts, seeds, healthy fats and quality proteins helped her lose weight, get healthy, detox from heavy metals, and recover from Lyme, mold, and gut issues. With all of that, it’s no surprise that special diets are her forte, because healthy is a lifestyle.

Hello Sally. Welcome to the podcast. How are you today?

Sally Cameron 03:36

Hi Megan. I am terrific and just looking forward to talking with you. This is great. Yes, I love the blog. It really helps me a lot.

Megan Porta 03:44

Oh, so good.

Sally Cameron 03:45

I mean, the podcast.

Megan Porta 03:46

Thank you for listening. I know what you meant. Yeah. Always good to, I love interviewing people who have been listening. It is just so much extra fun. So we’re going to talk about recipe development today, but to preface that, why don’t you give us a little background on your blog?

Sally Cameron 04:01

Let’s see. I am a blogging dinosaur. I’ve been blogging forever and of course when you’ve been blogging for a long time, your site and your work goes through a lot of different changes. But I started it probably in the, under a Foodcentric Life. It’s been about 11 or 12 years now. Wow. And before that, it was just something I was learning about and starting to play with whatever is blogging. And you know, a friend said, Hey, you should put your recipes out there. Like I’m sure we’ve all kind of been told at one point. And so I did, of course, not knowing what it would really turn into, but it’s called a Foodcentric Life because that’s absolutely my life. It is. I live, eat, sleep, breathe, dream, think food. My husband laughs at me. He said, you have such a food brain. And I’m like, I know. I can’t help it. It’s just me. So not the easiest URL. I’ve often wanted to find something more simple, but it works.

Megan Porta 04:58

Oh, I like it. And I love that you have a food brain that makes you the perfect food blogger. So perfect fit. Right. Okay. So how did you get interested in recipe development as a, as you call it, like Dinosaur Blogger, a blogger who’s been around for a while, an OG blogger, whatever you want to say. This is something that we do develop over time, I think. So at what point did you realize that this was a really important piece of it?

Sally Cameron 05:23

Well I am a professionally trained chef, so I am used to being in that environment of creativity and having to write your recipes down. I always, as a kid, I worked in the kitchen with my mom, who many of us have had this experience and many moms and grandmoms never wrote their recipes down. So you knew you better write them down because they weren’t going to be around forever. And then as I got further into my blog, I became a certified health coach and a recipe developer. And I had an opportunity to work on my first cookbook, not my cookbook, but working on a cookbook for someone else’s for hire. And I did, worked on the Daniel Plan cookbook, which was a companion to the New York Times bestseller, the Daniel Plan, which was all about healthy eating, healthy lifestyle incorporating food and faith and fitness and everything into your journey. So I worked on the cookbook. And when you work on a cookbook for someone else, or whether it’s your blog or for yourself or for a client or a sponsor or whatever, I mean, you have to formally develop, formally test. You often work within specific parameters for dietary needs or for, you know, with specific ingredients. And it just kind of, you start writing things down, you start notebooks, you start taking notes, and it all kind of just begins.

Megan Porta 06:49

So you saw the importance through all of your different avenues to write proper recipes, I guess.

Sally Cameron 06:56

Yes. And a really great book, I was going to mention it later, but I’ll mention it now if people haven’t, if you’ve been learning to write good recipes, is a marvelous book called Will Write for Food by Diane Jacob.

Megan Porta 07:08

Oh yes, I have heard of that.

Sally Cameron 07:09

Have you ever read that?

Megan Porta 07:10

I haven’t, but I’ve heard so many people recommend that It must be great.

Sally Cameron 07:14

It’s a fabulous book. My older copy, I don’t have her latest version, but it is tattered and dogeared and written in and sticky noted. And it’s, it’s really…

Megan Porta 07:24

Nice. That’s the sign of a good book, right.

Sally Cameron 07:27

Yeah. Right. Isn’t it true? And that you keep it and you refer back to it. But yeah, recipe development is just super critical and it’s because recipes have to work. You know, especially when you’re working on either your blog or a cookbook for someone else or a project for someone else. Recipes have to be repeatable. They have to work. And that’s the sign of good recipe is when it’s repeatable and when people can understand it and reproduce it in their own kitchens, even if you have different skill sets, even with different stoves and different equipment, you have to do the most you can and think through it to be sure that those recipes are going to be repeatable and that they’re relatable. If they, if they do, especially for a blogger, you will gain traffic, you will gain trust, you know, the EEAT that we all have held over our heads, but those practices will gain new traffic and readers and then hopefully right in the end, it’s revenue. So it’s all tied together.

Megan Porta 08:28

Yeah. All of that stuff adds up to the revenue, really. Right. I mean, the trust, if, if somebody comes to you and doesn’t trust a recipe that you’ve put up, then they’re probably not going to come back.

Sally Cameron 08:38

And even if they, somebody has a reader has trouble with the recipe, but they know they can either email you or they can put in a comment and they can say, you know, I had this issue. And they know that you’ll respond and that they know that you’ll walk them through it. Oh, they, I didn’t have this ingredient, but I used this and it didn’t work, or it did work. They’ll know that you’re a resource for them and that you really want them to succeed in their kitchen.

Megan Porta 09:04

So it goes beyond just the recipe development. It really goes to, are you willing to hear feedback and make changes based on that feedback? I never thought of it like that.

Sally Cameron 09:12

Yeah. Well, you know, just recently I had a really good, really good example and I ended up having a big long email conversation with the reader. But there’s one recipe, I’m probably going to take it down now. It’s a very, very old one. And it was when I used to kind of incorporate a little bit of travel. because we, we love to travel and it was travel, but it was a recipe from a restaurant that we ate in, in this particular city. And it was just a simple muffin recipe. But I put it up, it was from, they said, yes, it’s in our cookbook. Yes, we use this in the restaurant, here you go. And they allowed me to put it up and I hadn’t made it. It’s the only recipe on my site that isn’t really mine. And I’ve never actually turned right around and made when I got home. And a reader who really knows what he is doing emailed me and said, I’ve tried this a couple times and I can’t get this to work. And I tried the one from their cookbook and it didn’t work. So we had this big long conversation and I could tell he knew what he was doing and I haven’t had time to test it and make sure it works. But as we all have to prune our blogging gardens, so to speak, it may, it may be one I just take down at this point, but, you know, it didn’t work. But at least he reached out and said, I can’t get this to work. And we kind of brainstormed why.

Megan Porta 10:27

That’s good. I occasionally have people reach out that say like, this recipe didn’t work and it works for me, it’s worked for me a hundred times. It works for everyone else. what do you do in that case? Do you, I know that’s so hard because I’m like, I don’t want to dismiss your its feedback, but maybe, I mean, the possibility is there that you’re not a great cook or, so, you know, something along those lines.

Sally Cameron 10:47

Yeah, right. We all have comments like that, right. In fact, and all you can see that this is where your recipe development and your development journals and all of your notes come in handy because you can go back to your notes and you can confidently say to the person who’s struggling, well, let me help you try and figure this out. But I did test this recipe many, many times and it’s been repeatable by a lot of people. But I’d like to help you, you know, see if we can work this out and maybe, you know, ask them questions. Right. Did you use my ingredient list? Did you change anything? Just try to understand where they are. I once had one of those really mad comments about, well I could never make that recipe because I don’t have that silver dish. And I had photographed a finished recipe in an old, old silver dish. It was the holidays from my grandmother. And it was just a vessel, it was just a dish. You could put it in any kind of dish you wanted.

Megan Porta 11:49

That’s hilarious.

Sally Cameron 11:51

And she was, it was, I just, I read it and I still laugh and I just tried very politely to figure out how to respond. And I said, well, you know, that’s just a dish and why don’t you try the recipe as I, as I created it, because you can put it in any dish. The dish has nothing to do with how the recipe comes out.

Megan Porta 12:10

Oh, you’re so kind for saying that. Most people would be like, what are you talking about?

Sally Cameron 12:14

Well, yeah, it was, it was pretty funny. But you know what, you also have to take a deep breath sometimes and go, there are some very interesting people in this world. And just let it go. I mean, you can respond kindly, politely and try to help them through, but in, at the end of the day, you kind of just have to go. Thanks for your comment. I hope you’ll try it.

Megan Porta 12:34

Thanks for reading. I always try to ooze with kindness and error on that side. Yes. because you never know what their experience is or what, what they’re going through in their life or in their kitchen. You just don’t know. So I’m always like, thank you for That’s true. Your comment, even if it’s really rude. just appreciate that you’re here. I’m really sorry you had this experience. And I used to get really upset about those comments, but anymore I’m like, I, what’s the point of getting upset with people over that it’s just not worth it.

Sally Cameron 13:01

It is true. You can’t waste your energy on it. You can try and help them. And like you said, ooze with kindness. I love that. That will always be a good solution. And then move on. because you know, most of it is positive and most of it’s good and thankful.

Megan Porta 13:14

Okay, so where do a blogger, food bloggers start with recipe development? If they feel like they just need to hone in on the skill a little bit more, maybe they’re just getting started.

Sally Cameron 13:23

First of all, you need to define your purpose. Is your recipe development, is it for your blog? Is it as a service for other bloggers? Is it for hires such as a sponsored post or for brand work? Is it for a cookbook, a magazine for a newspaper column? Right. There’s many reasons you’re going to potentially work on recipe development now. Mostly it’s, you know, for, for your blog or as a service for other bloggers or sponsored stuff, which first define your definition and your purpose. Who’s the audience? How experienced is that audience? Think about who you’re writing for and what their skillset is, what their potential capabilities are in the kitchen, their abilities are. And kind of go from that direction. And then you need to find inspiration, right? I think all of us that have food brains, because we’re food bloggers, we find inspiration in a ton of ways. It might be a meal out or a travel to a new place. It might be like a new tool. Like when Instant Pot came out, when air fryers hit, hit the market, you know, a new tool. It might be an old family holiday favorite or a seasonal recipe. Maybe somebody is diagnosed with a need for a dietary change. Like you have to go dairy free or you have to eat gluten-free. That’s always a big switch. Maybe you’re walking by a newsstand and you see a picture on a magazine. You go, oh gosh, that I could do this with that. Here’s how I’d make it. Or maybe it’s a hot ingredient trend like cauliflower or cottage cheese. So there’s just inspiration everywhere. And I keep a running list at all times on my phone of all of my ideas. I just throw them into a list.

Megan Porta 15:04

I love that because there’s so much opportunity with food to be inspired because we all love food, right? Food is delicious.

Sally Cameron 15:11

Yeah. And we’ve all gotta eat, so…

Megan Porta 15:14

Yeah, we all have to eat. I love your idea to just note maybe like a billboard or somewhere where you see a picture of food and might be inspired by that. So do you, when you are inspired randomly in public or wherever, do you have a notebook or how do you remember those things?

Sally Cameron 15:28

Well first of all, I am a real writer. I, my mother thinks I was born with a pencil and a notepad in my hand. So I like to physically write and that’s why I have a notebook for each year. That’s my journal. I do, I’m doing, like this year I’ll do my keyword stuff and I’ll do my research stuff and my ideas and my planning and then all my recipe development in one journal for the year. And they’re physical and I’ve scribbled all over them and splashed in them. And I like to work that way. But if you’re more comfortable digitally, then you know, go ahead and take pictures and keep files on your phone. I do what? I’m out, like you said, I will just either do a little voice thing and send it to myself. So I remember if I ha can flip open my phone and go to my running list and make a list, I’ll take a picture of something and then put it in a category on my iPhone photos called the album is Food Ideas. So that I can go back and look at a picture and capture whatever it was that it was that inspired me. So there’s lots of ways you can capture your inspiration. I think most of us usually have too much inspiration. That’s like inspiration overload.

Megan Porta 16:34

That’s so true. Yeah. We have to rein it in a little bit and kind of align it too with a keyword.

Sally Cameron 16:39

What’s reality.

Megan Porta 16:40

Yeah. Right. And keyword research too. Right. Yeah. And how do you let keyword research influence your inspiration?

Sally Cameron 16:48

Well, when I know the kind of a recipe that I want to develop and I look at what all the ingredients are, I go to my keywords and I see is there an opportunity here If I put my time and energy and resources into creating this recipe, photographing it, posting it is a lot of work. Am I going to have an opportunity for that to be successful? And I know when I was just learning about keyword research and doing Alexas class on cooking with keywords, which is such a great and important course for people to take. You just, you know, if people don’t find your, they can’t find your recipe, then you, what are you doing it for? I mean, sure you need to do it for yourself and for your family. Maybe keep it in your journal for one day when you can figure out how to keyword it if it’s going to be successful or times change. But you have to make sure that with keywords you’re going to be able to get that out there and people are going to find it. And sometimes, you know, so often it’s just a way in in how you word your, your title, right? Yeah. So I always will, when I have an idea, I will sit down after I have the idea and go through my search tools to find out if I think there’s a way I can keyword it that it’s going to be successful and going to be found after I put the work in the development in.

Megan Porta 17:59

Yeah, that’s great advice. Yeah. If people can’t find it, what’s the point of creating the recipe, right? It’s just going to be a page on a website.

Sally Cameron 18:07

I know that’s frustrating. I’ve got recipes on my website now that I want to overhaul that are good, solid recipes. But when I look at the level of competition for the keywords, I’m not sure that they’ll ever rank. So then you have to just make up, make up your mind whether you’ll put the development in for yourself to enjoy and that’s okay. And for your family and friends. And maybe it won’t rank, but you know, you just have to weigh, you have to weigh all the, all the odds.

Megan Porta 18:32

And then how do you deal with flavors outside of maybe your niche or like the American diet? Do you find inspiration internationally?

Sally Cameron 18:41

Well, something I do, and I have a running list of something I’ve thought about posting sometime for people. because I’ve, I’ve got page after page of notes and that is, I’m looking at international flavor profiles for recipe development is a great way to go. It’s like last summer I had a Greek salad recipe on my site that I loved, but it wasn’t being super competitive. And I thought, hmm, there’s gotta be a way that I can word this, maybe change up the recipe a little bit. And I found a way to do it. And it ended up, ended up being a Greek pasta salad. But then, okay, what’s a Greek flavor profile? Well what about the herbs and what about the veggies and the cheeses? I mean, you think about all the yummy things in Greek. Greek culinary cooking, right? So there’s all the wonderful olives and olive oil and, and oregano and feta and seafood and all kinds of things and lamb. So then you can see if your recipe fits within those profiles. Or if you say, oh, you know, if I want to take it down this path, maybe I could use this. And so having those international flavor profiles just noted that you can review sometimes will help your development in terms of giving it a certain flare, giving it a certain taste. It’s just, it’s fun. Yeah. And especially, you know, Mediterranean cooking, let’s take that one as an example. Because people say Mediterranean cooking and they think of, well, France and, and Greece and Italy and Spain. It’s like, but there’s so much more to the Mediterranean than just those major few major profiles. And those few major, you know, culinary experiences. I mean there’s all of North Africa, there’s all of the Eastern Mediterranean. So just becoming familiar with some of those will also help your creativity and your inspiration and maybe help you hone a recipe when that you’re developing a little better.

Megan Porta 20:32

I love that. So getting really inspired by the flavors and not necessarily making your dishes like it, this is an all out Mediterranean dish or anything like that, but you’re just finding inspiration in different areas of the world.

Sally Cameron 20:44

Yeah. And as you know, and you, you might find, oh I really seem to like these kind of recipes. There’s a fun example here is I have two good friends who are from Hungary and they’re so cute. I adore them both. And I knew they were both from the same country because they have exactly the same cute accents. And there’s a, you know, famous, there’s a couple of very famous dishes and I said to them both, Hey, I would like to make this recipe. Will you please show me how you make it? What’s traditional, what’s authentic? So that I’ve got, you know, kind of from the horse’s mouth, right, what the real deal is. I think today we have to be sensitive to calling recipes authentic for sure. And being sure that they are, or you know, cultural appropriation. That was a whole big thing and kind of still is. We just have to be careful when we say authentic that maybe it is. Or you can always use inspired by or adapted from or whatever. So that, you know, I think that if you’re working within a country’s or a culture’s profile, it’s to want to cook like that, to want to experience it, to want to share that with other people is very flattering. And you never know where that will take you. Maybe it will take you to want to see the country and experience it authentically, but it can just take you on a different journey.

Megan Porta 22:03

Love that. So we’ve found inspiration somewhere and we’ve aligned it with maybe a key word that we want to focus on. Now talk us through how we actually create that recipe.

Sally Cameron 22:13

Okay, so this is where for me, research and brainstorming really comes in. And I’ll sit down with my notebook and I’ll just brainstorm a list of potential ingredients, herbs and flavors and spices and proteins. And I might note the different cooking methods. Is it braised, is it roasted, is it grilled? Is it just sauteed or steamed? So I just brainstorm what the potential for that recipe idea could be. And then I start kind of weeding it out. Yeah, this sounds good. Or no, this is a little bit too exotic. Most people aren’t going to find it. Or no, this is, could be a little bit of a pricey ingredient. Now you can always mention things like that in your post. But when you’re creating and crafting the recipe, when you’re developing it, you need to be careful of, of those kinds of things too. So we know what are the commonly included ingredients in a particular recipe? How is it generally or traditionally made? You know, the tools, the process, the timing, the method. Then you can analyze competitive recipes and traditional recipes and cookbooks and magazines and online and note maybe common ratios or common servings. And then you need to think about how will your recipe be different from what’s out there and why, what’s going to make it different? And also, you know, does it fit within your site? Does it fit within your mission or your niche? So those are all things that you go through in brainstorming. And sometimes it’s a very simple recipe and it doesn’t take a lot of time. And sometimes it’s a more complex recipe. So you just keep your notes and keep, sometimes I’ll work on one for a bit and it isn’t working and then I’ll go on and I’ll work on another one that I’ve begun. So you can, it’s okay to go back and forth as you are inspired and kind of go from that direction. But research and brainstorming before you invest the time, energy, and money to develop a recipe.

Megan Porta 24:09

Yeah. I think the more notes I take, the better. So when I take a ton of notes, even if it’s just overkill and I’m writing down, oh this was slightly salty or whatever, like the more the better. Because then your content can become more robust and more helpful for people.

Sally Cameron 24:26

Totally agree. And I do the exact same thing, Megan. I take tons and tons and tons of notes and sometimes it’s just small things, but you never know when that little small thing is going to be important either in a comment and you can say, oh yeah, or it’s good for a chef’s tip within your post. Or when you do like a substitutions and variations section, you can mention some of those things or tips to making a recipe successful. You can mention them. So I don’t think there is having too many notes. Yeah, there’s no such thing. Whether they all end up in your recipe or your pose is a different story. But in your development journal.

Megan Porta 25:03

Yeah. Or down the road, if you do get a comment that is questioning something, you can go back to your notes and see if there’s anything about that. Right?

Sally Cameron 25:09

Yeah. Like, oh yeah, you know, I tried that and you can do that. But I like the flavor of this better, which is why I noted it.

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Megan Porta 26:49

Okay, so you got your, your recipes made, you have all of your notes. Then what do you do next?

Sally Cameron 26:54

That’s kind of when you put on your creative cap and like you’ve already talked about, like we’ve thought about the role of flavors and you know, flavors are, are so important of course, but they’re powerful memory makers and they transport you to another time and place. So then maybe you outline your recipe real quick. Okay, let’s say it’s a chicken recipe. Well I’m going to use, you know, boneless skinless chicken breasts or it’s going to be bone in chicken breasts and how many do I need or how many pounds do you need? What kind of an oil, let’s say it’s a recipe you’re going to sauté on the soap stove top. Okay, what oil am I going to use and what other oils could people use if they wanted to? Like I cook so much with olive oil, but I also think, you know, that avocado oil is good, coconut oil can be good and a good neutral oil, but not, not vegetable oil. I am not a vegetable oil person because most of it is, it’s just not very healthy the way it’s made. And I will note that that just goes back to my nutrition background and my health coaching certification and all that. But I’m very focused on healthy, healthy recipes. And I’m also gluten-free so that, you know, applies. Although I’m not purely gluten-free, I should have said that in the beginning. I try to make sure that anybody who comes to my site will find recipes that they can enjoy and can work with. But that I make notes for special dietary needs, because that kind of became my background. You know, when you’re a chef people first thing out of their mouth is, oh what’s your specialty? And I, I didn’t really know how to answer it for so many years and then it hit me and it was, oh well it’s really special diets. It’s really having to help people learn to eat in a new way if they have to. And you think about those things, right? Okay, I’m going to use flour in this, but is it going to be wheat flour or is it going to be gluten-free flour? Are there common allergens in it I might make need to make a note about? And once you jot down what you think a loose recipe is, then you make it the first time you see how it goes, you keep that notebook right by your stove top and you make notes, okay, I liked this. I did this for so many minutes. Oh this is going to work but maybe try this next time. And you just really flesh it out to see how, how it’s going to work. And that’s where when I start my testing, especially as you get more into formal testing and you’re trying to really finalize a recipe, I have a four step timer that is on my stove around my counter and I, because it’s got four different sections in it. Have you seen those? They’re really neat.

Megan Porta 29:23

No, but I am intrigued. Tell me about it.

Sally Cameron 29:25

I think it’s made by Thermoworks. I think I bought it on Amazon probably. But you know, it’s a little tricky to use sometimes. Like it took me a little bit of time to figure out how to use the thing. But like yesterday I was working on a recipe. The top recipe was my prep time and the top timer was my prep time. The second one was like the first stage of the recipe. It was, it’s the soup. So it was like the sauté portion with the veggies and the carrots and the celery and the onion. And then the next section was, okay, how long does it has to simmer? And then the fourth. And so you have all your time and you can hit stop on one, move on to the next and capture all of your times so that when you go to say how long is this supposed to be going to take, you can add up your time, give it a little bit of leeway and then, you know,

Megan Porta 30:08

That is amazing. I’m not kidding you. Like maybe two weeks ago I was in my mind thinking there needs to be a timer out there that has multi, yeah like multi-timers in one and it exists.

Sally Cameron 30:20

It’s really neat and it’s, it’s big and heavy. I mean it’s not a small gadget. It’s probably a good, you know, I don’t know, six or eight inches high and four or five inches across. It’s a beast. But when you’re, when you’re doing stuff like this, I just looked back at my time yesterday when I got it done, I went, okay, eight minutes here and 12 minutes here and 15 minutes here and six minutes here. And I’m like, oh, okay. So I know the basics of how I was working and what people should, you know, expect. And I try not to rush because I know that I can prep faster than people. So I try to just take a deep breath and go a little bit more slowly so that I’m not over or underestimating the time it’s going to take to work on a recipe to get through it.

Megan Porta 31:01

So you take all these notes and then you transfer them. Do you directly make an outline? Do you write a post? How do you translate that to the blog?

Sally Cameron 31:11

Yeah, I’ll write all, I’ll go through all my scribblings and my splashes on, look at all my notes and then I try and write out a clean final recipe and then I will make sure that I’ll go through my notes and make sure that I’ve included everything and try and maybe condense it a little bit into, because you know you don’t want to be too windy and too long ordered with recipes. It has to be concise. So I will go through and write up a recipe and I’ll put it in my, my recipe card. because we all live in within the parameters of our recipe cards. So it’s kind of about documentation time. And first you do like what’s in the recipe and then you outline your recipe with what your ideas are. And then you do your recipe testing with your tools and your timers. And also thinking about the obvious things like, oh you should also, I think most of us these days have digital thermometers. You should always, you know, use those. And a digital kitchen scale is something really critical for weights and measures. And I weigh and measure everything if, for accuracy. And then for descriptions when writing the recipe, and those are a very inexpensive tool. You can buy ’em on Amazon for 30 bucks, 25 bucks, 50 bucks, whatever. They have something called a tare feature. Are you familiar with digital kitchen scales?

Megan Porta 32:26

Yes. But I don’t know the tare feature.

Sally Cameron 32:29

Tare. T-A-R-E will allow you, first you put on a bowl and it will weigh the bowl. You hit tare, it goes to zero, then you can pour in your next ingredient, weigh it out and hit tare. It takes you to zero. It’s especially good with baking because you can measure faster and weigh. But then, and I do everything with weights and measures and I note both because I mean, what’s a medium onion, right? I mean is it a cup? Is it a cup chopped? Is it eight ounces, is it 10 ounces? So I make those notes very detailed notes when I am developing it. I weigh and measure in different ways for accuracy and because it’s really gotta be accurate. So noting how much each recipe takes. And then I write it out and I try and put it within, you know, my recipe card and I look at what the, what I’ll do is I’ll put it in to my recipe card and I’ll run the nutritional’s on it and I’ll see if they make sense. Oh, is this too high in fat? Is it balanced in protein? Is it trying to, am I accomplishing what the need of my recipe was? I mean it depends more if you’re a, you know, have a special dietary focus like your low carb or your keto or your paleo or whatever. But look at the nutritions and make sure that it makes sense.

Megan Porta 33:42

I like that suggestion.

Sally Cameron 33:43

And then I write it out.

Megan Porta 33:44

That’s a great one.

Sally Cameron 33:44

But you know what I do too is I work, when I cook my own recipes off my site, I use my own recipes and sometimes my friends have said, are you cooking from your own recipes? And I’m like, yes, I do this so that I can double check myself. Does it still work? Is my timing right? Did I describe it accurately? Can I make a word that’s a little bit more helpful for somebody? And sometimes then you can go back and you can make a little extra note.

Megan Porta 34:10

That is such a great point. Okay. I just did this last weekend. I was making a soup that I hadn’t made in a couple of years. I could have done it by memory, but I didn’t. I went onto my site and I did exactly what I was seeing except I did make a few adjustments. I added an extra can of diced tomatoes. I added a little bit more pasta. Yeah. And so I might go back in there and revise it. So I think that’s a really good recommendation to use your own recipe and then alter if needed.

Sally Cameron 34:36

It’s good. And what I’ll do is I’ll go to my site and I’ll print the recipe to see how it prints too. And then I know I can scribble over my printed recipe, take it back to my desk and then make any updates like you a little extra pasta or you can add an extra can of tomatoes. In fact, yesterday’s test for me, I was revamping an old chicken soup recipe that I did for a cookbook years ago. And I thought, oh you know what would be good in this? I could include this. I wanted to add some leeks to it. I love leeks. So I added leeks to the soup to give it a little bit different twist. And I made it with a different herb. And then I went in and I’m going to make a note about you can try this herb too. So it’s just a kind of evolution. And it also shows that you’re, you care about your recipes, you care about your readers when you’re continually looking to, to double check yourself, to double check your recipes that you have developed and see that they still work.

Megan Porta 35:25

Great point. How much recipe testing do you do? So before you put a recipe up for the first time publishing it, do you do a certain number of run throughs or does it depend?

Sally Cameron 35:36

It depends. It depends. First it depends on the kind of recipe. You know, some recipes are very simple. I mean, if you’re doing a grilled chicken recipe and it’s a marinade and some chicken, it’s no big deal. Right. So it’s pretty simple. But I think the recipes that take longer are recipes that have sauces that might be a little bit more complicated. Oh, the one from last year I did was I overhauled my, my waffles recipe. Oh my gosh. That took, I don’t know, five or six tests. Easy, easy. And my neighborhood loved it because my neighbors volunteered to eat all my tests. And I did ’em all on a Sunday and people were literally, it is your next batch ready? I’m going to run over and pick ’em up. Or my husband was running ’em down the street and it was like, it was like waffle day on, on my street in my neighborhood. And you know, I got it to where I wanted it to be until I knew it was perfect. Yeah. So the recipes like that do take more work. And especially if you are, for example, if you are like, I’m gluten-free. So if I was originally a wheat bait, wheat based flour recipe, is it going to work the same way? So if you are translating a recipe due to special dietary needs, then there is often more testing involved. But a lot of things are just naturally, you know, good the way they are. And you don’t have to do too many tests. But sometimes I can do it with three or four tests and sometimes it’s six or seven tests. And sometimes, like with one recipe I have, I have messed with it and messed with it for off and on for so many years and it’s because I’m trying to find a way to make it easier for people. Yeah. And I’ve made it, I don’t know, three or four different ways, it never seems to come out the same. And, my, my husband’s like, can you duplicate that? I’m like, I don’t know, I have to go take notes. So he’s, well better write that one down. That’s, that’s his favorite line. Better write that one down. Okay. Okay. I’ll write it down whatever I did. But it just depends. Test and testing’s critical. But sometimes, sometimes it’s just like snap and it just works. Right? Yes. Oh, and you make it again and it works and you’re like, oh I love this. This is great. This one’s just a natural. And you know that it’s going to be easy for people and sometimes it’s one that you have to make a bunch of times to get it right. But when you get that, when you get that one tougher one done, you’re like, you’re proud of yourself. You’re like, yes, this is going to work for people. It’s going to be really good and it works.

Megan Porta 37:52

My dinner rolls took me forever and ever and ever. But man it is the most perfect recipe. And I totally get what you’re saying about just noting all of those details. Yeah. Like you need a thermometer, you need the dough to feel exactly like this. You need to let it rest in a warm place, you need those details. Otherwise, others are going to feel just like I did many times before I got it right.

Sally Cameron 38:14

I know. They’ll think why didn’t this come out? And nothing. That’s one thing you don’t want is when somebody makes your recipe and it doesn’t work for them, you know, they’re either going to be mad or they’re going to be disappointed or they’re going to feel like they wasted their time and their money or all of the above and they’re not going to be happy with you. And you don’t want to do that to your readers. You want them to be excited. Do you want them to, to eat well and to serve their family well, you want all the, you know, the positives for them on why you created that recipe. So, you know, like you said, it’s just, and, and the more cues you can write them into your notes when you’re developing in your journal, it looks, this color, it feels like this, it’s about this temperature. All of those notes are the visual clues that will help them be able to replicate your recipe successfully. And those, those little, those little notes are very, they’re very helpful. But it also shows that you did your job, it shows that you care about your recipe development, that you really tested it and you care about your reader and you want them to be successful.

Megan Porta 39:15

How often do you mention equipment?

Sally Cameron 39:17

I do. I don’t do a equipment section anymore. If it’s something in particular, I’ll put it like in the equipment section of the recipe card. But I will always do like, you know, high speed blender. Obviously if you’re doing things that require a blender, a Dutch oven, and sometimes I’ll explain why, if there’s a particular piece of equipment that is like, you know, a blender versus a food processor versus an emulsion blender. Now recipes sometimes can be made with all three tools, but what will the differences be? Or are there no differences? Because not everybody has a food processor. To me it’s like, well doesn’t everybody have a food processor? I can’t imagine living without one. I’ve had one for an eternity, but not everyone does. I, I had a girlfriend, she really hasn’t liked to cook, but she had some dietary challenges and she said, I’m next, last year I’m going to learn to cook this year and you’re going to help me. I’m like, okay. So she had no tools. I mean she didn’t even have a blender. Wow. And I’m like, okay, you need to invest in some basic tools. And she did. And she started following some of my recipes and I told her which ones to try first that were simple. And she got excited and she really started cooking and her family was happier and she got through her improving her health situation. And you know, but you just have, I always think of her, will she have this? Will she have a blender? Will she have a pot like this? Does she have this size? And sometimes I’ll call and ask her and we’ll work through it. And I think, well how could I make this work for her? Yeah. And you have to really keep in mind, everybody has different kitchens. Everybody has different stoves, different ovens, or they’re in a different place now. You know, I am not a kid anymore and I’ve collected a lot of cooking equipment through the years. So I’ve got a really big arsenal to pull from when I’m cooking. But not everybody’s had the ability to collect all of that. I mean, when we say Dutch oven, you know, there are some inexpensive ones on the market now, but you know, I’ve had Le Creuset for 25 years. So I always think about that and it’s the weight of the pan and it does affect how long something cooks or the, the flame or the heat that you have under it. I mean it all, it all just, it all works together for recipes. But you have to keep your readers in mind. Do they have the stuff?

Megan Porta 41:27

I never would’ve thought that someone wouldn’t have a blender. That’s so interesting to think. Just really basic. Like if you don’t have a blender, what do you do for things that need to be, yeah. So interesting.

Sally Cameron 41:40

Well she was sort of financially limited for a while, so I helped her find like a really lower cost Vitamix and she was so excited and she saved for it and she got it and then she started making investments in better pots and pans and she bought herself a decent knife. So it’s, you know, just watching her, you know, make this progression. And I think those of us who know how to cook and have been cooking for a long time and it’s our passion, we take for granted what we have. Oh. So, and you have to, you have to put on another hat that says, okay, does everybody have this? Does everybody have that? And if not, how do they make it? This is, and sometimes, sometimes the answer is, if you don’t have this, you just can’t. Sure. I understand that. But a lot of times there’s a workaround.

Megan Porta 42:28

Yeah. Such a great thing to keep in mind. And also a reminder not to take our kitchen tools for granted. I just, yeah, I just don’t think of that. But I was thinking of like when you maybe process or puree, you know, crackers or something for a crust and offering, you can put that in a Ziplock bag and hit it with a spoon or something like that. Just providing those alternatives.

Sally Cameron 42:51

Yes. Run over it with a rolling pin. Like my mother taught me when I was a kid. I mean there’s, there’s a way, there’s usually a way. There is usually a way, not always right, but usually and try and think about that for your arrears and if, if one of your friends makes it, like I tell her now if you make this, you call me or you email me, you tell me how did, how did it work for you? And I’m, what makes me the happiest is when she emails and said, oh my gosh, I made that and it came out great and we loved it. And I’m like, oh my gosh, if she can make it, hallelujah.

Megan Porta 43:20

We’re set. We’re good.

Sally Cameron 43:22

I know. It’s a good recipe. Yay. So I love her to death and I’m just so excited to see her coming along in her cooking journey and that I’m able to help her and that she is diving in and trying some recipes.

Megan Porta 43:33

That’s amazing. I want to give her a big hug. Yeah, I know. So what else do we need to know Sally, about just recipe testing. Creating the recipe? Documenting it, any of that?

Sally Cameron 43:43

Well let’s see. You know, if like one of the, all the things that you need to take time, especially with baking, you mentioned like your dinner rolls, if there’s a cooling time, note how long it’s going to take to cool and then test it. If you have extra, you know, put it in the fridge and label it and see how it’s like in three or four or five days. Do you still like it? Did it work well? Did it hold well? Freeze a little bit if you have some extra and then date it and remind yourself in a month to take it out and thaw and try it. Did it really freeze well or are you just kind of guessing that it would? And don’t guess about how long food will last. There’s really good resources out there for food safety. I think I sent you the links. You could always put those in the notes and don’t necessarily take another site’s notes on accuracy for oh, over the last two days or over the last five days. Or if it’s a sauce, it’ll last a month. because I’ve seen a lot of mistakes out there that would not be food safe in my opinion. I’m also chefs, one of the first things you go through is your food, food safety certification and something I’ve kept up for 20 years and you know, food has to be safe. So there are resources like,, there’s USDA stuff. There’s stuff on like Mayo Clinic I’ve seen. So keep a list of your resources, versus keep a running list. And when you say we will last five days in the fridge, we’ll last three days in the freezer, whatever, be sure you’re right. Yeah. because you don’t want getting somebody having a bad experience. So it’s, you know, being food safe. Especially as we, you know, next summer when things are hot and people are out grilling and you’re out at picnics or the beach or whatever. You have to be careful with stuff like that. 

Sally Cameron 45:23

Let’s see here. Recipe writing. So this is a whole different book, and this could be a whole different conversation. I’m sure you’ve probably done them on the podcast, but you, the basics are a short but clear head note consistency around how you describe your recipes. And what’s most helpful for making the recipe successfully? Always notes at the end of a recipe card that will help your readers and the hold back. You know, one of the big questions with recipe writing is, okay, is it a half an onion? Is it a cup of chopped onion? I will do both for accuracy. Depends on how you like to write your recipes. And that’s where a, something like Will Write for Food really comes in handy is that you should develop consistency on how you want to describe. Are you happier saying a half an onion and then over on that far right side of the recipe card saying one cup chopped? Or is it the other way around? Is it, you know, three medium carrots? Well, I’ve seen big carrots and small carrots, so you can say three medium carrots, but then I’ll put, you know, a cup of chopped carrots. And that all is part of your recipe and you’re testing your development so that you measure something, you weigh something and you chop it up and then you measure it again and you take all your notes. So that’s important. And you know, I realize that different people have different recipe writing styles, or if you’re developing for a client, they may give you a style sheet or preferred terms on how they want recipes written. Oh gosh. One of the books I worked on, I went round and around with their editors on how to describe food. They said, no, it has to be one medium onion. And I sent them like a picture and said, okay, these all say medium onions. This weighs eight ounces, this weighs 10 ounces, this weighs 12 ounces. I said, if I just say one if you say one onion, people aren’t going to get the same results. So, you know, you have to just think about that. Also, if you want help on recipe writing is in, on Dianne J’s website. Dianne Jacob is, who wrote Will Write for Food. She’s become a friend of mine and I’ve worked with her through the years too. She’s great. But her website is Dianne – with two N’s – And if you go to her archive area categories, there’s all kinds of stuff out there you can read on recipe writing. And it will help you to become a better recipe writer. You’ve done all this work, you’ve tested, you developed, you put your time and money and energy and you’re ready to go. But now you’ve gotta make sure that you’re writing it the right way. So there’s a lot of good resources out there. Books and websites and things that will help you to write better recipes. Yeah.

Megan Porta 47:51

Wow. This was just chockfull of great information. So many tidbits in here that are really helpful and valuable. So thank you. This is so great, Sally.

Sally Cameron 48:02

Thank you so much for having me, Megan. I mean, I could talk about this all day long and I’m sure I barely, I’m probably going to hang up and go, oh, you know, I should have mentioned that.

Megan Porta 48:10

That happens all the time, by the way. People email me after and they’re like, oh no, I forgot to say so many things. So you’re not alone with that.

Sally Cameron 48:18

I know. But you know, the other thing too is, I mean, if somebody has a question on any of this or they have a specific question, I’m more than happy to answer them. If they just want to, you know, do the contact thing or put my link, you know, how they can reach me in the, in the notes. If anybody has a question, I’m more than happy to answer them or guide them or give them my opinion or whatever. So, you know, it’s just about helping each other and that’s why we’re here.

Megan Porta 48:41

Yes. Well, thank you for showing up today and helping all of us. We appreciate you so much.

Sally Cameron 48:45

Oh, it’s such an honor. Thank you.

Megan Porta 48:47

Yay. Well, do you have either a favorite quote or words of inspiration to leave us with today?

Sally Cameron 48:52

I have a favorite quote and this I think really goes along with what we do as food bloggers and what you do as a podcast host who has hundreds, has hundreds and hundreds of podcasts under her belt. And it’s from Billy Graham. And it says, we are not cisterns made for hoarding, but we’re channels made for sharing.

Megan Porta 49:12

That’s powerful.

Sally Cameron 49:12

And I think that’s what this is about. We’re not cisterns made for hoarding our information, hoarding our talents, our gifts, our experiences, but we’re channels made for sharing those with others. We share our recipes, we share our experiences, our memories. We share, you know, our culture. We share so much, so much passion for food and for so much more through our blogs. And we do it in community to help each other. Right. We do it in community here to support and help each other. So I think that’s just a real good one. I look at often.

Megan Porta 49:48

Oh, I love that so much. And the people who are most food bloggers are really forthcoming with information, which I love so much about our community and the ones who are get the most back too. You get what you give. I think I always say that to my boys, you get what you give, because they’re always like, this is my candy. They’re teenagers and they still do this. No, I’m not going to share Starbucks with you. I’m like, what? Are you kidding?. You get what you give like, oh my gosh, share. And you’re going to get the same and more back. Right?

Sally Cameron 50:16

You do. And it may not come in exactly the way that you expect it to or at the time you expect, but it will come back. It’s like planting seeds, right. Seeds grow, but seeds take time to grow. You don’t put seeds in the ground and, and they just pop up and you have instant lettuce like I have in my raised bed garden. I love to love to garden and grow a lot of my own stuff, but it takes time. So when you plant those seeds, maybe the harvest is going to be later and that’s just fine.

Megan Porta 50:39

Yeah. Great message. Thank you for sharing that, Sally. We’ll put together a show notes page for you and if you want to go look at that, you can go to blog Tell everyone where they can find you, Sally.

Sally Cameron 50:52

Yep. It’s at And you can just send me an email right there through the contact page is fine. And I think you’re going to put that in the show notes on how to reach me too. And I’m happy to, you know, I’m on Instagram and Facebook and all that stuff. Like we all are these days. The love hate relationship with social media.

Megan Porta 51:11

I hear you.

Sally Cameron 51:13

Oh my gosh. It’s so hard to get it all done, isn’t it? It is just so hard.

Megan Porta 51:17

Oh, it is. It really is. That’s a whole other conversation.

Sally Cameron 51:21

I know. That’s why I, when I go back to your podcast you did a week or so ago on planning, I’m going to make myself sit down and listen to it. I first listened to it when I was out walking. I thought, no, I need to listen to this one at my desk and take notes. So yes.

Megan Porta 51:35

Well, let me know how it goes when you sit down. That would be fun to hear.

Sally Cameron 51:38

I will. It’s going to be great.

Megan Porta 51:39

Well, thank you again, Sally, for being here.

Sally Cameron 51:41

Thank you so much.

Megan Porta 51:42

It was such a pleasure. And thank you for listening food bloggers. I will see you in the next episode.

Outro 51:49

Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Eat Blog Talk. If you enjoyed this episode, I’d be so grateful if you posted it to your social media feed and stories. I will see you next time.

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