Here are the top three things she can’t stand to see in recipes:
1. In a bowl, combine… No one talks like that, so why write like that? She doesn’t like “combine,” either. She wants to know: “With a fork, a whisk, your hands, and for how long?”
2. Set aside. “What else would you do with it? Throw it out?” When I am editing recipes, I always edit out both that phrase and the word “reserve.” If you’re looking for brevity, here’s an easy way to start.
3. Put the mixture… This one really gets her going. “Why not call the component parts of a recipe by real names, such as batter, dough, or a custard, or a base? There was nothing wrong with the old-fashioned usage of ‘the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients.’”
“But no, you so much as add salt to your eggs and it becomes an egg mixture, and pretty soon you are mixing the first mixture with the second mixture, and the cook is having a hard time following which mixture is which.”
What do you think? Are any of these terms defensible? And what are your pet peeves in recipe writing?