Most days, when I come home from school, I find myself in a similar situation—starving and absolutely dumbfounded about what I’m going to eat for dinner that night.
I remind myself that pizza can only be ordered twice a week, and I simply cannot have pesto again. I rack my brain for all of my potential options. I try to remember what I ate while I was growing up. After multiple minutes pass with no ideas, I think, “Did we even eat dinner?”
I imagine the bookshelf in my childhood home’s kitchen, filled with cookbooks and a variety of recipes. Our stash of recipes was cherished and mostly hand-collected, written by my mother or a friend passing one along—a practice I feel is becoming less common.
I bought my own recipe box just a few days ago, with the hopes of filling it up in the same way. The last time I was home, I tore through my mom’s collection, taking photos on my iPhone of every dish I felt I could remotely make or enjoy eating.
Luckily, this quaint but time-consuming cooking treasure hunt isn’t the only way anymore.
I can open up my laptop and the internet can provide me with all of the recipes and inspiration there could possibly be—most of which come without a commitment or a paywall.
In particular, I find myself turning to Tasty, a subsection of Buzzfeed that offers short, informational videos featuring how to make a variety of different meals, desserts, and cocktails. I’ve found it’s even helpful to read some of the comments, which offer suggestions from those who have already tried it.
At first, I was really skeptical about this concept, considering all of the very hilarious clickbait listicles of people’s failed attempts at making recipes and crafts from Pinterest.
If this was 30 years ago, the concept of spontaneously calling up a recipe wouldn’t even be considered. It simply wasn’t possible. If I wanted to try a new cuisine, I would need to scourge through cookbooks (that I would need to already own). Instead of just scrolling through videos or typing a food or ingredient into Google, I would have to really plan my meals ahead.
The internet has infiltrated my kitchen. My international cravings can be immediately satisfied with a few clicks.
The first time I tried to make a Tasty recipe, it failed miserably. It was a stuffed breakfast pepper. After burning the pepper while the egg remained raw, I figured I would give it another shot.
I figured that these short, yet entertaining clips must not be giving us all the steps, or that the creators didn’t disclose everything. Based on my previous unsuccessful DIY projects, I wasn’t too surprised.
Of course, I continued to watch the videos because, as someone who loves food and cooking, these videos provided the perfect mini breaks that I needed, without giving much thought as to whether or not I would have any desire to actually attempt one of these recipes again.
After a friend successfully made a Tasty chicken parmesan lasagna recipe, I thought about trying it again. She reassured me that it didn’t look quite right but was still, well, you know tasty.
Last night, I found myself in my all-too familiar situation. After forcing myself to close out of my Seamless food delivery app, I decided to look through Tasty’s videos on Facebook to see if I could find some inspiration.
I watched a few videos that seemed like too much of a time commitment for a Monday night. I finally settled on trying a one-pot alfredo with chicken, bacon, and spinach. I watched the video once, wrote down my ingredients, and headed to the store.
I began to cook slouching over my laptop watching a video, not in front of a recipe or a cookbook. I frequently started and stopped the 51-second video over the course of 42 minutes. When I finished it, the dish in front of me didn’t really look like Tasty’s, but in the end it tasted great.
In 2012, an article on Slate stated that cookbooks would go extinct and be replaced by all online sources. As someone who collects recipes on notecards kept in a box, this upsets me. However, those nights where I can’t imagine what I’m going to eat, the computer comes out before the note cards every time. And why is this?
Honestly though, anything that gets other people as excited about cooking as I am—and actually into the kitchen and making things with their own hands—is fine with me.