If there is one thing that I learned in architecture school, it is that design problems must be attacked with rigor, a thorough and rational approach to analysis and production. So, when I one day needed to bake a cake and found that I had no go-to recipes, I decided to solve this problem in a rigorous way. I decided to carry out tests in my kitchen until I assembled a set of reliable and easy recipes. And I would photograph the results as I went.
I pulled out old family recipes, a manila envelope of magazine clippings, a copy of The Joy of Cooking from the seventies, and a stack of hometown cookbooks from churches and schools (which, by the way, are the best cookbooks you can buy, as they are assembled from the combined wisdom of many generations of Grannies and are certain to contain a recipe for tuna noodle casserole). I read and read and googled and called my mom, and then I started baking.
I discarded the overly complicated or not-delicious-enough recipes, and hodge-podged together a few dozen really great ones. I uploaded the photos and recipes onto a simple blog template, and I sent out the link to family and friends. The original blog, Ming Makes Cupcakes is here, and archived on this blog here. All of a sudden, the blog started to get picked on other blogs, and I started to get emails from as far away as South Africa. It's at two million hits and counting, still somehow in existence in a far corner of the internet. Three years later, I still get emails every week asking me "What is a stick of butter?" or "What is marshmallow fluff?" Worse, I got an all-caps email accusing me of trying to kill a reader's grandmother with raw egg in a recipe, or a complaint that my red velvet cupcake recipe tasted terrible.
realized quickly that, while I love baking and eating and photographing
food, I did NOT like being a food blogger. A recipe was apparently a
contract between me and the reader, and I was responsible for the
outcome of their baking. This was terrifying.