Blog your family cookbook

While we were in Tampa earlier this week, I was wandering through a shop and saw a display of local cookbooks. Sucker that I am for 1) cookbooks and 2) Tampa’s regional dishes, I was ready to grab them all. What stopped me? Paprika – my cookbook app on my iPad. Thanks to that app, my iPad spends almost as much time in the kitchen as it does by my reading chair. My next thought was, wouldn’t it be nice if, instead of buying a printed book, I could buy the recipe data to import into Paprika.

By this time I had forgotten about buying the books and was wondering how to create a recipe “data book”. Paprika has a built-in web browser which lets you browse through the many food/recipe sites online and if you find a recipe you like, you can tap the Save Recipe button to add that recipe to your collection. Obviously there’s some kind of standard for presenting recipes via the web that allows this to happen. As soon as I got home, I started checking and sure enough, there’s a microformat standard for recipes. Microformats are additional attributes added to the HTML code to describe the data being presented. There are microformat standards for presenting contact information and event information. Many address book and calendar apps can use that microformat information to make it easy for you to add an event to your calendar, person to your address book or recipe to your cookbook. Paprika isn’t the only cookbook app taking advantage of these micro formats. Most of today’s apps – desktop and mobile – can import properly formatted recipes.

Okay, so a recipe microformat does exist, but does that mean I have to manually code all that information just to post a savable recipe? No! There are several WordPress plugins that make it deliciously simple! I found the Easy Recipe plugin which not only makes it easy to create the recipe – and include images – but allows me to include it as part of a post that tells the story of the recipe or the relative associated with it. And, when I go to the post in my Paprika browser, it’s one tap save. <fist-pump>YES!!!</fist-pump>

The recipe is beautifully formatted – and that format can be adjusted to work within my blog’s theme – and includes all the content items I’d want to have in a recipe. This example is the default style which is perfect for my theme. The recipe can be located at any point within the post. I can even customize things like the titles used in the format. For example, I changed the default “Recipe Type” title to “Category”.

But there’s more! The recipe microformat also makes my recipes very search-friendly and search engines like Google not only find my recipes, but Google’s Recipe View presents the search results to their best advantage.

I’ve updated my two existing recipe posts to use Easy Recipe. You can check out Dad’s Clam Chowder and Southern Saute to get a look at Easy Recipe in action. You’ll notice that I’ve included some of the story in the Notes area of each recipe – along with links back to the original post. That provides context once the recipe has been imported into someone’s cookbook app.

Something tells me I’ll be blogging even more family recipe stories now that I have this plugin to make it easy.

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