How We Develop Recipes

I get asked all the time how we develop the recipes that you see on this website. And the short answer is that we have several quality standards that recipes must meet. So I thought I’d break it down for you today!

As you may have read on my about page, I started Farmgirl Gourmet in 2006 as a way to share recipes with friends and family. I started cooking and ideating recipes when I was in my mid 20’s and people started asking me to help them make this or that. I quit my high stress corporate job and moved to a 20 acre farm in Eastern Washington in 2003 to be a stay at home mom. After a few years, I decided to create Farmgirl Gourmet to share recipes and farm antics.

As you can imagine, things have changed in almost 20 years. I took a 10 year break from the food blog to create Spiceology, a chef-owned chef-operated spice company. Luckily, I was still able to put my recipe development skills to work creating incredible spice blends plus a bunch of recipes as well. You can search mine by using the keywords “mama spice”, my nickname for many years.

I came back to Farmgirl Gourmet in the fall of 2023 because I just really missed creating deliciousness and holding the camera! Below is a sneak peek about what goes into creating recipes for this food blog, big brands, and photography clients as well.

How I Choose Recipes

Most of the time…it’s because something “sounds good”. My brain just works in recipe ideation for whatever reason. So I keep all of it organized in 2 ways: Evernote & Airtable. Evernote allows me to drop in inspirational images or jot notes of what the recipe could be and Airtable allows me to see things visually by category, like: dinner, appetizers, etc.

Every Sunday, I sit down and figure out what I’m going to make for the week and put it on a content calendar in Google. This helps me stay accountable to get it done, and it’s a visual reminder.

Some of the things I take into account while I’m scheduling the week are:

  • Originality: is the recipe something original or my take on a classic? I try to add my own personal touch to the classics like Asian Apricot Spiral Ham or Brown Butter Herbed Mashed Potatoes. While it’s not always going to be an original recipe, I do my best to explain why I think the version I’m blogging about is unique or special.
  • Seasonality: are the ingredients “everyday” and easily sourced?  I want to make sure you’ll be able to find the ingredients at your local supermarket. There’s nothing worse than finding a delicious recipe and you can’t find the ingredients.
  • Difficulty: can you reproduce the recipe in your kitchen without having to buy fancy equipment?  The majority of my recipes only require basic kitchen essentials like skillets, pots, pans, mixing bowls, baking sheets, casserole dishes, etc. The only special equipment, which seems to be less specialty these days, would be the need for a slow cooker or air fryer.

How I Test Recipes

I learned my lesson back in the early days of Farmgirl Gourmet. I posted a recipe, as written by my Portuguese Grandmother, for Portuguese Sweet Bread. I hadn’t tested it myself outside of standing in a kitchen making it with my grandmother. It was an epic fail, because as any good baker knows, bread can be finicky and grandmas who’ve been making it forever, just know when to stop messing with the dough or when to add more flour. Multiple people reached out that they weren’t successful making the recipe so I quickly took it down and made it my priority going forward to test a recipe 2-4 times before it ever lands in words and photos on this website.

It’s important to me that my recipes turn out deliciously in your kitchen and that no ingredients get wasted.

How I Shoot Recipe Photos

Typically recipe photos are shot either in my kitchen on days when the sun is out and my kitchen is flooded in beautiful sunlight, but living in the Pacific Northwest, that’s not very predictable sometimes so on those gloomy days, I shoot with artificial light in my office.

Over the almost 20 years of food blogging and photography, I have amassed some great props, backdrops, and linens to keep each photo feeling fun, colorful, and delicious.

Do You Ever Update Older Recipes?

Yes – this is a necessity. Over 20 years, a lot changes, especially my photography skills. ◡̈ Don’t go too far back in the archives, you might scare yourself with some of my photos. 2024 is the year I’ll be spending a lot of time updating the older recipes on the blog with better photography and also more content, while still adding new recipes weekly. There are so many great recipes on Farmgirl Gourmet and personally, I’m stoked to be able to make and EAT them again.

If I missed a question you might have, ask in the comments below and I’ll be sure to get you a swift answer.

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