If you are like me, this shutdown has you looking for new ideas in the kitchen, and the easiest/fastest place to find them is on the internet. But here's my question: why do online recipes always have a long story before the actual recipe?

There are some pretty good explanations here on Reddit and, to narrow the reasons down, let's sum it up in 2 words: money and rankings.

Let's tackle rankings first: if you post a web story (recipe, news article, whatever) your goal is to get people to see that story. When someone looks for a recipe, they will search "Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe" or "Baked Chicken with Rosemary Recipe". The search engine then takes those words and not only searches for a website that most closely matches those words but the website that uses those words the most. The algorithms that search engines use to flush out the best results change all the time, but for the most part, their goal is to find a page that matches those words with the most content containing those words. The more times you use those words in an orderly fashion in the story, the higher your ranking will be in the search results. (One could cut/paste "Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe" a million times in their story, but the algorithms will recognize that as an attempt to circumvent the algorithms, making the algorithms angry. The algorithms will banish you to the bottom of the pile.)

Now, let's talk money: the longer someone stays on your page, the more likely it is that they will see the advertisements on that page. And, as you know, advertisements means $$. The frequency by which the ads are seen by visitors to the page, the more money the page makes from its advertisers. That's why you'll have a story before the recipe telling you about the time that they made the chocolate chip cookies for their grandmother visiting from the Hamptons and her finding them to be as delicious as the cookies Doris Lieberman brought to the neighborhood picnic in 1953: it's to get you to stay on the page longer. (Wait, you're still reading?  YES!!!!  That's one more ad impression$$)

So, there you have it: it's all about the almighty dollar and being at the top of the list of search results (so that more money can be made).

Now, for that cookie recipe:

  • 2.5 cups of flour, sifted
  • teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch  salt
  • cup shortening (or butter, or butter-flavored shortening)
  • cup brown sugar, compressed
  • cup sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • .5 teaspoon hot water
  • teaspoon vanilla
  • bag chocolate chips
  • cup chopped nuts, if desired

Preheat oven to 375

Soften butter/shortening, add sugars and eggs, vanilla and hot water and mix until blended. Add chocolate chips (and nuts, if desired) and mix until blended.

In a separate bowl, mix flour, salt, and baking soda.

Pour 1/4 to 1/3 dry mixture into bowl with sugar mixture and mix until incorporated. Repeat these steps until all ingredients are completely incorporated. Do not pack, compress, or roll the cookie dough into balls.

On a dry cookie sheet, drop teaspoon- to tablespoon-sized amounts of cookie dough, spacing them far enough apart so they won't touch once they begin to spread out from cooking.

Bake for 8-12 minutes, or until your smoke alarm goes off.