Verbal Remedy AKA Denise

Verbal Remedy AKA Denise
Del Mar, California, The One That's In A State Of Steep Decline
January 18
Much preferred to the alternative.
Born. Grew up. Kept growing up. Started growing older. Still at both the growing up and growing older. Stay tuned.


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JANUARY 12, 2009 1:54PM

What Part of "Recipe" Do You Not Comprehend?

Rate: 77 Flag

Recipe: Roast Turkey With Port Wine Sauce 

Real Comment. 

You're kidding. No, really, you have got to be kidding. It's a joke. Yes, that's it. This comment was an ephemeral piece of humorous performance art, dashed off in annoyed response to somebody else's idiotic substitution. A tiny tweak, tossed at indiscriminate substitutors everywhere...

Oh, God. 

Maybe it isn't.

The fact that I am considering, even for a brief moment, that this commenter was not kidding speaks volumes about the "Recipie Reviews" on, doesn't it?

Click on the "Reviews" tab for just about any recipe, and you'll find that roughly one poster in six feels the need to lament the absence of some staple in the pantry, and to inform us all that a substitution was made. Sometimes the substitutions make sense. Sometimes they don't.

  • I didn't have fennel, so I used fennel seed.
  • I didn't have celery, so I used canned chestnuts.
  • I didn't have cointreau, so I used balsamic vinegar.
  • I didn't have chocolate chips, so I used mouse droppings.
  • I didn't have red beans, so I used a bag of marbles.
  • I didn't have carrots, so I tore up a picture of Frosty the Snowman and threw it into the pot.
  • I didn't have a stove, so I poured gasoline into the stock pot and set the whole goddamned mess on fire out in the driveway.
  • 1 Fork. This was really bad.

Seriously, people. Either you fundamentally followed the recipe (possibly even improvising with jazzy skill, using years of cooking knowledge to tweak a flavor here, a flavor there) and re-created the recipe writer's carefully constructed platform for A Stew or A Roast or A Salad or A Pasta Dish...

Or, you cleaned out the refrigerator (possibly also your garage) and then dumped the collective haul into the dinner pot. Because you apparently just didn't feel like making a ten-minute run to the grocery store.

Then, you blamed the recipe.

I hope the comment up there was intended to be, in point of fact, one tiny little angry fist, shaking at the legions of recipe commenters who think you can substitute parsley for basil (in pesto for god's sake), or lemon yogurt for sour cream, or hot paprika for sweet paprika.

But I'm still just a little bit concerned that it may have been serious. It may have been real.

Honestly...there are some people there who need to have their aprons taken away.


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I didn't have a comment, so I spit on my keyboard.
I believe it can be successfully argued that cooking—somewhat like wearing stretch pants—should not a right but rather a privilege.
That comment does your head in. If it's real it's really really sad. If it's not, it's great, life affirming art indeed.
"I didn't have a stove, so I poured gasoline into the stock pot and set the whole goddamned mess on fire out in the driveway."

I thought THAT was funny til I saw you spitting on your keyboard. Your rants are platinum.
Ha! the comment on the recipe, of course
I don't know when I have laughed so hard ... I guess it's a "cook" thing, but I literally have tears running down my face!!!

If I ever write a cookbook, I would like for you to pen the "Acceptable Substitutions" section!!!

Thank you for a great belly laugh!!! ...and the tags!!! Funny, funny, funny!!!

Yep, people are doofi. A whole bunch of 'em.

To paraphrase "Ratatouille", it was put best - "Anyone can cook. But only some can cook WELL."

I can follow a recipe. Seriously. And if I don't have the RIGHT ingredient? I go out and get it...or make something else.

Hell, there's always nachos.

Rob told me he liked my Billy Evans voice best, y'all, so I was trying to get back there. :-) Thanks for stopping by!
That's gotta be a joke. Surely no one is really that stupid...
Of course I've been wrong about someone's sincerity before...

Just look at it this way. If it's not a joke the person is probably gonna be stupid enough to substitute something that he really shouldn't substitute like dynamite for fire wood and then the gene pool will be a bit more clean.
Rated for righteous ranting.
I laughed so hard my nipples hurt-VR you are the bomb, and everything else bomb-able. Rated, of course.
I didn't have a brain, so I used Quaker oatmeal instead.

Seriously?! salmon for turkey? I can only hope it is a super-ironic commentary on the mush that passes for brains these days.
I'm afraid I've eaten at this restaurant several times :

"I didn't have chocolate chips, so I used mouse droppings."
I cant stop laughing today, and i got a bug. Verbal, this is funny. I got to miss the keyboard when I spit coffee. wiping up coffee. moniter smeary. haahahahah
Ann, take your nipples over to the squirrel's place next. Lots more food-related laughery just went up there. :-)

1_I-M, I think it probably is a cook thing. I've got friends to whom I wouldn't bother sending this, because they'd blink (blankly) and wonder why you can't substitute vinegar for cointreau. I would be honored to contribute to your hypothetical cookbook any day.

darkside-I hear that nachos are easy. Except I didn't have tortillas, so I used toast, and I didn't have cheese, so I used a can of soup.

I am at this very minute yoying with the idea of posting your dynamite substitution, Mungular. :-)
I *think* and hope that comment was a joke...

As someone who has never followed a recipe exactly, except maybe a standard cake, I know it does take some basic knowledge to make substitution. I always consider that when doing anything more than minor tweaks, I'm using the recipe as "suggestion only" and creating my own.
I have read stuff like that there....."I don't like I used...SALMON?"..

I hope its a joke.. but then again.. I've run into some people who would do things like that!
I almost never follow the recipe, but any failures are my own darn fault... as i said in my 25 things, I haven't killed anybody yet and there's always frozen pizza....

..... they have recipe comments? Never knew that...having marvelled at the lack of coherence in salon's letters, and various basketball bulletin boards, I can only imagine how incoherent recipe comments must be. I'd rather spit on the keyboard.

I have seen cooking shows where they made a "pesto" out of parsley, and substituted yogurt for sour cream....the pressure of coming up with a 'new' recipe 5 times a week, I guess.

Loved the piece.
I have seen reviews like that and they are maddening. I feel sorry for the poor person who wrote the recipe in the first place, checking on the website for validation and finding BS like that. I tell you, the general populace is just damned stupid. We're perfect but the rest of them, damn ;-)
Hey, don't knock marbles and rice until you've tried it.
Save the apron. It's their heads that have to be removed.
I don't cook. I mean, I do the whole barbecue thing in summer, but if it requires a recipe my rule is follow the recipe or get take-out. 'Cause I wouldn't know the difference between cointreau and balsamic vinegar if you showed it to me.
I laughed, I cried, mostly I cried because I laughed - Darwinism at its finest.

Thumbed. I wonder if you can substitute ground hog for turkey?
Hee-freaking-larious...I sent your piece to some friends, and I didn't make any substitutions.
Hysterical observation, in excellent Billy Evans voice. Bte, was there answer back??
Anyway I'm substituting a thumb for a shout-out.
Bill, that's a brilliant idea! Next thanksgiving, I am sculpting a turkey-like object out of sausage. Except I won't have any sausage, so I'll use snails.
Great piece. All the recipe tweaking I ever do is to add way
more garlic than the recipe calls for.
I'm flattered, mistercomedy! (Everybody go read mistercomedy's stuff. He makes good laughs.)
rated four forks for funghi. dude. honest. a scream.
My mom was famous for her substitutions. She once called and asked if she could come to dinner and what was I making? Stir fry I replied. Ok! I'll bring the meat said mom.
She brought hot dogs.
Gracie, please expand on that in a whole blog entry. Because my tea just went "squirt."

Hot Dog Stir Fry with Pickle Relish and Ketchup Sauce
Ah, yes, I can see it now...
Huh? I'm sorry I wasn't listening, What?
D, your "sardonic, ironic, sarcastic" voice is in fine form today. One of my favorite voices, btw.
Okay, this is laugh-out-loud funny, post and first comment. Bless you, Billy Evans, wherever you are now, for inspiring this voice...
I keep coming back for more laughs. This is like a slow moving comedy.
What is next???
I cant say what I had for a comment. i had to change my clothes. go figger.
hee hee I like the part about the snowman ... I wonder if that would really work ...
You are a funny, funny girl and you are deadly at "right on point."

I DO NOT read the comments. Okay, maybe I read the comments if the original recipe has me scratching my head---you know, something like "fold the peanut butter into mayonnaise/salsa mixture," but other than that, I avoid the "other cooks'" comments, because most time I find nonsense like the comment you've sited.

Parsley, walnuts, parmesan and olive oil makes a nice change-of-pace pesto by the way. (I'm very partial to parsley, but it has to be the flat "Italian" kind.)
I will never be guilty of such a comment. Nor will I ever be guilty of cooking. Ok, well, maybe I re-heat hubby's leftovers. Sometimes I don't burn them.

My involvement in the kitchen amounts to me listening to hubby rant about how stupid cups and teaspoons are and how the European system of measure by weight is preferable.

Funny post - unbelievable comment. I certainly hope it was tongue-in-cheek.
OMG, they need to have the whole kitchen taken away from them! Substituting salmon for turkey... Maybe the chef's hat is too tight, blocking the blood flow to the brain. I think I just lost my appetite. Great, funny post!
This kind of thing drives me crazy. It's why I prefer my shelf full of cookbooks. They don't contain "feedback" from nutjobs.
Pleasepleaseplease tell me that the commenter made the bastardized recipe for company. :-D

Wow. Stupidity can be so entertaining sometimes. This was awesome, VR. Definitely thumbed!
i just know this very same person has delusions of opening a restaurant and will be angry beyond any measuring cup that it gets a negative review. Glad I don't do THAT anymore. I dislike their joint already! I miss you!!!
Yes! Take those aprons away. I saw Martha Stewart on Oprah once years ago. Many audience members adored her...they talked of ironing slipcovers and other things I will be assigned to do in hell. Anyway, one woman stood up and complained about a cookie recipe, but she had substituted over half the ingredients with stupid shit. What did she expect? Oprah chided her. And the recipe was supposed to be low sugar or low fat, I think, so if you don't get those just right, you will be eating cardboard.
"I didn't have cointreau, so I used balsamic vinegar."

O my...I spent all day filling boxes with green beans and corn and needed that SO much!
that was pretty funny, though i have to admit being a serial offender--on the substituting, not the commenting.

it seems like the comment would be worthy if it were along the lines of "i substituted x and it still worked / worked even better" but i'm guessing that's not the case. hahaha.

i like to experiment. usually it's more about adding things. i look at a lot of recipes and think, "that's it? hmmmmm. what would spice that up. how about . . ."

and i'm also WAY too lazy for a run to the grocery store. and could be running into the store while leading an ambulance to a heart attack victim and still not get out of there in ten minutes. i have gone in for one item and literally come out with a full cart. (and occasionally forgotten the one item. seriously.)

so i substitute.

but i don't blame the recipier.
Reminds me of the cartoon I saw when Sarah Palin hit the scene and people said she'd steal all the Hillary voters from Obama. (Mike Smith, Las Vegas Sun)

Woman: If I can't have Hillary, then I'll just vote for McCain.
Woman: If I can't have coffee, then I'll just drink this mud.
Woman: If I can't have a mattress, then I'll just sleep on this bed of nails.
Woman: If I can't have toe nail clippers, then I'll just use this chainsaw.

imagine the graphics...
Hilarious, and so so right! I've read those comments on recipe sites, sometimes to see the range of changes people might make (I tend to be a changer) and sometimes just for the humor. The continual amazement is that, after changing the recipe, people always blame the recipe and top that by giving it a poor rating. You beautifully captured that weirdness. And the comments here are delicious as well.
This is great. Trying not to laugh too loud at work.

"Then you blamed the recipe."

I wonder if before the interwebs, those same people spent time and a stamp to mail a negative comment to Julia Child?
Verbal, Great substitutions that make absolutely no sense, but are really funny! The accidental substitutions my family has made...powdered sugar for flour on fried chicken and salt for sugar in cookies...and one other I can't even say here....okay, cat vomit on a hamburger for, I didn't just say that! My husband said it wasn't that bad.
Great writing - I especially liked:
"I hope the comment up there was intended to be, in point of fact, one tiny little angry fist, shaking at the legions of recipe commenters"

My friends and family think I'm a fabulous cook. I keep telling them that I don't have any particular talent for cooking, I'm just good at selecting recipes. These same people, without exception, always respond with some version of this, said with obvious pride: "Oh, I never really follow a recipe, I just use it as a rough guide. I go with what I have in the kitchen and what my heart tells me." Oddly, they never grasp that this difference in the way we approach recipes is the very reason why they find their own cooking disappointing and mine so good. Oy.
Oh Lord. Soup and toast. *sigh*

Oh please don't ruin my nachos. PLEASE. I have such few joys left.

organic tortilla chips (1 bag)

monterey jack cheese, grated (8 oz.)
organic black beans (1 can, rinsed and drained well)
sliced scallions, thinly (4 or so)
green mountain gringo salsa (to taste)

alternate chips and all other ingredients, ending with a layer of cheese.

bake at 400 until cheese is bubbly.


Can't mess with that, VR. No way, no how ;) Not even in jest!
okay, this is brilliant and brilliantly funny. some people are just severely overrated, aren't they? your list just got more and more creative and hilarious. i have a brain tumor and cooking left my brain. it's kind of a relief, actually.

friended and rated. would you be my friend, please? i got your link off catamite's blog.
Appreciate everybody's commentary--especially the confessions. Cat vomit. :-) (Dave, I'm sure you're a great cook--and I can cop to going in for one thing, coming out with 50, missing the original, too.)

I've also seen militant vegetarians one-forking recipes with meat in them. "I don't eat meat, so this recipe sucks."

It's on sites like Epicurious that I become ever more convinced that democracy is probably at its core a really, really bad idea.
I have nothing to say to this. But I love it.
I didn't have milk, so I went to the store and picked up a quart. While I was there, I got all the other stuff the recipe called for.
Darkside, I just copied your recipe- that's one I can follow.

Verbal, I swear I didn't write that, but yeah, um substituting...water chestnuts are ok for celery right? I'm being serious here. My dad was a fabulous cook, but I just suck at it so am afraid to really try.
Hilarious! Rated!
I rated this because it's funny, but I'm with Dave. I do make substitutions because if it wasn't for substitutions I would HATE cooking. I can't be bothered to have every single little thing in exactly the right amount that every single recipe for every dinner requires. But, I never blame the recipe if it comes out badly.
I'm new to, but I've been using for years, and I have laughed at people that said I added this and that and the other thing, and used this meat instead of that, and put in twice as much of this, and it came out great, so I'm giving the recipe 5 stars. So it can cut both ways. I guess the allrecipes people are more optimistic than epicurious people. :-)
hyblaean, the reason that celery and water chestnuts, two equally crunchy things, aren't the same, cookingwise, is because celery is actually a seasoning, whereas water chestnuts are just little chewy plastic vegetables that I think were featured on an episode of How It's Made.
Oh God, Verbal! Promise that you'll never lose your sarcastic wit. I've got tears in my eyes from laughing so hard at the image of the fire in the driveway.
Hilarious. So true. Rated.
Literally, laughed out loud! Especially:"I didn't have carrots, so I tore up a picture of Frosty the Snowman and threw it into the pot. "
Literally, laughed out loud! Especially:"I didn't have carrots, so I tore up a picture of Frosty the Snowman and threw it into the pot. "
The list of substitutions is hilarious. =o)

But my own father is one of those cooks who can.... feel free to improvise with recipes to their great detriment. Just after Christmas this year, my siblings and I, veterans all of us of some regrettable Christmas Eve dinners at my father's house. The main course would always have a story of a long, loving day's labor behind it which meant "You have to like this or I am going to be devastated." And it was always...weird. Not burned, not raw, not greasy or lumpy, but.... weird in taste and texture. And then my Dad would explain "Well I didn't think the recipe was quite right so I put in Two tablespoons of this instead of two tablespoons of what the recipe called for, and it's FINE! Isn't it?" Since we were four black-belt co-dependant little enablers so we always made ourselves eat and praise this bizarre dish, then we'd go back home to Mom's house and tell her all about THIS year's culinary disaster.
Don't get me wrong, y'all; I am constitutionally incapable of following a recipe to the letter. I am just now improvising an entire dinner out of lamb chops, new potatoes, dill, kale, mustard, olives, red wine, and lemon juice. Don't ask me which ingredients are going to end up together; I honestly have no idea yet.

When cooking, I never follow a recipe religiously. I have to mess around with something. Sometimes lots of things.

I just don't pretend that all my messing around means I've cooked (or have any right to rate) the Recipe As Written.
Cackling uncontrollably as I rrrrrrrate it!
I can't tell you how much I enjoy your humor, you are too fuuny girl.
*Note to self: Look carefully at VR's chocolate chip cookies before eating*

I thought I was the only one who ever thought those replies to online recipes were insane. Great post VR.
Just when in the hell is it logical to sub salmon for turkey? I'm speechless!
Unbelievably believable.
long ago are the days of our ancestors and there secret ingredients for life and great recipes. I can remember asking my grandmother, how will i know how to make your recipes if you don't write them down? she replied well kid it's just a little of this and a litlle of that til u think you got it right;Iguess this philosophy could be applied to food or life as i guess variety is the spice of life,that is as long as it leaves a good taste in your mouth most of the time! so keep on cookin,Her own kinda woman
There is a flawless chicken pastry recipe deep in my blog, with pictures...

I dare you to make it.
four forks, lady---and you may have ALL the snails out of my garden in order to roast your next turkey.
as vl'VJ DFSGKLJU %%)908890 aasdaouipIOPOJIa;klsdjf

(I was going to type a comment with my fingers, but I banged my forehead on the keyboard instead. Funny, funny stuff, VR :-)
I used to wonder why all the food I made tasted the same. Then I realized that I substituted the ingredients I kept in my pantry for things I was lacking. No cilantro? Use basil. No chili? Use paprika. The food was okay, but my Mexican or Thai always tasted Italian. Eventually, I figured out why. (No, I didn't substitute oatmeal for my brain, I figured it out when I actually thought about it.)

I didn't however, ever think port wine would complement salmon. And, anyway, I don't have port, so I probably would have read vinegar when the recipe said port ;-)
I can't breathe. This is too funny! It just sneaks up on you and builds and builds. Then the comments don't help one bit!
re: "I am constitutionally incapable of following a recipe to the letter"

I am so glad you finally admitted this, vr, because I, too, am constitutionally unable to follow a recipe to the letter. I am (if I may say so myself) a great cook... and would never dream of substituting salmon for turkey... But often, I will take 2 or 3 recipes of, say, dolmades or carrot soup or whatever I am creating... and go with my own inspiration, as well.

I don't need to substitute spices, because I believe any well-stocked kitchen should have all those wonderful herbs and spices available. Don't know how anyone can be a creative cook with less than, say, 24. I love shopping at the ethnic grocery stores, too, so always have coconut milk on hand, as well as kaffir lime leaves and powdered lemongrass as well as other forms of lemongrass. I have smoked paprika, smoked ground chipotle, cardamom (how I love cardamom), cumin, fennel, black mustard seeds, yellow mustard seeds, basil, dill, oregano, rosemary, bay leaves... you name it. I've grown Thai basil. There is a local place that sells herb plants, including some pretty exotic varieties... and I would like to try growing the ones that do well indoors. My cupboards are stocked with different types of dried hot peppers, and various types of exotic dried mushrooms. I have tamarind paste and cane sugar and... the list goes on.

My only cooking problem is that sometimes, I make things that are too spicy. However, my ad lib improvisations that work at cooking make me a colossal failure at baking... where wet / dry ratios really do count.
I am a good cook, so I have to skip the stretch pants for the public good.

Verbal this was a whole legion of smart and funny.
I Am afraid that he/she may have been serious . The substitute salmon for turkey didn't bother me as much as " I don't like spices so I left out all of those " . OMG the poor people who must ( presumably)
eat this persons food . A hilarious post . You should do stand up .
Rated .
Check out my achiote chicken enchiladas on my post if you truly
like to cook , and I know you do VR
I have lived with just such a cook for 25 years. Even enduring that pain, I still found it funny.

The damage to my culinary pysche makes me a rigid adherant to recipes.
That is so funny...that comment. Surely it was a joke. Your post makes a great point often the recipe isn't followed and then the cook blames the recipe. Silly people.
When I read this post I laughed I cried and hopefully in all the right places:-)
My wife is someone who can cook, while I am always "creative" and ruins things around. I read it to her over the phone and she was still giggling when I came home 2 hours later. rated
oh god, the stupidity of people is just too damn funny.
Thank you for this post. Hilarious!
This caught my eye, so I had to come read it . . . absolutely fucking hilarious, and all too true. Now that I'm cooking more often, I'm frequenting those sites, and enjoying the comments . . .
This caught my eye, so I had to come read it . . . absolutely fucking hilarious, and all too true. Now that I'm cooking more often, I'm frequenting those sites, and enjoying the comments . . .
I have always found substituting tomatoes for lemons to be a bad choice, especially in margaritas. However, when I write my guac recipe, I usually include the reasonable variations. It is called, to taste. And, if you don't like what you make to your own taste, then you might consider learning from people who know what they are doing.