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recipe round-robins

Posted by aleta under

Omnomicon: it has a monthly contest!

There are some recipes that everyone has a version of, and yet, we each insist that our own version is the best. I’m talking macaroni and cheese, oatmeal cookies, chicken soup . . . you know, those sorts of things. So with all those variations (some slight, some huge), which one should you pit against your own favourite? The aim of the Recipe Round-Robin is to determine just that.

So far, we’ve tried

Bubbe’s Fantastic Chocolate Chip Cookies
courtesy of Hallie
Meatloaf time!
Dixie’s Grandfather’s Meatloaf
The topping makes it.
Lo’s Blueberry Pecan Muffins
with Brown Sugar Topping

. . . maybe your recipe will be next! Dream big, Recipierres.

If the Round-Robin is new to you, please take some time to read all the rules below. It looks like a lot, but it’s a quick read, I promise!

How the Recipe Round-Robin Works

  1. Omnomicon announces this month’s recipe.
  2. You say “oh hey, I have my own recipe for that!” and step up to the challenge by sending [aleta at omnomicon dot com] your recipe. You don’t need to be supercook to throw in your recipe, but if it’s something you’d feed to someone else, what do you have to lose by entering?
  3. Maybe you don’t have a recipe for that, but you would still like to taste-test. Great! We need more taste-testers than recipes anyway! Readers have said they have a lot of fun taste-testing with their friends, roommates and families.
  4. Aleta sends you two different but anonymous half-recipes to try out, giving you two weekends to test.
  5. You reply with which was your favourite.
  6. A winner is announced and sent the aforementioned prize!

Rules: They Keep it Fair

Rules for recipe submitters, or “Recipierres:”

  • One recipe per entry. Remember, this is supposed to be your favourite meatloaf recipe. The term “favourite” implies just one. Send this one recipe to [aleta at omnomicon dot com], and do not put it in the comments.
  • Contributed recipes MUST be (at least mostly) your own. There’s nothing new under the sun, so it’s fine if you started off with someone else’s and modified it substantially, but please use some scruples. So your grandmother’s recipe from some ancient text is fine, but copying and pasting some other food bloggers’ recipe is a huge no-no.
  • Recipierres MUST taste-test in order to win. We can only take so many recipes per round, so if you aren’t going to follow through, you’re snatching the opportunity away from someone else who will.
  • To keep things fresh and fun for everyone, once you’ve won one RRR, you must wait 2 more rounds before entering a new recipe.
  • PLEASE NOTE:Tastebuds are permitted to repost your recipe on their blogs once results have been announced. You have the option to determine whether you will be identified to these bloggers, but must be open to the reposting of your recipe. In short,
    • If you are contributing a recipe and have a food blog of your own that you would like linked, please send the link so I can pass it along to the tastebuds. This is a great way to get some traffic to your site.
    • If you are contributing but not comfortable with having your site linked to your recipe, please indicate. Bloggers will still be able to post your recipe, it’ll just remain anonymous, and while you’ll be missing out on links to your site, you won’t have to admit to anyone that your recipe didn’t make the cut.
    • And if you are contributing but not comfortable with having your recipe printed here or elsewhere *at all* please do not contribute.

Rules for Taste-Testers, or “Tastebuds:”

  • Sign up to be a Tastebud by leaving a comment on the current month’s announcement post (not this one!).
  • If you sign up to taste-test, please make sure that you will have time in the two weeks allotted to test two recipes. I understand that things come up, and that’s fine, but if you aren’t 95% sure you’re going to follow through, please sit this one out; you can always do the next one.
  • Substitutions are discouraged, but understandably necessary in the case of allergies or ingredient inavailability. Just try to be fair to each Recipierre by giving their recipe the ole college try, following as reasonably as you are able. If you feel you are flat-out unable to accommodate a recipe, please let me know and I’ll send you two new recipes.
  • Your judgment is completely subjective; as a rule of thumb ask yourself “which recipe would I be more likely to put in my recipe box to make again and again?” Please do rule in things like prep time, availability of ingredients, any dietary considerations you have, appearance, the coolness factor . . . etc. “Best” is all about your personal opinion and priorities.

Notes for Fellow Food Bloggers:

  • You are more than welcome to blog about your experiences, encouraged even, but please save your posts until the contest has ended—we wouldn’t want to bias anyone.
  • Please keep it kind. The recipes don’t have a face, but you never know who is reading your blog; maybe that banana bread you just took a picture of in your trash can was a readers’ treasured family recipe. If it’s not something you’d say to the Recipierre in person, please don’t say it on your blog.
  • If you do post something, please leave a link in the comments! I will link to all RRR posts that follow the rules above!
  • Tastebuds are free to repost recipes they have tried. This is a new update as of 2010.

Miscellaneous Notes

No need to read if you’re not into it, but here are some notes on the process I follow. I’ll add answers to any questions if you care to leave some!

The number of recipes in the contest will be a function of the number of Tastebuddies I have participating in order to assure that every recipe is tested at least once against every other. Depending on how the participation pans out, I *may* be able to accommodate all entries, but if not, entries will be on a first-come, first-serve basis.

As logic would dictate, having more Tastebuds means we can test more recipes! So if you want to make sure your recipe is included in the pool, your best bet is to pass along the link to other prospective Tastebuds.

Fun fact time: I figure out the number of recipes we can test with this formula, which is incidentally also the solution to “If we have n people in a room and they all must shake hands, how many handshakes happen?”

(where n is the number of recipes):

# of Tastebuds > (n-1)*(n/2)

But since I suspect that doesn’t mean much to most people, so here’s a more descriptive table.

If we get
this many Tastebuds…

…we can test
this many recipes!
10 5
15 6
21 7
28 8
36 9
45 10
55 11
66 12
78 13
91 14

There exists a fancy-pants controlled experiment way of ensuring that all results are statistically significant, but it requires that every Tastebud follows through with their commitment and access to a several thousand dollar tool that um, is out of my price range at the moment. So the short story is that I try to get every recipe tested against every other recipe at least once, then score each by the % of tests it won. Again, no guarantee the statistical significance of this method, but it’s the best way I’ve devised so far. Also, I assume that this is how a normal person without a spreadsheet disorder would run this kind of test.

I do not enter my own recipes, and I do not taste-test. Because I’ve seen all the recipes and field results as they come in, my taste-testing is likely to be biased in some way.

Prizes are out-of-my-pocket because I very much enjoy the process. They’re not *huge* prizes anyway, but I like to think they’re decent ones! And hey, America’s Test Kitchen, since this is kind of your bag, if you’re reading, let’s do a giveaway and give me a break, eh?



And that’s all for now! Questions and commentary are always encouraged.

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