The incredible shrinking recipes

by Amber Hildebrandt, CBCNews.ca

Reductions I can handle, but reducing a recipe to a 140-character Tweet seems like a recipe for disaster.

Maureen Evans tweets from a rented castle in Northern Ireland. (Courtesy of Maureen Evans)

But that's exactly what Maureen Evans, 27, of British Columbia does from a rented castle in Northern Ireland, where she lives with Twitter's former lead architect Blaine Cook.

She first began condensing recipes in the fall of 2007. Her Twitter fan base has since expanded to nearly 12,000 and she's been featured in articles such as one last week in the New York Times. As Lawrence Downes notes in his article it's not so much about the practicality of Tweeting recipes but the fun in decoding the extreme abbreviation - and the surprise at each success.

Here's an excerpt of an interview I did with Evans on Twitter. You can find her at www.twitter.com/cookbook.

CBCfoodbytes: First question: tell me about what gave you the idea to tweet recipes?

Cookbook: I wanted to share my love of food with busy friends. Blaine was building Twitter, and it seemed ideal for feeding recipes into busy lives!

CBCfoodbytes: What kind of response have you had from your followers?

Cookbook: Isn't followers an odd word? It's been more like we're at a virtual table: having conversations, swapping ideas. Response has been involved!

CBCfoodbytes: Do you try all your recipes before putting them online? Where do you get the recipes from?

Cookbook: Most are tested; I'm making today's as we tweet. They're old favourites, travel experiences, grandma's cooking and seasonal food from books.

CBCfoodbytes: What kind of comments/ideas do your 'followers' send you?

Cookbook: Recently, kind words; find myself blushing at my computer a lot! But often they're seeking advice, on matters from bumper crops to Diabetes.

CBCfoodbytes: What do you make of all the attention your tweets have received?

Cookbook: I'm awed, and honoured to inspire. I think it shows that although many people feel too busy to cook, slow food remains a subject of passion.

CBCfoodbytes: Tell me about some recipes that have proved difficult or almost impossible to tweet?

Cookbook: Gnocchi: steam/peel/mill lb tater. Knead w .25t salt/10T flour. Scissor fr pastrybag to 2L simmering milk/t salt~m to float. Srv w parm/s+p.

Cookbook: Gnocchi was tough! My goal is always to be clear and concise, so recipes that are ingredient and method heavy are a challenge. I love that.

CBCfoodbytes: How long have you been tweeting recipes? And where do you go from here?

Cookbook: I started with Bread on Oct 25, 07, with 240 recipes since then! I'll keep going, but I'm excited to see people tweeting recipes themselves.

Cookbook: The original purpose is unfolding: busy people are tweeting about food. There's potential for a DIY food community... things are cooking up!