Monday, August 22, 2011

Are Visuals Important to You?

I recently borrowed The Pioneer Woman Cooks by Ree Drummond from our library, and I was impressed by the overall presentation of each page. Cookbooks make me happy; cookbooks with pictures take me to another level of enjoyment. This cookbook featured layers of pictures on every page, and not just photos of food, but photos of her life in general.

The Pioneer Woman started (and continues) as an extremely popular website. I've always been impressed by the visuals Ree includes. Not only does she share a recipe, she gives step-by-step instructions with pictures for each step. You get a real sense of who she is and what she's about. Her photography of their ranch, the horses, her children, even the sunsets all encapsulate why people keep coming back. Part of it is her warm humor, but another part is the feeling her site evokes.

I'm convinced her use of visuals sets her apart from other websites and from other cookbooks. I haven't purchased a cookbook in years, but I am buying hers this fall. Another chef who stands out for me is Giada DeLaurentiis. When I watch one of her cooking shows, I'm 99% more likely to cook one of her dishes than if I only read the recipe in a cookbook.

Seeing the dish, watching the preparation, knowing what it's supposed to look like midway through the recipe--these are powerful images that trigger me to act, not just watch.

Are you a visual person? Do you have any cookbooks or websites to recommend? I found The Pioneer Woman years ago based on a recommendation by a friend. Lucky me!

Have an amazing Monday!


  1. When it comes to covers, then yes, I think visuals make a huge difference! Like using pictures in blogs - I don't mind them. But I really look for the content.

  2. I always prefer cookbooks or cooking blogs with pictures - I can work so much better if I know how it is supposed to look all along the process, AND when it is completed. Some of my favorite cooking blogs - Sweet Tartelette (; Two Peas and their Pod (; Always With Butter (; Joy the Baker (

    Um. I visit a lot of cooking blogs. Could you guess?

  3. Truth: I won't buy a cookbook unless it has pictures in it.

    Think that answers your question about whether I'm visual or not. ;)
    ~ Wendy

  4. I love Pioneer Woman! Her website is an excellent example of pictures and text. I think I found her website through you!

  5. I need pictures in cookbooks so I'll know if I'm doing it right. :)

    I love the visuals on book covers, too. I guess that's why I'm not a fan of the 'headless heroine' book cover. I wanna know what she's supposed to look like!

  6. I'm definitely visual and I love Giada!

  7. Good Morning!

    Laura: I have to agree with you on this--content is the most important part. That's one reason why Giada's cookbooks work for me, her recipes are almost always delicious. :)

    E Louise: Ha! We must be kindred spirits. I love to cook and bake, although I haven't done much of either this summer. I'm looking forward to those crisp, fall nights for my fave comfort foods. Thanks for all of the great links!

    Wendy: Me neither! It could have the best recipes on earth, but I won't try them if I don't have a picture. That's sad!

    CJ: I agree! And I think when we're talking "brand," The Pioneer Woman could write the book. Her brand is embedded in everything she does. She gets it!

    Erica: Me too. It's why I used to watch Food Network every afternoon at four. There was a Paula Deen/Giada hour. Now they're all reruns and I don't have time anyway!

    Jessica: Me too! Several of her recipes are staples in our house. I always miss her Giada at Home show, though, and wish I could catch it.

    THanks so much for stopping by!

  8. I'm very visual. When people ask me how to spell something (they assume I'm a spelling whiz since I'm a writer ???), I have to ask for a pen because I can't spell without seeing the word.

  9. Jill, I'm going to have to visit that website! My fave cooking shows to watch currently are Sandra Lee's Simply Homemade and Paula Deen's various shows. I also like the Neeleys. (Can you tell, I have some southern roots? :) )

    I have a collection of old (circa early 1900's) cookbooks. The pictures take me back to yesteryear and I enjoy seeing how cooking has evolved over the years. Many of the cookbooks I purchased at flea markets/garage sales for .25!

  10. Visuals are a big help with cookbooks, and like Laura said, when it comes to covers, they're extremely important. I've put down many books just because the front cover looked tacky.

  11. I am a visual person. Cookbooks with visuals make me hungry, so I try and avoid them at all costs! Kidding...kind of.

  12. I love Ree Drummond's website. I rarely buy cookbooks because there are so many recipes I'm just not going to use. Another cooking website I love is Southern Plate: Recipes from Below the Mason Dixon Line:

    I use so many of Christy Jordan's ideas in my cooking. Some of them have even become new favorites. Christy uses a lot of pictures to help you understand how things are supposed to look. She also has a cookbook out.

  13. I love Giada's food, too! Her stuff always looks amazing, and when I try her recipes, they are always as delicious as they look! I'm definitely a visual person.

  14. I love Betty Crocer's Cook Book for Boya and Girls. I got it as a present for my birthday in the 5th grade. It is old now, but I have seen if reproduced again at Borders. You would love all of the cute pictures of things your kids can make. Examples: Raggedy Ann salad, Easter bonnet cake, zoo cake and paintbrush cookies. I made all of these and they turned out great. Loads of fun. So yes, I definitely like visuals.

  15. I think I saw recently that Pioneer Woman is going to have her own tv show...maybe on the Food Network?

    I also very much appreciate good photographs in a cookbook. I always like to see what the dish is supposed to look like. The other thing I particularly like in cookbooks is anecdotes about the food.

  16. Yes, visuals are important to me in a cookbook, a blog posting, or an advertisement. The only thing that's funny is, I look at the photo and say,"It will never look like this when I make it!!!"

  17. I'm totally visual, especially with cookbooks. Two of my favorites are 'Fresh Every Day' and 'Foster's Market'. They are easy and delicious and the pictures are gorgeous.

    I'll have to check out some cooking blogs. Never even thought of them, but that would be fun!

  18. Julie: I'm the same with math. I can barely add without putting it on paper!

    Cynthia: Sandra Lee had another cooking show out where she cooked meals on a budget and I really liked that one too. Your cookbook collection sounds delightful!

    Stacy: I'm so with you! Tacky cover? Not buying it! I don't have a big budget for books, so the ones I do buy better be pretty!

    Patrice: What a great stay-slim tip! Ha! Ha!

    Catie: Thanks for the link! I'm adding it my "inspiration" file. Love, love cookbooks!

    Jennifer: It's true! Her food tastes as good as it looks. Her newer show--Giada at Home--kills me a little, though. I mean she's gorgeous, an amazing chef, AND she has a drop-dead view of the ocean from her kitchen window?? Mm-hmm. :)

    Nancy: It sounds adorable!! What cute names for the foods, too. Who wouldn't want to make Raggedy Ann Salad? Cute!!

    TheBookGirl: I saw that too! I'll definitely give it a shot. The pictures she includes on her site are so pretty; I hope the show can capture the same mood.

    Jeanette: It NEVER looks as pretty when I make it. I try, by golly, I try, but nope. A food stylist I will never be. :(

    Tameri: Ooo, more suggestions! I'm going to check out the books you mentioned. Thanks!!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  19. Jill, I am visual, but sometimesI think too many pics in a cookbook just makes it look crowded. If step-by-step pics are needed, then I sure appreciate them, but most times all I want to see is the end result. Usually that sells the recipe for me!


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