When browsing sites like Allrecipes.com I enjoy reading the comments. Sometimes they can be really helpful. Add more ginger. Add allspice. Too sweet, reduce sugar. Adding a touch of lemon juice to your apple pie makes it amazing (true fact). These things can be very, very good to know.
But sometimes comments can be misleading or even strange. Here are a few of my favorites:
Comment on a Tabbouleh Recipe:
"I have always made it without mint, just because I didn't have it on hand and it is wonderful. I have't tried it with the green onions suggested here, usually just a little yellow onion chopped super fine, or just left it out. I don't squeeze fresh lemons either, though I'm going to try that way next. "
There aren't that many things actually in Tabbouleh. Sure, some people add cucumber. I personally make it with quinoa instead of bulgur so that it's gluten free for parties. This person, however, is leaving out three of the CORE ingredients of Tabbouleh. I'm going to make cheeseburgers and leave out the meat and buns and cheese. By the way you shouldn't just try to use fresh ingredients in your cooking. That should be a cornerstone of your cooking from the beginning.This goes doubly for lemon juice in a dish where the main dressing is composed of it. Realemon juice is plain nasty.
Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try. Yoda knows how to cook.
Another bad comment is people who try to make ethnic foods but are afraid of foreign ingredients:
"I didn't have any tahini in the house so I substituted a little peanut butter and some ground sesame seeds to get the nutty flavor."
My god, woman get to a grocery store now! Tahini, for those who don't know, is ground sesame seed paste. It tastes, looks, and smells completely different from peanut butter. I can't even fathom how gross it would be to put that into a dip with garlic, lemon and beans. Maybe it's more like a thai peanut sauce flavor? Still that is really NOT HUMMUS. I don't put red peppers in my apple pie, so don't put peanut butter in your tahini.
There's also the "I messed this up terribly, so I'll give this perfectly good recipe a bad review" comment.
On a perfectly functional recipe for crepes:
"Sadly, my crepes turned out thick, undercooked (or burned), and tasted like flour. I'm not sure if that's a reflection of this recipe (followed to a T) or if I'm just an awful cook."
My crepes were great, so I'll let you pick which one was the reason your crepes came out badly. Undercooked? How is that the recipe's fault? Turn up your stove.
Now everyone makes mistakes. Most of mine in the past have resulted from an attempt to vegan-ize a recipe that really is a disaster without meat. And experimentation is fine, that's how fusion is born, but I happen to be very by-the-book in the way that I do things, because I don't have time for a meal to taste bad.
Bottom line: Reader beware! I like to check more than one recipe if I'm looking online. Usually all the best recipes are similar, i.e. Gravlax, which I'm about to try soon! I also really, desperately try to avoid About.com pages at any cost. As an information professional as well as a cook, I really feel they are the bottom of the barrel as far as reliability is concerned.