Szechuan Roasted Broccoli + The Other Side of Blogging
Bring a little lightness to the new year with a new, easy recipe for roasted broccoli with a Asian twist! This Szechuan roasted broccoli is sweet and tangy, and ready in a flash!
What is the dish count for this Szechuan Roasted Broccoli recipe?
You will need:
- 1 Small bowl
- 1 Sheet Pan
- 1 Cutting Board
Let’s talk about the other side of blogging for a second.
It’s a new year and I am fired up and ready. Emphasis on the fired up, because last week something really got me heated. I made it a point to never read the comments on articles, particularly on Facebook, but one in particular that was written with the sole purpose of telling food bloggers to leave out the personal stories, diatribes and narrations, and just “get to the recipe!”. And it struck a chord with me for several reasons.
The backstory to all of this is that for many, including myself when I first started eight and a half years ago, started their blogs because it was a hobby. It evolved, and for some food bloggers, this is their sole income. For me, I have a full time job, and while this is something I do when I am not at work, it is still a job that earns me money and affords me opportunities I wouldn’t normally have. For that, I am eternally thankful. I am also grateful and fulfilled by the kind comments I get from people who want the recipes I provide, that I have worked on, and made with a great deal of love to bring people together. Food and time spent being of service to others is my love language and when it connects with others, it makes me blissfully happy. And hearing that from people is among the greatest compliments we food bloggers could receive.
But there is another side. And it is not always sunny.
There are those readers who just want to click, and get the recipe, and are annoyed by the fact that we include words, personal stories, and lots of photos that we have taken of one dish to create an experience for people. And the kicker is, we have done this to provide people with a recipe, for free. But, it is not free for us who have created it.
And this is where I lost my cool. There was some swearing. Whoops. This Slate article detailed the painstaking scrolling that one must do when they come to a blog to get to a free recipe, and what an inconvenience that is. It was disheartening to read the hundreds of comments that were saying “THANK YOU, it’s so annoying!” and “So anyone who posts on the internet is a content creator now? Geez!”. And this is where I jumped in to hopefully explain. Bet you can guess how well that went…
I got everything from “see, we’re readers, do what we want!”, “you don’t have to write a blog you know…”, “this blogger is unhinged!”, to calling me a “C*nt”. Not. even. joking.
This is where I realized that because I write a “blog” it is automatically deemed less relevant, less meaningful, and less professional than the larger food sites that also provide free content to readers. But this is my business and we do everything the same as the larger sites do, but with one person, not teams.
Not only do I sync my personal finances into this hobby-turned-business, but it requires far more than just typing words and hitting a button to publish a recipe. Behind the scenes there is a web designer whom I hired, a host that I pay monthly, a manager for my social media, a subscription service so I can provide emails to readers, purchasing of cameras, props (so many props), photo editing tools that I have to pay for so people can click a link and be transported to recipes, photos and more. There is the six hours that it can take to get one simple recipe from me to you, from store shopping, cooking, testing, photographing, editing, writing, publishing, and then promoting on social media so that one of my “free” recipes can be seen by my readers, and hopefully a few more.
So while our content is “free”, it is not free to create.
How do we manage to create all this free content and make money? Yes, we do host ads. Yes, we do sponsored work in hopes that we can cover our costs to do what we do, and hopefully, make a few extra dollars along the way. It took me four years of constant work, time, lots of tears, doubt and willpower to turn a profit on this hobby-turned-business. It has afforded me opportunities to travel, meet some of my dearest lifelong friends, grow in my love of food and photography, and it has led me down the path to publishing my first cookbook, and helped me and my family travel, and buy a house. I am one of the lucky ones, and that is not lost on me at all.
But I implore those who see what we do as less significant to please think for a moment of what goes on behind this hobby of ours to provide our readers with something we hope will make a lasting impact on them and their families. These blogs chronicle our lives, adventures, hardships, joys, and more. We talk about food because it brings us together, it is a commonality we all share.
We post multiple photos because we love them, we write paragraphs because we need to tell a story. Do we think about how many paragraphs in a post maximize our ad space, or how many times we need to write the title of the recipe in our post to get the best bang for our SEO buck? Sometimes we do, sometimes we don’t. At the end of the day, is it just “a blog”? Yes. We know we aren’t Mother Teresa, as I was called, and we aren’t saving the world. We want to create experiences for others, share good food, and find a common denominator in our lives, hopefully being inspiring, uplifting, and letting us know that in this big great universe, we have someone else doing the same thing, and finding one another in the ethos. And if carbs, and chocolate bring us together, than hell yes, let’s celebrate it, not denigrate it.
In a world where we have come to demand things instantaneously, perhaps it’s time to re-engage ourselves in the lives of others, taking a few moments to realize how interconnected we all are, in life, our experiences, and our own personal growth. Social apps, media, and Facebook give us the ability to scroll to the things we want to see, and scroll right past the things we don’t, in an instant. And perhaps that has made us more impatient, and willing to gloss over the experiences others want to convey, in our thousand word stories that were bashed in the article, all for something to serve us instantly, like a free recipe, instead of investing a few extra seconds on someone else, whose craft has provided that very same recipe. While I’m not a chef, I haven’t worked a line, and I don’t claim to be, we can look at what others have done and be thankful to heard their experience and value it. No one person’s experiences, work or craft is less worthy than someone else’s and for just a minute, we can do away with the false equivalencies and appreciate the work and time of others.
Don’t be the person who sees a fine piece of artwork and offers to pay $35 for a painting, when the artist is asking for $500 and say “it’s just paint on a canvas, why would I pay $500 for that?!”. They are providing their time, mind, craft, and heart to something in hopes it connects them with someone who sees it for the value it is. If it’s not to your taste, that’s fine, move on. But do so without bashing, sniping, and being most of all, unappreciative. We all have something of value to offer.
If you made it 1,500 words into this post, and didn’t want to just get to the recipe, thank you. Thank you for your time, patience, listening, and hearing me. It wasn’t done to take up space, make more money (because I’m sure this won’t), but to help people realize that we do this because we love it, so please, allow me to take 5 seconds of your time, and if you only have time to scroll for the recipe, so be it. Hopefully one day you will have the time and fortitude to read our words and accept them for what they are, a gesture and an opening of our hearts and lives to others.
Will I add a “jump to recipe” button some day? Maybe. But in the meantime can we all just be thankful that you stopped by, and that for one second, we were connected.
Liked this Szechuan Roasted Broccoli recipe?
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Asian Grilled Flanken Short Ribs
Grilled Chicken Peanut Asian SaladPrint
Szechuan Roasted Broccoli
- Prep Time: 10 Minutes
- Cook Time: 20 Minutes
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 4 1x
- Category: Side Dish
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: Asian
- Diet: Vegan
This Szechuan roasted broccoli is sweet and tangy, and ready in a flash!
- 2 Heads Broccoli Crowns, chunked
- 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 2 Tbsp Hoisin Sauce
- 1 Tbsp Sriracha
- 1 Tbsp Minced Ginger
- 1 Tbsp Minced Garlic
- 1/4 tsp Salt
- 1/4 tsp Ground Pepper
- 1 tsp Sesame Seeds
- 2 Tbsp Minced Cilantro
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Chop broccoli crowns into large chunks, or strips. Place on a silicone mat lined baking sheet.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, hoisin sauce, sriracha, garlic, ginger, salt and pepper. Pour this over the broccoli, and toss to combine.
- Place the baking sheet in the oven and roast the broccoli for 17-20 minutes, or until it is fork tender. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and cilantro. Serve immediately.
Keywords: Vegan, Broccoli, Vegetable, Side Dish, Asian
THANK YOU FOR WRITING THIS! I wholeheartedly agree with every word and many props to you for dealing with the negativity out there. Thank you for all your recipes and inspiration – I remember reading your blog early on when I started out blogging and it was always one of my favorites to follow.
Meghan, thank you so so much!! XOXO We gotta stick together!
I do appreciate your words and “getting to know you” through your blog. Although I don’t think I have ever commented on your blog before, I do read your words. You aren’t the first blogger who’s written about your frustration with nasty, insensitive comments that some people make. Honestly, when you share that someone called you a (insert nasty word), I am truly amazed that anyone wants to blog at all. I can’t ever imagine being that rude to someone.
There have been blogs that I have stopped subscribing to because they have so many popup ads that it covers the content unless I take the time to close all of them. That does annoy me, but I can’t imagine calling someone names because they chose to do it on their blog. I just stop subscribing. That way they can do what they want to and I can do what I want to—everyone is at peace. On your site you MOSTLY limit your ads to the right side of the page and not allow the ads to overlap the words you are writing. I’m interested in your words because you may tell me of a particular part of the recipe that might prove challenging or you might list an ingredient that I could omit if I didn’t have it on hand. And best of all, you might include something about your personal life and I feel like I’m getting to know you–even though you don’t have any idea who I am.
So thank you for this work you do. I know you receive benefits from being a blogger, but you should—after all it’s another part time job in addition to your full time job. You should reap the benefits.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
Maxine, thank you so much for your support and your words! I’m so glad that you have stopped by and been a part of my site and I hope that you have felt you have got to know the “real me” in it all. 🙂 XO!!
Thank you Megan for so beautifully articulating the path that we food bloggers follow. Sometimes I just want to say to the complainers, “oh, let me give you your money back. wait a minute, oh yeah, no money to give back, sorry, this was FREE.” LOL
Or I would love to tell them, if they don’t like how I blog, they can feel free to start their own!! ha!!
I came very close to commenting on that article after you pointed me toward it, but I decided not to because I believe that any kind of comment at all – not matter what it expresses – is probably taken as a positive reflection on the article. I didn’t want to contribute to that, so I’m going to say what I would like to have said here.
What a disappointing point of view. Poor her; she had to scroll. More than that, she is willing to say, plainly and publicly, “I could care less about you; you’re utterly irrelevant. I simply want something from you, so would you please just fork it over.” And for free, no less. How uncivilized. What she’s asking for is an uglier world. I’m not suggesting that she should feel that she has to care for her fellow human beings. I’m suggesting that if she doesn’t, she should keep it to herself. She has a national – perhaps international – platform. I’m so sorry that this is really what she wants to use it for.
Jeff, thank you so much! It’s really startling to see such negativity geared toward people who just want to share good food! Like, wow that must be a miserable way to go through life hating bloggers so much for free content! ha!
Love you, girl. Stay strong & keep doing your thing. #trollscantscroll
Girlfriend, you amazingly talented and so brave to challenge the thought process which motivated the writer of the snarky anti-food blogger post. I am legitimately disheartened that some choose their public platforms to be intentionally hateful to a large group of people that provide a free-to-the-masses service. I’m equally baffled that scrolling for a free recipe is seemingly annoying or difficult, or even that the stories found on blogs are simply to pad SEO. Without search engine optimization, that writer likely wouldn’t see the recipes at all.
We bloggers pour our hearts into our craft with the hope that our stories may resonate with someone. If not, hey that’s cool. Print that free recipe, cook from it, and use it to connect with people in real life. We’ll still be here, doing our thing, and loving on others through food and stories.
Wow, so sorry to read that you were the victim of nasty comments. I read your blog for the stories. I do check big food sites if I’m looking for a specific recipe. But I read blogs because of the story telling behind and around the recipe.
Way back years ago, I had a baking blog. The time it took to do everything you have to do and the personal expense it cost to buy the camera and the props and the ingredients ended up not being worth it to me, and I let it go. Now I’m into knitting and selling my craft, which is equally time and expense consuming, and it’s incredibly disheartening when I charge what I’m worth for my work and someone says “I can get that cheaper at Walmart.” They don’t understand the value of the work we’ve put into creating our passion because they’re just looking for cheap, instant gratification, and it doesn’t matter if they hurt our feelings because we’re a faceless name on the internet. And I say screw them. They can go eat ramen in their scratchy Walmart hat.
Wow! Thank you for writing this and I’m so sorry you got attacked by internet trolls. I love your stories and I thought that was the point of blogs…it’s a place for people to share stories and experiences. Unfortunately I was attacked my a huge slew of internet trolls early on in blogging, attacking everything about me and my family, so it’s put a funk on blogging for me, so i don’t do it very often anymore. I admire what you have done with your blog and how it is developed from when we first started. Keep at it and share your stories….I love them!
Infuriating doesn’t EVEN begin to touch this! I wish there was a way to block all of these ingrates from our FREE recipes and posts! Glad you said what you had to say here. I hope they end up reading it at some point and get a clue how about horrible they are.
I’m impressed by what you do and the fact that you are able to write, I’ve always had a hard time expressing on paper ( or on a computer) about , well anything, I think that if this is YOUR passion and your hard work you should be able to express anything, their will always be haters, please don’t get discouraged your providing a service and most of us out there actually appreciate it, I must say I normally don’t read all of the info written while looking for a recipe mostly because it’s a story about said recipe, I stopped to read yours BECAUSE it was about your struggles and the on-site of what you have to do to make this a business, think about it, is it really that hard to swipe ones finger on a screen?? Anyway keep up the Great work!
Not sure if I’m supposed to add anything about the recipe but I will add a small tip:
Add all wet ingredients into a gallon size zipper bag (I use the store brand for this) add broccoli and shake or mix around ( leaving some air in the bag helps) place on cookie sheet and proceed.
Less clean up!
Shit…. you have a recipe in here? 😘
Just keep scrolling, unless that is too taxing for you 😉 hahaha XOXO!
WOW! JUST wow! I for one love getting to know the person, their stories and getting a bonus recipe. I’ve had obnoxious people show up in my life quite recently and I’m just done with it. I dont blog but appreciate those who do!!! Keep doing what you’re doing. Connecting is what called! They can move on it’s called scrolling. Thank you for your time and effort to share with your followers. I love it!
Thanks for sharing this nice recipe with us..
Bravo! Well said and well written! This is the first time I have visited your website. While your yummy broccoli recipe is what drew me in, I will be coming back for your well thought out and written posts!
Thank you for writing this. I recently started my own blog as a creative outlet I was yearning for. I was shocked at the amount of work! I have so many ideas but my time seems so limited compared to what is needed. I am considering stopping the blog. I am so happy to hear the stories from other bloggers who started as a hobby and through perseverance; success has been achieved. A true inspiration for me.
We read blogs for the personal side; we want to feel like we get to know the person behind the keyboard and beautiful pictures. If we just wanted the recipe we would go to the “other sites”. Thank you for sharing and continued success!
Ann, thank you so much for your comment. It really made my day. I hope that you will continue blogging, in whatever fashion you see fit. That’s the best part about blogs, they are all our own and we can do them however we want!! Go for it!
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Thank you, thank you for writing this insightful and passionate post! I’ve been posting a bit to FB about this very topic lately — I’m sure you’ve seen the memes. While most friends on our feeds know what we do, they often really DON’T know all that is involved in our blogs. So thanks for this explanation for all to see! Your blog is a favorite of mine, so there’s that – lol!