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Kalyn's Kitchen

New Rules: Narrowing the Focus for Weekend Herb Blogging

October 27 – November 2, 2008, we are celebrating the Three Year Anniversary of Weekend Herb Blogging. After that date, Weekend Herb Blogging will be managed by Haalo from Cook (almost) Anything At Least Once. Here is where to find the Rules for Weekend Herb Blogging on her blog.

Lately I’ve been thinking about the future of Weekend Herb Blogging, the food blog event I created by accident in October of 2005, and which became successful beyond my wildest dreams. The number of blogs and blogging events has exploded during that time, and in order to sharpen the focus of Weekend Herb Blogging so it remains informative and unique, I’ve been feeling like a little fine tuning of the WHB rules is in order.

I do want to be clear that I’m not having new rules because people are doing something wrong. I’m having new rules because there are now so many events for every type of recipe or food that to keep WHB interesting and useful, I feel it’s worthwhile to narrow the focus. More specifically, I would like to see WHB entries be limited to recipes or informative posts where people can learn about cooking with herbs or unusual plant ingredients.

These are the types of posts that I think have made WHB such a popular event. Although the more restrictive rules now make the event slightly more challenging for some people (including me!) I think restricting entries to this type of post will only make the event better. I sincerely feel this, even if people (including me!) have to skip a week now and then because they haven’t cooked anything that fits these rules.

Here are the new rules I’ve decided upon, effective July 20, 2008:

1. Entries submitted for Weekend Herb Blogging need to be posts written during that week specifically for Weekend Herb Blogging and that post cannot be entered in any other food blog event. (The only exception to this rule would be instances where a photo used in a WHB post is submitted to a photo event.) To keep the event manageable, each participant is limited to one entry per week, and entries cannot contain more than one recipe should focus on one recipe or ingredient. (The last sentence was edited to clarify that a post about ways to use a certain herb is perfect for WHB even though technically it may contain more than one recipe.)

2. Weekend Herb Blogging entries should have the goal of helping people learn about cooking with herbs or unusual plant ingredients. With this in mind, only two types of entries will be accepted: a) Recipe posts where an herb or unusual plant ingredient is one of the primary ingredients in the recipe, or b) Informative posts that spotlight one herb or unusual plant ingredient, particularly including information about how it is used in cooking. (Edit: Unusual uses of an ordinary plant ingredient are also fine)

3. Entries must contain the words Weekend Herb Blogging with a link to the host for that week, as well as a link to Kalyn’s Kitchen. (I’ve decided to require a link to Kalyn’s Kitchen so I can keep up on entries during the week through Technorati and Google Alerts. Without this, I’m finding it’s too time-consuming for me to read all the entries every week once the recap is posted.)

4. Entries can be written any time during the week, but should be submitted to the host for that week by 3:00 P.M. on Sunday. (This is based on Utah time, enter Salt Lake City into this map to calculate the difference where you are.) At the discretion of the host, posts submitted too late will be referred to the host for the following week.

5. Please put WHB in the subject line of your e-mail to identify it for the host. Your e-mail to the host should include your name, blog name, your WHB post permalink, your location, and a photo attached to the e-mail. (Edit: Hosts who wish to do so may request a certain size photo and Kalyn will indicate the size requested by that person’s listing on the page of Who’s Hosting Weekend Herb Blogging.)

Anticipating Some Frequently Asked Questions:

What does “one of the primary ingredients in the recipe” mean?
This means the dish could not be made without that herb or unusual plant ingredient. For example, chicken with sage cream sauce would be great; grilled chicken with parsley sprinkled on would not be okay.

What does “unusual plant ingredient” mean?
I realize that what’s unusual varies greatly in different parts of the world, and I’m not saying people need to seek out something no one has ever heard of each week. Participants can certainly spotlight any ingredient that’s unusual to them (for example I’ve never cooked with fennel, although it’s not unsual to some people.) Unsual fruits and vegetables or spices are certainly welcome. It’s my hope that this restriction will eliminate plant ingredients that are so ordinary no one is really interested in hearing about them.

What are some things that are no longer eligible as entries?

When Weekend Herb Blogging was a smaller event it made sense to allow things like flower photos, farmers market or garden photos, and somewhat generic vegetable or fruit recipes. Those types of things would no longer be accepted after July 20. (I’ve submitted those kinds of entries myself, so no one should feel bad about any past entries, please!)

Why don’t the rules start now?
I’m having a phase-in period so people have a chance to find out about the new rules and we don’t have to turn people down after they’ve prepared an entry.

What if I still have a question?
Please leave questions as a comment in this post so others can see the answers rather than writing directly to me. Comments go to my e-mail, and I’ll answer as quickly as I can.

Thanks Everyone!
Thanks to all my great blogging friends who have supported this event (some of you for years!) The overwhelming majority of posts that people have been submitting are already following these rules. I appreciate all the effort people have been putting into the event, and hope these slightly more focused rules will make it even better.

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    49 Comments on “New Rules: Narrowing the Focus for Weekend Herb Blogging”

  1. Kalyn,

    I fully support your efforts to narrow the focus. It doesn’t seem to take much extra time for me on the photos — probably because I use the “add an image from the web” option. Also I write it mostly in order received so the post is done in pieces in draft form throughout the week so it occurs as less time.

    Given this, I was reading the rules at this moment as I was thinking of participating next week with a highly unusual post. So I won’t let the cat out of the bag, I’ll write you a separate email about it to see if it’s ok.

  2. Y, thanks (and me too!)

    Dee, you’re lucky because a lot of the things you cook are probably interesting to many people, and the goal is just to keep it interesting and have entries that people can learn from.

  3. Hi Kalyn. I recently participated in my first WHB and I have to admit I was a little unclear on the concept. I appreciate the new rules because they offer clear(er) guidelines. For me anyway.

    I’m not sure what unusual means because I’m from Malaysia, and fennel (for example) is as unusual as it gets. However for WHB I suppose I could unearth some standard Malaysian herbs that no one’s ever heard of 🙂

  4. Kalyn, I’m looking forward to improving my WHB contributions under the new rules! 🙂

  5. I think these rules are quite reasonable and will make WHB even better. :):)

  6. Sue, thanks.

    Elizabeth, I don’t think you’ve ever sent an entry with just a little parsley sprinkled on. Truly I don’t! I’m just hoping to inspire people for entries where others can get benefit from reading it, I don’t anticipate the WHB quality control commissioners rejecting many entries. If you think an herb is essential to a dish, then it is.

  7. Count me in as another firm supporter of the new rules. In fact, I wondered when you would revise the WHB rules, Kalyn. This narrowing down really does make sense, especially because there are so many entries as it is. I can’t imagine that anyone will be miffed or offended. And if they are, then they should seek professional help… 😉

    With regards to whether photographs should be required in the round up, as someone who blogged for ages without even owning a camera, I cast my vote to leave it to the discretion of the host. What I do like to see though is a little description of the post – showing that the host actually read the entry. My favourite roundup framework so far is the one that categorizes the posts by the herb being used. It’s so handy to scan down the round up to “sage” or “thyme” to see what people have done with them.

    My only hope is that some tried and true recipes (I’m thinking of something like “focaccia with rosemary” or “hard boiled eggs with chives”) won’t disappear – as long as whoever posts about those things is very specific about describing why the herbs are essential to the finished dish.

    Here’s a question: Would this new narrowing down exclude posting about an herb used as garnish? We had grilled chicken last night – we garnished it with fresh mint and I was amazed at how much the fresh mint added to the finished flavour. I’m thinking this particular grilled chicken just wouldn’t be the same without the mint garnish. What’s the verdict on this one?

    -Elizabeth, also guilty of adding parsley to garnish a sauce so that it will qualify for WHB….

  8. Sounds good and more of a challenge.

  9. Thanks Zoe,
    I’m really looking forward to the master class!

  10. Kalyn, just weighing in to add my support for WHB masterclass! I think we are indeed up to the challenge, and as you mentioned, the number of foodblogging events has really grown, so there is a great opportunity for WHB to bring the focus to herbs and plantfoods!

    I remember my first WHB too – a fruit salad with everyday ingredients (boring?) … BUT I was living in the tropics of Queensland (AUST), so I guess my ‘everyday’ ingredients fit in the ‘unusual’ category, right? 🙂 I really enjoy reading about plantfood (history, growing info etc) and also ways to cook herbs/plants.. I think bringing a sharper focus will only add to WHB’s popularity and infamy.

    WHB-on!

  11. Joanna, thanks. I’m hoping it will keep the entries interesting and help everyone to learn from each other!

  12. Kalyn, I think the new rules are a great idea! I’ve only participated in one WHB so far but I really like the event in theory… in practice, however, I’ve found myself skimming through the recaps looking for the more interesting recipes. Of course, “interesting” is a completely subjective word, but my idea of it seems to line up with yours, and now I’m really looking forward both to participating again and also to reading the recaps!

  13. Natashya, love that description! WHB Master Class is just what I’m hoping to create!

  14. Susan, just as with Laurie, I never worry about your entries; they are always excellent. (Just like school, it’s always the good students who want to make sure they’re doing it right!)

    Yes, any type of herb that’s a major ingredient in the dish is just fine. (After all it’s Weekend *Herb* Blogging.) Recipes with the most ordinary of vegetables that are prepared in an interesting way, such as ethnic recipes, unusual preparation methods, unusual food combinations, unusual seasonings, or just great examples of seasonal produce are also just fine.

    Really I’m just hoping to eliminate the small percentage of entries where the recipe is so ordinary that people don’t find them interesting.

  15. I think that this is a great idea. We are all fab chef/blog types (no matter how new) who can handle having the ante upped a bit. If you didn’t believe we were up for the challenge, you wouldn’t have bothered.
    I will try harder from now on to push myself to try new and interesting ingredients to profile in my WHB dishes.
    I have to admit – for the first few weeks I thought I had to grow my own herbs to use in the round-ups, I’m not sure where I got that from.
    Looking forward to the WHB – Master Class!

  16. Kalyn, I’m a little with Laurie in terms of how to define “unusual.” I live in an urban area that offers a great deal in terms of global variety, and I am always embracing these goodies. Does this mean that you don’t want to see salad or potato recipes unless they use funky ingredients like heirloom varieties? And is ANY herb permissible no matter how commonplace it is, like parsley or basil?

  17. Laurie, please don’t worry! I can’t think of anything you have ever submitted would have been rejected under the new rules! It’s not that I am planning to reject a lot of entries, I am just hoping to inspire better ones in some cases.

    I did realize that “unusual” is a very subjective word, but struggled to find a better one. I’ll send you an e-mail.

  18. Hi Kalyn, Please excuse what my husband calls my OCD mind – which means I can’t stop fretting over things I don’t understand. If I get the gist of what you’re saying, it’s anything with an “herb” as a primary ingredient is okay, but that if what you are using is more accurately classed as a fruit or vegetable it either needs to be an “unusual” one or one used in an “unusual way.”

    If that’s your intent I’m still a little fuzzy on how to determine unusuality. I get why you don’t want to point to any dish that someone submitted as not ok under the new rules – but maybe you could id some of your posts that were okay before and aren’t now (or else just make up some examples of what kind of recipes you mean). Maybe it’s just me, but my mind just doesn’t do well with abstractions (like trying to figure out how the subjective term “unusual” can be applied in an international setting), so concrete examples are really necessary to comprehending. Sorry I’m so slow to understand and, once again, I’m not objecting to the rule in the slightest, I really just want to understand.

    By the way, if you need any help with the 3d anniversary roundup, please let me know and I’ll be glad to help.

  19. Cheryl, any kind of herb is fine (after all, it’s called Weekend Herb Blogging!) It’s just plants where I’m hoping to avoid ordinary things.

    And don’t forget things like arugula which are used like a vegetable but which are actually herbs!

  20. Kalyn,
    Not meaning to ask a silly question, but must posts be unusual herbs, or just herb dishes and unusual plants?
    I’m looking forward to the new version, and I’m sure it’ll just encourage us to be more creative.