Almost all my blogcepts come from a dialogue I’ve chewed on with someone. This post, while it contains no recipes, may be the most potent I’ve written. It’s based off two different conversations.
A few years ago, I was hanging out with a blogging buddy in Seattle. We were working up a photoshoot and yackity yacking, when she suddenly went on a bit of a rant. She lamented about all the people out there that continually ask her to Google things for them. I was still relatively new to blogging and didn’t totally relate. She was quite seasoned by that point and had most certainly Googled thousands of things for hundreds of people. At the time, I just laughed it off, but… over the years, it’s really sunk in what she meant.
She wasn’t alone. She didn’t invent the concept. In fact, there’s a whole website devoted to the idea that people ask other people to Google things for them, without really being aware of it.
Imagine you’re riding in the car full of your people. As usual you’re having an argument about the peanut. Same old thing. You insist that it’s not a nut, but the rest of the car is retaliating.
They’re not having it. They all keep reiterating, “Pea-nut”.
“Pea-NUT, you nut! Obviously, it’s a nut!”
So? What do you do? What can you do? You know you’re right, but how do you win? Opt for a lifeline! You whip out your expensive smart phone and send a message to your sister Bernice, “Bernie, are peanuts… nuts?”
Bernie, being the shrewd family member everyone knows her as, opens her laptop to Google, types in “Are peanuts nuts?” and instantly sees that they’re not, that they’re legumes like peas and beans.
“Nope. They’re legumes. In fact, coconuts, walnuts and pistachios aren’t nuts, either. Those are drupes!”
“Thanks, Ber. I knew it!”
Just as you’re about to drop this big information bomb on everyone, the car slows, pulls up to the aromatic drive-thru window and the collective focus shifts to “whole or fat-free milk.”
In this scenario, you messaged Bernice. Without realizing it, you just asked Bernie to Google something for you.
I remember this was a viral gag that went around 15 years ago, well before I’d blogged a thing. I remembered thinking this was mean, but fun. Being young and immature, I laughed and laughed.
A purely snarky site (click for fun): http://lmgtfy.com/?iie=1&q=Are+peanuts+nuts%3F
Here’s the thing, though. Just because you read it on the internet, doesn’t make it true.
The internet, LOADED with most all the information the world contains, is still just a giant expanding motley ball of facts, opinions, opinions as fact, spin, snake oil, ads, more ads, buy my books, and all manner of slippery slidey slope. The dub-dub-dub, for all its strengths, is still wrong juuuust enough as to be untrustworthy.
In your life, you’ve always just known Bernie to know stuff. Even growing up, she was the family encyclopedia. She’s the family authority on everything. She’s trusted, whereas Google is a swirling mess of complexity.
You trusted Bernie. Bernie, in turn, trusted that point where her instinct and knowledge intersect with her Google-Fu.
I completely understand the desire to ask a trusted someone versus a faceless algorithm. I completely understand it, but… the problem is… Bernice has a life. She has to sleep. She has to make bacon. She’s watching her first grandkid sleep. She’s not always available. She’s also not often detailed or thorough enough. She may be available for a quick yes or no, but not total follow-through.
The other day I was driving around with a buddy, mulling this all over, and I dropped the term Google-Fu.
“What’s a Google-Fu?”, he asked.
I Googled it for him!
According to StackExchange, “Google-Fu is defined as ‘skill in using search engines (especially Google) to quickly find useful information on the Internet.’ It is a somewhat tongue-in-cheek reference to kung-fu, which is generally perceived as requiring a high degree of skill to master in the western hemisphere.”
StackExchange is a huge network of computer developers. I grew up around computer developers. They know everything. Ask one. They’ll tell you!
Anywhoo… Google-Fu is a series of skills that can increase your confidence in the information you find online. It’s a lot like having sister Bernice in your pocket, all the time!
First, let’s just say that I’m focusing on Google, because it’s typically what people use as their search engine. Roughly 75% of all searches are done through Google. Because it’s the giant tubby gorilla, I’m going to focus on Google.
It should also be said that Google’s whole goal is to put the information you’re looking for, in front of you. The majority of you must agree Google does a decent job, otherwise you’d all swap to Bing. At less than 8% of total searches, it seems clear no one is jumping off the Google ship, just yet.
Google is doing something right. However, Google is not a mind reader. It doesn’t know exactly what you’re looking for, but it does do its all to quickly serve up its best possible guesses.
First, let’s assume you’re looking for bacon recipes, but you’re trying to avoid carbs and dairy.
Whatever you type into Google’s box is what Google will use to find things for you. The more information you give Google, the better the results will be. Simply typing in “bacon” won’t quite cut it. You’ll get 359,000,000 results. The first 10 of which contain zero recipes.
That’s too broad a search. We need to tighten it up.
Maybe try: low-carb bacon recipes
NOW, we’re playing with fire.
Here’s another interesting thing. What I see might be different than what you see. Google is so keen to put what you’re looking for in front of you, it tracks and remembers previous searches and traffic patterns. As it collects information about you, it’s better suited to curate results specific to you.
What I see may not be what you see, but for me, the first result is from the Atkin’s website and is based on Bacon Recipes for National Bacon Lovers Day.
Clicking through THIS, I see a list of recipes. The first one is made from about half dairy, but we’re looking for dairy-free recipes.
Note: for those wondering if something is wrong with dairy, I personally use quite a bit, but it’s a somewhat common restriction for certain people and complementary dietary philosophies (such as Paleo). I also deliberately wanted an extra wrinkle to help narrow the scope.
So, while the Cloud Muffins look interesting (the vanilla whey powder is a bit odd, but I suspect these are still tasty, nonetheless), we need to keep up the hunt.
Now, let’s add a new term to our search: low-carb bacon recipes dairy-free
This, at least on my list of results, brings up Mellissa’s fantastic site with a massive list of 165 Ketogenic Dairy-Free Recipes.
The first recipe is dairy-free. Granted, it doesn’t have bacon in it, but it looks fantastic, nonetheless. Feel free to enjoy it with a side of bacon!
Now, a culi-nerd like me will do things like press Ctrl-F on a keyboard (Cmd-F on Macs) which will allow me to “find” words on this page. Typing “bacon” in the box results in 7 hits. This list has the word “bacon” in it 7 times, each instance of which is highlighted.
The first recipes here? Bacon Wrapped Avocado Fries. Talk about Tasty Fat Bomb!
I feel like we’re getting somewhere, now!
In summary: The more descriptive and specific the search, the better the results! In a long page of text, using the “Find” tool can help you zero in on a specific topic.
Now, let’s remove something from the search, through the -minus sign, or the -hyphen.
Let’s say we want to make low-carb bacon pancakes, but we don’t want coconut flour. Something like “dairy-free” is somewhat common and a reasonable search term. However “coconut-flour-free” isn’t something anyone is likely to type … ever.
However, you can type something like this: keto bacon pancakes -coconut
This will return a list of results that search for the words keto, bacon and pancakes, but also does not contain a mention of the word “coconut” anywhere in the results.
The first results were for pancakes listed over on the Caveman Keto website.
Sure enough, cave people were known for using Carbquik!
Note: It should be said that I have no meaningful issues with Carbquik. I lost most of my weight while eating it semi-regularly, but ultimately, I found it to both cause cravings and cause stalls as I got closer to my goals. As a result, I no longer use it or ingredients stemming from wheat. YMMV
So, let’s whittle this down a bit: keto bacon pancakes -coconut -carbquik
Now, we’re looking for ketogenic bacon pancakes that contain no mention of either coconut or Carbquik. This time, the first result is actually a video!
Note: I didn’t link the video above because the guy uses a lot of strong language in his video and I try to stick with a PG rating. However, he WAS the first result, so he merited mention. If you’re ok with lots of F-Bombs… it does look like a good recipe. Click here to see the video.
Below the row of videos is a more traditional low-carb recipe…
Here’s where someone like me comes in, as an “authority”. I look at this recipe and know that the “flour” being used is not coconut or Carbquik. Rather, it’s protein powder. So, this recipe is going to be rubbery and eggy, but still probably somewhat tasty. The texture will be a bit off, though. Also, the photo looks stolen from a website called “JustATaste.com”. Through that little clue, I tracked down the original recipe… which isn’t for THIS recipe, at all! The photo in the recipe is actually for a Fluffy Greek Yogurt Pancake, full of wheat based flours. VERY different animals.
It’s these kinds of issues that keep people like sister Bernice in business!
In summary: It’s good to know that when searching, using the minus symbol, you can actually remove things from the search. “Look for this, but make sure the results don’t have that.” A really great use of this trick is when looking for recipes based on what you have in the house. You can list the ingredients, get some recipes, then add common ingredients that you might be out of. Slowly, you can whittle the results into something that suits your stuff!
A string is a technical term, but it’s the kind of thing that can help a good Google-Fu practitioner. There are all kinds of technical definitions for strings that reach far beyond the scope of this discussion, but basically a string is a sequence of characters that exist from the beginning to end, in a specific order. They are usually in quotes.
“Bacon is delicious” is a string. It’s a combination of letters and spaces, in a very specific order, contained within quotes.
It’s not the same as: bacon is delicious
Notice that if you click on those two links, you get two different results.
The second iteration of those search terms, to our human eyes, is the same as the first. However, while Google will search for the first unbroken “Bacon is delicious” string EXACTLY like that, in order, spaces and all; the other will be seen as 3 individual search terms: “bacon”, “is”, and “delicious”, likely in that order.
Google will look for a wider combination of those 3 terms because it has the flexibility to search for each individual term buried in the text of other pages, in no meaninful relation to the other, likely ignoring the “is”. It’ll look for the number of times each of the other terms appears on a page, where they appear, the overall approximated meaning of the page, etc. Then, it will present its prioritized results for you to peruse.
Just to show this in a different light, using strings is a good way to look for a very specific phrase, title or term. “bacon is delicious” is a clear set of words.
However, without the quotes, it looks for the following:
bacon is delicious
bacon delicious is
delicious is bacon
delicious bacon is
is delicious bacon
is bacon delicious
In Summary: Strings (search terms surrounded by “quotes”) are a great way to get a very specific search. This is great when looking for something like a specific recipe title, common phrase, cooking term, etc.
Try combining some of these ideas: low-carb “pumpkin pound cake recipe” -coconut
You’re asking for google to look for results containing “pumpkin pound cake recipe”, but also low-carb. You’re ALSO asking for recipes that do not contain any mention of -coconut.
The big bummer here is, you’re asking to omit the term “coconut” from the search, but what if someone wrote a recipe about how much they hate how common coconut is in grain-free baking and that they went to the moon and back to create the most perfectest coco-nuttiest-free pumpkin pound cake recipe … and they succeeded?!
In this case, you’re actively removing this recipe from the search results, because even though the recipe doesn’t contain any actual coconut, the WORD is there. Google see the term pm the recipe and omits it from the recipes it presents you.
Google-Fu is little like yoga. You can get better, but you’ll never perfect it. There’s always another way to ask the same question and get different results.
There’s always a way to do it deeper.
Want to use Google to search specific sites?
This is one of my favorites, and I use it all the time. Rather than searching across the entire universe, you can use Google to search just specific sites.
To do that, you can type “site:”, then the website address.
So, if you want to search for my own website for shrimp recipes, for example, you can go to Google and type: site:djfoodie.com shrimp
Or, let’s say you want baking recipes: site:djfoodie.com baking recipes
In Summary: Using “site:whatever.com search-term” you can use Google to search websites that have no search or a lousy built in search. You can also use it to get a different set of results. A new way to ask a quesion!
Ever play with Google Images?
The last big topic is images. Google Images, for me, is massively important. I assume there stands a good chance y’all might use it in the same way.
When I’m coming up with a menu for a new blog post, first I come up with a topic. Let’s say “Indian Food” (coming soon). I’ll go to Google, type in “Indian Food Recipes” then look through the results on Google Images. From there, I’ll look for inspiration. It’s my window into a new cuisine. I’ll pick something that looks tasty, then dig deeper… cooking in my mind… while determining how to create and write recipes within this realm without sacrificing any quality as I strip out the carbs (see ya, Rice!).
Google not only works to provide you the information you’re looking for, quickly, but it also tries to find quality content that is timely. Good tends to put the freshest stuff up first!
So, if you’re looking for some modern tastes, Google Images will show the kinds of things people are doing “right now”. By looking at these images and drilling deeper into what they offer, you’re staying close to the most modern cuisines.
Drilling deeper into it: Indian recipes keto amchur
In this case, I’m looking for keto Indian inspired recipes that contain amchur (amchoor? aamchur?!), because… it’s a fun ingredient to play with and fascinating to discuss! While I won’t duplicate any of these exact recipes, I’ll see what’s in them, where they come from, etc. Then, I’ll find my own path into a fresh way to present a recipe, be it by being deeply and intensely regional, or a recipe designed specifically to highlight a single ingredient while taking a modern spin, etc. There are lots of fun ways to take existing ideas and turn them inside out. I get enormous inspiration through Google Images…
In Summary: A picture is worth a thousand words.
Odds and Ends
- Use an * as a wild card. Try this (quotes and all): “If you’re afraid of butter, use *”
- Use “define” to quickly learn the definition of anything. Example: define amchur
- Conversions. I use Google for conversions all the time. Try “12 cups to gallon” or “2 cups to mL“
Why is this important? Why should I care? Why is this potent?
Ultimately, this all just distills down to resourcefulness. While I’m sure you were always able to Google stuff, now you can Google harder. You can get more precise information, more quickly.
One of the biggest requests I personally get is a request to lower carbs in a favorite recipe. On some occasions I’ll do this for people, but most of the time I just go Google the Google for them and share my findings.
Let’s take a quick trip together, shall we?
Let’s say I get a request for a Black Forest Cake. I don’t have such a thing on my own website. So, I’m going to go to Google and search for: “Low-Carb Black Forest Cake” (all in quotes)
Ok, that was perhaps a bad example, as the first result is amazing. There’s not a single thing I’d change about it (which is rare, ’cause I can be persnickety).
Most of my requests tend to be baking oriented, or ethnic. Or, I’ll just get a kind of mushy leading question.
“HI DJ FOODIE!! I’ve learned so much from you!! I love your books. You explain things so well! Well, I have a question. I just got a crock pot for my birthday and want to use it. I was thinking something Mexican. What do you think?” ~ Fran D.
These kinds of questions always give me the ferklumps. It’s not a super clear question. It’s just a slow-cooker recipe for Mexican food, but… what if she doesn’t like onions? Or, what if she’s opposed to spicy foods? What if she’s on a budget? Each of these are different search terms that only she would know.
Google-Fu to the rescue!: Keto Slow Cooker Mexican Recipes
The first result looks promising.
Yep! It’s a scrummy looking chicken dish… and super simple, too! But, let’s back up a bit.
The second result contains TEN recipes!
Granted, not all of these are Mexican, but they do work in a slower cooker. It’s also clickbait, but… Not too shabby!
But, what if we want this without dairy?
Try this: Low-Carb “Slow Cooker” “Mexican Recipes” Dairy-Free
Here we have a lovely dairy-free slow cooker Mexican recipe. Looks tasty, too. I LOVE cumin!
Fun with Google. Now, you can find stuff, too!
I hope y’all had fun with this. I hope it helps. Let me know what you find!
*** Bows ***
Until next time!
Take a look at my books!
An Easy Guide to Grain-Free Quick Breads
Taking Out the Carbage
AKA The Big Book of Bacon
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1 thought on “Google-Fu: Find Recipes like a Black Belt!”
Thank you so much for sharing this.