Photo by Donna

Photo by Donna

Faithful readers, cooks, strangers, welcome to the new design!

I wanted Donna’s photography to stand out so we toned down all the color (above, I was dicing onion week before last for an easy, midweek coq au vin preparation— love the light she got on that onion!). I also hope to bring in new readers, so I made the social media prominent on the right and will be sending out a newsletter to those who are interested in additional material. I hope the blog will be easier to read, have a more consistent in look, with no more Kraft salad dressing ads in the left column next to the post!  There will be more smaller changes in the future, but this is the big one, master minded by designer Joe Watson (thanks Joe!) and engineered by Stephen Jenkins, both working out of my beloved city.

What won’t change is the content: as the above photograph implies, I write about and discuss basic technique, fundamental cooking principles, food news and opinion, great photography, and occasionally letting off steam.

As always, all comments are welcome!


71 Wonderful responses to “Same Blog! New LOOK!”

  • Victoria

    I love this new look!

    I did the turkey wing thing. It was great. Next year I’m going to double it so I have enough to use in my dressing.

    Ad Hoc at Home is out of stock on Amazon.

  • HCC

    Enjoy the new look, unfortunately the update seems to have caused an RSS malfunction and dumped about 25 recent posts from both blogs into my google reader.

  • Sharon Scott

    A differing opinion: I actually didn’t think the color detracted from the photographs.:( In fact, the red was more stimulating and warm than the gray. However, your content still rocks and that will always keep me coming here for quality information. Really like that the Kraft ads are gone.

  • Walker Lawrence

    I like the toned down color scheme. Concerned the ads may clash. The “google” blue doesn’t go so well with the blue tones in the new design.

    The text color may also be too muted. Against the white background it’s more difficult to read.

    I personally would also color to the social media links. The distinct colors of the RSS feed, FB, and twitter are part of their package and more easily recognized. As they are now, they get lost. If that’s what you’re shooting for, than you’ve done well.

    I hope we’ll get even more beautiful pictures from Donna. The design really contrasts well with her photos. Should be a real treat in the future.

  • other side of the river

    I like the idea — I think the greys could be warmer rather than cooler, though. It’s a little dreary.

  • Julie Turner

    Absolutely love it…. clean design, simple basic colors that highlight the content instead of overpower it.

  • applehome

    This photo definitely benefits from the tone-down, but a brighter one might clash where it would have settled well in the red (I’m thinking, recently of the corn). But overall, I like the fonts and general tone. Like others have said, I come for the content, but it’s nice to have a good wrapping. As with shirts and ties, change is a good thing.

  • Paul DeLuca

    Overall, I like the new design, but I had several immediate reactions: 1) The muted colors actually make the brightly colored ads stand out more and draw attention from the center column to the sidebar; 2) I agree with Walker, the social media icons should retain the colors associated with each service. Readers are accustomed to those colors and will have to think-if even for a moment-to decide if the muted icons are what they think they are; 3) Links in your posts need to stand out a little more. Don’t make readers guess what’s a link and what isn’t. The right sidebar links are fine; everyone will know those are links.

    Looking forward to more great content from you and Donna!

  • mary lynn

    I must admit that my husband and I do not like the new color. It is almost monochrome and kind of depressing. But, I guess being from the southwest, we enjoy color. As usual, love the content.

  • Eleanor Hoh (WokStar)

    Congrats, I know how much work has been put into this. As a subscriber to your newsletter and a fellow proponent that “technique” gives you the tools to conquer any recipe, “content” driven blogs are key for me but color is also important. The colors previously were not a distraction to your wonderful “content”.

    I agree mostly with Walker Lawrence’s feedback. Brands should have their own distinction. I understand what you’re striving for but think it tones down your whole “personality” too much. Hope this helps.

  • Ryan

    I’m not really liking the new design to much because 1) colors are too drab–it almost looks like a site when you ctrl+a and it’s all highlighted in gray, 2) the links look like the linked ads on some pages (i think the dotted underlining is the main culprit) instead of true links, 3) the text is somewhat difficult to read, and 4) i agree about the social media buttons being their true colors

  • Vivian

    I love your new header and byline. I don’t really care for the gray borders. That was something I had to contend with on my own blog until I figured out how to properly stretch the template.

    I find the lighter look definitely lends itself well to Donna’s photography. All in all, It is a striking look for you and Donna.

  • Phil

    Love the new look, Michael. Love the typesetting in your header, and the desaturated profile picture to match the new color scheme. And the muted greys and blues will actually give a lot of pictures on your web site more punch. New designs are always tricky, and not everyone is going to like them at first glance. They’ll get used to it.

  • Susan @ SGCC

    I really like the new look. It’s clean, elegant and it doesn’t compete with the content, which is the most important thing. Hope it brings you even more success!

  • Victoria

    Sorry about a second comment, but I have read the above and want to affirm that I think the new design is elegant and clean. I do not find it dreary at all; the colors enhance and highlight Donna’s photographs beautifully.


  • dobsohn

    I agree with Walker L above on the social media icons. I also think your bio and link text on the right is way too small. If you’re trying to draw a larger audience, those with imperfect eyesight may have trouble reading those things. Also, I really wish you had more than 2 posts per page. I’d much prefer to scroll down a long page than have to click through to older posts. As someone who visits but not that often, I like to see what you’ve been writing about lately without having to go through multiple page loads. I’d also argue that the navigation elements at the top are a bit hard to read, but that may be intentional.

  • Denise

    I very much enjoy your blog–and Donna’s photograhpy, but, unfortunately, your changes all work together to highlight the colourful (currently Golden Blossom Honey) & large ads on the left. In fact that’s the first thing I saw. You may want to rethink placement; it’s a bit off-putting to feel like the entire goal of the blog is to spotlight the google ads, rather than your content.

  • ellen

    i read off my rss feed, and now i don’t see anything but the title and the few first sentences. of course, i could click through to the actual site, but that is a pain and i doubt i will do that often.

  • lux

    I love the new look & think it meets the goals well.

    I’ve been having some trouble posting comments lately, though, hopefully the redesign will also fix that problem.

  • Paul Kobulnicky

    See … not everyone can cook but everyone has a web design opinion.

    So what software are you using? WordPress? Drupal? Inquiring minds want to know?

    Looks good though.

    I’d do something about your portrait. You’re too good looking. Makes the rest of us guys look bad.

  • Sharon Scott

    Looked at this again trying see how the photos play off the new background color. Again, the gray is pretty drab. What about an mid tone olive or sage green as a back drop? I think you’d get your contrast without losing the warmth.

  • Rhonda

    Congratulations on the new site design. I can only imagine how much work this must have entailed.

    It has a tone of seriousness to it which I love and separates this forum from other “Mommy & Cook-through Blogs” (not that there is anything wrong with those, they are great, just not what I am looking for).

    Now that my time is severely limited, I only check in daily with you and then a couple of other Chef Blogs.

    I like. Well done.

  • susan

    You may have committed a cardinal sin of redesigns. Non of your google ranking links work any more. By changing /books to /my-books, as a specific example, you will have broken links from tons of other sites.

    Lowers your rankings, and forces other folks to change their web sites.

    My opinion may be colored by the rainy weather here in Boston today, but I find the overall color-texture of the new site to be muted and dull. Feels like an old sepia photograph, and I don’t think that Donna’s pictures feel as vibrant. Love the new catch phrase and your “brand” fonts.

  • The Hungry Mouse

    Congrats! I love it! (You deserve a fat, juicy cocktail! Changing site designs is always more stress than you think it’s going to be.)


  • Kate in the NW

    OOh…slick, sophisticated, urbane, exquisitely tasteful – maybe even a little intimidating? Most of e changes look great, but like many others, I’d like to see a little more warmth in the color scheme…just ’cause I think your writing (and good food in general) is about warmth and soulfulness, and maybe even a little bit of messiness(?) This new look feels a little bit like a Banana Republic or Eileen Fisher ad – it IS gorgeous, but is this look exactly what you want as a backdrop for your message?

    I don’t mean to be discouraging – and of course i’ll still read! But maybe a tweak on the color.

    Congratulations on the hard work I’m sure went into this….I guess it’s like painting the house a new color – all the neighbors will weigh in, but ultimately it’s YOUR house, and YOU’re the one that has to come home to it, so it should be something YOU like. 🙂

  • Carol Alaniz

    I click here a couple times a week and when I clicked just now, was a bit underwhelmed by the colors. For one thing, in your photo, skin tone looks washed out. I see a lot of grey and silver tones in web sites nowadays, so those have become boring colors to me. When I read blogs that have grey/silver I tend to fall asleep. The top of your blog looks great, with your name and tag line and Donna’s photography is fine as usual. Just needs a bit more color. Also, your font would look better in black. It’s easier to read, especially for the over 50 crowd.

  • Cali

    I have to agree with most of the others, it’s just too gray– especially the small, gray font. While it may make Donna’s photos stand out more, today’s photo isn’t a good example of that, what with being a white onion and all. The new tag line is great though.

  • JR Prospal

    I really liked the red banner you had before. It wasn’t overpowering but it had a unique, inviting and very warm feel. This new look seems washed out, kinda one-note-ish. I do like the way your name is set, but that’s a style I usually like. Would it be possible to place your Open Sky store link at the top instead of buried in Google ads. It gets kinda lost. Maybe using the Open Sky logo would be better, though their red is a bit striking; a color change to a medium blue might fit your look. And, I do like the revised right sidebar, it’s very well organized, but again too monochromatic.

    The only reason I keep stating that is because I’m a designer and I love cooking. Monochrome works well at times, but rarely ever with food. Plus, I don’t see you as a monochrome type person. I never thought Donna’s photography was overwhelmed by your previous site. If anything, maybe a darker site would show off the photography best, like many web portfolios do. I’d shy away from that only because your blog is also about the words and most people dislike reading all reversed text.

    I do really love you’re new tag line though, it speaks more about what you have been building up to, translating. And you’re very good at it. I just don’t think the new site design reflects that.

    Anyhow, that’s just my two-cents.


  • LK

    The eyes of this 56 year old can’t deal with type both grey AND tiny, but I normally read an rss feed so it doesn’t matter to me.

    But I worry about legibility for older people and people with less than perfect vision.

  • Lynda

    Great look – clean and elegant; the banner is great. The google ads on the side, however, don’t deserve their prominent position. They distract and detract with their font and mass-appeal attempt to sell.

  • Clara

    Another New Englander who isn’t rejoicing over the muted macho grays BUT I really love that you reduced your header size so that your content is more visible scrolling. I agree that the Google ads could use a little more integration in terms of colors/borders. But I love the new tagline. And of course all this is just my opinion. (See what happens when you invite comments?)

  • Clara

    Sorry, I meant to say your content is more visible WITHOUT scrolling. In the heat of the template-thrilled moment I hit “submit” without re-reading what I’d written.

  • Linda

    Personally, it doesn’t matter to me what you do to your blog. I think the best thing on your blog is your picture!

  • admin

    Hi, my name is Stephen Jenkins, and I was involved in the mechanics behind getting the site up. I just thought I would answer a few questions and address some concerns.

    First to Susan, who noted that we had committed a “cardinal sin” by changing some menu links, I appreciate the feedback, but in fact, we thought this out – I created HTTP 300 rules for redirecting old feed links and menu links to their proper spots without breaking SEO. Try accessing: – it still resolves.

    From a color perspective (and now we are in the realm of opinion/preference), I think the muted scheme is really going to shine as more colorful posts appear. The former design was pleasant, but distracted from the content (and content is king!).

    There have been some comments about RSS feeds not being full text, we are going to wait a few days and let things settle out, then will look at how we might change that.

    I commend Michael for making the jump. WordPress is a much more flexible platform, and I think the pain endured during the transition (Typepad to WordPress at this scale was monstrous) will be worth it in the end.

    I personally have become a huge fan of Michael’s just from reading over his articles while we were building. I have become addicted to pan fried Brussels sprouts, and would love to procure some duck fat to really take them to the next level.

    Thanks for your comments and patience – Joe Watson did a great job with this re-design and managing the project as a whole.

  • susan

    Hi Stephen, So nice of you to jump into the grey/color dust up. I hope that this is helpful….

    When I do a google search for Ruhlman, this main page of this site is the first link. Under the primary link are 8 sub-links. Clicking any of these and I get a Error 404. I only pointed this out to be helpful, not to criticize.

    I think all of Michael’s readers have felt that they are connected to him, and we don’t want him to loose any of his hard-earned recognition. And the fact that you enjoy Brussel sprouts, roasted is a point in your favor. May I suggest roasting one duck [I love Sara Moulton’s method] and you will have enough duck fat to confit some legs and roast some sprouts. Enjoy.

  • susan

    Me Again….

    So, from a google search, I get this link for books:

    When I select that link from the google results page I get this error:

    Not Found

    The requested URL /books.html was not found on this server.

    Additionally, a 404 Not Found error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.

    Oh, and those confit duck legs are great with some lentils du pay cooked with a little of that fat, some carrots and thyme. Simmer for 40 minutes, and enjoy.

  • dsi r4

    I just love newer look. Cool picture on this page. Your photo gives the identity to your blog. Great !!!

  • Sugar Apple

    I like the new design and love that the Kraft ads are gone (I’ve commented on those here in the past). Nice and clean. I’m a big fan of clean. Isn’t WordPress great? I run my blog on it and love it. I would recommend the Akismet plugin to block spam…you’ve got a few of those comments here already.

  • Bob

    I rather liked the old red design, and didn’t feel as if it detracted from Donna’s work – her photos stand out for reasons of composition, lighting, and an ability to ‘capture the moment,’ and not because they’re overmatched or mismatched with the color on a header. (I’m a video editor by profession, so I generally pay more attention to the image than the background.)

    I *do* like the new byline, because it expresses the essence of Michael’s work. (One of my frequent comments about chefs I like to watch/read is ‘it’s simple, direct, and accessible.)

  • DJK

    1. People love change, don’t they? I really think that if it had always been this way and you switched to the other design, people would be wincing in response to all the color.

    2. The only quibble I’d share with some of those above is that your portrait looks off. It looks too flat to me, and I think that flatness stands out with the darker colors (and white) surrounding it. I dragged it into Photoshop and tweaked it with a little S-curve, and to my eye it’s an improvement. I’ll go ahead and be extra presumptuous and email it to you once I’ve submitted this message. 😉

  • Kim

    I love the style of the new look, including the font choices and the overall crispness of the presentation; however, I hate the new colors. They are depressing and off-putting. Sorry!

  • Erik

    I really miss the links to the next and previous posts at the TOP of the page. I’m only seeing the link to the next (Turkey Stock) post at the bottom, after all the comments.

  • Zoey4now

    It’s a Day of Changes…some for good and some for bad but all in the name of Food…love the new site and yes it is really easy on the eyez.

  • Nancy

    Okay, I’m a Grinch! The whole thing seems drab & depressing. I don’t see this as the contemporary, vibrant, dynamic site oozing the energy & enthusiasm you used to have. I can’t see myself looking forward to your next posting or recommending the site to others. It just seems dead, Michael. BORRRRRing!

  • Nancy

    Okay, I’m a Grinch! The whole thing seems drab & depressing. I don’t see this as the contemporary, vibrant, dynamic site oozing the energy & enthusiasm you used to have. I can’t see myself looking forward to your next posting or recommending the site to others. It just seems dead, Michael. BORRRRRing!
    (If this is published twice it’s because something’s also wrong w/the posting mechanism because it gave me an error message before.)

  • Russ H.

    Dammit! NOW how am I going to know how to get my Kraft Cheeze?!?

    Thanks loads Michael!

  • dawn emerson

    I like the typography and layout a lot but hate the color – even the photo seems more muted. Donna’s color photos really used to POP (I’m thinking of that fresh garlic on the stalk). blech.

  • Nancy

    P.S. I tried it again. Read it again. Saw your comment about letting Donna’s photography stand out. It doesn’t. It’s like LIFE magazine in the 1920s.


  • Pabboy

    I can understand 2 blog entries per page but the SEARCH RESULT has only 2 summary results per page. It’s become really difficult to have to keep clicking PREVIOUS ENTRIES to get to the exact entry I’m looking for.

    Otherwise I love your blog and read it everyday.

  • Aaron

    I think the new style looks fine but these colors are just too washed out, going back over some old posts the colors even make the photos more bland.

  • luis

    Do whatever you need to do..bro. But deliver tha content which you do again and again… Bravo.

  • Pam

    I like the fact that everything has its place and I like the muted tones. I’m just really not crazy about this particular color combination.
    And since when have Donna’s photos EVER needed help? They shine regardless of what’s around them.

  • newsmike

    Having led a number of redesigns in both print and online, I know that the main reaction from readers is always “why did you change this!?” So stay the course if you have a long-term vision for your site …

    However, I do have to agree that the color palette is too muted. It affects the readability of the type, and it just seems to sap the energy from your posts and the comments. Imagine walking into a restaurant with beige walls, beige tablecloths, beige plates, etc., in an effort to make the food stand out more — the whole experience would be missing something. Food – both pro and home – is a rich, vibrant world, and all the senses should be engaged.

    I do agree that Donna’s photos need no help to stand out.

  • Jeffery Thorp

    Hi Michael,

    I have to agree with the majority of your readers, I’m not really liking the redesign.

    The content and images? Fantastic!

  • Carolyn Jung

    Nice new look! The photos really pop this way. Kudos to your wife for all her glorious food photos. I’m so envious of her talents.

  • Katy

    being in the graphic design world myself, I like the new site layout but I have to say I really loved the “red” in your old banner–made everything pop!
    didn’t take away from Donna’s great photos at all!

    I agree about the muted colors—not sure about muting the banner so much–mainly because the colorful ad on the left then takes away from your banner and my eyes keep getting drawn to that!…. and your picture looks washed out and makes you look a bit jaundiced! LOL… I would bring in just a bit more color (maybe just give the banner a color overlay so it doesn’t look so gray) and that should brighten up the whole thing and still bring focus to Donna’s photos 🙂

    the content is as great as ever! 🙂

  • Michael

    Sorry to say it but like most of the folks above, I’m not a fan of the redesign. I don’t come here for pretty pictures or what not, but for the wealth of information and to read over old posts. This new design makes it more difficult. I know that pictures help bring in readers, and I love Donna’s photography, but if I want a showcase of that I’d go to her site. Use them effectively, but don’t make this site all about that.