Social Media to Rescue Kitchen Disasters

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Twitter, hotline aim to help the clueless in the kitchen

What should you do if you only have canola oil when the recipe calls for olive oil? Not sure how to cook a certain cut of beef? Is your bread not rising? Thank goodness, there's a hotline for that.

Food writers/editors and (tech geniuses) Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs have added a social media extra to their web site, food52.com, to help the kitchen-challenged. Anyone stumbling through a recipe can log onto the web site's hotline, or tweet questions to their @food52 handle, and ask their burning questions. If it's an urgent question, you can even mark it so the cooking Superman can swoop in immediately to help.

Food52 is hardly the first social media experiment in the kitchen, but it aims to bring the "social" back to the kitchen. Hesser said to the Seattle Times this month, "Even as we're pushing forward, we're actually turning back to the past, where cooking was much more social and we learned from each other, from people close to us... Strangely, through technology, we're moving back to that."

The real question on everyone's mind: Just how fast will the hotline get to you? NPR's Salt team tested it and found their average response time was about a half hour. So if there's a brûlée burning somewhere, you may not want to wait on Food52 to get to you first.