Traveling the world through cuisine

We're back

We're back

Welcome to the brand new Culinaria. After a year of thinking, rethinking, designing, redesigning, and a lot of coding...we are back online. The entire website has been rebuilt from the ground up to be bigger, better, and hopefully more secure on the back-end.

Now I know it’s sacrilege in the blogging world to let a large expanse of time pass with no updates to your site. I’m sure many of you out there have encountered numerous sites you fell in love with, followed closely, but then watched them go silent. I’d like to think though that we had good reason for the gap.

What happened in 2012

Wordpress hackedBack in January of 2012, I had posted the article The Holiday Aftermath. A few days later, my web host called me to say the website was drastically changed. Instead of the home page, I saw a black screen with a message from a hacker. Someone had managed to use a programming hole in the back-end (Wordpress) of the old website and thus ripped out the home page and even locked all of us out.

Suffice to say, I was upset. I thankfully managed to restore the old website, but this hacking, combined with other problems we were having in the back end, was enough for me. I had been bouncing the idea of a redesign, but this incident now pushed me to actually do it.

Then...life got busy. My regular work became very busy, Zuzana was in the heat of finishing Dental Hygiene school, Stephanie was planning a wedding, and thus the website was a perpetual on-again/off-again thought. I would lay out a potential new site, then suddenly rethink it, redesign, then read up on new site design practices to try, and thus the cycle continued.

Meanwhile, we were all still cooking, and thus the spark remained. It wasn’t until late August that I finally became determined to redesign and relaunch this site. I worked tirelessly on a new design, new thinking in the back end, and then went crazy coding the site to my high standards of web development.

A look at the new site

Culinaria home pageAt first look, the new site might not look all that different from the old site. The textured background, the colors, and the logo up top. I’ll admit that I honestly did like the look and feel of the old site. I wanted this site to always be warm, welcoming, and yet carry an essence of “old world charm”. To have that feeling you get when you walk through one of those quaint European towns where the buildings are slightly older, but you find it charming as opposed to dilapidated.

The most noticeable change is of course the home page. I wanted to break free of the typical Wordpress blog list of six articles you normally saw on this site, and put a bit of flare with the news slider and the sub-section callouts speaking about the different sections.

I’ve also divided up the site into four major sections, mainly because I felt too restrained in the old site section scheme and wanted to do more than just articles with recipes. In the Kitchen is the old Culinaria blog you know and love. The articles that take you around the world with recipes for the yummy things we learned to make.

The Recipes section is one I always wanted to have on here. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I like to use this site as my personal cookbook, and felt it would be nice to just have recipes. This is ideal if you aren’t interested in the article and just want to get to the recipe for whatever reason. I’ve also built crossover compatibility so recipe entries link to the articles they are featured in, and you’ll see links to the recipes in the articles.

Culinaria recipeA Look At is more or less taking the “Explore” articles and blowing them up into their own section. As of now, the only articles you’ll see are the two I did on delis. Originally I wanted to do more on venues such as patisseries, fruit markets, and other speciality spots. I also wanted to jump into other ethnic food-related subject matter that didn’t come with recipes. I thought about articles on street food in various countries, specific meals for special days, and even just articles exploring the history of various ingredients.

The Tips & Techniques section is also an expansion I felt was needed. The old site merely contained a few small tips crammed into one page, which served its purpose back then, but now I’d love to post articles on anything from how to chop an onion to reviews of kitchen gadgets, especially asking if they are truly necessary.

Finally, I’ve taken out the old comment setup and am using Disqus on all the articles. In my web design work, I’ve had many experts show me how consumers are less likely to comment on sites where there isn’t a trusted resource as the system. Thus I want you all to be able to comment freely, and I decided to use Disqus. I’ve also gone further in social media by linking up to what I think are the most popular social media sites for foodies and food bloggers.

Where we go from here

At this point, I have a long list of article ideas, photos that need processing, and recipes I want to refine and share. My hope is to at least post something every two weeks, but more frequent would be better. This site is a labor of love, but I too am planning a wedding, working, and keeping healthy.

Would I ever take on other writers or guest bloggers? I’ve been asked that, and I’m always open to fresh faces, but those faces still have to be a good meld with the crux of this website. Articles about quick 30-minute healthy meals for busy moms belong on Good Housekeeping, not here. This site is more on culinary tradition, ethnic cultures, and travel. Think Rick Steves with food. If you want to give it a shot, drop me a line. Otherwise, enjoy the site and please feel free to leave comments.

Tags: website, return, redesign, rebuild, better

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