The past two nights I’ve spent several hours updating my food and family recipe website sharing site, “Cook with Wes,” and I’m happy with the results at this point! I’ll recap my updates (in WordPress) in this post. I dabble in web design and WordPress customizations rather infrequently now, so this was a significant catalyst for me to “play with media” in some new ways!
“Cook with Wes” (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer
About a year ago, in December 2020, over the school holidays I setup a new WordPress site (food.wesfryer.com) to share my wife’s mom’s (Clara Ward) favorite family recipes, along with my own. Since we have three children and almost have an “empty nest,” I want to provide them with access to all these recipes… and a website seemed like the best option. Since I’ve been using WordPress since 2005 and still maintain quite a few sites for different projects, it was a logical choice. The journey to convert my late father-in-law’s ClarisWorks database file of recipes to a format I could import was a bit crooked, but in the end I’ve been very pleased with the results. I even recorded a video tutorial about my process at this time, if you’re interested in “getting into the weeds” of this yourself.
My journey as a socially sharing chef was jumpstarted last spring by my friend David Jakes (@djakes), who encouraged me to setup a separate Twitter channel for my cooking exploits. “Cook with Wes” was born as a result on both Twitter and Facebook.
Last night, another friend (Jason Elliot) shared a link on Facebook to a Food Network “Chopped Casting Call” for teachers who cook, and I decided to apply. Before submitting the link to my cooking website, however, I decided to rebrand it from “Fryer and Ward Family Recipes” to “Cook with Wes,” which is the channel name I’ve been using on Facebook and Twitter.
Last weekend I also decided to setup a separate @CookWithWes Instagram channel, apart from my existing @wfryer channel, so I can potentially grow that channel and audience with a specific focus on food and cooking. This also will make sharing my social channels easier on my YouTube cooking videos, since I can just say, “Follow Cook with Wes.”
Unfortunately, there were some technical problems with my cooking WordPress site, and I was not able to resolve them last night. Some of my blog category links would not work, they did not display any search results. Fortunately, Alan Levine (@cogdog) came to my rescue, and tonight I was able to fix the problems by changing my WordPress theme.
Here is a quick summary of the updates and changes I made to food.wesfryer.com tonight, which is now titled, “Cooking With Wes: good eats from the kitchen of Wes Fryer.”
- New (free) WordPress theme: LZ Food Recipee
- New site header logo (an image and text box collage designed as a Google Drawing)
- Installed (free) WordPress plugin: Comet Cache (I use this on several other sites and really like it)
- Installed (free) WordPress plugin: Recent Posts Widget Extended
- Installed (free) WordPress plugin: Spotlight – Social Media Feeds (so I can embed my Instagram feed as a widget with shortcode)
- Installed (free) WordPress plugin: YotuWP – YouTube Gallery (so I can embed my YouTube cooking videos playlist as a widget with shortcode)
- Installed (free) WordPress plugin: Recent Posts Widget Extended (I’m using it in a footer widget, I love the customization options for recent posts, including thumbnails and limiting to a single post category)
- Added embed code for my Cook with Wes Facebook page and Twitter channel in as post sidebar widgets.
- Added a “tag cloud” of my posts in the footer widget area.
I also played a bit with some different background colors and images, but ended up staying with the theme defaults. The main thing I don’t like about the site at this point is that some posts include textual excerpts in the homepage ‘grid view’ while others don’t. This is because on some of my recipe posts, using the WP Recipe Maker Premium plugin, I didn’t put any text into the post in addition to the embedded recipe. So this is something I can remedy by adding a block of text in those posts… and I may do that at some point, but not now.
I’m very pleased with how the website looks on both a mobile device (my iPhone) and a laptop computer screen. (Good “responsive web design!”)
So… If the good folks at The Food Network end up checking out my cooking site now… at least all the category links will work! 🙂
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