Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Paved With Good Intentions

So, yeah, I went to a Christian Ed meeting at my church last night and basically announced that our lovely church is dying because we aren't making children and young families a priority. This is true. It needed to be said. I wasn't the only one who said it. I know it was the right thing to do. And yet I feel like crap. Being extroverted takes a lot out of an introvert, dudes.

Anyway, let's talk about something else. When is a recipe your recipe? When is it not? I read somewhere that changing one ingredient means you've made a new recipe. But what if all you did was substitute margarine for butter? Soy milk for milk? When can you stop saying you adapted a recipe from someone else's and really call it your own?

When does a recipe enter the public domain? When does it become so well known that it belongs to everyone? If two people have the same idea and write about it, is one automatically plagiarizing the other?

What do you think? How do you handle recipes on your blog?


  1. Good for you for saying what needed to be said at church. Sometimes you have to say things even if people don't want to hear them.

    Hmm, good question about recipes. I don't know. Guess I don't claim too many recipes to be mine. As far as blogging about them, I will post who I got it from or what website if I know. If not, I don't.

  2. I have a terrible habit of writing out recipes into my own recipe book without crediting them. So, there might be something there from Kraft or Taste of Home, but I don't remember that that's where it's from. I change things 99% of the time anyway (like subbing whole-wheat flour for all-purpose or meatless for meat), so unless I know who to credit on my blog, I don't.

  3. Yes, being extroverted DOES take a lot out of an introvert - I TOTALLY agree! Whenever I finally speak up or confront someone, afterwards I always think, "Man, I need a nap!"

    As far as the recipes, I've only posted two on my site and one was my grandmother's original recipe (I've even googled it and have found nothing else out there), and the other I adapted seriously from a recipe on epicurious. I swapped out about 1/3 of the ingredients and eliminated half of the steps, so I didn't feel the need to credit them.

  4. Oh, man! I know what you mean about the effort it takes to be extroverted!

    Recipes. Oh, it is so hard! We have several "family recipes" (with names like "Aunt Sally's Ice Cream") that I have later found in those fundraiser cookbooks---so maybe Aunt Sally thought of it, too, or maybe we just called it that because that's where we first had it and we got the recipe from her.

    If I modify only a little, I usually say it's X's Recipe, Modified By Me. If I change it in a way I consider significant (test: would the original recipe-holder recognize the dish?), I call it mine. It's really tricky, though, especially when I have a recipe I think it someone's but actually it's someone else's---like when I was using a fundraiser-cookbook pumpkin muffin recipe, and then I found it on the Shedd's Spread website.

  5. I really don't know where we are going eith this... I know work takes a lot of family time but more and more I see people not spending time with their children! They're almost like strangers living in the same place...

    About recipes... Hmmmm I don't have any of my own so I always say from where I got it... :)

  6. I completely agree with the introvert/ extrovert thing. I have a friend who was a teacher for a number of years, who said "I don't even want to know this many people!"

    I'm not a cook, to speak of, but I do love reading cookbooks. And I'm often amazed at recipes in quite famous people's cookbooks (I'm thinking of Jane Brody, at the moment), who says something like "adapted from a recipe from Cookbook X" or even "I got this one from Cookbook Y." Which always makes me wonder: what exactly makes this your cookbook, anyway?

    Not that I care, but I often wonder how the author of Cookbooks X or Y feel about it!

  7. Kudos on being brave! After you've gotten over the shock of being extroverted I'm sure you'll feel really proud and happy that you said what needed to be said. That's better than feeling like you let yourself down and didn't speak up.

    If I've adapted a recipe slightly (like your examples) I'll credit the other person and cite my changes.

    If I've used somebody's recipe as a vague reference in coming up with something of my own, or if I've altered it so much that it really isn't the same dish I'll say it was inspired by so and so, but I made it my own. I like making note of inspirations b/c it's a good footnote for me to remember later.

    I think for the recipe to be 100% yours would be those days you open the fridge and whip up something completely out of the blue without any help from another source. Otherwise it would fall under the "adapted from" or "inspired by" categories.

    And anything that's a family recipe I generally cite as that. You're part of your family, so why not join and stake a claim in its magnificance!?

  8. Saying what needs to be said is HARD. It just is.
    Ah, recipes. I try not to copy recipes straight out of brand new magazines onto my blog, but older ones are fair game - how many new recipes can there be in the world, anyhow? I do try to change the wording of the recipe, though, so I'm not outright stealing someone's writing.

  9. Legally, a list of ingredients cannot be copyrighted.

    A good source of information about this sort of thing is

    Personally, if I have modified a recipe to just substitute allergen free ingredients, I give attribution and describe my changes.

    When I am trying to create my own version of recipe, for example the biscuits I recently posted, I'll read biscuit recipes from multiple professional sources to get a good sense of technique and the proportions of flour to liquids to fats, then start experimenting. Once I've made multiple test batches and adjustments, I definitely consider it my own work.

  10. How funny, we were commenting on each others blogs at the same time.

  11. I always say where I got a recipe and what I changed. I don't see any reason not to share your recipes though, as long as you don't actually make your living as a baker/chef/cookbook author/etc.