Hi helpful people! Profile pickle--I would like to start adding recipes to my profile and I'm wondering if there's any criteria/guidelines to follow--if the recipe isn't mine originally, as long as I give appropriate credit, is that ok? If I've given something my own slant, and tell how, is that ok? I feel like I have the right idea, I just want to make sure... Thanks in advance :)

  • Posted by: Laura_K
  • February 15, 2011


Blissful B. February 16, 2011
This year, I organized my favorite recipes & went out of my way to note the source on each one. It was so hard -- recipes get shared with very few people saying where it originated. I also find it strange that so many food blogs have authors that only provide their first name. I have scoured blogs looking for last names to give them credit for their recipe & found none. What's the deal there? Betteirene, I also would never have thought to add cocoa & cinnamon to chili, but man I'm glad someone tried that. It's sooooo good! Lark1, I look forward to reading your recipes!
Greenstuff February 16, 2011
Good story, susan g. I have a copy of the Blueberry Hill Menu Cookbook (1963). Is that what you were working on? It has a party menu and a family menu for each month. Pretty lucky families, as the February family menu starts out with clams and oysters on the half shell. Great book, and I'm glad that N-Marcus had to give her some credit.
susan G. February 16, 2011
Sometime back in the dark ages, or the dawning of the cookbook as we know it -- 1963 -- I worked for a woman who had an inn in Vermont and was then finishing the 2nd of her 3 cookbooks. Her first cookbook had a recipe that was lifted verbatim, along with her intro, by Neiman-Marcus for a cookbook they put out. She called them on it, and they were required to insert a slip giving credit to Elsie Masterton's Blueberry Hill Cookbook. Simpler times...
Take a look at the specifications for entering recipes in contests: that's detailed, and has an instructive example.
Amanda H. February 16, 2011
Nora, love your story.
Nora February 16, 2011
I remember my mother using a very good cheesecake recipe she clipped from the local newspaper. It was Mrs. Current Governor's Wife's cheesecake. Eventually a new governor came into office and the paper printed Mrs. New Governor's Wife's cheesecake. Same recipe. My mom thought it was hilarious. It's still my favorite cheesecake recipe.
pierino February 16, 2011
Personally I'm always careful about attribution. I have hundreds of books I use for reference. Often a cookbook recipe is just a riff on a much older one. But if the author attempts something new or playful with it, I would want that to be noted. I "borrow" ideas from chef friends all the time, but I want them to get credit for it.

David Ruggieri got kicked off the Food Network for among other things inflating his customers' credit card bills. But he also got caught plagiarizing a recipe from Giuliano Bugialli almost word for word.
betteirene February 16, 2011
My high school friend Yvonne told me this a long time ago: If you change three things in a recipe--an ingredient or two, a measurement, cooking time or temperature--you can call it your own without giving credit to the original. Yvonne is not a lawyer, so if you do this and someone sues you for recipe plagiarism, I'll give you her contact info so you can sue her.

It makes sense though. If you look on the backs of different brands of semisweet chocolate chips, the recipes will have very small differences, and none of them pay homage to Ruth Wakefield. I don't recall Nestle suing Guittard or Ghirardelli.

Julia Child used other people's recipes, too. She'd taste something, then try to duplicate it at home, or she'd ask the chef for the recipe and would adapt it to her liking, or she'd devise a technique more amenable to a home kitchen. She always gave credit where credit was due, and she was never named in a lawsuit over recipe plagiarism.

Here's my story about the recent seafood/pasta contest here: I've been making bouillabaisse for more than 40 years. My starting point is Julia's "Bouillabaisse a la Marseilles," which calls for fennel seed, but sometimes I use a fennel bulb. If the catch of the day is three days old, I'll use just one fish but four kinds of shellfish. If I'm out of fish stock or clam juice, I'll use a can of V-8 or tomato juice with a pinch of sugar. If I made all those adaptations at the same time, I would have no compunction in calling it my own, and had I entered it in the contest, I would have titled it, "Bouillabaisse a la Golden Gate" because of its similarity to cioppino.

So I made it, and it was very, very good, but I didn't enter it in the contest because it wasn't very, very good with pasta. I tried it with angel hair and with egg noodles--meh. It was wonderful, however, with a drizzle of olive oil, a squirt of lemon and a piece of crusty French bread, so I'll save the recipe for a contest for "Your Best Soupe de Poisson."

I have a lot of personal and professional experience cooking and baking for others and I'm pretty confident in my kitchen abilities. Despite that--and how do I say this without calling myself a thief--I rely on others for inspiration. My personal cookbook is full of handwritten recipe cards from relatives and friends, clippings from newspapers and magazines, and labels from bags and cans and boxes, and I own more cookbooks than my local library. I plunder these sources freely. I am an inventive cook, yes: Being broke forces you to find a substitute for wine or prawns that won't compromise the recipe. I am not, however, an imaginative cook: Never in a thousand years would I have thought to make a salty, savory French toast or to add cinnamon and cocoa and coffee to chili, or chili powder to chocolate icing.

I think the only way to be original is to pretend to be an Iron Chef, but even they use other people's recipes sometimes.
ellenl February 15, 2011
criteria is plural.
Amanda H. February 15, 2011
Hi lark1 -- we discourage adding other people's recipes, however, if, through cooking a recipe repeatedly, you've changed it significantly enough to call it your own, that's acceptable. We would still encourage you to tell us about where the recipe originated and how it's evolved over time. To us, that's the history of cooking -- and we love hearing people's stories. Thanks for asking!
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