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Are you secretive with your recipes?

I am willing to share when anyone asks. No tricks or ploys. Sometimes I have forgotten something but correct it as soon as I can. How about you? I often find the excuses just silly. Stuff like it was my mother's and i promised never to share it with anyone but family members, or I'd tel you but then I'd have to kill you and the like.

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  1. Just like you, I always share all.

    1. I agree with the "find the excuses just silly." I always share, but people look at me funny when I write out my recipes, or give them out in spoken word. I generally don't follow recipes (which is why I don't bake) - I use them as guidelines. So, if I'me giving someone a recipe, I'll say something like "add some fresh garlic." If they ask how much, I usually answer with "an amount that makes sense to you." It's garlic. I know what it tastes like, you know what it tastes like. If you like LOT of garlic, then add a lot. Same with salt, pepper, hot chile, ginger...I love sharing recipes, but I can't cook it for you.

      1 Reply
      1. re: gordeaux

        That is exactly how I am. People do get annoyed when you don't have exact measurements for every little thing. Some things have to be done according to taste as everyone just doesn't like the same amount of salt, garlic, heat, etc. Sometimes, I just want to go to people's houses and cook with them watching, especially when they say they just don't know how to cook anything at all.

        I love to share recipes and my joy of cooking. Goodness, I even ended up talking about food to my bank teller last week. lol That could be a good thing as a friend of hers is strongly considering opening a restaurant in a small town near here and is looking for employees. She took my name and number.

      2. Only with the ones that don't work ;-)
        Love to share recipes with anyone interested.

        3 Replies
        1. re: hannaone

          I love to share. The only problem I have is when someone takes a recipe thet will only work with full fat or requires many eggs and the recipient adjusts to "make it healthy" and then serve the inferior product with my name attached to it. I certainly don't mind if someone alters my recipe, but when that happens, it is no longer mine.

          1. re: pesto

            Yes, exactly. I always share, but people think I'm hiding the ball because (1) they substitute milk for the cream or use PAM instead of olive oil or butter, and (2) so much of what goes into making the food is stuff that can't be quite explained (like rinsing, squeezing out a certain amount of water, waiting, touching, and smelling)... and then they come back and tell me that it wasn't the same recipe or that I must have left something out when I wrote it out by memory

          2. re: hannaone

            to the great benefit of chowhounds! i'll probably pass your kimchee recipe down to my children.

          3. Yeah, I've got no problems with sharing. You'll never get unless you give. I don't think some people realize that, where they're tight-fisted with everything (in addition to recipes).

            But there are a couple of instances where I understand why somebody would not divulge a recipe. One would be is if you made your living off of a particular recipe. And if somebody gave me a recipe and promised me not to tell other people, I would honor their request, whether or not I thought it was silly.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Miss Needle

              I agree, I have no problem sharing my recipes. I do, however, have a recipe given to me by a good friend. Before she gave me the recipe she asked me not to give it out to anyone else, I have honored her request and say no to people who ask.

              1. re: lizzy

                I have a friend who is a caterer and bbq competitor. He shared a few recipes with me after I promised not to share. No matter how many times I'm asked, there is no way I'd share his recipes. However, I will make (at home alone) and share the finished products with close friends/family.

                I have been working on a bbq sauce for over 15 years. There is no way I'd share that one with anyone as in the future, I hope to use it in my own restaurant or catering business.

                1. re: alliedawn_98

                  This is exactly how I do it, I have no problem making the recipe for friends and family but the recipe is not mine to give. However, the recipe is not part of a business, in fact it is just the opposite. The creator of the recipe was approached by a company and she turned them down, she doesn't want the recipe getting into the wrong hands. I think it is funny she is still worried about it over 50 years later....like I said it is not mine to give.

                  Good luck with the bbq sauce!

              2. re: Miss Needle

                You'll never get unless you give. Well said Miss Needle. I try to follow the golden rule as best as I can. When someone does me a favor or a kindness I can't wait to find some way to pay that person back. Makes me feel all warm and glowy. It can be hard to share a recipe with fledgling cooks, who of course need the recipes even more. I have to go into explanations about technique and sometimes I can see their eyes start to glaze over. I'm still learning how to not overload them with information due to my own enthusiasm.

                1. re: Miss Needle

                  Nicely said, Miss Needle. Recipes are meant to be shared, just like the food that they produce. My Grandmother always said that they should not only be passed down in the family but around to the neighbors as well. It's always flattering when asked for a recipe & when given one, I'm always appreciative. My one exception is work related but I try to make up for it by supplying them with the item itself rather than the recipe.

                2. I'm not secretive just don't have set recipes so it's hard to give someone an exact recipe to someone.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: scubadoo97

                    same here. never to make exactly the same thing twice, but happy to tell what I think I did.

                  2. Always happy to share, BUT ....... instead of me writing it down for you, I'd prefer that you watch and write your own notes. As a card-carrying non-measuring cook, I rarely can quantify ingredients and cooking times perfectly. I'll walk you through, hold your hand explaining why I did what I did but I cannot guarantee your results especially if you make substitutions.

                    It is particularly difficult to give recipes for what we eat most of the time because I open the fridge and assemble our meal from what looks good. I make regular trips to the Farmers' Market, have a full freezer and keep a pretty well-stocked pantry. Virtually the same main ingredients could morph into Italian, Mexican or Asian flavors, depending on mood and timing.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Sherri

                      Your cooking sounds much like mine. I have a very hard time giving someone a recipe becaue I just don't measure stuff. My pantry also can be almost any cusine. I have spices and seasonings for Thai, Mexican, Asian, Indian, etc.

                      I am more than happy to share recipes, but it is difficult when you don't measure anything.

                      1. re: pepperqueen

                        Pepperqueen, that's exactly how I cook. And I consider the pantry the soul of the kitchen. I can cook so many cuisines on the fly because I have a very well stocked pantry. Actually a couple of pantries that sometimes overflow after I've been to the ethnic markets.

                    2. To be accurate, I have to answer, "Yes and no." It's not that I'm secretive. It's just that I don't use recipes and all I can share are "guidelines." If you've ever read any of the recipes I've shared here, you'll know what I mean. "Teaspoon? What's a teaspoon?"

                        1. i'm not secretive -- although i do get a kick out of not telling my picky eater SO that a certain ingredient he supposedly hates is in something he's eating until after he's finished. otherwise i'd never have gotten to try my puttanesca sauce with anchovies, ped kee mao with nam pla, braised short rib with mushrooms, crispy sweetbreads with, well, sweetbreads.

                          i'm frankly just flattered whenever anyone wants a recipe for something i've made for them. it wouldn't really occur to me to feel protective of this info, esp. since i borrow from so many other recipes, myself.

                          1. I share lots of recipes but the ones I've developed that have held jobs for me, those I keep close. When I move on, so do they.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: morwen

                              i like miss needle's point, above. i completely respect if you want to keep a secret that helps you make your living. luckily for the citizenry, i'm far from being a professional chef.

                            2. I share recipes all the time, especially when someone compliments a dish. Most of the time I will recite it verbally because I tend to use recipes more as a guideline than rigid scripture (which can be very off-putting to some.) SWMBO, OTOH, needs everything documented; from preparation to finishing with garnish. This is usually why she doesn't share; single sheet recipes are multi-page black-op reports.

                              1. Not so much secretive as vague. Only because when my SO and I cook, we use a recipe as a jumping off point; so even though we're making, say, Chicken Tikka Massala, we never make it the same way twice. (more garam-less garam, more yogurt-less yogurt, etc.) Otherwise, if it's a recipe for a bread or baked goods (where you don't really have the wiggle-room to fudge on measuring) I am thrilled if someone actually WANTS to make something that they ate here at the House Of Ptomaine....JK. Adam

                                1. Like you, Candy, I share. Doesn't matter if its one I've found online or in a cookbook or created myself. I do have to say that if I do see a recipe I've created myself later posted elsewhere - word for word - by someone on a cooking message board I frequent and it's not attributed to me, that does tick me off.

                                  I recently dined at a friend's house whose relative was cooking, and when I asked how things were prepared, I got very noncommittal answers (despite the fact that it's well known I like to cook and like to know the process by which people arrived at a recipe - whether it was found on the Internet, in a cookbook, seen on TV or created by the person doing the cooking). Nor were any recipes offered. Very frustrating, especially when this person is *not* a cook or a chef and is not writing a cookbook, to the best of my knowledge.

                                  1. Well, I put them up on my website for all the world to see and use. Yes, the recipes take quite a bit of work to develop, and discipline to record everything down, but satisfaction is seeing people come n get them.

                                    Also, like a number of posters, I keep on tinkering with the recipes and if perchance I come up with something I think is even better than the original, or has a nice twist, then I'll add that to the site with a blogged comment about it.

                                    If my livelihood depended on the recipe, I might play my cards close to the chest - you find that most especially with Master Chefs in Asia where to be taken on as a protege and learn the master's recipes is a great honour.

                                    1. I will share most of my recipes, but there are a couple that I will not. These are my "works in progress" recipes, so they change as I learn. I usually tinker with recipes, but take notes about what I have changed. If it works out well, I go ahead and write it down, but if it isn't exactly what I wanted then I keep the notes and add from there. I have one recipe that I shared, but over time I have tweaked it so much that it isn't really the same as what I may have told you before. I'm not being difficult, I am being creative. ;-)

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: danhole

                                        All my dishes are works in progress, and I find that the process of writing them down helps me to think about them in depth, and perhaps more clearly (and widely) than when I'm in the heat of the process. As I have no reservations about sharing anything I enjoy, I don't have a problem with sending along or publishing the recipe for any dish I like. No, perhaps the dish is not perfect, but it probably never will be, and that's a damned elusive and arguable state of being anyway. That's why I have four self-written recipes for Choucroute Garni, and also why I'm as like to use the earliest one as any later one: it's what's gonna blow my skirt up THIS time, and maybe I don't have 24 hours to cook it in.

                                      2. Another thread on the topic (I remember it well since started it!)


                                        1. I think that people who like to keep their recipes secret are nutty ;)

                                          Personally though, I generally *can't* tell you even if I wanted to (and I'm always happy to share w/ anyone that wants to know) - at least beyond vague generalities. Reason being that I always tend to fly by the seat of my pants ('a little of this', 'a little of that', etc) so I never manage to make the same exact thing twice (which is good when my concoction failed, but bad when it was a real hit). So usually I just tell people my basic starting point and if they're asking about a specific instance try to recall roughly what I did as a riff on that basic starting point.

                                          1. ALways share- My SIL told me her mother used to give out the recipe, but would always leave out domething! Talk about passive agressive! Last time I was at her house, she made blondies- I told het they were really good ( I was NOt looking for the recipe) She told me she would not give me the recipe, but would only give it to her two daughters. Of course, I then had to ask her if she was gling to leave out a key ingredient. She did not like that!
                                            My grandmother used to make wonderfule Irish soda bread, and would not give out the recipe- but would always bake a loaf for anyone who enoyed it- now she is gone, and the recipe went with her.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: macca

                                              Sometimes I think not giving out recipes is a generational thing. If our grandmothers/great-grandmothers and beyond were known for making the best, fill in the blank, then they would never give away their "secret."

                                              I am sorry about your grandmother. My grandmother is unable to bake anymore, and we cannot find all of her recipes. I am hoping we are able to find them before she is gone.

                                              1. re: lizzy

                                                Hope you get them- My grandmother also made wonderfule bread pudding with a hot lemon sauce. Every time Ii make it, it is a crap shoot as to whether it will taste just like "nana's"!

                                              2. re: macca

                                                My Grandma Owen was bitterly opposed to anyone learning her recipes, and I think took satisfaction in the fact that neither of her daughters cared a thing about cooking. Had I thought to take notes, even mental ones, of her fried chicken methods I probably could have gotten away with it, as boys of course do not cook...

                                                My open-handedness in this regard is not specifically a reaction to my grandmother's selfishness, but she did set me a scary example, one that I would not dream of emulating! I *DO* wish I could make her fried chicken, though.

                                              3. I don't mind sharing recipes .

                                                1. no, I'm usually fine, though I think it's probably because none of my recipes are like hard to figure out or omg so secretive. Most likely it's been done before or a modification of an old recipe.

                                                  but...if I did make something amazing that's blows people freaking mind off, I don't mind keeping a mysterious aura around it ^_~, I'll try to hold it out until some rich restaurant buys my recipe or something XD!

                                                  I don't think I will be thinking up anything like that for...err...ever lol.

                                                  1. I'm happy to share, and usually go into excessive details about the techniques to be sure they get it right. I even have a few of my best crowd-pleasers stored as Word documents so I can easily send them to friends when asked.