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Nov 25, 2009 04:13 PM

Are there any "rules" for COTM participation?

I know that posting recipes verbatim is NOT okay, posting the ingredients IS and paraphrasing is alright. Is there anything else I should know? Is this info already here and my cursory search didn't turn it up? Are we supposed to make a recipe exactly as it appears in the COTM or are changes allowed? Any advice is appreciated. I'm going to try to participate in the Patricia Wells' Bistro Cooking one. Thanks.

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  1. c oliver, I have participated a handful of times, less than I'd like! Fun and worthwhile.
    You are correct about the ingredients and the paraphrasing of all else. Lots of people make changes, but of course tell ! tell ! what you have changed so that your post will be "worth its salt", haha so to speak..

    1. Hey CO... Never fear. No rules that I can discern. I have been participating off and on for a few years now and... I won't say anything goes, but the ideal is to recreate a recipe as near to the written word as possible. The thing is to read the recipe through maybe several times and see if it fits your liking. Then see if you have the ingredients in your pantry. If not, are you willing to invest in ingredients necessary to complete the recipe? Many of us say a loud Yes, but that's an individual decision. I have, on many occasions, substituted ingredients keeping in mind what the final dish should taste like.

      I think the bottom line is the cook-along experience, the self education of new and different cuisines and the tremendous support of Chowhounds who have knowledge of those cuisines. It's been a win-win situation for me and DH. I wouldn't have missed it for all the world. Join us and have fun!

      1 Reply
      1. re: Gio

        Very well put. I've not been posting as much as I used to, but I love stocking up on ingredients for a particular cuisine and learning about them etc. That said, I've become a lot more "flexible" lately in terms of participating without making as much of a financial commitment to ingredients, and making adjustments accordingly, I think it's just very important that if/when one does make substitutions - or mistakes - that one posts to that effect when discussing the results.

        As Gio says, I've learned so much about cuisines that I'd never cooked (and sometimes eaten) before, and love how much I've learned. COTM has also, over the years, made me a lot more confident about my cooking. I do love seeing photos, but that is of course purely optional. Well, the whole thing is actually!

      2. Not a rule, but I love it when people take a picture of the cooking process or their final product - much more helpful than the professional pics in the book.

        1. You know, it seems like there's a lot of rules, because the organizers have done a good job over time of developing the nomination, voting, and "master thread" process so that it runs smoothly, but it's really not rigid or uptight once you get into the actual cooking and posting part. Just relax and have fun. It's a very welcoming and accepting group.

          I don't know how yamalam will organize the threads, whether the books will share threads or she'll have different threads for each, but for each recipe you post about, you'll want to mention the name of the recipe and the page number, and, perhaps the name of the book (if the threads are shared.)

          Don't fret about making mistakes--that's the kind of stuff that I think people really want to know: the pitfalls that can happen so they can avoid them. I hesitated to join COTM for the longest time because I worried my cooking skills were not up to snuff, but I now regret not jumping in sooner. I've learned so much and people have been helpful, rather than critical or judgmental.

          And, as far as substitutions go, if you need to make substitutions for dietary reasons or because you meant to get pecans and ended up with walnuts in your shopping cart somehow, just be upfront about what you did. Again, you'll be surprised how many people will say, "Yeah, I thought that recipe called for too much fat, too, and wondered what would happen if I cut back..."

          I like to go through my books (lately using the Gio method) and choose the recipes I want to try.

          P.S. Why wait until January? There's a whole month of Hopkinson/Roast Chicken and Stevens/Braising ahead of us. Jump on in! (Maybe you can find the books at your local library?



          1. As far as I can tell, you can make the recipes any way you like, but as MMRuth says, the idea is to document your experience if you post about it. So, if you make changes, say so, and say how you liked it (or didn't). Because people read others' posts and take that intelligence into account when deciding whether or how to make recipes, you want to note what your experience was, but if you read through some past COTM threads (the COTM archive page is worth bookmarking, IMO) you'll see that there is lots of variation in how people document their experiences. Some post about all the steps taken, some simply say whether they liked it and if they made changes or encountered problems. It's all good. One thing I've noticed is that many people will post about a dish that someone has made an initial report about by replying to that post, so the posts about that dish are all together. Seems handy.


            3 Replies
            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

              Oh, Caitlin, the very end of your reply is exactly what I was wondering about. It does seem like it would be handy to have all or most of them together. Thanks for mentioning.

              Also I'm curious. If I wind up cooking from a previous COTM book, should I post on the original thread?

              1. re: c oliver

                Yes, if you cook from a previous COTM, we'd all love it if you posted on the appropriate thread for that month. I often still cook from many of the books we've done, and always go to see if someone else has tried something, and if so if they have any particular insights into making the dish better.

                1. re: LulusMom

                  Which is exactly why the COTM is a valuable resource and not just of temporary interest.