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Recipe Etiquette when Sharing

I have a friend the seems to beg me for a recipe almost every time she comes over. I usully give her the exact recipe with exact instructions like dont substiute a for b. But it never fails, she tells me weeks later the recipe didnt tast that good and then I find you she did exactly what I said not to do. For example she will take a brased pot roast and skip the browning, the slow cooking part and bake it at high temp uncovered becuse she is in a hurry. Even after I explain that the slow cooking tough meat is the only way to get it so tender.

I am getting annoyed with this. I realize everone likes to tweek a recipe to their tasts, I do this as well. But usually she alters it so much it dosnt tast anything like it was supposed to then blames the recipe. I told her that when I try a new ricipe, I always fallow it to a T the first time, then make changes or experiment after that. This seems to go over her head. She will say "ya thats a good idea" then go back to making all her odd changes anyway. Then she blames the origional recipe.

Whats the etiquette here? I dont mind sharing recipes but whats the point? What else can I say to her to stop taking shrot cuts or major alterations if she wants it to tast the same as when she had it at my house?

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  1. Your friend might just be kind of dumb. I often make little changes to recipes but if it comes out wrong, it's pretty obvious that it's probably my own damn fault for not following instructions. If she thinks her methods are superior, in the face of your instructions and direct evidence to the contrary, then maybe she's just too stupid or stubborn to teach otherwise.

    (I'm not trying to be rude, just saying you're right to get annoyed. I'm sure she's still a lovely friend despite her possible stupidity)

    1. I swear if this has happened pretty consistently I think I'd be inclined to say "You know that I love you dearly but it just makes me crazy that you keep changing the recipes I give you and then are displeased with. So I'm just not going to give them to you anymore."

      1. Sounds like a topic on which lots of people would have an opinion ... see 69 responses right over here:

        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/679525

        3 Replies
        1. re: KTFoley

          I thought this sounded familiar.

        2. I find the same problem in my day job. Science protocols are just like cooking. If you don't follow the recipe, and it doesn't work, well...

          I tend to say don't change a thing until you can get it to work when you don't change *anything*. It's more of a problem at work than it is in my cooking life...

          1. Don't change a thing ... and next time, invite your friend over and make the recipe with her.

            Max.

            1. I have a sister who asks for recipes that she never cooks. Finally I told her that I was not going to tell her how to make the dish (initially she would maneuver me into actually drafting it all out and emailing it because she couldn't remember the instructions I would give her over the phone and apparently could not take notes) because she was never going to cook it. She argued that she was filling multiple boxes with index cards full of great recipes she had collected... um, so?

              1. Sometimes I add "notes" to the bottom of my recipies, giving tips about what I may have tried in the way of a change, and whether or not it was a success. You might try adding a caveat to those recipies that you give to her. Something like: "If you follow this recipe exactly, you should end up with a good result. If you make changes, the result might be a great dish, but it won't match the one you admired when you originally requested this recipe."

                1. >>"What else can I say to her to stop taking shrot cuts or major alterations if she wants it to tast the same as when she had it at my house?"<<

                  Nothing. She's a grown person, and is going to do things her way. Trying to change someone else's behavior is like teaching a pig to dance - it wastes your time and irritates the pig.

                  The most extreme example I've ever seen of this is on this post: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/288918 . And you'll note that people STILL made changes. Don't get offended about it. Once somebody "tweaks" one of your recipes, it isn't yours any more.

                  1. I think I figured it out after looking at other comments from the other thread.
                    While all of your suggestions make sense, she would just do what she always dose anyway.

                    Why? I think part if the problem is generational. She is from the generation where parents didn’t teach their kids no and everyone gets a gold star, everyone is a winner. So the result as an adult is she doesn’t respect actual winners any more than her own opinion. Someone like Ina Garten is just another person on the same cooking playing field. She negates 40 years of cooking experience, experimentation, development, and methodology down to “that’s nice, I can cook too” even though, well, she can’t.

                    To put it another way, people who ask for your recipes and then do all sorts of bizarre changes really just don’t understand or respect the integrity of a recipe or the work behind developing it. They might vaguely understand you spent time working on it but, don’t quantify the value of that.

                    Perhaps people like this need to be told ‘family secret” so that when they do finally get what they asked for, it’s really an important achievement they will want to respect…. Here is your Gold Star. Think about it, most people don’t change cherished family recipes as quickly as they would from one they got from a friend.

                    Hmmm, now that I think about it, this same friend makes her late father’s recipe exactly to a T, but mine always get modified on the first try : /

                    24 Replies
                    1. re: kjonyou

                      IMO it has nothing to do with age. The worst recipe-tweaker I ever met was my grandmother's age. Problem was, she was a terrible cook with no common sense. "Here, I made that apple pie you like so much, but the recipe sounded like it had too much sugar, so I left it out. The apples are sweet anyway. And I didn't have any cinnamon, so I used cumin. Enjoy." BLECH!!!

                      Some people just don't follow recipes. It doesn't make them bad folks, or even bad cooks. Don't take it so personally.

                      1. re: alanbarnes

                        Uh, if someone is serving me an apple pie with Cumin instead of Cinnamon...there a bad cook. By your definition, no one is a bad cook.

                        Seriously, if someone is asking YOU personally for a recipe then the least they could do is try to fallow it at least once. I am not an internet search engine for recipes. That's called Google. Either way you look at it, still somewhat disrespectful.

                        It's like asking you to teach me how to drive, you spend time giving me all your tips of 20 years then the first thing I do is buy a luxury car, take it off road, trash it, complain its not what I expected and tell everyone you taught me everything I know.

                        1. re: kjonyou

                          I don't know if the metaphor extends: innovations in driving aren't exactly the same thing as innovations in cooking. But yes, I'll agree with the rest that the tiresome thing here is not the matter of innovation or experimentation, but having a person ask for a recipe, refuse to follow it, and then complain that it didn't turn out right. One shouldn't take it personally, sure, but I can imagine how it would grate.

                          As for age-- I'm starting to wonder. It is worth noting that today's university students have significantly less empathy (they test 40% lower) than students from the 1980s or even the 1990s. People try to blame 'the media' but I suspect that the parents who swoop in at any moment to ensure the child is protected from all critique (and that blame is directed outwards) may contribute.

                          1. re: kjonyou

                            The notion that it's disrespectful for someone to deviate from a recipe you've given them smacks of megalomania. Seriously, if you're Thomas Keller (or for driving, Skip Barber) and are hanging around here incognito, then I suppose everyone should bow at your feet and follow your directions to the letter. Otherwise, recipes are always subject to modification and innovation.

                            A good cook may improve on your final product. A bad cook (I don't know where you got the preposterous idea that I don't believe there's such a thing) will likely make it worse. But once the recipe has been modified, it isn't yours any more. Let it go.

                            1. re: alanbarnes

                              Good point. My first Zuni chicken had sage leaves under the skin cause the thyme was past its time. The second one had no herb cause I was away from home and wasn't going to buy a bunch for just a few leaves. I doubt that Judy Rodgers would be offended :)

                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                I think it's less about the deviation from the recipe, and more about the false attribution of an inferior product to a good recipe.

                                1. re: sonia darrow

                                  I guess I can see that. But the next question is attribution to whom? If the attributee is a mutual friend, s/he'll likely know that the OP's version is superior. If it's a complete stranger, who cares?

                                  Again, I can understand that if the OP's recipes are his or her stock in trade, then s/he doesn't want to be associated with inferior products. But if somebody serves you a nasty lasagna and claims that it's Marcella Hazan's recipe, who are you more likely to assume doesn't know what s/he's doing - Hazan or the cook?

                                  Cooking is neither an art nor a science. It's a craft, and there's plenty room for craftsmen to improvise and adapt. If you want to duplicate something that someone else has created as nearly as possible, then you'd be well-served to follow the recipe precisely. But deviating from the recipe in no way indicates disrespect for its creator, and it boggles my mind that someone could be so uptight as to think their recipes shouldn't be changed by a jot or a tittle.

                                  1. re: alanbarnes

                                    See that's the problem, my friend will cook Marcella Hazan's recipe, completely change it for the worse, then say she doesn’t like her recipes.

                                    So it’s not the deviation from a recipe that is in question, its blaming the source for the bad outcome of the recipe that she didn’t fallow.

                                    That’s the question about etiquette I was referring to.

                                    1. re: alanbarnes

                                      Cooking is not an art it’s a craft? That’s the ad campaign from the food network to make cooking seem more approachable for the average joe.

                                      I disagree with that ad campaign, cooking can be all of those things, an art, a craft or a science.

                                      Drawing by hand is a craft, it can be taught to anyone. But not everyone is a great artist. Certainly Leonardo Da Vinci is not called a good craftsman, he is referred to as a great master or artist. People like that have a talent that elevates a skill into an art form. I think great chefs are the same, I would call them artists or Master Chefs, not craftsman. What they do is an art not a craft.

                                      Watch Alton Brown if you don’t there is no science behind cooking. Baking is almost all chemistry.

                                      1. re: craighnt

                                        He didn't say that "there is no science behind cooking." He said that cooking is not A science. Similarly, he did not say that artistry is not involved in cooking but that cooking itself is not one of the arts. Cooking is a craft that draws from both art and science. But I agree that cooking is not an art or a science.

                                        1. re: BeaN

                                          You two can agree all you want, but facts dont lie. To the rest of the people living in this world the profession is called........drum roll please: Culinary Arts

                                          Google it: culinary arts...most educational institutions use this definition as well.

                                          1. re: craighnt

                                            Like many thing, culinary is part science and part art. Of course, one can argue there is science in watercolor painting and there is also art in particle physics, but that is really not the point. Is it? At the end, culinary is a lot more of an art than a science. Culinary is a lot more like watercolor painting than particle physics.

                                            I will say there are plenty disciplines which has the word "science" and is not science. "Political science" comes to my mind.

                                            1. re: craighnt

                                              "Culinary arts" is a title or description, not a definition and not a fact. At one point in time, it was an accepted fact that the world was flat.

                                              My undergraduate degree is in psychology. At the college that I attended, it was a BA. At other equally good colleges, it is a BS degree. Some colleges offer it as either a BA or a BS depending on options selected. Is psychology an art? Is it a science? It is widely accepted to be a "social science." What does that mean? Inquiring minds want to know!

                                              My graduate degree is in an interdisciplinary science field. But the degree is a Master of Arts. So is it art or is it science?

                                              Cooking involves biology, chemistry, physics, and art. A well plated meal may be an artistic composition. Making it all come together is magic.

                                              My makeup involves many components, but I am not defined by any one of them. Similarly, cooking is not science. Cooking is not art. Cooking includes science and art, but it is not a science nor is it an art.

                                                1. re: BeaN

                                                  The problem with your analogy is your field uses all those labels or titles interchangeably. Cooking schools don’t do that. Almost 95 percent call it an art. That group of people defined their profession they way they see it.

                                                  Has nothing to do with the world being flat. If anything, one would argue that the dark ages would have considered cooking a craft while more modern view is that it’s an Art form.

                                                  You proved my point "making it all come together is Magic" well, Magicians are considered artists becuase of the creativity involved even if it was learned as a craft.

                                                  FYI, Even Fine Artist requires good craftsmanship skills, science skills, creative skills, conceptual skills but at the end of the day what they do is called ART.

                                              1. re: BeaN

                                                Those two terms get interchanged all the time like salt and pepper but they are different.

                                                An art is something that is hard to reproduce or requires the unique personality or ideas of the artist.

                                                A craft is a skill that can be taught and reproduced over and over with exact results.

                                                If 5 people are given the same exact recipe and they each taste slightly different from each other, then it’s an art. If they modify it in any way, it’s an art. If they use it as inspiration for something else it’s an art. A pinch of this or that is an art measurement, not a craft measurement. If you have ever winged it or spiced up a recipe, its an art.

                                                Assembling furniture on the other hand is a craft. Give the same 5 people a piece of IKEA furniture, they should all come out with the exact same results (Assuming they can read their instructions). Building a house is a craft. Winging it, imprecise measurements and adjusting to your taste are all things an architect or carpenter don’t what to hear you did on the job.

                                                Architecture is an art, construction is the craft.
                                                Cooking is an art, chopping is the craft.

                                                1. re: kjonyou

                                                  hmm I would say that if they taste slightly different that could be construed as science.

                                        2. re: alanbarnes

                                          My sense, from the origial post, isn't that it's an ego thing. It sounds more like frustration that the recipient re-invents the recipes in a somewhat inept way, bitches about them not turning out like the original, and maybe blaming the OP for not giving her a "true" recipe. To read "megalomania" into this is a little harsh, IMHO.

                                          1. re: PattiCakes

                                            That would irritate me, too. But the OP has unambiguously stated that when s/he shares a recipe, the recipient has an obligation to "try to fallow it at least once," and that failure to do so is "somewhat disrespectful." That's what I take exception to.

                                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                                Actually, your taking my intent out of context. I was responding to a comment that no one is a bad cook. That’s exactly what I was talking about earlier, its PC talk for “everyone is a winner”. How dose that work in sports? I am not saying I am some great cook, I might suck and I will accept that if people tell me so. However idea that no one is a bad cook, is like saying no one is a bad driver. If one were consistent with that line of thinking, tear up those tickets, next time tell the Highway Patrol no one is a bad driver, it’s just my style. See where that gets you. Some people are just not good at some things, I am not good at many, but I will admit that.

                                                FYI, I never said my friend was a bad person or bad cook, check my original post. I just said she begs for a recipe, then complains about it after she makes all sorts of odd modifications on the first attempt. Modify all you want, I don’t care, we all do it, just don’t come back and say it wasn’t as good as what you remember and not have a clue that your modification made it taste different. That’s all I am saying.

                                                I am not talking about a pinch of this or that, I am talking about leaving out a cup of liquid in a cake batter because she used dry flavoring. Trying to cook a pulled pork recipe in ½ hour after explaining tough meats need to cook low and slow for hours. Then complaining my guests didn’t like your recipe.

                                                Lover her do death, but her cooking, not my fault.

                                      2. re: kjonyou

                                        Hey, don't knock an entire generation because your friend can't follow directions.

                                        I say if it takes effort to give her these recipes, don't bother. If it doesn't take much effort, just give them to her and laugh when she complains, maybe even tease her a little -- "Really, you completely changed the recipe and it doesn't taste the same? I never would have guessed!"

                                        1. re: Pia

                                          I agree. I really get irritated at generational jabs. And I'm old enough *not* to be the generation being complained about. Elders have been complaining about youngsters for thousands of years. We continue to survive.

                                      3. does she tell people your recipes suck? is she mean to you? are you guys friends?

                                        give her the recipes. if she wants to botch them, let her.

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: thew

                                          Well sort of, she comes over, loves my cooking, begs for a recipe, changes it before ever trying to make it, serves it to friends, brags to them about how I gave her some great recipe, then tells me they didn’t like it.

                                          So whatever, she means well, but when I meet her friends they think I can't cook. They are not rude but they say things like "oh yeah, we tried your recipe......long pause.

                                          FYI Most of the recipes I give her come from great chefs whom I point out but she seems to ignore that and gives the credit for a meal her fiends didn’t find appetizing.

                                          1. re: kjonyou

                                            does her friends not knowing you're a good cook effect your life in some way i'm missing?

                                            1. re: thew

                                              Yes, you are missing something, I never said it was affecting my life, check my original post, I just said it was annoying….like bad manners.

                                              1. re: kjonyou

                                                So why not just stop giving out the recipes as I suggested above. If the result annoys you, then nip it in the bud. Is this hard?

                                                1. re: kjonyou

                                                  my point was that in a life where there is often so much that is serious and really does have a negative effect perhaps it would be best to let the little things slide.

                                                  just my opinion, that's all

                                          2. If it irks you that much, find a new friend.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                              I just get a snicker and shove it into my mouth really fast.

                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                For some folks, that's easier said than done.

                                              2. In my case, some people ask me for new recipes, but they never try them. In other words, the person may have asked for 10 recipes and have not tried a single one. I also feel like "What is the point?" and it takes time to write and type up recipes too. For myself, I typically scratch down my recipe on a piece of old paper and a pencil, but if a person asks for a recipe, then I have to type it up nicely or type it up. So usually, I tell the person that I want he/she to get comfortable with the older recipes before I give out the new ones.

                                                5 Replies
                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                  Me and a friend have discussed this at length... she and I both just bring the recipe to the jack_ss in question and let them copy it down. Cause our reputations aren't really an issue... it's just a pain to copy the recipe nicely when you know it won't be used. :P

                                                  1. re: WhatThePho

                                                    Good idea. I dislike rewriting/retyping the recipe to others to only find out none of the recipes was never used. I mean, why waste my time and effort to write down or type out all the steps.

                                                    If they want it, they copy it. If they find it too laborious to copy, well, then it must be too laborious for me too. I mean, they are the ones who want to have the recipe, afterall, not me.

                                                  2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                    Here's the flip-side. A neighbor begged me for a particular cookie recipe which I happily shared. Knowing that she (truthfully) brags about her total inability to cook, I warned her that the recipe was fairly labor intensive and that's why I don't make it too often. Apparently she agreed because now she's asking me to bake them for her at every turn. Mildly annoying, mildly humorous, and I do take it as a compliment. I'll also get around to baking them when it suits me, not when it suits her. So I guess it could always be worse.

                                                    1. re: rockycat

                                                      That is funny. She is probably trying to be cute.

                                                      1. re: rockycat

                                                        Haha... agreed, I would be flattered/annoyed too. :) You're good to appease her once in a while.

                                                        It's always funny to me when I get ALL serious about food with a friend who, really, couldn't care much less. Not everyone gets it, man...

                                                    2. Maybe you're overthinking things.

                                                      Why not try a bit of reverse psychology.

                                                      Give your recipe, but tell her to do the exact opposite of what the recipe calls for. So for the pot roast, tell her that she need to bake it at a high temp for a short amount of time and absolutely no braising. Maybe this way, given her previous MO, she'll do it right.

                                                      5 Replies
                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                        YES!! That could turn into WAY too much fun.

                                                        "Make sure you allow the vegatables to wilt a few days in the fridge prior to use. Then, using a dull knife..." Ok I can already see I would carry this too far.

                                                        1. re: WhatThePho

                                                          Immediately refrigerate your tomatoes before using for tomato soup.

                                                          Smash your hamburger patties hard and often into your grill (or pan)

                                                          Use warm, soft butter for your pie dough and work it often and thoroughly.

                                                          Cook your pasta until it begins to melt in the pot if you want it al dente because when you take it out it'll cool and get hard.

                                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                                            This deserves its own thread ;) LOL.

                                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                                              It may just work out. Sometime, two wrongs does make it right.

                                                            2. re: WhatThePho

                                                              "Then, using a dull knife..."

                                                              I love it!

                                                          2. "What else can I say to her to stop taking shrot cuts or major alterations if she wants it to tast the same as when she had it at my house?"

                                                            There's not one damned thing you can do short of roping & tying her down while you demo the proper method. You can talk and explain until you're blue in the face and it won't change her behavior. This is completely out of your control. Give it up.

                                                            If you're worried/concerned about your so-called friends' reaction when she attributes the mess to you, remember "those who matter don't mind, and those who mind don't matter". Move on to important things; like making something delicious for yourself. You deserve it with a friend like this ............

                                                            1. This is such a hilarious problem, but I feel terrible for people struggling with a friend that blames their bad cooking on a close friend's advice. Of course it's instinct, but children should be corrected when they avoid taking responsibility for their mistakes... apparently, they may never grow up.

                                                              1. If Miney and Moe are Meenie's repeat dinner guests and never enjoy the meals at which Meenie credits Eenie for the recipes, Miney and Mo will figure out that Moe's a lousy cook. They won't necessarily think eenie is a better one, but if Meenie can't manage to produce a good dish, it reflects more on her than on Eenie.

                                                                However, I suspect that the scenario is different from what your friend tells you. If you are invited to dinner, do you tell your host that the meal is lousy? No, you are more polite than that. Your friend may, realizing that her dish isn't good, say something to the tune of, "Gee, this recipe of Eenie's didn't turn out too well", prompting her guests to concur. In no instance is it necessary for her to report their opinion to YOU. This seems passive-aggressive on her part, and I've got my doubts about your true feelings toward this person, who seems more frenemy than friend. I certainly agree with c oliver - just don't give her any more recipes.

                                                                1. I'm not exactly sure what your concern is. Are you worried that she's going to botch up your recipe and blame you? If that's the case, you can't win, but also remember that you can't lose if you don't play. Just don't give her any recipes. OTOH, if she screws 'em up and lays it at your door, YOU know the truth even if she doesn't understand that only a poor carpenter blames his tools. And it's quite likely that others who eat her cooking also can figure it out.

                                                                  OR...are you concerned that she'll botch it, then accuse you of omitting something from the recipe (either accidentally or intentionally), and THAT must be why she couldn't reproduce it, not the fact that she thought it needed twice as much sugar and half as much suet (for example)? If she plays those kinds of head games, see "can't lose if you don't play" above.

                                                                  OR...if you're afraid your reputation will take a hit because she'll attribute her failed attempts to you, well, if she's that clueless in the kitchen, I'm sure HER reputation preceeds her.

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: ricepad

                                                                    Mt 7:6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you. -KJV

                                                                    1. re: Ronald_A_Green

                                                                      Sorry, but that ain't my brand of superstition.

                                                                  2. I hear you, kjonyou. What you can do, other than stop sharing recipes, I don't know. I guess you could try going over a 'failed' recipe with her step by step:

                                                                    "Oh, you didn't brown the meat? But that makes a HUGE difference. Yes, it really does. Look, you liked the recipe the way I made it, right? And you didn't like it the way you made it, right? So what do you think the difference was then?"

                                                                    If necessary, escalate to:

                                                                    "Well, you can skip that step [change that ingredient, whatever] if you want to, but don't blame me. There's a reason it's in the recipe. And stop telling your friends that it's MY recipe when YOU screw it up!"

                                                                    Good luck!

                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                                                                      Wish I would have read your comment sooner. Same friend said they tried again to make my recipe and it still didn’t come out right for her and the date. She swears that she fallowed it exactly this time. I asked did you change this, or that...she said no, no, no. Then after another sip of her cocktail she said, " I added extra eggs and substituted baking soda for powder, melted the butter but that shouldn’t matter right?"

                                                                      ARRRRRG, she obviously didn’t want to admit at first she changed it, then can’t seem to comprehend her changes are what caused the problem. Then has nerve to ask me if there is something wrong with my recipe.

                                                                      1. re: kjonyou

                                                                        After reading your OP & subsequent contributions to this thread, I'm starting to think this woman is just messing with you. Maybe she enjoys getting you riled up.

                                                                        1. re: kjonyou

                                                                          Think trout fishing
                                                                          You're the trout and she's the fisherman
                                                                          With every cast, the trout fly lands on the water
                                                                          You (trout) rise to the surface
                                                                          Each time
                                                                          She acts and you respond
                                                                          Cast the fly
                                                                          Trout rises to the bait
                                                                          Each time
                                                                          If you continue rising to the bait, she'll continue tossing it to you
                                                                          Don't you think it is time to move on?

                                                                          1. re: Sherri

                                                                            Funny, you might be right. She is a good friend so I really cant move on when she wants me over for dinner because going out would be too expensive.

                                                                            Its frustraiting because she keeps asking for advice. I guess I just have to let go of thinking I am actually helping her when in reality the tips, seems to go in one ear and out the other without ever trying them out.

                                                                            I am comming to the conclusion its not really me or my cooking she is really intrested in, more of someone to tell her that whatever she dose is great. So by asking me how to do something and not fallowing it at all, she still gets to ask at the end "how was it, good hu" and if it sucks, it was my recipe.

                                                                      2. I have had this happen to me enough that I don't even do what I normally do, which is give someone 3 chances. I am sorry, I just give them one. If I give them a recipe and they come back and tell me it was awful, then from then on when they ask me for a recipe I tell them that it was just a bunch of stuff I threw together and I didn't even measure, I am quite sure I couldn't make it again. Or, for baked goods, I tell them it's something I learned to make by feel from my grandmother.

                                                                        I know this seems harsh, but it takes so much time to write out a complicated recipe. I have even been accused of sabotage--not writing the recipe down correctly. I made that person see that the problem was they didn't use cake flour, and didn't even know that there was such a thing as "cake flour", but in cases like that I worry how many people she told I sabotaged the recipe before she came to me, ya know? One chance. Then I become the world's greatest intuitive cook.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: runwestierun

                                                                          Rather than lie, I still support what I said above. Tell the person why you're not goingto give them any more recipes. Not easy but, IMO, easier than years of lies.

                                                                        2. If you give someone a recipe and they fck it up, it's not you're fault. If they loved it when you cooked it and hated it when they cooked it, then they're a lousy cook. Just tell her. Say, "Some people don't have a knack for cooking. Maybe you should take up knitting or something." :) Seriously, what can you say? She's a lousy cook. Do you want to be the one to tell her? Give her a recipe for baked chicken--you can't possibly screw that one up.

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: seiun

                                                                            Then you have never eaten my mother's completely horrible baked chicken. Rubber.

                                                                            1. re: seiun

                                                                              Wow, I think baked/roasted chicken is one of the easiest things to screw up. I finally tried the Zuni recipe and finally got a great chicken.

                                                                            2. Friends would pretty much require that I bring a certain pasta, butter, garlic broccoli dish to our gatherings. One asked for the recipe (which did not exist other than in my head as it was a concept more than a recipe) so I wrote down instructions that should work, including amounts. She complained that hers never tasted as good. Well, turns out she always used margarine, garlic powder and frozen broccoli. No wonder!

                                                                              1. I feel your pain. I predominantly cook Thai food, and if you haven't made much Thai food yourself, it can be intimidating to try to find certain ingredients. (The language barrier in many stores doesn't help, so you have to go in prepared to recognize ingredients. Thank the powers that be for Google Image search, or I probably wouldn't be able to cook Thai food at all.) Additionally, I'm quite serious about my Thai cooking, making curry pastes and occasionally coconut milk / cream from scratch and what not, so not only does this increase the need for esoteric ingredients and techniques, but it also requires considerably more time.

                                                                                I'm happy to share my recipes with people, but also honest in telling them that substitutions can ruin a dish, and if they're just starting out, to avoid being intimidated / overwhelmed, they should purchase or borrow from me some very good beginner Thai cookbooks (and as the majority of beginner Thai cookbooks are substandard, it's good to be able to point them in the right direction here): these offer reasonably good results with a fraction of the effort and usually try to focus on ingredients that are widely available and known to most people. I certainly didn't start making pad phrik khing completely from scratch on my first try, and unless you're a masochist, nor should you.

                                                                                I'm also happy to go shopping and cook with someone if they're interested in learning, too: this gives me a chance to introduce them to the ingredients at the grocery store so they know what to look for (when all vegetables are labeled "VIETNAMESE HERB", as was the case with my favourite Asian food store back in Toronto, and the staff speak only enough English to state your total and give you your change, you need to do your research or have the help of someone familiar with the cuisine).

                                                                                The penultimate worst is when people make your recipe with a load of alterations and then complain that it wasn't very good, when clearly it wasn't your recipe they made. This is made worse when they are complaining to or in front of other people about your recipe.

                                                                                The ultimate worst is when they serve "your dish" to other people and give you credit for the recipe. That is when I no longer hold my tongue and argue that by substituting 2 tbsp of store bought, $2 / lb curry powder for my lovingly made curry paste prepared with fresh Thai herbs and toasted spices (the ingredient lists barely intersect, for heaven's sake), they did not make my dish at all, any more than I would be making a delicious Italian sausage risotto by substituting Uncle Ben's instant rice for the arborio, hot dogs for the sausage, and an OXO cube in water for the stock. That usually (but surprisingly, not always) shuts them up.