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Your recipes--do you feel ownership?

s
sueatmo Aug 8, 2011 05:25 PM

I'm in the middle of taking recipes I've collected, and transferring them to Gmail, using their label system, in order to have the collection all together and, well,--- collected. Even though I've not baked much in a long time I find that I want to collect my old baking recipes. I feel they are 'mine' in some way, or perhaps that are part of 'my' collection of recipes. Perhaps they represent some way I felt about how I cooked for my family.

At any rate I wonder if how I feel about my little collection is typical. Do you treasure your recipes? Have you collected them, or simply gathered them? Do they have meaning for you beyond simply being a recipe you cooked a few times a decade or so ago?

How did you keep your recipes 10 years ago? 20 years ago? 40 years ago?

  1. amyzan Aug 8, 2011 06:09 PM

    I haven't taken on transferring my methods to one collection, but I do have recipes I started collecting over twenty years ago. (I'm in my early forties.) I don't really feel that they are mine, but rather that they do reflect on me and my changing diet, lifestyle, preferences, oh, so many aspects of my personality and history. I even have some of my grandmothers (on both maternal and paternal sides)and maternal grandfather's on index cards in boxes, or clippings stuck into cookbooks. My grandad even copied out recipes into a book, including some of his mother's, as well as many recipes from when he worked as a candy maker during the Great Depression. I don't eat much candy, but those are precious to me, perhaps because they are so old, or because they represent something to me.

    So, to your other question, my collection is in lots of formats, none of them digital yet. I've written recipes out on cards, like my grandmothers did, and then moved on to notebooks. I started pasting recipes into books sometime in my twenties when my life got filled with working more than forty hours a week. Now I don't bother to save recipes I haven't made several times. I have a folder of recipes I have yet to try, as well as bookmarks on the 'puter. But, I don't save near as much as I did when younger. There's just so much available online now, it seems redundant. But, I haven't let many in the collection go, either.

    2 Replies
    1. re: amyzan
      kattyeyes Aug 11, 2011 10:46 AM

      Same age as you and same deal here...I had the recipe cards in books with plastic sleeves. Recent project is storing "keepers" in a large binder with sleeves for each recipe. My "gotta try it" file gets fatter and fatter as each week rolls by...nevermind what is stored on my PC and in my e-mailbox. How lucky you are to have a handwritten book from your grandfather. I love handwritten recipes as a signature/reminder of the person they came from.

      1. re: kattyeyes
        hill food Aug 12, 2011 01:21 AM

        I recently found a small book of my grandma's handwritten recipes (mostly desserts involving 9 eggs, a cup of heavy cream 2 pounds butter and a pound of sugar, the bulk culled from the Ladies Home Journal circa 1935) I scanned it page by page and reassembled it as one multi-page PDF. It was sort of faded so while tweaking the contrast in photoshop it was a treat to find a satiric piece entitled "How to Cook a Husband"

    2. m
      Maximilien Aug 8, 2011 06:24 PM

      No ownership at all ... the internet (now, books before) is my recipe collection!!!

      I don't write down recipes, I steal and borrow from a couple of reference cookbooks, blog, online recipes, ... I inspire myself from restaurant food I tasted or from TV shows.

      With some very, very, very few exceptions all the food I ever made have already been done (probably better) a gazillion time by countless cooks of all calibers.

      M.

      1. q
        Querencia Aug 8, 2011 06:52 PM

        I still keep a card file just as I have for sixty years. I did make cookbooks for my children with recipes they grew up with, just printing them out and having them bound on a spiral at Kinko's, with plastic covers. Many of the recipes do have memories associated with them. I love sharing them and passing them along (or tossing them out into cyberspace where I hope someone finds them and loves using them as I have).

        1. ipsedixit Aug 8, 2011 09:20 PM

          Not really. If someone wants to copy a recipe that I use, so be it.

          The recipe does not make the food.

          The most critical component of any recipe (of all cooking for that matter) is *you*.

          1. g
            gilintx Aug 8, 2011 10:10 PM

            My general feeling is that a good dish can never really be summed up as a grocery list.
            I have no problem sharing any recipe I have, which is usually scrawled on an index card or piece of note-paper, or nestled somewhere in my scattered brain.
            If you can pull off a great dish, then good on you. Technique turns out to be a much bigger player than you would guess at first.
            Funnily enough, when I asked a legendary BBQ pitmaster how her brisket was being prepared (for dietary concerns), she freely told me what the recipe was. I don't think she was concerned about the competition stealing her secret (it was just salt and pepper).

            1. s
              sueatmo Aug 9, 2011 08:03 AM

              I realize after rereading my post, that this phrase "I feel they are 'mine'" leaves the wrong impression. I would never not share a recipe! I guess the feeling that the recipe is mine relates to having mastered it, and perhaps a feeling that is a part of a whole--my collection. It has value to me in that way.

              1. v
                velochic Aug 9, 2011 09:25 AM

                I do understand what you are talking about. It's not that you don't share your recipes with others, but that there is emotional attachment to what you are cooking and there are memories associated with them. I started a hand-written cookbook for my dd when she was young. I've written the stories about the foods, and explained my changes to the original recipe (if I've changed it). Through food, I think more than anything, generations stay connected.

                13 Replies
                1. re: velochic
                  Will Owen Aug 9, 2011 11:47 AM

                  Or disconnected! My mom's recipes are plain and simple, though too many of her dishes were like most of mine, always done from memory or improvised. The difference is that I write mine out; the only time she did that was if the proportions of ingredients were critical, or if it were a recipe she was often asked for. My grandmothers, on the other hand, seemed to do whatever they could to keep theirs secret: Grandma Owen simply never let anyone see hers, and they probably died with her, while Grandma Kuntz (no cook but a wonderful baker) either deliberately or accidentally wrote wildly inaccurate versions of hers. Her oatmeal date bars were brilliant and locally legendary; her written recipe, however, calls for enough filling for two dozen cookies, and enough dough for maybe half a dozen!

                  I like swapping recipes as a form of dialogue, especially nowadays with old friends with whom I definitely do NOT want to talk politics! They may depict people of my stripe as traitors to flag and country, but we can get all chummy over ham and beans and cornbread, and stay that way.

                  1. re: Will Owen
                    s
                    sueatmo Aug 9, 2011 12:57 PM

                    Ham and beans and cornbread--the food of peacemaking! Because almost everyone has a good memory of it, I think. Ah, cornbread. Maybe I'll make some tonight.

                    1. re: Will Owen
                      onceadaylily Aug 10, 2011 08:42 PM

                      My grandmother denies that there is in existence a bound book, with a red cover, that holds all of her baking secrets. She hid it, that handwritten cookbook that she spent decades perfecting. She pretends ignorance when asked for a recipe, despite no longer wanting to bake a thing. I love sharing recipes, and am a little puzzled by those who balk at it, outside of professional ambition. My great-grandmother owned a pie shop, and never wrote a thing down. Lovely, thoughtful, delicious works, just gone.

                      As to the OP, I feel only a nostalgic ownership. There are certain annotated cookbooks, and notecards, that I'll never throw away, even if I never make a single one of those dishes again. They are a bit like photo albums for me, snapshots of an earlier self, of friends, and family. I still have the recipe binder I bought when I was twenty (full of recipes cribbed from the back of soup cans), and, on the front, I had taped a snippet from a Lockhorn's comic strip, where the husband is forlornly saying, "I didn't know that alien autopsies put out a cookbook." I love that I still have this binder. Creamy chicken crescent rolls? Wow.

                      1. re: onceadaylily
                        s
                        sueatmo Aug 11, 2011 08:51 AM

                        It is too bad that your grand can't share her baking! Really it is. I talked a little cooking with my grandmother from time to time, although she didn't cook anymore. I hope the cookbook is in existence, but it is possible that your grandmother has forgotten where she put the cookbook. Good luck on recovering it. It would be nice to discuss it with her now.

                        Your great-grand might not have been able to write a coherent recipe, or the learning curve might have been too great.

                        Your early attempts at cookery sound like mine! Cover everything with canned soup. That's how I got started. I love that you have that binder too.

                        1. re: sueatmo
                          onceadaylily Aug 11, 2011 11:36 AM

                          Oh, make no mistake. She hid it. It was there one day when my mother was cleaning the kitchen, and then, after she asked if she could look through it, my grandmother went from her "what recipe book" routine, to the "those are MY recipes". And the next day, the book was gone. (I think my mother was going for a certain rhubarb pie recipe, but she always glosses over her intentions when relating the tale). It is too bad, isn't it? My grandmother is a wonderful baker, and I've always wondered why she doesn't see that as a legacy to share. It's kind of you to extend grace to my grandmother, but she *did* willfully hide that book. She's feisty.

                          And I think you're right about my great-grandmother. But I also think she didn't really *have* to write recipes, if she was taught, like so many girls were, to cook and bake early on. She owned and ran a boarding house before my grandfather built the pie shop for her, and I think she could bake in her sleep.

                          And I guess it's fair to say that Campbell's taught me how to cook. What a difference a generation can make.

                          1. re: onceadaylily
                            r
                            ricepad Aug 11, 2011 12:02 PM

                            I'd guess that your grandmother took her identity from her cooking/baking. I'm sure psychology has a name for it, such that what she can produce in the kitchen (even if she no longer produces anything) is the full measure of her as a person. In other words, she is her baking, and her baking is her. If she gives her secrets away, she's probably afraid on a subconscious level that it would diminish her own standing in the family/community.

                            Perhaps if you started talking to her about what kind of legacy she'd like to leave and how she'd like to be remembered (without mentioning cooking or the cookbook), you might eventually get her to understand that the cookbook is her best shot at immortality. Possibly ask her what she remembers about her own mother and/or grandmother, and let the conversation blossom. You want the conversation to be about memories, not strictly about food. You'll have to lead her to this conclusion about leaving a legacy but let her figure it out for herself, tho...otherwise you'll probably get nothing but resistance and denial.

                            Good luck!

                            1. re: ricepad
                              onceadaylily Aug 11, 2011 01:19 PM

                              I've had the same thought, ricepad (and identity theory was my boyfriend's concentration of study in school--he'd likely be pleased to offer a bit of insight). My grandmother had ten children, and hated the every-day work that came with being a mother of such a large brood. Baking was the only 'work' she enjoyed (I truly believe that she was meant for a different sort of life than what the times, and the place she was born into, afforded her). I don't live near her, but she loves getting, and writing, letters. Thanks for the idea.

                              1. re: onceadaylily
                                s
                                sueatmo Aug 13, 2011 04:14 PM

                                Good luck on this project. I hope you two have a good time corresponding, and I hope the correspondence brings a bit of opening up.

                      2. re: Will Owen
                        kattyeyes Aug 11, 2011 10:41 AM

                        I had a grandmotherly neighbor when I was a kiddo. She made a fantastic buttery poundcake with apples. Never shared the recipe. My mom and I used to joke it must have been a boxed mix with apples added in. Like that old Calgon commercial: "Ancient Chinese secret, huh???!"

                        Like you, Mr. O., I write things down. Many of the recipes I learned from my family were just freehand/watch and learn kinda deals (meatloaf and sauce are two examples.). Over time, I started keeping track, though--not just for purposes of sharing, but also so I could repeat the result. Anything I modify I write down, too...otherwise it's like a culinary "lost chord."

                        Following my mom's example, I like to write comments on my recipes. My mom tends to write "Excellent" or "Delicious"...I've been known to write "KICKASS!" Or there was the time I baked a strudel and set the oven on fire. I documented that on the recipe, too.

                        By the way, with you 100 percent--rather talk recipes than politics any day of the week! ;)

                        1. re: Will Owen
                          c
                          cgarner Aug 11, 2011 12:39 PM

                          My grandmother had her own system of measurements and never wrote anything down. I used to spend time with her when I was a kid, watching her make holiday dishes and I’d make mental notes…

                          She’d use “moons” for how many time she’d circle a pot or pan with liquid… “go three moons around with oil”

                          When making Easter pies, she’d use handfuls of sugar…and the number of eggs depended on how the mixture “felt” after she added the ricotta, sugar and rice together.

                          A ‘finger’ was another measurement, for things like butter or lard… hard to track these kinds of things
                          Whenver I'm in doubt when trying to replicate a savory dish of hers, I use way more fat and salt than I think I should and it turns out pretty darn close! (and tasty)

                          I’ve been able to replicate a few of her recipes on my own now that she’s gone and I’ve written them down (saved them to the unnamed website) there are other recipes I’ve found, thanks to graciousness of the people who were willing to share, which were very close to what “grandmom” used to make…

                          1. re: cgarner
                            kattyeyes Aug 11, 2011 04:23 PM

                            Love the "moons" for liquid measurement!

                            1. re: cgarner
                              s
                              sueatmo Aug 13, 2011 04:16 PM

                              She sounds as if she was a totally self taught cook.

                              1. re: cgarner
                                MinkeyMonkey Aug 14, 2011 06:10 PM

                                I wonder if my family is related to your grandmom!? My dad has his own measurements too. Glop, glorp, sploosh and, my personal favourite "some".

                                Cooking with him can be fun..."put in a glop, a good glop"..."no, more than that!"

                                We also have the "until it feels right" along with "until it smells done" methods.

                          2. i
                            Isolda Aug 9, 2011 01:22 PM

                            The only time I ever feel any pangs of ownership is when I give someone a recipe they ask for, and then they substitute a whole lot of ingredients or skip an important step and complain that it wasn't a good recipe. I think, "well, no, that wasn't, but the one I gave you was." That's only happened to me a couple of times, though. Most of the time, I really don't care and am pleased if someone asks how to make something. It does crack me up when I'll make a complicated cake from scratch and someone asks if it will taste okay if they substitute a mix. Sure, it might, but it will definitely taste different!

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Isolda
                              p
                              painperdu Aug 11, 2011 04:46 PM

                              Hah! I have a butter chicken recipe with disgusting ingredients lime evaporated milk that everyone says they want...until they actually get it...

                              1. re: painperdu
                                i
                                Isolda Aug 12, 2011 11:05 AM

                                That's funny! I have a couple of recipes like that (a poppyseed walnut cake with evap milk in it comes to mind), but usually, what people object to, is the labor. But if you want baked goods to taste delicious, you really do have to bake them from scratch.

                                1. re: Isolda
                                  s
                                  sueatmo Aug 13, 2011 04:17 PM

                                  This is so true. Good baked goods should be totally from scratch. But this does not mean the recipe can't be pretty simple.

                            2. r
                              ricepad Aug 9, 2011 04:26 PM

                              Mrs. ricepad has a recipe file box she brought into our marriage, and I have a pile of clippings, some electronic files, and a loose-leaf binder (she is FAR more organized than I). I don't consider any of the recipes "mine"...what I claim ownership of is what I *do* with the recipes. On the rare occasion that a friend or acquaintance tells me that a recipe I shared with them didn't work or was no good, I tell them that only a poor craftsman blames the tools.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: ricepad
                                s
                                sueatmo Aug 9, 2011 05:04 PM

                                LOL. Good one.

                              2. JEN10 Aug 9, 2011 05:17 PM

                                When I was in my mid twenties, I asked someone at a party for their recipe. She had made a Ceaser Salad and I had not had the pleasure of having one home made before. This gal was so full of herself she refused me. I was shocked, as I thought it was a compliment to her. I on the other hand love to share my recipes and cooking knowledge with anyone that asks. I too have family heirloom recipes that I cherish, ones that have become family traditions, and ones that I am going to try. I keep most in a bid 3 ring binder in plastic covers. The book is purged about once a year, but the heirlooms will always remain.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: JEN10
                                  MinkeyMonkey Aug 14, 2011 06:01 PM

                                  Wow, I find that kind of behavior a little odd! She may not have wanted to share her recipe but there was no need for her to be full of conceit!

                                  I did have a friend refuse me her mother's recipe for pear tart. I understand, her mother felt it was not to be shared except with family. I do still want that recipe though!

                                2. c
                                  cgarner Aug 11, 2011 07:29 AM

                                  I stopped or at least slowed down posting family recipes on a website which I belong which is specifically meant to share recipes... basically because when I read the fine print on the terms of service, I realized that the recipes, once posted, no longer 'belong' to me, they were now the intellectual property of the owners of the site. Once there, they can do with them what they want, and either give me credit or not... somehow I'm not comfortable with that.
                                  I once had grand ideas of writing my own cookbook or getting back into catering and in my dreams I'd be at least locally famous and then how could I write that cookbook that everyone would want to buy when all those recipes were no longer "mine"?
                                  I know it's far fetched, I'm not delusional, but still, the idea of my grandmothers recipes now being OWNED by a big company is not my cup of tea.
                                  I'll very happily and gladly share my recipes with any one who asks though!
                                  (flip side, my sister in law makes amazing potato salad... she doesn't outright 'refuse' to give me the recipe, but the three versions of it she has given me were all failures, and I think she does that on purpose...so that nobody can make "HER" potato salad as well as she does. jars my preserves!)

                                  17 Replies
                                  1. re: cgarner
                                    s
                                    sueatmo Aug 11, 2011 08:51 AM

                                    This is a real eye opener!

                                    1. re: sueatmo
                                      cowboyardee Aug 11, 2011 09:04 AM

                                      Isn't CH allowed to use your recipes more or less however it wants? Although, IIRC, you still have rights to any recipes or postings you made on CH - you can post or print the same material elsewhere. But you can't make CH take down your posts or stop them from printing or posting your material elsewhere.

                                    2. re: cgarner
                                      JEN10 Aug 11, 2011 12:17 PM

                                      My sister In Law pulled that on me with her macaroni salad. She finally coughed up the real deal. Seems so petty, I find it a compliment to be asked and I am always happy to share the real deal.

                                      1. re: cgarner
                                        r
                                        ricepad Aug 11, 2011 12:28 PM

                                        I hate that passive-aggressive crap. Either you like/trust me enough to be honest with me, or you don't. I would respect a person so much more if s/he said, "You know, I'm sorry, but this is a special recipe, I can't share it," rather than get an adulterated version deliberately sabotaged.

                                        1. re: cgarner
                                          h
                                          HillJ Aug 13, 2011 07:41 PM

                                          Not far-fetched, but a lesson I too learned about sharing recipes online. When the site All Recipes dot com first began I submitted a very simple recipe for a chicken preparation; one my family loved and I made hundreds of times. It struck a cord with the All Recipes audience and was reprinted in one of the first soft cover AR cookbooks avail for sale. My reward was one free copy. Ok. At the time I didn't know this type of reprint was possible or in the works, nor did I understand that All Recipes would make money on my and others time/idea/recipes. Nor did I realize that since then and several All Recipe site redesigns later that the members of the site could alter it, take their own photographs of my original recipe or reprint it on dozens of other sites. In other words, my recipe was MY RECIPE for about ten seconds once posted on a website. I've seen this specific recipe on dozens of corporate sites; including Tyson chicken....crediting All Recipes as their original source. Live and learn.

                                          1. re: HillJ
                                            s
                                            sueatmo Aug 14, 2011 03:46 PM

                                            I find this story interesting and educational. Thanks for sharing.

                                            1. re: HillJ
                                              c
                                              cgarner Aug 16, 2011 07:47 AM

                                              the site I belong to is now owned by the FN...
                                              My mother called me one day to tell me that Rachel Ray was making one of "my" recipes
                                              I tuned in to the FN and RR was making a dish which was so VERY close to a recipe which I had posted to the site about three or four months prior. (used the same name, but ‘dumbed it down’ a bit and changed some of the herbs.

                                              MY recipe is now linked from FN’s uk site as well as ifood as well as several other posters who have copied the recipe verbatim and reposted it to other recipe sharing sites…

                                              That was about a year and a half ago and that’s when I decided that I wasn’t going to “share” anything else of my own creation or my family’s creations that are uniquely ours.

                                              There’s a zillion recipes you can find on a million websites for things like chicken parm, baked tilapia, sheperds’ pie, etc… all which are variations of the same recipe, but when a persons family recipes or personal creations are taken from them in such a manner and not only are they not acknowledged, but the recipe itself becomes changed, bastardized, reproduced, (such as what happened to you HillJ) without regard to the creator, that’s when I call “foul”

                                              1. re: cgarner
                                                s
                                                sueatmo Aug 16, 2011 08:43 AM

                                                Thanks for sharing your experience. The only positive thing I can think of, is that many people are enjoying your concept. Does FN still have your original post on its site?

                                                I feel that Ray should have credited you with the original.

                                                1. re: sueatmo
                                                  c
                                                  cgarner Aug 16, 2011 09:24 AM

                                                  I haven't looked for it on the foodnetwork site lately. I believe the RR version was posted during the time they were airing the show. My original version is posted on the other recipe site (food.com, formerly recipezaar)

                                                  1. re: cgarner
                                                    h
                                                    HillJ Aug 16, 2011 09:35 AM

                                                    I appreciate you posting your own experience cgarner. I had no doubt that many others have experienced this. I've gotten alot smarter about safeguarding my own original work that I enjoy making a living from (not just food either) since that time. As you can see through your own example, sharing is not the issue (I love to share) having a third party make that decision for you (& profit by it) is.

                                                    1. re: HillJ
                                                      hill food Aug 16, 2011 08:02 PM

                                                      etiquette would suggest getting an "okey-doke" from you, but I'd bet corporate legal says that might imply true ownership and liability. w/o acknowledgement they can claim 'public property'

                                                      1. re: hill food
                                                        h
                                                        HillJ Aug 16, 2011 08:24 PM

                                                        hill food, in the micro-sized type at the bottom of the original page of legal speak there were all sorts of references to what the web owner could and would do with the content posted freely on their site. Information I didn't give a thought or notice until I was sent a free copy of a new cookbook All Recipes dot com published that included my recipe.

                                                        When I experienced this right to ownership first hand as described above I approached the site owners, a lawyer and a respected friend in publishing and they all explained what I could and couldn't do about my recipe at that point. The etiquette of publishing my recipe for profit, since money was being made on my work but I wasn't being paid, was not what I was interested in learning about. The experience was worthwhile in the end because I now understand how to protect my original work and have no intention of allowing a third party to make money on it unless they intend to pay me as well. OTOH, sharing my recipes is my right.

                                                        What I meant above is this, the decision by a site owner to claim rights albeit to the exclusion of rights of an individual who generated an original idea is a complicated issue....and often what invention dreams are made of. As we all know, when $$ enters the picture-sometimes, the picture changes. I wouldn't assume that the small print couldn't be challenged if something substantial was at stake.

                                                        I'm smarter for the experience....and it hasn't stopped me from sharing recipes.

                                                        1. re: HillJ
                                                          hill food Aug 16, 2011 10:14 PM

                                                          glad you don't feel entirely burned, copyright law is one pain in the ass. I've worked enough in the art and design world that I personally take care to give credit where credit is due (to the point of attributing snapshots taken by friends moms that I've posted on FB) yes I agree they are betting, and probably correctly, that in this context it's just not worth your time and money to pursue this. ehhh. I always say ideas are cheap, the real work is in the execution and how it's presented.

                                                          1. re: hill food
                                                            c
                                                            Chowrin Aug 17, 2011 05:27 AM

                                                            hillfood,
                                                            yeah, a Well Done recipe for piecrust actually requires a hygrometer, a thermometer, and a lot of experimentation. ;-) [I'd like to see the graph on piecrust's water ratio as a function of relative and absolute humidity, actually]

                                                            1. re: hill food
                                                              h
                                                              HillJ Aug 17, 2011 08:36 AM

                                                              My oldest daughter, who operates a cooking school, would be the first to say that if a recipe was as simple as a few scribbles on a page no one would be pursuing a professional career. What separates the casual cook and the professional is all in the fine details and seriousness applied to ownership, value of skill and being paid for your talents.

                                                            2. re: HillJ
                                                              c
                                                              Chowrin Aug 17, 2011 05:25 AM

                                                              ... chowhound one assumes makes money based on ad views, and every time you post a recipe here, they get more traffic, which means more profit.

                                                              I don't find this an unreasonable system, but I do agree that making books out of it is going one step more into "profitability"

                                                              1. re: Chowrin
                                                                h
                                                                HillJ Aug 17, 2011 05:31 AM

                                                                Yes, because we've all seen that books can lead to other profitable ventures and spinoffs. All Recipes.com published several recipe collections over time; mine happened to appear in some of the earliest. The success of one project can open doors to others once commerce is proven. Online companies need to make money from multiple sources and count on their readership to both validate and create revenue streams. As I said, it was a great lesson for me; one I took seriously and have also benefited by in my own work today.

                                                                You know it would be easier not to "sweat the small stuff"...but then again why should someone else profit from your ideas and leave you out in the cold? Don't we all deserve a piece of the pie...if the pie is $-making?

                                              2. c
                                                Chowrin Aug 11, 2011 07:33 AM

                                                I have developed recipes for a certain stove. In a sense, those are personal recipes -- unshareable. I think I own the recipe, in that unless you got my house, you'd not know what to do with my recipe.

                                                1. m
                                                  mshenna Aug 12, 2011 12:44 AM

                                                  Of course I treasure mine, & I've got them stuck into books, carefully put in plastic sleeves in binders, copied onto 3x5 cards, bookmarked online, typed up & saved to My Documents, & in my head -- often the same one more than once, so that I can find it when I need it (I'm talking to YOU, strawberry pie & persimmon pudding). As for sharing them, I love to, but I am not from NY, & the following generally happens:

                                                  1. Friend (native NY'er) says, "I love this, you have to tell me how to make it, I can't wait to do it."

                                                  2. I write a detailed email (& re-write & re-read, to make sure I haven't forgotten anything -- having had a great-grandmother who "forgot" key ingredients or steps, so that we still can't make some of the recipes she gave my mother at her marriage work, don't want to do that).

                                                  3. I send it.

                                                  4. Next time I see friend, friend says, "Oh, I saw that, but it looks like way too much work. I never do that kind of thing. You can just make it for me again."

                                                  Someday I'll learn.

                                                  1. m
                                                    mshenna Aug 12, 2011 12:48 AM

                                                    But I should add: when I do share a recipe with someone who actually makes it, & hear "we had your pie/chutney/pickles/whatever the other day," it is very satisfying, in a Passing on the Old Rugged Traditional Mysteries sort of way.

                                                    1. MinkeyMonkey Aug 14, 2011 05:53 PM

                                                      Nice question!

                                                      Personally, I don't feel ownership of my recipes in the sense of "mine not yours" but I do have strong, sentimental feelings for my family's recipes.

                                                      All of grandma's recipes are in my head and I love to make them now and again. They are special treats that I enjoy sharing.

                                                      My great-grandfather's recipe is also in my memory and although I have some kind of "ownership" feelings for it, I also have shared it countless times with friends and complete strangers.

                                                      My great-grandmother's recipe is lost. My grandmother gave it to me when I was a child and I never quite committed it to memory since I was young and it was a somewhat complicated butter tart recipe. I placed the piece of paper it was written on in a book and the book was lost many years ago. I still look for it once in a blue moon--I can't help it! I'm fairly certain it was lost in the great break-up of 1993. I have found many similar recipes and combined them with my limited memory of the original recipe but none of them feel like "mine" so none of them are right. Funny how the sense of ownership can manifest itself when there is nothing tangible to own.

                                                      And, yes, I do treasure my recipes, both the ones I've inherited and created as well as the ones I have found along the way.

                                                      My brother's sweet lassi recipe, which is like all of our family recipes and not very exact, is one of my favorites. It came up in conversation with my guy the other day and he asked exactly what the recipe components and measurements were. Well, I don't really know! We just make it based on the idea: Plain yoghurt, lime juice, rose water, sugar and cardamom and sometimes water. How much of each, I dunno, whatever looks good. Still, no matter how different the proportions are each time, it comes out just right and I think of it as "his recipe" rather than my variation on his recipe.

                                                      1. Will Owen Aug 14, 2011 07:11 PM

                                                        My first Secret Family Recipe, the Kuntz Family Potato Salad: one HB egg to one boiled & peeled potato to 1/4 med. onion, chopped fine. S&P to taste, good mayonnaise to bind. That's it. It's not so much a recipe as a formula, which most old recipes are, since you never knew if you'd be cooking for the table or a mob of farm hands. If you know what you're doing you can't miss with this, even if you want to add mustard or pickle relish. So much for secrets; this was the first one I shared, and my favorite to keep on sharing.

                                                        1. c
                                                          cbauer Aug 14, 2011 07:53 PM

                                                          Interesting topic. Yes, for certain recipes I feel a certain ownership, that is, according to my husband can not be replicated as well as I make it. A specific example is from both our German heritages. My mother is from Nothern Germany, my husband is from Southern Germany.

                                                          My roladin recipe wound up to be a combination of both sides. Let me explain.... My mother taught me to make roladin her way.

                                                          The basic reciple is a very thin steak, spread with dijon mustard, salt, pepper, chopped onion, chopped pickle and bacon and then rolled up and cooked at a simmer (until it is nice and tender, then make the gravy - but that is a whole other issue - LOL)

                                                          Here is the difference... Nothern Germany uses dill pickles and cooked bacon. Southern Germany uses gherkin (sweet) pickles and raw bacon.

                                                          So it goes, lay out steak, spread mustard, sprinkle with salt and pepper, put chopped onion at one end... now here comes the problem.... husband likes it with sweet pickles. so what I wound up doing is using chopped gherkins, but used cooked bacon. roll the whole thing up and sear it in the bacon fat, simmer all day, add dill pickle brine and sour cream for the gravy.

                                                          So my recipe is not northern or southern but a combination of both with both of use being satisfied.

                                                          There are other recipes that are "mine" as my family likes to say. For example, scalloped potatoes. (the base of the recipe came from my grandmother and I adjusted it) Even though I have told all the recipe (not written down, it's just "a feeling") no one in the family can replicate the way I do it. Everyone asks for "Aunt Christine's potatoes". Don't ask me why and as a side note, my sister is great cook, but can't may my taters! LOL

                                                          1. Bill Hunt Aug 16, 2011 08:10 PM

                                                            Though I might have refined my recipes through trial and error, and honed them to my impression of perfection, I gladly share them with others. I have a good friend, who writes cookbooks, and I've gladly given her several, along with my recommended wine pairings.

                                                            I would always want to share, and though another might not find that "perfection," that I did, if they can adapt those to their palates, then so much the better.

                                                            One was actually my grandmother's recipe, and she did not leave it to anyone, upon her death. I began trying to piece it together, having only gone shopping with her once. I think that was also the only time that I saw her prepare it. It was always just ready to go, when we'd arrive. With my wife, who had never tasted it, we set out to recreate it, and finally did, though not until we'd ruined a dozen batches, and then had some that were close, but not quite right. That is one that I shared, though it was not rightfully mine.

                                                            Hunt

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                              s
                                                              sueatmo Aug 17, 2011 08:17 AM

                                                              I think the fact that you mastered it, makes it yours. You find many versions of any one popular recipe that has floated around for a couple of decades. These are versions that someone has taken and tweeked to his or her taste and inclinations. That is basically what recipes do in real life.

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