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Jun 14, 2014 05:12 AM

Are there written guidelines for COTM?

I recently noticed that several chowhounders have made comments about voting and non participation.

I am guilty at times of voting and not participating bcz I don't like the book/recipes etc.

any comments or clarifications?

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  1. Good Morning JPR. There are no written guidelines per se for COTM but there a few acknowledged strong suggestions concerning not posting recipes verbatim, and try to keep successive reports together and under that of an original poster. As for voting for a book then not participating, sometimes that's just unavoidable but do to it intentionally is really not acceptable.

    There have been months from the very beginning that I didn't participate because I didn't like the book chosen, but those were months I may have nominated a book but didn't vote. When a book I voted for then decided I didn't like occurred I did try to contribute a few recipe reports.

    ETA: Rethinking what I wrote I must say that in the matter of verbatim posting the recipe of another author, that is definitely a No-No rather than a strong suggestion.

    1. There's a possibility that you are referring to a couple of instances of ballot stuffing that occurred in the past where people joined Chowhound only to vote for a COTM selection as requested by the author on her Web site. Even in that instance, though, there was no objection to newbies voting for a book as long as they intended to participate in COTM if it has won.

      I think Gio is more assiduous than most of us in at least trying a recipe or two from whatever book wins, even if she hadn't voted for it. If the chosen book doesn't appeal to me, I either cook recipes from previous selections, start delving into something new, or wait until a more appealing title is selected. It's happened to all of us I'm sure at one point or another.

      1. My opinion is that if I vote for a book and that book wins, then I should cook at least one recipe from it. I only vote for books that I can either get out of the library or am willing to buy and that I am interested in trying out.

        On the other hand, if a book that I did not vote for wins, I feel no obligation (although if I can get the book easily, I will often try something). I don't expect people to invest in a book that they have no interest in.

        I do think it is unfair to vote if someone has absolutely no intention of participating.

        3 Replies
        1. re: stockholm28

          I kind of disagree. Sometimes life happens (babies, finals, 80 hour weeks) and you know you probably won't manage to cook from the book but want the threads to look back on when life calms down for a few weeks. I voted when I had a newborn knowing I probably won't get to that book this month but hoped to in the near future. I don't see why that is unacceptable

            1. re: magiesmom

              I agree life happens and things don't always work out as planned. I also think it is a bit different to vote for something that you expect to contribute to in the future ...

        2. I don't participate in the selection process (i.e., I don't nominate or vote) if I think I am unlikely to be able to participate that month, although I do participate in the discussion because I learn about a lot of great cookbooks that way.

          There have most certainly been occasions where I have nominated or voted and things came up (got sick, too busy, etc.) and I wasn't able to participate...and in these months, I feel a little bad. Or, I stopped participating because I wasn't enjoying cooking from the book or consuming the results...and in these months I only felt bad to the extent that I wished I'd voted for the other book.

          When I was a more active participant, I made an effort to cook from whichever book won, even if I hadn't voted for it. However, I don't think one is obligated to try to cook from the winner if it's not the one you voted for.

          COTM is a commitment of time, calories, and budget and something you might be imposing on your entire household. I don't think you should have to cook from a book you didn't vote for that just doesn't fit for your family. On the other hand, if you nominate and vote for a book, you should be aware that your participation is imposing on other people's time, calories and budget and the least you can do is follow through to the best of your abilities.


          8 Replies
          1. re: The Dairy Queen

            I just realized the expectation is way too much for me.

              1. re: magiesmom

                P.S. this is just my particular COTM philosophy, but I haven't been an active participant in the selection and cooking/reporting for a couple of years. Maybe it's changed.

                Nevertheless, I don't think anyone is keeping a secret tally of who is nominating and voting vs. who is cooking and reporting, unless you're a very active and vocal champion for a book that wins and you are completely absent from the cooking during the month...

                And, honestly, I can't even remember a situation like this.


                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                  Well, I might be your poster child, TDQ. Voted for Radically Simple because I think it's a wonderful book that many cooks would enjoy cooking from. I've posted on the "Cooking From" thread, but I don't cook much these days, so don't know if I'll participate. However, I am having some house guests this month, so I just might. RS is truly a lovely and useful cookbook.

                  1. re: pikawicca

                    Well, you're more likely to cook from R.S. than I am! I own the book and really am interested in it, but I just know my track record hasn't been good lately.

                    Really, it's kind of a gray area you're describing. It's a book you know you really like and you might cook from it...


                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      Try the pork with gin recipe. Super simple, quick, and delicious.

                      1. re: pikawicca

                        I will, although, I'd admit, as far as I know, I've never had any gin in this house. I would have to buy some.


                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                          Just buy the smallest bottle possible, but not rotgut. You can use the remainder to add to fish or chicken poaching liquid.

            1. Good grief. This is getting way too over analyzed, I think.

              You like a book. You think it would make a good COTM.
              You nominate.
              It gets into the final vote.
              You vote for it.
              It wins. You cook.
              It doesn't win. You may or may not cook. This depends on whether or not you 1.) own the book, 2.) are willing buy the book that does win. And cook.

              Really, this is not about winning but enjoying both the process and the results. Plus introducing new and different food to our families, and loving the joy of experiencing the myriad flavors the world has to offer.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Gio

                I think it's about all of that, Gio, for sure. But, for me, it's also about the camaraderie of cooking and exploring and learning along with others who are immersed in the same book for the month. It's about having this intense shared experience. The collaboration, to me, is an important element, otherwise, it's just a "Cooking From" thread (which I also enjoy, by the way, even though it's more asynchronous.)

                And, yes, I am definitely an over-analyzer. You make it sound simple, "You vote for it. It wins. You cook." And, "It doesn't win, you may or may not cook."

                I think this is the crux of the OP. Does it matter if you vote and then don't participate? And does it matter whether you voted for the winner? And does it matter what you intended when you voted for the book that turned out to be the winner? I think different people have different answers for these questions. They have been hotly debated over the years. The good news is, as usual, we are all very passionate and opinionated about it!

                To me, I love the conversation and I love sharing with and learning from other 'hounds. I'd always rather see more people participate than not because I think it's more fun when there are more voices and perspectives.

                So, I think if you think you might participate, you should nominate and vote! I think you should cook as often as you want to, whether you voted or not!

                I would hate for anyone to hold back their participation in any aspect of the process because they think the expectation, or at least MY expectation, is too much. I have been super flaky over the past several years for a number of reasons, so now I hold back some. But I don't think everyone has to think this way.

                Anyway, I think this, though innocently asked, is a divisive topic, so I'm going to let it go. I think we lose some good COTM'ers every time we have this conversation, which makes me sad.


                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                  Dear Dairy Queen. This whole endeavor is all about the collective camaraderie. We who have cooked the COTM throughout the years have benefited in so many ways by simply doing it and reporting; plus being exposed to cuisines we never would have been exposed to, met some wonderful people, learned so much. If we can't do it, why then we don't. No hard feelings, no recriminations. We come back the next month and see what's on the billing. And so it goes.

                2. re: Gio

                  That's how I see it too. I nominate and vote for books I like. If they don't win, I feel no obligation to cook from another book that I am not interested in. I haven't participated in over a year because none of the COTM books have appealed to me.