Cookbooks · Other Bits!

Other Bits! Dissociation from who actually “owns” a recipe!

My apologies, Dear Readers, for not posting since July, but life has interfered with my blogging, and now is my time, albeit short, until the next bout with Consultants, Surgeons, and Medical personnel, to remedy that.

This is not my usual type of post, however, as I spend quite a lot of time trying to conjure up new combinations of flavours and techniques, I despair at seeing “dissociation” from recipes in both published cookbooks and food blogs.  Then I think about the effort I put in to each and every post, and wonder if it is just a waste of  my time and energy.

I sit back, read, and wonder at introductions to recipes in some of the books I have purchased, read, and lovingingly stored in my bookcase with regard to their origin.  The “icing on the cake” if you will, came from a recent purchase, and a Scone recipe which was introduced thus, and I kid you not…” This was my Boyfriend’s Grandma’s recipe on his Mother’s side”… Anyone who has this book in their possession will know exactly which one it is.

My inspiration for any of the recipes I have blogged do genuinely come from my Mother’s recipes, but, in reality, and I am not afraid to admit, most others come from shaking up and twisting around those I have found in books and magazines, as does everyone elses, but they won’t admit it. No doubt they do, but to see every recipe in a book, claiming to be from a source which cannot ever be verified, I get the feeling that this type of recipe writing which has been “lost in time” and now, with a few changes, have become the property of authors of cookbooks and blogs seemingly is becoming the norm.

No one baker or cook can claim that every single recipe they have come up with is their own invention, and cite their Granny, Aunty, Neighbour, Friend, cousin, et. al, as their inspiration for some bog standard stuff that is to be found in every book and magazine you read.

During my time off from posting recipes, I have been very busy, trying to come up with my own tasty twists on classics, and re-working old recipe blog posts to take my recipes forward.

I am no expert, but I try my best to write up invented recipes that make my friends and family smile, and ask for more, or the recipe for what I make for them. The lack of transparency in books and blogs really leaves me cold, and I wonder how many more *recipes* and *cookbooks* will appear on the market, with content being peddled as the Author’s own.

I have a few draft recipe posts, just sitting and waiting to be photographed and written up.  When I do publish, I really hope they will be well received, used and appreciated.  In the meantime, these opinions are just my own musings and thoughts.  I will not engage in a heated debate, but I do encourage other’s opinions on this subject.  Maybe it’s just me, but I question everything!!

When I’m back to 100%, health-wise, normal service will resume… watch this space!


22 thoughts on “Other Bits! Dissociation from who actually “owns” a recipe!

  1. Colette I’m sorry to hear that you have been so unwell. I didn’t realise and I hope that the next round of treatment means that you are back on the road to having more time to share your wisdom.
    When it comes to recipes, this is regularly the subject of great debate. I feel that if you have attribute a recipe, then do so or mention an inspiration. Recipes are only unique in their expression, not the recipes themselves. So if you jig around one that you’ve come across to make it your own then name it your own. On the other hand, it’s when a recipe is blatantly copied without even so much as a credit or attribution that it gets on my wick.
    Take care.


    1. Thank you for your good wishes and comment, Caítríona This debate is, indeed, ongoing. It seems not only in books now, I noticing it more and more in TV cookery shows too. As for the blatant copying with no credit etc., I know we are all agreed on that subject.


  2. Colette sorry to hear your problems aren’t over yet and you’ve more to come. Really hoping everything works out for you and you make a speedy recovery.

    I’ve missed your blog as have always enjoyed both reading and making your recipes. I understand where you’re coming from and that it must be infuriating when you’ve taken such time and care about your own. In regard to my own blog and the inclusion of occasional recipes that people look for, their origins are mixed and when they’ve been knowingly taken from books I’ve openly stated so. I’m not the most inventive of cooks, I wish I were but often they are variations of cookbook recipes that have been adapted because of missing ingredients and they’ve worked! I remember reading that only three ingredients have to be changed to make a recipe ones own. In my own case that’s not difficult as I’m usually missing most of the ingredients suggested! A huge amount of the food I cook comes from recipes given to me by friends or family. In fact I have an A4 folder full of notes and slips as well as a pretty recipe journal that they’re all collected in that’s still leafed through almost weekly, in fact more so than my proper books as they’ve come from recommendations. None of those are credited or linked to books or publications, they’re just handwritten scribbles. Perhaps I should photograph those for my posts instead of taking the time to type them out then at least people know and won’t think I’m claiming them as my own or worse, stolen from a book uncredited. You’ve raised some good points and I hope new food bloggers take the time to read this post and make note of it.

    Hoping you get your recipe blogging mojo back soon x


    1. Thank you for your comment, Dee. My problems pale into insignificance compared with some people. The mojo disappeared, due to lack of time to devote to the blog lately, but happy to say it is slowly returning 🙂 I wholeheartedly agree with you regarding family recipes which have been scribbled out on scraps of paper. I have laminated and put my Mother’s & Grandmother’s recipes into a folder too, We all have recipes like that, which we use on a daily basis, and they are genuinely family ones. It’s the convoluted descriptions of their origins in cookbooks I am tired of seeing. The one mentioned above is a case in point, and not an Irish author, let me hastily add!! When I think I’ve invented a recipe, I have a quick “google”, and more than likely will find similar ones have been done before. In such cases, I disclose my inspiration and sources. I suppose when we “add a dash of this, and throw in a bit of that” we are inventing as we go along 🙂


      1. It can certainly be a bit of a quagmire! When I was typing up my most recent salad recipe I was thinking there must be only so many versions of a coleslaw lol! And great, looking forward to your posts!


    1. Thanks Val. I get my ideas from leafing through recipes, thinking about combinations, wondering if they will work, trying them, and maybe posting them, but I would always say that’s there the idea came from. Anyway, I’ll be back, as someone famous once said 🙂


  3. Hi Colette,
    Well said. As the old saying goes “there is nothing new under the sun”. If I am trying something new, I do like to see what others have done and then I usually give it some thought. The result of the thought usually gives me my own take on any given recipe. If I come up with something on my own, I am happy to claim it. If I reproduce a recipe, I will credit it. So many ‘unique’ recipes are just minor variations on classic themes that it is hard for anybody to take credit for the dish. Last year, I did a version of boeuf bourguignon having looked at some of the versions of various TV chefs. Given that it is supposed to be a ‘classic’ I was surprised at the huge variations in both ingredients and method employed across the celebs’ efforts. Mind you, without the variation and interpretation, the food blogs would be pretty boring to look at. Get well soon and get back to posting.


    1. Hi Conor, and thank you for your comment. I agree entirely regarding variation and interpretation. It was just the descriptions in cookbooks which annoyed me. I don’t have a problem with family recipes, it’s when the descriptions of where they got them become just a little too unbelieveable. I usually substitute or omit ingredients which are not to my taste in cooking and baking, which is tantamount to making them (be they classic or family recipes) my own. Anyway, I will come up with more, no doubt, sooner rather than later.


  4. Very sorry to hear you haven’t been well and I hope you’re back to 100% soon. Regarding recipes, it’s annoying when people claim other recipes are their own but I’m not sure what can be done about it. My recipes have all come from my Grand Aunt, still alive age 93 and her recipes in turn came from her mother. Where did they orignally come from? I haven’t a clue and doubt if anyone else does either as neither of these 2 women would have finished school and come from a very rural part of Ireland so I guess these recipes have just been pass on from generation to generation and I’m proud to be the carrier into the next one.


    1. Thank you Siobhán, it’s ongoing, but am fine and getting on with things. As I said to Conor, The fact that recipes come from your own family is not the problem, I have many such recipes (if not all) myself. My point was the daft descriptions in books and while I am on the subject, I have a few more which begin each recipe in the same way. “This recipe was given to me by my cousin’s friend, who lives overseas, and it was her neighbour who gave it to her in the first place”!!! Granted, that is an exaggerated version of what I’ve come across, but you can see what I mean. Our own Parents’ and Grandparents’ recipes should indeed be written down, used and preserved for the next generation.


  5. Sorry to hear you have been so unwell Colette. I’m a little confused ( don’t read many recipe blogs I must admit) do you mean that too many people are taking recipes and claiming it has family status handed down etc or do you mean people aren’t crediting where they should? I see what Dee means / surely it must be getting v difficult to create original recipes in one way and yet we all do it all the time as we don’t have one ingredients and substitute it


    1. Hi, Lorna, and thank you for your comment. I have probably not been clear on what I meant. I have no problem whatsoever with handed down family recipes, goodness knows how many times I have taken my own Mam’s recipes and used them as a base to try and come up with my own.

      My gripe was with attributing recipes to “a friend of a friend, of a friend”… My recipes are based on family ones, as are most, if not all, of those lovely folks I interact with on Twitter and FB, and making things work for them and me. We all make things up as we go along, as it should be, and so become inventors of our own recipes. I really hope that makes sense. I am not taking pot-shots at family recipes, and I have lots of those myself. They are so important to me, and everyone else to keep, and cherish.


  6. Hi Colette,

    Get better soon. We miss you! Didn’t realise you have to go through another round.

    With regard to recipes I’d probably side with Dee… I’d often go to make a recipe and realise I’ve only have the ingredients so I have to substitute – there’s no way I’m going to make a 10 mile journey to look for an ingredient, that in all probability won’t be available in rural Ireland 🙂

    I must show you my Mum’s ‘recipes’ some time – I keep promising to tackle them. Some could just be shopping lists, or then again they could be a recipe!!!!!


    1. Thanks for your comment, Margaret. I know what you and Dee mean. I do that myself when I don’t have or don’t like an ingredient. It’s the long-winded “attributions” which annoy me, and the longer they are in cookbooks etc., the more suspicious I get! Would love a peek at your Mum’s recipes, am sure they are well used and treasured, just like mine.


  7. Hi Colette, sorry to hear you still have more dealings with the medical world. I hope it’s over for you soon. It’s not the best place to have too much contact with on a long term basis.

    Re Recipe copying, it can be very obvious alright. I see it all the time, and what makes the hair rise on the back of my neck is that they, as you say, claim it is a relation’s recipe. I find it amusing when they think they are safe when the recipe is taken from an not so well known book. Not sure if they think it’s ok as no-one will know anyhow.

    Another one that annoys me (or maybe I’m just jealous) are the ones who can fire up 3, 4 or 5 recipes, or even more, a week and claim them as their own.(a one person site I’m talking about, not the big ones with tons of writers). The time it takes me to tweak, change and photograph and then write up any blog post I’m lucky if I can find the time to get one up. I’ve been a bit slack lately even doing that as I’m so busy with personal stuff.

    As for making up recipes. I love throwing flour in a pot or bowl, sometimes it works, other times the ingredients are quickly winging their way to the food bin in the sky.

    My inspiration comes from everything. I look through cookery books, watch the sun setting (oh yes), get inspired by a sweet Tony might get with his coffee and lots more. Or a lovely meal I got out and want to recreate it. What I end up with might be the same but generally is unrecognisable to what inspired me. Life inspires us and so long as we don’t deliberate copy recipes we should enjoy it all and just don’t visit the sites that do.

    It just dawned on me a line that makes me so angry is “I’ve adapted this from ???? website. There is never any mention that they have permission to do this. It’s just laziness, but their users never seem to mind.

    I just concentrate on my own recipes now. If people don’t like what I do then at least I can live with myself that I’ve done my best to be inventive, creative and provide the best recipes I can.


    1. Hi Marian, and thank you for your comments, with all of which, I could not agree more. As for my health, I am doing fine, again, but *need more work*!!

      I too take time to do the tweaking, fixing, etc., and cannot understand where some of the one person bloggers get the time to do it all. Maybe I am jealous too 🙂 Anyway, I am hearing it more and more on TV cookery shows too, and it’s just become so common-place. I have one book which attributes every recipe to some family member or friend, or friend of a friend.

      I feel your comment regarding recipes from less well known books couldn’t be more true. Case in point, I save a lot of the little insert recipe booklets from magazines, and have a rough idea what is in most of them. There was a recipe in one for a particular cake, which I really liked, but was astonished to find it on a well known blogger’s site with the fat and sugar content changed to oil and agave syrup, I asked generally on Twitter at the time if this was the norm, and a few days later I was unfollowed by said “blogger”…It was funny, really.

      I too will continue to write my recipes, one by one, if it takes a month in between each, then so be it 🙂 Hope you and Tony are keeping well too 🙂


      1. Tks Colette, we’re busy trying to set up a business so that’s eating into everything. I took a break today to “breathe” again and get up to date. If the blogger unfollowed you then lucky you:)

        Enjoying hopping around the net again. Sure it’ll be all worth it! Look after yourself. Hadn’t realised your bout of hospitals from earlier in the year was the last of it:)




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