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Old 01-01-2015, 06:20 AM   #1
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At what point can you claim a recipe as 'Your Own'?

Im sure we've had this conversation before.

If you start with a recipe ( that has been published in a cookbook, website...), and you:
-Change some of the ingredients ( add some/ take away some)
-Mess with the amounts ( doubling/ halving initial amounts)
-Change cooking methods and times

How much of this has to change before you can actually or I guess should say ' legally' claim it as 'your own' recipe ??

Not that Im planning on publishing any of my recipes, but sometimes I look back at what i started with, and the final result, and they are unrecognizable to each other. Maybe the original recipe looks like a distant cousin or just an inspiration to the final creation.

I would never want to take any credit away from anyone, but at some point, I would have to think that the recipe becomes your own, since most of what we do when we cook is based on past experiences ( whether it be something we've seen, read, tasted ...)

Just curious,

Larry

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Old 01-01-2015, 08:17 AM   #2
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There are dishes that have ingredients in common, which if altered to my taste, I consider my own. Yesterday I made picadillo from an online recipe. I had to add spices to make it edible. The recipe called for 1/4 tsp salt for 2# of ground beef, with no other salt. I ended up adding extra salt, garlic, cumin and beef stock.
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Old 01-01-2015, 08:32 AM   #3
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When I cook I use a method that Rocklobster mentioned in one of his posts.

I look at several recipes and once I'm comfortable with the basic idea I cook it my way, using the ingredients I have available.

It becomes mine all mine!

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Old 01-01-2015, 10:23 AM   #4
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Interesting question!

A quick sidetrack recalling my days as a moderator. You cannot copyright a list of ingredients but you can copyright the instructions.

I realize that's not what you asked but it can provide a framework. I think we all fiddle a little with recipes, even if it's just to add more salt. I think you'd have to do more than that to own a recipe. For example, changing a significant ingredient or two and fiddling with the herbs and spices.

Changing the process is probably less common. If you're making a stew, how much can you change the instructions?

I guess if the chef that wrote the original recipe tastes yours and recognizes it, it's not your own yet.
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Old 01-01-2015, 11:49 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy M. View Post
Interesting question!

A quick sidetrack recalling my days as a moderator. You cannot copyright a list of ingredients but you can copyright the instructions.

I realize that's not what you asked but it can provide a framework. I think we all fiddle a little with recipes, even if it's just to add more salt. I think you'd have to do more than that to own a recipe. For example, changing a significant ingredient or two and fiddling with the herbs and spices.

Changing the process is probably less common. If you're making a stew, how much can you change the instructions?

I guess if the chef that wrote the original recipe tastes yours and recognizes it, it's not your own yet.
Expanding on this. If I'm braising, and I use a list of ingredients as specified in a recipe and braise it as in the instructions, then It's not mine, it's the original author's. But if I add a couple of ingredients and then braise it, it's not the author's? I can't see how he or she could lay claim to something as ancient as the braising process, and since I've added new ingredients, it certainly isn't the same recipe - it may even taste very different depending on the additions. (If I just change a couple of quantities I would still credit it to the original author without quibbling)

In all honesty, when I add a new recipe to my Living Cookbook, I always include the source and author if there is one, even if I've changed several things about it, and if I post or share the recipe in a public forum, I pass on the source of the idea, even if the actual finished product has changed significantly. I'm not terribly worried about it either way, as I'm not going to try to claim it as mine for any personal gain. If I pass the recipe to a family member, I may or may not pass on all of the source data, depending on how the recipe is being transferred, and on how much I've changed it.
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Old 01-01-2015, 11:57 AM   #6
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I actually find myself changing recipe methods regularly, especially if they're from bloggers who are not professional food writers. I've seen stew recipes that call for browning meat in one pan and veggies in another, then deglazing the meat and adding it to the other pan. I just use one pan.

I also mix seasonings into ingredients like yogurt and mayonnaise before adding other ingredients because this mixes the seasonings in more evenly. For example, I've had other people's chicken salad, etc., that had no seasoning in one bite and an overpowering amount of salt in the next. Yuk.

When I find recipes I want to try, I print them from their source and write on it any changes to ingredients and methods. If it's a keeper, I put it in Living Cookbook and note that it's adapted from X.

IMO, this is a question about creativity that doesn't have an objective answer, ie, you can change this many lines or X percent of ingredients. It's a judgment call.

Sometimes I do what Aunt Bea does and then I call it original.
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Old 01-01-2015, 12:01 PM   #7
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I rarely follow recipes. However, when I am asked to develop recipes, I research what I am asked to use (e.g., pork tenderloin) and then decide how to prep it. I often test drive the recipe I develop 10-15 times before I send it off to the company. Is it my recipe? Hmmm...yes and no. I get inspiration from many recipes, but no instructions.
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Old 01-01-2015, 01:36 PM   #8
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The instructions and how you describe/word them is how you make a recipe your own.
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Old 01-01-2015, 01:38 PM   #9
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Just an amateur here but every time I use a recipe from a book I annotate my recipe book with thoughts, observations and suggestions. As mentioned by another poster by the time I cook that recipe the fifth time it is usually various degrees of different from the original.


Some recipes must be very difficult to copyright though, how many ways can you cook Beef Wellington or Shepherds Pie for instance.
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Old 01-01-2015, 03:59 PM   #10
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Heck, half the time I don't even do the same thing twice in a row with what is theoretically the same recipe. I rarely measure out herbs and spices, or salt and pepper any more - I estimate, taste and adjust.

It's been my experience that most recipe authors are a bit wimpy in the seasonings they record in their recipes. I've even watched a chef make a recipe on TV, then I go the FN website and the printed version calls for about 1/2 or 2/3 what I just saw used on TV. I like bold flavors in my cooking, so I tend to be a bit free with my seasoning.
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