“It’s said there are no new recipes anymore. New cookbooks contain a reworking of previously published recipes from cookbooks that contain adapted recipes from previously published recipes and so it goes. A subtle change here or there, a pinch of this instead of a half teaspoon of that and eureka, you’ve developed a new recipe. Recipes themselves are copyright free meaning you may copy the list of ingredients in any media you want. It’s the recipe name and instructions that are subject to copyright law so be sure if you filch a recipe to use as your own, you make significant changes in these areas. Also, if you adapt a recipe, it’s professional (and common) courtesy to site the original source or creator.

If new cookbooks contain hashed over versions of old recipes, why are they so popular?

I call this phenomenon, recipe mania. It may even border on obsessive-compulsive behavior. Recipe or cookbook collecting is the American homemaker’s number one hobby according to Avis Hulvey, editor of Cook’s Notebook. I believe it. Scan any pen pal publication like Woman’s Circle and you’ll find recipe or cookbook collecting listed as a hobby in the majority of listings. There appears to be some weird force that compels normally sensible people to feel they “must have” every published recipe in their kitchen or they’ll expose themselves to culinary illiteracy. The irony is that even if we live significantly longer than average, we’d never have time to make all the recipes.”
That said, some recipes sink into your brain like osmosis, they fuse with yet others along the way and autopilot kicks in once you have your apron on.  Confronted with a deboned smoked pork neck, I thought ‘Roast for supper!’ and started chopping onions for a stuffing.  Before I knew it, the meat was sitting atop a layer of dry beans, submerged in water.  I let it simmer for four hours, then removed it and sliced it to use in sandwiches for the boys to nibble on while they watch the rugby later today.  (Old Spouse came in at this point and helped himself to a couple of slices, with Pink Lady Apple Sauce.)


I then turned back to the beans; adding sweated onions, garlic, chopped leeks, yellow pepper, thyme and a few tomatoes, with a glass of  wine.


And so supper became a bowl of beans … you really can’t trust some recipes!  Anyhow, as good an excuse as any to open a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc?


25 thoughts on “THERE ARE NO NEW RECIPES

  1. I agree, rehashed over and over. Also when we went metric it threw a spanner in the works – for me anyway. I still use a pound and ounces scale and most of my ‘inherited’ recipes and my recipe books are in old measurements.

  2. I like the recipe books for their pictures.

    I think I have bougth 4! one very basic, one a ‘collection’ for charity, one chinese one, one about chocolate and one about cooking with flowers.

    I do have some from my mother too (but have never read them)

  3. I have a few recipe books (of dozens) left over from my former life as a non-creative. Couldn’t cook worth a darn either. Now I haven’t looked at a recipe book (don’t have to – there’s you and Amanda and so many others here 🙂 ) for ages – and all of a sudden, I’ve become quite the chef. ‘Course, cooking in other areas too. 😉

    You make even ‘a bowl of beans’ look delish.

  4. Since I generally view the recipe as a road map, altering it seems like a nature course of action…hardly a justification for calling it my own…by the way…I couldn’t but notice another white wine with this post. 😉

    • I’ve been quite fortunate of late, Charles, and have been gifted with several cases of wine from local winemakers, many include white wines; perfect for our hot weather 🙂

  5. Recipe collecting must be a bit like trainspotting….I have loads of books but I only use a few in each one. A creature of habit, I head for Mrs Beeton and then amalgamate a bit of Jamie Oliver here, a touch of Nigella there, till it works. Total plagiarism. Rubbish.

  6. You know, Cin, you are having an effect on my attitude towards cooking. This is getting quite serious. I don’t jump back in my chair any more when I detect honest enthusiasm about what you can prepare for dinner!

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