Stirring up trouble

I feel terrible. Last week I was contacted by the editor of a cookbook who asked that I remove a recipe from it from my blog. I’d attributed the recipe and raved about the book, but the editor reminded me that the recipes were copyright and that, essentially, it wasn’t fair to post it. I accidentally compounded the issue by not seeing the comment until the weekend, which resulted in another aggrieved comment, but have since deleted the recipe.

I felt awful about it, but in my defence, this particular recipe had been published online before – by a newspaper with about 250,000 more readers than this blog – which made me feel it was ok to publish it myself.

But it has made me think – how should the food blogging community share recipes from other sources?
I know I feel a bit peeved if I discover someone has ripped a recipe of mine without attributing it, but who really ‘owns’ a recipe?
Are recipes like Facebook photos, available to everyone unless you set barriers to sharing them?
And – this is the really tricky bit – what if you have a recipe which came to you from Great Aunt Doreen, but unbeknownst to you really originated from the Edmonds’ Cookbook, or Larousse Gastronomique, or Jamie Oliver? Is it Doreen’s? Or yours? Or does it still belong to the original recipe writer?
Has this happened to you before? How do you handle other people’s recipes? Should we develop a food blogger’s code of ethics?

I’d love to know what you think – especially if you’ve been asked to take recipes off your site (or you’ve asked someone else to remove ‘your’ recipes). In the meantime, there’s plenty to chew over in this piece about recipe ownership.

Kitchen wear

Are you the sort of person who is hopeless at Christmas shopping because you keep seeing things you’d like for yourself? Then look away now, because I suspect you’ll be quite taken by what I’m about to show you.

A couple of months ago I seemed to spend every Friday morning at a seaside cafe, en route to delivering whoever was staying with us that week to the airport. We had a stream of different visitors – all men – over the course of a month and I began to think that the waiting staff would start to talk – ‘oh look, there’s that woman again, with another new bloke’. But I digress. In between reassuring the guest of the week that there was plenty of time to get to the airport and making sure the Small Girl didn’t make too much of a nuisance of herself, I noticed one of the waitresses was wearing an amazing pendant. It was a tiny knife, sharp-edged and glinting silver in the sun. I couldn’t help myself and more or less chased her around the room to find out where it came from. “Oh, my boyfriend makes them,” she said shyly, as if everyone was so lucky.

To cut a long story short(ish), I gave her my email address and her boyfriend, Tim, got in touch. He’s since set up a website showcasing his work and is happy to do commissions. Come on, there must be someone you know who would like a doll-sized sterling silver fish slice earring (and the ladle looks amazing as a pendant) …


The glass jars are half empty

It’s not much, I know, but I wanted to show you the extent of my Christmas preparations as they stand so far. I went to the supermarket this morning too, but you can shoot me if I ever try to document that (no offence to the people who do).

It might not look like much but I find scraping the bits of glue and old label off jars to be one of the most tedious tasks of all time. Now it’s done though – well, for this batch, anyway – I can’t wait to get started.

How are your Christmas makings and bakings coming along? Any progress? Lots of inspiration can be found here.

In season

Daylight saving (aka Summer Time) started in the weekend and despite a bitingly cold wind, it feels like winter is finally properly behind us. Digging through my wardrobe this morning I remembered a woman I used to work with who was a serious clotheshorse and incredibly dedicated shopper, who would think nothing of spending £100 while nipping out at lunchtime. She was my boss when we first moved to London and I remember her chattering away about how she was going to spend the weekend sorting out her summer wardrobe. This involved two things: one, buying all the latest fashion mags and circling all the things she planned to buy; and two, getting all last years’ stuff down from the loft (and putting the winter stuff up there in return). At the time I was living out of a 60-litre backpack and my summer wardrobe consisted of two T-shirts and a dress (my winter wardrobe consisted of the same, but wearing them all at once). I felt like Cinderella, but without the fairy godmother.

The latest addition to my kitchen, in this season’s pastel shades

Anyway, what I was really wondering, was – how do you approach the new season’s food? Do you put all your winter-y cookbooks up in the loft, behind last year’s handbags? What do you do when it might feel like summer when you get up in the morning, but winter by dinner time? And have you invested in any new kitchen kit for the coming season?

Random Recipes #8: Corn & Feta Fritters

After the success of last month’s Random Recipes challenge, in which the Small Girl thoughtfully selected ‘Great Ways With Steak And Chops’, I put her to work again to choose September’s recipe from a pile of magazine clippings and pull-outs. I confess, I only gave her a small selection to work with, for I am destined to become one of those mad old ladies who lives in a house overflowing with things she has cut out of the newspaper or scribbled down on the back of a phone bill. Whenever we move house (something we’ve tended to do every 12-18 months in the last six or seven years), I find more recipes tucked into novels or – worse – tucked into other recipe books. There must be a name for this – Compulsive Recipe And Cookbook Kollecting (CRACK) perhaps? Shall we start a support group?

The Small Girl pulled this out of a pile of papers tucked into the handwritten recipe book I made when I first went flatting. There’s a burn mark on the back (left it on the element, Wanganui, 2001) and all sorts of things tucked inside, including a tea-stained note to my 1996 flatmate Kim from her sister Kirsty (“Kimbo: put your heater on the clothes, hope you don’t mind, need some for tomorrow. Early night for me, you crazy partier”), a 100 riel note (Cambodia, 2000), a bank statement from a defunct account (2004) and lots of torn-out pages from Observer Food Monthly (London, 2005-2009). Oh, and the recipes…

Corn, Feta and Microgreen Fritters
I’d like to say the Small Girl chose this particular recipe because she loves corn fritters, but alas, she didn’t eat a single one. Oh well, I thought they were pretty good. Judging from the font and layout, I think the recipe comes from an old copy of NZ House and Garden magazine. The attached story talks about the benefits of cooking with ‘microgreens’, which were the next big thing a while back. Health benefits aside, I think using fresh herbs from your garden (or kitchen) would do the trick nicely.

1 cup flour
3tsp baking powder
1tsp salt
Black pepper
2 free range eggs
125ml soda water
2 cups corn kernels (1 can, drained)
125g feta, crumbled
1 cup microgreens (or finely chopped fresh herbs)

Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper into a bowl. Add the eggs and soda water and beat until smooth. Stir in the corn, feta and greens and let stand for 10 minutes.
Cook spoonfuls in a well-greased pan over medium heat until golden on both sides.
Remember, as with pikelets, the first one will be a disaster while you get the temperature right. Keep subsequent fritters warm in a 120C oven while you cook the rest. Serve with chutney and more greens. Makes about a dozen.