Archive | May, 2010

Eating Animals, Harmonic Convergence and Deep Ponderings, Part Deux

26 May

Yesterday, I said that there were a few things that came together in a Harmonic Convergence to bring The Beloved and me around to being very conscious/conscientious eaters (at least).  The first thing was my reading Eating Animals.  Thing #2 happened a week and a half ago.  There is a wonderful event that has occurred in Raleigh for the last five years.  It is the Hen-side the Beltline Tour d’Coop.  And what that is is a self-guided tour of urban chicken coops.  It was maybe one of the coolest things I’ve ever gotten to do.

Guess what?  Did you guys know that there are lots of folks raising chickens within a block or two of The Governor’s Mansion?  So keen!  Now, before you get the idea that a bunch of Jethro Bodines live in Raleigh and that traffic comes to a halt whenever chickens wander across the street, keep an open mind.  For the most part, all the coops are tucked away in backyards.  Most folks don’t have roosters (cocks, to you guys overseas), so noise isn’t an issue.  Every coop we saw was large enough to allow the chickens to roam and spread their wings and be chickens.  Wiring over the top of the enclosure keeps them from a) flying away and b) falling prey to Marauding Hawks.

Lots of folks might (and do) take exception to raising chickens and make rules to severely restrict how and where they can be raised.  Many people are worried about the smell.  But, the smell comes from the poo of upwards of 30,000 chickens packed so closely together in climate- and light-controlled buildings that they have to sit/stand in their own waste.  That’s called factory farming.  The only good thing about having those chickens packed in that tightly is that they are bred to have such large, succulent breasts that they can’t stand up by themselves.  Pretty horrifying, huh?  Contrast that with four or six chickens happily clucking about in an open-air 100-200sf coop.  Happy, uncrowded chickens=no smell.

Here are some pictures of happy chickens in Cool Coops:backyard chickens
backyard chickens
backyard chickens
backyard chickens
backyard chickens
backyard chickens
backyard chickens
backyard chickens
backyard chickensAnd here was my personal revelation–as I hung out with coop after coop of happy chickens–regarding factory farmed chickens:  Even leaving aside the idea of eating factory farmed meat, I don’t want to eat eggs that come from cramped up, miserable, poo-covered chickens.  And it’s not the chickens’ fault.  They aren’t the ones that decided to live shoulder to shoulder with their chicken friends.  They aren’t the ones who decided to go beakless as some kind of Goth Chicken fashion statement.  They aren’t the ones that decided to have their whole environments totally manipulated a la The Truman Show.  Except Truman had a potty.  Nope.  People did that to them.  And they did that because we consumers stamped our itty bitty feet and Demanded Cheap and Plentiful eggs.  Even in the winter when chickens like to rest.  If The Beloved and I are two folks who choose to vote/pay for eggs from humanely raised chickens, we are also two fewer folks voting/paying for eggs-as-usual.

There you have it.  My own mini-but-no-less-paradigm-changing-for-that Harmonic Convergence.  Eating Animals and Chicken Coops.  The Beloved and I dearly want to raise chickens–we have two sets of neighbors who want to do it, too.  Unfortunately, the Rules and Covenants for our Homeowners’ Association say no animals other than dogs or cats.  But the rules also state that residents can own no more than two pets, and we have four.  So, we’re already the Bonnie and Clyde of the neighborhood.  You’ll never take us alive, Coppers!

Ahem.  As I was saying, we’d really like to raise chickens.  For the eggs, for the compost, for the bug- and weed-eating, and for the comforting clucking sound they make.  I’ll keep you Apprised.

Coming up, Part III:  How does an Egg, Cream and Cheese-Loving pastry chef manage to eat/bake in accordance with our newly crystallizing way of thinking about food.  That’s a toughie, and I’ll be back to tell you my truth as well as I can.

As always, thanks for reading, and all comments–positive and negative–are welcome.

Eating Animals, Harmonic Convergence, and Deep Ponderings, Part Uno

24 May

eating animals

Real chickens have beaks and can walk on their own. I haven't always eaten real chickens. Have you? (Please click on photo for credit).

I am ever so sorry that I’ve been away for almost two weeks.  It is ridiculously undisciplined and selfish of me to be absent for so long, and I apologize.  But friends, I have been Digesting some reading material that was so meaty that it has taken awhile for my Super Enzymes to break it down and assimilate it.  And I’m pretty sure I’ll never be quite the same.

Warning The following could be construed as Presumptuous and Daringly Sacrilegious.  Please do not consider it so. This is really the only metaphor I can use to illustrate the profundity of this personal Sea Change.

Remember in the Bible when everyone was supposed to get taxed and had to go to their birth cities to Pay Up?  And then Mary had a Baby, and all of a sudden, there were Angels and Heavenly Hosts and Night Winds Talking to Little Lambs and visiting shepherds and other such Excitement because her wee bairn was The Savior?  Well, people talked, of course.

But Mary, rather than helping to spread the word, mulled quietly over all that she’d recently learned and pondered it in her heart.  Not because she wasn’t moved or humbled by the goings on, and certainly not because she didn’t believe it, but because she was trying to reconcile her new reality with her old reality.

All of a sudden, she wasn’t the shamed pregnant-before-married girl.  She was the Mother of God.  That’s a big leap, and while the holiest of honors, it would also be a bit disconcerting, to say the least.  I can almost hear her:  Am I good enough?  Can I deal with this?  Can Joseph hang with this?  With me?  Do I really deserve this, and what will happen to this child?

Well, on a much less holy scale, I’ve been pondering just like Mary.  And the ponder I’ve been pondering has made me look at food in a whole new way. As you guys may or may not know, The Beloved and I try very hard to buy humanely raised animals and animal products whenever we can.  Even though that has been the goal for quite a long time, often it was just plain easier to stop at McDonald’s or Burger King or some other fast food place to grab a bite on a road trip.  We’d always thanked the poor little factory farm-raised animal for giving its life and apologized for its having a pretty bad life.  That’s how we were able to justify these trips.

Pretty feeble, right?  We were okay with that feeble-tude, but a few things have transpired recently in sort of a mini Harmonic Convergence that render our weak justifications completely indefensible.

Thing #1:  I read Jonathan Safran Foer’s book, Eating Animals.  Ultimately what his book does is to make a case for veganism.  But recognizing that eating patterns run the gamut from Oblivious Omnivore to Ascetic Vegan, it also makes the case for if-you-must-eat-meat-eat-happy-meat.  One concept that struck me is the one of eating animals that had “a happy life and a quick death.”

We all have to decide for ourselves what we can live with as a “happy life” and a “quick death.”  We should be able to articulate how much, if any, animal suffering is acceptable to us.  For some of us, no amount of animal suffering is justified since we have an abundance of food choices these days. Others of us can live with eating animals who were allowed to live relatively stress-free lives.  Some of us might even say that someone has to eat those poor factory farmed animals or they will have died in vain so it might as well be me.

Regardless, we all should know where our food comes from.  If we eat meat and animal products bought in most regular grocery stores, we should eat it mindfully, knowing how it was raised and how it was treated.  And once we know, we can decide if we can live with it.

Another quote that is still resonating in my wee brain a couple of weeks after finishing Eating Animals is that (and this is a paraphrase) any time we spend money on protein–be it meat, poultry or fish–we are farming by proxy.  That means that ultimately, buying a Chik-Fil-A Sammich is a vote in favor of the way Chik-Fil-A  chickens are raised and killed.

If we choose to eat animals, I think we can all agree that we eat them after they’ve lived for awhile and then are dead.  And that means that someone has raise them and then kill them.  If we choose to buy the On-Special Chicken at Wal-Mart or someplace, we’re saying Yes! to one way of raising and killing animals.  If we choose to spend extra money to purchase humanely raised, grass fed beef, we’re saying Yes! to what is generally a very different way of raising and killing animals. I think most of us would agree that we would like to say Yes! to the latter.

But here’s the kicker.  When we say Yes! to one, we’re automatically saying No! to the other.  There’s only so much money that folks spend on food, and if they’re spending it on inexpensive factory farmed meats, they’re not spending it on boutique farm/ranch-raised meats.  If the demand is for cheap meat, that is what will be supplied.  If the demand is for meat from humanely treated animals, then that is what will be supplied.

I bet that if a research group surveyed 1000 people regarding which they’d prefer, antibiotic and hormone-free happy animals that were compassionately raised and killed or ‘Roid Rage animals from factory farms, the overwhelming majority would opt for the former.   I also bet that when those same 1000 people next go to the store, the overwhelming majority would opt to spend less and buy the factory farmed meat.  Actions speak more loudly than words, and 1000 well-intentioned folks just unconsciously said Yes! to factory farming and No! to a more expensive, more humane approach.

Since The Beloved and I are not Big & Rich, we have to think very carefully about how we spend our money.  About what our money supports.  I think of our dollars as votes.  Votes for or against certain business practices; votes for or against certain political views.  We have decided that we can eat meat if we can know that the animals who died to provide it had room to roam and be themselves while they were alive, that they were raised free of prophylactic antibiotics and hormones, and that they were compassionately slaughtered.  No, I don’t think that’s an oxymoron.  That’s why rabbis oversee kosher slaughterhouses.

Anyway, since eating in accordance with what we find acceptable (and the definition of acceptable is a personal one) is Expensive, we will just eat less meat.  In our view, less meat of better quality is more acceptable to us than more meat of lesser quality.  Especially in light of the fact that poultry consumption in the US has gone from 30.3lbs/year in 1978 to 58.8lbs/year in 2008.  Corporate farms are here to feed the demand for cheap protein, and people are lining up in droves to support it.  And why? I choose to believe it is a combination of being ignorant of the realities of factory farming coupled with astute marketing on the part of “Big Farma.”  We choose not to continue to support them with our dollars/votes.

Who is still buying their gas from BP as oil continues to spew, barely checked, into the Gulf of Mexico?  Who stopped buying Exxon gas after the Valdez disaster in 1989?  If we can use our pocketbooks to express our outrage against these corporations, why do we hesitate to do the same against corporate farms?  I’m not trying to push any sort of Eating Agenda on you guys.  I am trying to push education, though.  Be aware of where your food comes from.  Be aware of how it was raised.  Eat consciously.  Eat conscientiously.

And that is all I have to say for now.  Join me tomorrow for Thing #2 in our Harmonic Convergence.  And I absolutely want to hear your thoughts.  I’m not sure, even after all the Maryesque pondering, that I’ve been able to really express this new truth we are trying to live, but if I’ve sparked a conversation, I’d love to continue it down in the comments.  Thanks, guys.

Et tu, Arby’s?

12 May

Growing up, I didn’t eat a lot of fast food.  I remember going to Hardee’s one time when I was about ten and ordering a “plain old hamburger,” not realizing that they would make one for me Special.  Completely plain.  No ketchup or anything.  I obviously didn’t understand the ordering process.  At any rate, my parents didn’t let us have fast food frequently.  And, while that’s a good thing (not to mention alliterative), back then it felt like a Bad Thing.  There was one Item that my parents let us have Very Occasionally.  And this, friends, was the masterpiece that is (was) The Jamocha Shake at Arby’s.  A sweet, creamy concoction that tasted vaguely of chocolate and coffee and was Beige.  I mean this in a Good Way, beige being the color of Subtle, Understated Urbanity.  The Jamocha Shake was, for me, the Pinnacle of Sophistication.  After all, it was a grown-up drink.  It was a Coffee Beverage.  I can still remember how wonderful these guys tasted.

Not overly long ago–maybe about five years or so–The Beloved and I were taking a trip to the mountains of…somewhere.  Anyway, we stopped at an Arby’s to have lunch, and I was all I’m’a git a Jamocha Shake!  I was excited about it (you can tell by that exclamation point), because I was about to revisit the Sophistication of my Youth.  When it was ready, I took a big slurp through my straw, and what I got was a mouthful of cold, sweet…chemicals.  ??  I took another sip.  I could kind of taste the chocolate and coffee, but the aftertaste was very chemically and Upsetting.  I threw the rest away.  I was a Very Sad Person.

The bitterness of that moment haunts me To This Day.

I really wanted to believe that a milk shake that tastes of coffee and chocolate was made with some ice cream, some coffee and some chocolate.  I mean, is it wrong to want that?  But, why use real ice cream when some kind of Faux Ice Cream is cheaper to make?  Because Arby’s doesn’t want to feed us–to offer us nutritious food.  It wants to make money.  And it’s not just Arby’s.  Look at the ingredients in almost any fast food you can think of, and you will prolly not want to eat it again.  Ever.  But it’s cheap, so there you go.  That should be Good Enough for us.

I looked up the current list of ingredients for my once-beloved Jamocha Shake, and this is what I found:

Jamocha Syrup [High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, Instant Coffee, Dutch Processed Cocoa, Caramel Color, Salt, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Citric Acid, Xanthan Gum, Polyglycerol Esters Of Fatty Acid, Artificial Flavor], Vanilla Shake Mix [Whole Milk, Sugar Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Nonfat Milk, Grade-A Sweet Whey, Cream, Artificial Vanilla Flavor, Mono and Diglycerides, Cellulose Gum, Guar Gum, Carrageenan, Dipotassium Phosphate, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Chloride, Sodium Carbonate, Annatto and Caramel Color]

Just seeing “Jamocha Syrup” and “Vanilla Shake Mix,” I might surmise that the syrup contains some water, sugar, coffee and chocolate while the shake mix contains ice cream (cream, milk, salt, sugar, vanilla).  But that would be Foolish.  I mean, when you have such a thing as Polyglycerol Esters of Fatty Acid, why wouldn’t you put it in a milkshake?  For those of you who are interested, take a look at this rather dry but telling report on how They determined that the Aforementioned Ingredient is “safe” to ingest.  And then ask yourself why they went to all that expense and trouble.  My answer is that the stuff must be dirt cheap to produce.

So, what other yumminess can be found in the Jamocha Shake?  I see a bunch of different types of gums and a Very Lot of sugars–corn syrup, sugar syrup, and high fructose corn syrup. Twice. Lovely.  And look what our friends at Wikipedia have to say about sodium carbonate:

Sodium carbonate (also known as washing soda, soda crystals or soda ash), Na2CO3, is a sodium salt of carbonic acid. It most commonly occurs as a crystalline heptahydrate, which readily effloresces to form a white powder, the monohydrate; and is domestically well known for its everyday use as a water softener. It has a cooling alkaline taste, and can be extracted from the ashes of many plants. It is synthetically produced in large quantities from table salt in a process known as the Solvay process.  —

Do yourself a favor and make your own Jamocha Shake.  All you need is some ice cream, a little milk, some coffee, some chocolate syrup, a couple of spoonfuls of sugar (maybe), and a pinch of salt.  And a blender.  Don’t worry if you are Unable to Obtain the polyglycerol esters of fatty acid, the various gums or the caramel color.  I guarantee that your shake will be better than a dumb old Arby’s shake.

To paraphrase the great Ricky Bobby, “Dear Sweet Baby Jesus in the Manger.”  It seems that nothing is sacred.  Yes, I posted the edited version.  If you would like to watch the admittedly hilarious unedited version, you can watch that here.

And Now is the Time on PMAT When We Poke the Anthill. Join Me, Won’t You?

7 May

Oooh, an anthill! Let me get my stick! (Click on the picture for attribution)

I am a bit of a Rabble Rouser.  I always have been.  See:

Scene:  Holiday dinner table with adult guests all around including my 3-year-old brother and 5-year-old me.

Uncle Ray: Male ballet dancers are athletic.

My Father: Oh, please.  They’re a bunch of sissies.

Uncle Ray (raises voice): You live in the dark ages. You know that lots of football players take ballet?!

My Father (raises voice): Well, then, they’re sissies, too!

The argument goes on for a few minutes.  My brother begins to cry.  I raptly take it all in.  Fade out.

Scene:  Dinner table the next evening.  Adults are talking amongst themselves.  My brother and I are quiet, listening to the conversation.  Or counting peas.  Whatever.  There’s a lull in the conversation. Into the silence, a small voice pipes up.

Jenni:  Let’s talk about the ballet!

If there’s a serene-looking anthill, I am not above poking it with a stick–just a little– to watch the ants come out.  If Ruthie looks antisocial, which is often, I will pick her up and hug and kiss her.  As much as I try to be well-behaved and let small cuts heal on their own, I tend to scratch them until they bleed again.  I am a Card Carrying Rabble Rouser.

And I’m about to rouse some Serious Rabble right now, so consider yourself Forewarned.

If you’ll notice over in my sidebar, sort of down towards the bottom, I have a red circle with a bar across it with the words “Secret Recipes” in it.  And that means No Secret Recipes.  I got said badge from Drew, from How to Cook Like Your Grandmother.  I wear it proudly.  Or rather, the blog wears it proudly.  I truly believe not only that people shouldn’t keep recipes secret or be too proprietary about them, but that original recipes are about as common as Dodo birds and to say that Your Recipe is Original is maybe a bit of an Affectation.

Let that one sink in for just a moment.

For example, I recently read a recipe over at the venerable Coconut & Lime for a lemon-chive asparagus risotto.  It, like all the recipes on that site, is touted as being completely original, and readers are exhorted not to reproduce it for profit and to always provide a link back should they reference it.  Further, and perhaps more upsetting to me, the blogmistress wants us to explain how we change any of her Ingredient Selections and still link back to her recipe.

Well, well, well. And well again.  As far as I know, risotto has been around for a Very Long Time.  So have asparagus, lemons and chives.  I myself have paired asparagus, lemon and chive together Upon Occasion.  Shocking and scandalous, I know.

While I don’t advocate stealing from folks, and I always provide a link to the original Creative Commons licensed photos that I sometimes use as well as links to other folks’ blogs or sites when I’ve been inspired to make something based on their idea, I consider recipes to be very fluid.  Like a song that an artist switches up a bit with every performance, a recipe is meant to be shared and altered.  It’s meant to inspire creativity in people who read it.  A recipe is meant to instruct, but making a recipe exactly the same way every time after you understand the principles and techniques, is C work.  Folks earn A’s and B’s by working a little bit higher than the Knowledge and Comprehension Levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Before you yell at me, and I fully expect to be yelled at least a little bit, I understand that everyone has to start somewhere. You’re looking at the girl who once asked the guy at the supermarket what to substitute for creme fraiche, and he said a mixture of cream cheese, sour cream and something else, so I bought all three of those things and mixed them to get the stupid tablespoon or so that I needed.  But the thing is, each cooking experience we have should serve to build our confidence and our abilities.  Don’t look at a recipe as a discrete thing describing one dish-in-a-vacuum.  Rather, look at them as mini lessons in cooking techniques.

Okay, back to the Original Recipe theory.  Just as literature lends itself to multiple interpretations, so do recipes.  When we read literature or follow a recipe, we look at each through our unique filters, shaped by our experiences.  Food tells a story.  Food is about family, memories, highlights, lowlights.  It is woven into the fabric of our celebrations and of our times of mourning.  If we only ate when we were hungry, if we only looked at food as something to eat to keep us alive, then we wouldn’t be human.  I’m pretty sure that humans are the only species who eat for emotional reasons.  We eat to evoke a certain time or place.  Maybe our mom’s macaroni and cheese isn’t all that great, but it’s our favorite kind because we associate it with mother’s love.  Comfort food is not about feeding the body.  It’s about feeding the soul.

When I read a recipe, I make associations with each ingredient.  I almost always “see” twice the salt than is called for.  I automatically substitute chicken or pork for shrimp, because I’m not a fan of seafood.  If starch is involved–pasta, rice, quinoa, etc–I’m all over it.  If there’s no starch in it, I think of a way to add starch.  Since I’m not a huge vegetable fan, I plan on adding extra vegetables, maybe blending them in with my immersion blender.  I get excited about tomato-based recipes because they are familiar and bring to mind my mom’s spaghetti sauce.

The point is, I bring my experiences and associations to recipes, and you bring your own.  So, as far as I’m concerned, once a recipe is attempted by another cook, it is no longer original.  Let’s go back to that risotto, shall we?  Like most recipes, it starts with a list of ingredients.  And guess what?

Copyright law does not protect recipes that are mere listings of ingredients. Nor does it protect
other mere listings of ingredients such as those found in formulas, compounds, or prescriptions.
Copyright protection may, however, extend to substantial literary expression—a description,
explanation, or illustration, for example—that accompanies a recipe or formula or to a combination
of recipes, as in a cookbook.       —

Since ingredient lists aren’t protected by copyright, the litmus test for “original recipe” must come from the substantial literary expression that accompanies the recipe.  And that means the rules.

The rules that accompany the risotto recipe are the rules for making risotto.  Seriously.  Heat broth.  Saute aromatics.  Add rice and cook a couple of minutes.  Add broth some at a time, stirring in between additions.

I’m paraphrasing, of course, but the rules for making risotto are the rules for making risotto.  How can a list of ingredients for risotto accompanied by the rules for how to make risotto be original?

Now, maybe the author of the risotto recipe perfected the dish to her taste.  That’s cool–that’s what cooking is all about.  She states on her site that, if One were to make substitutions or changes to her original recipe and then want to post about it, that One should make crystal clear the changes One made.  Because apparently she does not want to be held responsible for One’s desecrations.

But at what point is the recipe altered enough–keeping in mind that the substantial literary expression in this case is just the rules for making risotto which has been around since the 1500’s–that it becomes a completely different recipe?  If I decide to substitute sugar snap peas and mint for the asparagus and chives and then add some lamb, making the risotto with a vegetable, lamb or beef stock as opposed to chicken stock, do I still have to credit the original?  I mean, seriously.  I might see her recipe and be inspired to make risotto, but if I change it up to suit my tastes and the ingredients that I have on hand, doesn’t it become my original minted lamb risotto with sugar snap peas?  If I see someone’s recipe for red velvet cake and I get inspired to make devil’s food cake, do I have to credit the red velvet recipe?

Confused yet?  Well, let me further muddy the waters.  I found this Enlightening and Informative article regarding Intellectual Property in regard to “copyrighted” recipes over at the Washington Post:  Can a Recipe Be Stolen? The article states that Rachel Rappaport, the very lady from Coconut & Lime, understands the issue this way:

Rachel Rappaport, a Baltimore teacher, operates a blog called Coconut & Lime in which she shares recipes she has liked. She says her understanding — a common one — is that if she changes two or three ingredients in a recipe, it becomes her own and requires no attribution.

This is the same Rachel Rappaport who submits on her FAQ page that:

I am glad you enjoyed my recipe enough to want to post about it! Please credit me and Coconut & Lime and post a direct link to the recipe. If you make changes to the recipe, include a note making it clear that any changes were your own. Do not post or directly reproduce the actual recipe or picture(s), these are copyrighted materials and represent hours of hard work. Unlike food bloggers who post recipes from cookbooks, magazines and newspapers, I only post recipes that I personally created and developed in my own kitchen. This is tremendously time consuming, requires a great deal effort and is deserving of credit.

Très intéressant, non?  Let me stop poking at that Particular anthill right now.

I don’t mean to be Unkind, nor do I mean to make Rebels out of all of you.  I just want us to start thinking about recipes in a new and different way.

If I am inspired by a recipe, I gladly link to the original as my inspiration.  When you’re starting out, by all means follow recipes as written.  Just know that you will do it just a bit differently than “the original” was done.  Maybe you cut your onions differently.  Maybe you saute for a little longer than the original.  Your stove, pots, pans and even your ingredients are not going to be exactly like the stove, pots, pans and ingredients used in the version that you are trying to duplicate.

I also don’t want to take anything away from the lady from Coconut & Lime.  She’s been around for at least six years (which is Forever in web-terms), posting recipes that she has perfected.  And that’s fantastic.  Her recipes all sound wonderful, and she often uses interesting flavor combinations.  I just wish that she not be so proprietary with them.  I wish she would say, “Here, take these recipes and run with them.  Please credit me as your inspiration, but build on the recipes and make them to your taste.”  Or something like that.

I think the whole Crux of the Matter rests in what folks call Intellectual Property.  And here’s what the World Intellectual Property Organization has to say about Intellectual Property:

The term intellectual property refers broadly to the creations of the human mind. Intellectual property rights protect the interests of creators by giving them property rights over their creations.The Convention Establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization (1967) gives the following list of subject matter protected by intellectual property rights:

  • literary, artistic and scientific works;
  • performances of performing artists, phonograms, and broadcasts;
  • inventions in all fields of human endeavor;
  • scientific discoveries;
  • industrial designs;
  • trademarks, service marks, and commercial names and designations;
  • protection against unfair competition; and
  • “all other rights resulting from intellectual activity in the industrial, scientific, literary or artistic fields.”

Intellectual property relates to items of information or knowledge, which can be incorporated in tangible objects at the same time in an unlimited number of copies at different locations anywhere in the world. The property is not in those copies but in the information or knowledge reflected in them. Intellectual property rights are also characterized by certain limitations, such as limited duration in the case of copyright and patents.  —The World Intellectual Property Organization

Surely any copyright on the Risotto Technique is long since expired.  When I list some ingredients and tell you to use The Creaming Method to put them together, I am not stealing anyone’s intellectual property by using the term The Creaming Method.  Or the laminated dough method. Or the confit method.  Or the braising method.

Here’s my rule.  I follow the rules that each food blogger has.  If they explain their rules for using their recipes in detail, I follow them.  If they don’t explain their rules, I cover my bases by linking to the post anyway.  I don’t begrudge a person the belief that their recipe is set in stone, unalterable and Eternal (to be redundant to the third power).  I don’t share that belief, however, and I wish fewer people believed that they have the corner on the market for any recipe.  I firmly believe that recipes are meant to be changed up, expanded upon, altered to suit one’s taste and shared freely.  As a food blogger/writer, I am honored when someone references one of my recipes as an inspiration.  I want to inspire.  I don’t want to dictate.

I will leave you with one more quote from the Washington Post article:

Washington chef and cookbook author Nora Pouillon said she would not sue if she saw her formula for, say, cherry clafoutis, on a Web site. She’d be the first to say that she based her recipe on versions of the French specialty featuring kirsch-soaked fruit that she had seen or eaten during her childhood in Austria.

Wonderful food, she points out, is more than a recipe. It also is the sum of a cook’s experience, eye for detail and technique, plus the quality of the ingredients.

Pouillon said she’s flattered if somebody passes along one of her recipes. “It’s nice to get credit, but I really feel that a recipe is something to share,” she said. On the other hand, if someone is a terrible cook, she said, she would rather that person not tell people that the formula for yam vichyssoise came from her.

I think Chef Pouillon and I would get along famously.

And now I think I’m done.  Agree or disagree, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter.

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