This family recipe's secret? It came from a cookbook
December 28th, 2011
04:45 PM ET
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"Wait - there's an actual recipe for this?"

My husband Douglas paused his furious stirring and spun around from his post at the stove. I pointed to the book his mother, now resting in the front room, had left spread open and bookmarked on her kitchen table.

"Well yeah," I said. "Isn't this what you're using? Onion, cornbread, celery, the egg? It's the same dressing you make for Thanksgiving, and this recipe is pretty much it, right?"

The book in question was a 1954 edition of "The Betty Furness Westinghouse Cook Book," with browned pages lovingly, if semi-successfully, taped back into its jaunty yellow bindings. I carried it over to where he stood clutching his dressing-clumped spatula.

westinghouse cookbook

He lowered his glasses from their perch up on his forehead and perused the recipe. "This looks about right, but I swear, I have never seen that. I always just watched Memama do it."

When Douglas turned back around to his work, I could have sworn his shoulders were a little slumped. I surely had not meant to burst his bubble; his grandmother's hands-on tutelage was better than any cooking school, Michelin-starred chef, TV host or bestselling cookbook could have possibly provided. Still, I understood his letdown.

Several years back, as I was distracting myself from my own sadness and uselessness in the face of a parent's illness, I decided to make my Grandma Kinsman's beloved lemon meringue pie for whoever could choke some down.

Thanks to her careful instruction, I can bake a pie crust with my eyes closed - cutting the butter into sifted flour and flicking in just enough cold water to bind it as I blended it together with a fork before kneading. Even if my head was off somewhere in the ether, my hands were at full attention, feeling for the familiar elasticity that meant the dough was nearly ready to roll.

It was also my hands that bore the searing shock of a hot oven rack as I suddenly stumbled. Pulling the empty crust from the oven, I'd looked up at the counter where the ingredients still sat. There on the side of the Argo cornstarch box was a lemon meringue pie recipe. My grandmother's lemon meringue pie recipe. The one I'd been using all these years and I could have sworn I'd seen written down on a flour-dusted recipe card at some point during my childhood.

As I nursed my wounds, both flesh-borne and those less corporeal, I decided it didn't much matter. I hadn't needed her to be Julia Child; I just needed her to be my grandmother. And it wasn't as if she had just cribbed it wholesale. Because of her, I knew that if I didn't happen to have a zest-able lemon on hand (as she surely did not, growing up in Depression-era middle America), I could sub in an equal amount of lemon pudding mix. I also knew to feel and listen for the slight drag and slurp of a wooden spoon through the thick lemon filling when it was time to pour into the blind-baked shell.

The recipe might not have been hers to start, but she made it her own, and then made it mine, and that was good enough for me. Well, that and a second slice.

I reminded Douglas of this story (and the burn scar on my wrist) as he worked more stock into the thick, damp mixture in the two skillets. I also noted that Memama, or perhaps his own mother, had adapted the recipe with handwritten margin notes, but I couldn't tell if it was any comfort. As it was, he was running late to chauffeur his sister (recovering from hand surgery) to Christmas Eve choir practice, and asked me to take over the sacred dressing duties.

I panicked for a moment. I'd grown up in a Stove Top Stuffing household and quaked inwardly at the notion of mucking this up for the four generations of his family who'd be gathering around the Christmas dinner table the next day. "So when will you be back? How much stock do I put in? How do I know when it's ready to put in the pan?" I rifled through the book, "The recipe doesn't say!"

He slid on his coat, grabbed the keys to the rental car and gave me a quick kiss, calling behind him, "You'll be fine! Just get it really moist, but not too gloppy. You've seen me make this a million times before!"

That was true. I had. I breathed deeply and continued to stir, adding liquid and pinches of herbs until it felt and smelled familiar, then spread it into two buttered pans.

And on Christmas Day, Douglas' mother pronounced it the best she'd ever had. That, and a second helping, was good enough for me.

cornbread dressing



soundoff (185 Responses)
  1. Desertarea

    I am surrounded by a group of very good cooking friends. They trade recipes regularly and enjoy preparing different things all the time. One of the group kept one recipe to herself: Spinach Dip. She was in administration at a university and they had regular pot-luck gatherings. She kept that one recipe for those gatherings. And, it was always a hit. She knew she could depend no one else bringing the same thing. She shared everything else. So, to share or not is not that big a deal. Why not share what you wish and keep a few special items for yourself.

    December 29, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
    • Martini

      I <3 you for saying exactly what I've been trying to get across since my first post on this story!

      December 30, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • sockpuppet

      the point is, it still makes it all about her. As in, she only cares that HER recipe is a hit, that nobody else brings the same thing as her. WHy? It would just be more of a very good dip for everyone to eat. And by not sharing, others can only eat that dip when SHE decides to bestow her blessing on everyone. Nobody can have it at home, or take it to some other party that she's not going to be a part of, etc. It's fine if that's how she wants to be, but it's selfish and self-centered. Just deal with that and accept it for what it is.

      December 30, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
      • Jax

        So you don't have anything that's "all your own"? Not a drawer in the bedroom or some space in the garage. There isn't a quiet spot you go to think and never take anyone, or if you have, that person understands it's your special place and you only wanted to share it with them as somewhere special and not one of the many places to go looking for you when they when they want something? Some people need a few things that are "just for me." And these are usually little things – a recipe, a favorite clearing in the woods, etc. When my cousin married, his wife introduced us to an awesome cream cheese chip dip and she makes it every time the family gets together. We don't ask for the recipe. It's ~her~ dip. My sister makes great broccoli cornbread, Dad is an ace with a smoker, and I make apple butter. And we don't bother each other about the recipe. It's each person's "signature" dish. So let this woman have her spinach dip.

        January 2, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • Caroline

      I bet this is her recipe:

      Knorr Spinach Dip
      • Makes 4 cups
      • Preparation Time: 10 min
      • Chill Time: 2 hours
      Ingredients
      • 1 package (10 oz./300 g) frozen chopped spinach, cooked, cooled and squeezed dry
      • 1 container (16 oz.) sour cream
      • 1 cup Hellmann's® or Best Foods® Real Mayonnaise
      • 1 package Knorr® Vegetable soup mix
      • 1 can (8 oz.) water chestnuts, drained and chopped (optional)
      • 3 green onions, chopped (optional)
      Directions
      • Combine all ingredients and chill about 2 hours.

      May 30, 2013 at 7:24 am |
  2. Dru

    My mother's secret recipe is to drown everything in cream of mushroom soup. Every time I get out a can of this soup in front of my husband, he looks a little green.

    December 29, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
  3. sockpuppet

    I think the whole "secret recipe" thing is bizarre–unless you make your livelihood from your cooking and it's proprietary info, I don't get it. It seems to be an insecurity, a lack of self-confidence, to have to have the BEST dish in the group, to not share with others who appreciate your recipe. I had to learn to cook as an adult because I was raised on processed canned food. My grandmother refused to teach my mother or anyone else how to cook her recipes, and she died and took them with her. I wish she wouldn't have been so greedy about it and passed it on to us. Now I gladly help any friends who are learning to cook, instead of jealously holding my cards to my chest.

    December 29, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
    • Ellie

      I agree with you completely! I taught my sister-in-law how to make my grandma's "famous" German Twist cookies this Christmas because I am so tired of other (blood) relatives talking about how special and difficult and so on the cookies are. If I've got a good recipe I want to share it with the world - the more the merrier!!

      December 30, 2011 at 12:21 am |
    • Jax

      Yeah, my grandma's recipes went with her too. It wasn't that she wouldn't share them though, it was that she did everything by the "feel it, taste it" method, and we grandkids were too young to be at her elbow when her mind started to go.

      January 2, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
  4. Aloisae

    I had to laugh at the "I hadn't needed her to be Julia Child" comment. What she is describing.. becoming proficient at making an already established recipe by repetition and then modifying them to taste or situation (ie.like those handwritten notes and Depression era substitutions from the author's family recipes) is exactly what Julia Child did. She made her reputation by introducing the American public to classic French cooking recipes and techniques that she didn't invent herself but first learned at Le Cordon Bleu cooking school and then by collecting recipes from others while living in France. Sometimes she modified them to make them more compatible to ingredients available in the States at the time.. sometimes adapted for equipment in American kitchens (though if you watch her old shows sometimes she includes tools you would have had trouble finding in the States).. sometimes she modified them to make them friendlier for a "busy" cook or to taste.. but she was basing her recipes on recipes she had learned from others just like most of our family recipes learned by cooking with our parents/grandparents/ect. were based on somebody else's recipe or cooking techniques at some point.

    December 29, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
  5. drpepper

    If someone likes what I make enough to ask for the recipe I consider it a compliment and am delighted to give it to them. I have a few dishes that my two sons are especially fond of that I usually make without measuring anything so I've made a point of measuring and writing down the recipe so they can still have it after I'm gone. They're free to share with anyone they like. I especially like to share because I don't have to do all the cooking at holiday get-togethers. I don't understand the concept of keeping a recipe to yourself unless you created it and are making a living selling it. There's a bakery in my town that makes the most delicious, moist coconut cakes and I would love to have the recipe but know they'd never share it.

    December 29, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
  6. andyst

    All I can say is you can have the best recipe but if you dont add the "love" it will never turn out right.

    December 29, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
  7. Cookie

    So some family thought a very basic corn bread recipe was a family secret? It's JUST corn bread! It's not like MY family's secret recipe for grilled cheese sandwiches!

    December 29, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
  8. Lemmy

    Oh my! All this anger and narcissism...and over an article about recipes. You folks with your nasty, snarky comments are a shining example of why I tend to be antisocial. Silly trolls.

    Regarding the above article which should the focus of any and all comments (as opposed to the ad hominem attacks): I can see how finding out that an old family recipe came off a box or from a book could affect one's view of that recipe as it takes away a bit the the mysticism surrounding both the recipe and the circumstances in which it was made. There are some people who simply don't enjoy cooking, so the fact that something was "grandma's recipe" may well be the only thing that gets them in the kitchen.

    December 29, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
    • Back to your trailer park

      We're all so glad that you're anti-social. What, pray, brought you out of your hole today?

      December 30, 2011 at 6:08 am |
  9. JoeD

    Bittersweet- after 10,000+ years of a civilization based on formally handing down information from generation to generation, about how to do EVERYTHING... we are left only with direct passage of recipes.Thank God we still have THAT!

    December 29, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
  10. Joy

    My grandmother's yorkshire pudding recipe was "2,2,2" ( I can still hear her saying this!) 2 egg, 2 cups flour, 2 cups milk. Well, this recipe tastes nothing like hers did! – I've been using one I found online:)

    It's not so much receipes - but the memories, that we love!

    December 29, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
  11. AlfredoG

    Wow!. I can't believe so many people are torched because of this. Recipes are not gospel, but frameworks from which to experiment. I think pretty much everyone on this thread needs to get a life, including me for even reading some the trash people have put here. What difference does a recipe make to someone who has never tasted the results of that recipe. Find something else to do, fools.

    December 29, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
    • GourmetWannaBe

      LOL. I agree whole heartedly.

      January 3, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  12. MACT

    The show Friends did this 20 years ago when Phoebe found that her cookie recipe from a French ancestor Nesle Toulouse, were in fact Nestle Tollhouse cookies.

    December 29, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • Pointless1

      Sad that you have retained an episode of friends for that long to begin with... so very sad...

      December 29, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
      • Z!

        so Pointless1 does being a jerk come natural to you or do you have work at it?

        December 29, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
      • Bobcaygeon

        Yes, it's sad that s/he still has a memory and can recall a TV episode. So sad.

        December 29, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
      • Anne

        Not as sad as mocking someone for "retaining" an episode a show that airs probably a dozen episodes daily in syndication.

        December 29, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
      • HeyJeousy

        Some people have better memories. What's sad is that you let your jealousy seep through in a post more pointless than your name....I can remember episodes of just about everything I've ever watched, books i've read, or songs i've heard. People hate when I play any trivia game...and they act kind of like you do.

        December 29, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
  13. Mi-Ho

    I have pronounced myself the recipe god and it is my new decree that no one shall have secret recipes or I shall smite thee down!

    December 29, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
    • Mi-Lo

      Bah-ha-ha!

      December 29, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
  14. CaEd

    Nothing binds family and good friends like sharing of an 'old family recipe', secret or not.

    Doesn't matter if its off of a Bquick box or not – its the familiarity of the kitchen, cooking and eating that really matters.

    December 29, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
  15. Allen

    I've run into this issue a few times with cookie recipes ;-) I still cherish every recipe card though as it's stained with love. A few years ago, I asked my mom about great-grandmothers recipes and she told me that she'd been cleaning them out. What? She was re-writing the ones she liked and then tossing them. The horror! I had her send me the remaining 13 or so cards which I posted online to share with the world. I've since started collecting old recipe card collections and also post them online for everyone to use. Not sure if I'm allowed to link or not, but here it goes: http://www.eatingoutloud.com/category/vintage-recipes-2

    December 29, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
    • ™©JbJiNg!eŚ®™@Allen

      Loved the pictures and didn't even know you could buy old recipe collections on Ebay!! I have many of these recipes of my own, torn, tattered, and stained and I am with you on the horrors of re-writing them! Thanks for sharing.

      December 29, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
  16. vintage274

    The comments surprise me. I know family recipes, and I know chefs as well. Chefs don't follow recipes; they use ingredients and cooking techniques, and the ingredients are never carefully measured. There's a difference that may seem subtle to the average person, but it's not. A family recipe is almost always a recipe that was popular enough at one time for someone to write it down and put it in their recipe box. It often came from a current cookbook or from the not-so-current cookbook of a friend. Pretty much any fool can follow a recipe. The true cook can walk through a farmer's market and pick up the best ingredients of the day, take them back to the kitchen, and come out with a masterpiece - no recipe cards, cookbooks, "Grandma showed me" involved. The value of "family recipes" is not in their uniqueness or originality, but in the TRADITION.

    December 29, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • Beverly

      This does not apply to recipes for baking however. You can't just throw what sounds good together and hope it comes out well. There is science involved in the interactions of ingredients in baking, so yes, bakers use recipes just like most regular people do. They just do a lot of work to perfect making new recipes.

      December 29, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
      • Southern-made

        I'll have to disagree with you Beverly. I am a fourth generation cook / baker who learned to bake from my grandmother and her sisters...they learned from my great-grandmother. I assure you they thought me by feel and sight, not measuring to make the best coconut cakes, pound cakes, chocolate cakes and applesauce cakes. Living in the south the humidity plays a huge roll in how baked goods come out. I am now passing the baking on to my neices, but judging from the deer in the headlights look they gave me when I said there was no recipe, I may be forced to hammer one out.

        December 29, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
      • JoeD

        Southernmade- you actually PROVE Beverly's point, in a great way. Because you have the benefit of 4 [3?] generations of hands-on expertise... you have been trained to bake in the way that works [by "feel" in your case]. Her point was that baking is different from cooking- that in cooking, there's way more ability to "wing it"

        December 29, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
    • Epidi

      That's exactly how my Dad did it. When I begged him to share some of his recipes, he had to literally figure out how much of this or that he used. It's close, but not quite the same. I think it's missing the Daddy's Love factor.

      December 29, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
    • SCF

      Even with baking you can sub a little. But you need to know what you're doing and keep the balances of fats and dry ingredients, etc right. So a quarter cup of cocoa powder in a recipe instead of a quarter cup of flour; extra vanilla (I almost always triple vanilla); a different ratio of sugars. They all work.

      But I rarely follow recipes either. Most recipes to me are a guideline - I look at them for flavor profiles to make sure I'm hitting all the notes, the cooking times and how much liquid to add in some cases. Then I sub at will, adjust spices, and add whatever else it might need (or leave out things we don't want.) Some things you learn with experience and no recipe helps with that. I can open the oven and look at my chicken to tell it's done; I don't know how to teach my husband that skill.

      December 29, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
  17. Pauline

    We thought we had a special family recipe, until one day we discovered we had been eating ALPO!

    December 29, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • RichardHead

      Wait a minute...Was that you with ED McMahon on the Tonight Show?

      December 29, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
      • Pauline

        heeeeeeeeeeeeeere's, Johnny!

        December 29, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • Doggy Style!

      I tried to resist this most obvious of replies, but couldn't.

      December 29, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
      • RichardHead

        Thank You... I have already purchased CNN.xxx. It's a family thing. :))

        December 29, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
  18. Martini

    Most recipes I spread freely to anyone who wants them; However I do have a secret recipe for red velvet cake that I only pass to those trusted few who know that if they ever tell a soul I will cut out their tongues and burn their lips from their faces. I know this sounds harsh but if you ever have the privilege of tasting my red velvet cake you will understand that there are some things you just don't share.

    December 29, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Plover

      That is redneck food if I every heard it. "Red velvet cake" OOOOHHHHH fancy.

      December 29, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
      • Goober Grape

        Plover, call it what you will, but with the cream cheese icing, it's deee-licious. I don't get the whole secrets part of this, but who cares as long as they share the grub, Bub.

        December 29, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • Mi-Lo

      Another crock. Get a grip. Someone is stroking your ego and you are sponging it up. Nice that you have a family of willing enablers to keep you in the control you seem to crave. BTW, your RV cake tasted just like Betty Crocker's. Secret's out!

      December 29, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
      • Jared

        I don't know. I've had some pretty gross RV cake. Now the layer of it we had at our wedding was incredible.

        December 29, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
      • Help is the nearest shrink away. Avail yourself of it!

        "What a crock of sh it. Keep your secrets. Your family doesn't cook anything worth replicating anyway."

        "Another crock. Get a grip. Someone is stroking your ego and you are sponging it up. Nice that you have a family of willing enablers to keep you in the control you seem to crave."

        All this to perfect strangers over a perfectly innocuous subject. It appears somebody has pressing anger management issues.

        December 29, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
      • Lone

        Why but in with negative overshoots or worry about other peoples small matters when you need to work on your own secret that makes you angry.

        December 29, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
      • Brad

        Mi-Lo,

        Seriously, that much anger over a cake recipe. You may want to get out a little more and/or look into medication and therapy for those anger management issues. I mean, it's just red velvet cake not the end of civilization.

        December 29, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
      • Martini

        To both Mi-Ho and pushover 1st red neck food hmm that's a new one for me since I'm black. 2nd Betty Crocker?!?! I think not, that's just chocolate cake with red dye in it. Haters!

        December 29, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
      • So, Mi-Lo...

        What's your informed opinion of my collard greens, which you've never had?

        December 29, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
    • Lee

      Yeah, I know that secret recipe. I made it a few times and everyone went lady gaga over it. I was surprised myself of the secret ingredient, but it does make a huge difference.

      December 29, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
    • A real cook.

      Balderdash.
      If you can only come up with one superb dish, you are a pathetic cook. I give recipes freely because it challenges me to come up with new things and new twists instead of having one "go to" recipe I always fall back on.
      Only a lazy and vain cook keeps recipes secret.

      December 29, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
      • Mi-Lo

        A real cook: you took the words right outta my mouth.

        Martini: "I only pass to those trusted few who know that if they ever tell a soul I will cut out their tongues and burn their lips from their faces"

        It's that at!tude that sparks my anger. Maybe your RV cake tastes like Heaven itself, but nobody's recipe for anything is as good as you claim yours is. You are the one with control issues.

        December 29, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
      • So, Mi-Lo

        You acknowledge the anger.

        Good; at last you're past the denial stage. Now we can make some progress.

        Close your eyes, relax, and tell me about your childhood.

        Start with your toilet training.

        December 29, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
      • Jared

        I don't share the souce code to my software, or the techniques I used to make guitars sound so sweet either. How does that make you feel?

        The way I see it is that if I have spent time working on something, then it is mine to share or not to share. You shouldn't expect me to.

        December 29, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
      • Martini

        Dear Mi-Ho, Please learn to take a joke! If you knew me (which you don't and can't from a few comments on a story) you'd know I would never actually cut out someone's tongue or burn their lips. It is my right to feel however I want to about my cake recipe, if you don't like it.... who cares?!?! I never said you have control issues, that was the 20 or so other people who believe you have control issues and as the saying goes if everyone thinks you're crazy the majority can't be wrong! Please go take your prosac or whatever flavor anti-depressent happy pill you take and get a life.

        December 29, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
    • Martini

      I love that those of against keeping recipes secret only read the part of my comment that said that I don't share my red velvet recipe and totally failed to read the first line which states that I spread most of my recipes freely. You all need a reading comprehension class. And jeez can't a girl have one secret without being crucified?!?!

      December 29, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
      • A real cook.

        No.
        Not one secret, because that is the one that makes you lazy. The one thing you would be willing to do almost anything to keep in an artistic endeavor is the thing that is holding you back. You think it is perfect, and wish to hold on to it. But nothing is perfect.
        Let it go.
        That challenges you to move forward and learn more instead of lazily resting on your laurels. At the very least, it forces you to tune that recipe to make it even better.
        Meanwhile, you will have made others happy and proud of their ability to duplicate your success, and inspired them to do better.
        Everybody wins. When you keep secrets, everybody loses. You are not challenged, and others can only experience that joy at your whim. That isn't sharing nourishment and good will, it is catering to your own ego.

        December 29, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
      • Jared

        By all means, have a secret. I think it makes things fun. I love figuring out people's secret recipes. And to those who think you can't, well you aren't entitled to my or anyone else's creations.

        December 29, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
      • Mi-Lo

        A real cook: I concur.

        December 29, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
      • Good morning, Mr. -Lo

        Ms. Martini has a recipe for red velvet cake that she refuses to reveal.

        Your mission, should you choose to accept it, Hi-Lo, is to infiltrate Martini's kitchen and stea...er, obtain said recipe.

        As always, if you or any of your Implicitly Paranoid force should be killed or captured, the chef will disavow all knowledge of your very existence.

        December 29, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
      • Mi-Lo@Good morning

        Sooo I look like Tom Cruise to you? Cool.

        December 29, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
      • Actually...

        Peter Graves (March 18, 1926 – March 14, 2010)

        Pre-burial (of course).

        December 29, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
      • Mi-Lo@Actually...

        "Pre-burial." Whew!

        December 29, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
    • Polis

      Does your red velvet cake have a picture of a panther painted on it and glow in the dark? No? Didn't think so, you should try my secret recipe "crushed red velvet" cake.

      December 29, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
      • Martini

        LMFAO! Do I have to eat under a black light?

        December 29, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
    • David

      I do understand feeling special and enjoying that stroke to the ego when someone complements your cooking delights, but unless your business or livelihood actually depends on this particular recipe, I really don't see any reason not to share it. I guess it is not enough to receive praise the first time you are asked by a friend for the recipe or the goodwill of sharing knowing that many others will now dine on this scrumptious treat. Or perhaps it would be too much to bear if someone might improve on it and make something even better than yours. Or perhaps it would be too much effort to cook something else if someone else signed up first with "your" dish for the company/neighborhood potluck.

      So if you too vain, greedy, envious or lazy... I totally understand; we all have our insecurities. I won't think worse of you, but I certainly won't think better of you either.

      December 29, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • Martini

      @Jared you understand me. It took a long time, a lot of hard work, and plenty of failed cakes to perfect that recipe, and you're right; it is mine to share or not!
      @David Actually I do cook my cakes for profit and not just the RV one. Again it is the only secret I keep and only one ingredient is secret. If in your definition that makes me vain/envious/lazy/greedy then so be it. What you think of me does not affect my well being or that of my business.

      December 30, 2011 at 10:48 am |
      • David

        I just wish someone could give me a good reason (other than a business) why not to share a recipe that doesn't seem rooted in selfishness so I could understand.

        December 30, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
  19. rob

    I've been trying for years to get my grandmother's secret tamale recipe; so far, no success. If it came from a cookbook, it's something they left behind in Mexico ages ago.

    December 29, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
  20. Electric_Pink

    My late grandmother's pecan pie recipe came from the label on a bottle of Alaga Syrup. For years, I thought she made up that recipe. I was actually amused when I "caught" her confirming the ingredients and measurements via the label. She never claimed it was secret.

    December 29, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • propmgr

      My late grandma's pecan pie came form the back of the Karo syrup bottle!

      December 29, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
      • Jax

        *chuckle* I work with a guy who LOVES pecan pie but swears he'd "never have a clue how to make it." He was morose about this before we broke for Christmas until I said, "Ok, here's the big secret: buy a pie crust. Buy pecans Buy a bottle of Karo syrup... (Pause for dramatic effect) ... the recipe's on the back of the bottle."
        He swears it was the most awesome pecan pie EVER. I'm pretty sure that's because he made something he loves with his own two hands.

        January 2, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • Aunt Jemima...

      and Mrs. Butterworth are having a smackdown over that recipe.

      December 29, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
  21. Beth

    My family's secret recipe was handed-down from my Great-Grandmother and perfected by my Mother. It has strict instructions and calls for everything to be made from scratch-nothing may be "substituted" in this recipe or else. I'll tell you, family recipes are worth keeping in the family and worth keeping a secret. It's a signature that people have and it's an art that others will talk about for years.

    December 29, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • Mi-Lo

      What a crock of sh it. Keep your secrets. Your family doesn't cook anything worth replicating anyway.

      December 29, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
      • Dave

        Totally agreed. Secrets? What is the problem with sharing them? If it is THAT good, why not share them? Do you think keeping it a secret is a matter of national security or something? Nothing like perpetuating a selfish and greedy mindset.

        December 29, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
      • MikeD

        U MAD BRO?

        December 29, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
      • Joe

        Go crawl back under your bridge, Troll.

        December 29, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
      • Joe

        Dave, You're obviously a Liberal...

        December 29, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
      • Jared

        Sorry Dave, not everyone believes in open source.

        I have few recipes that I keep close to my chest. That way no one else brings them to the party!

        December 29, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
      • Redhead

        Hate much?

        December 29, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
      • Mi-Lo

        " ... family recipes are worth keeping in the family and worth keeping a secret. It's a signature that people have and it's an art that others will talk about for years."

        Beth, why is keeping the recipe a secret so important? If there's a signature to be had or some art formed for people to talk about, how is keeping the recipe secret going to perpetuate that? The comments on this thread indicate a number of people change recipes to suit their own tastes. So you (and the rest of the secret keepers) could let the secret out and your recipe would never be duplicated because people do things their own way. What do you have to lose – except control? Oooooo, can't have that now, can we?

        December 29, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
      • Brad

        It sounds like Mi-Lo doesn't want the recipe owners to "have control". I think we can tell who has the real control issues here.

        December 29, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
      • Jared

        Mi-Lo why do you think you need to know what it is or why someone is obligated to share it with you? If I took the time to cook and shared a meal with you then that should be enough.

        December 29, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
    • A real cook.

      Sharing food is an act of community. If a person is good enough to break bread with, they are good enough to have the recipe. What kind of egomaniacal insecure nothing has to tell people they must come crawling back if they want another taste of good food?
      If you cared one iota for those people, you would enable them to share that pleasure with their friends and loved ones. "Secret recipies" are for self-important losers who can't figure out a better way to get attention.

      December 29, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
      • Hey, C'mon!

        We self-important losers have found that making people crawl back and grovel is a damned satisfying way to garner attention!

        December 29, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
  22. Sabrina

    My grandfather for years claimed that he never had a butterscotch merange pie as good as his mothers. My mother scoured every cookbook she could find for different butterscotch merange pie recipes, and he always said they just wern't as good. This was pre-internet days. Whey they were cleaning out my Great-Aunt's house after she passed they found a cookbook, out of print that you could order in installments from a cooking radio show that was my great-grandmothers. (For the life of me I can't remember the name) and it was open to a recipe, for burnt sugar pie. My grandfather wasn't remembering a butterscotch pie at all, but a burnt sugar pie. So the recipe isn't exactly secret, but is a family recipe none the less.

    December 29, 2011 at 11:00 am |
  23. Jezebel

    I'm pretty sure my grandmother's recipe for stew was original. It called for 68 cents of ground beef.........

    December 29, 2011 at 10:30 am |
    • Frances

      .68 cents of ground beef.... Love it!!! That is original!! :)

      December 29, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • ™©JbJiNg!eŚ®™@Jezebel

      I love it! My great grandmother had a recipe for chicken and dumplings that started out with "cook a big fat chicken". LOL Of course she had her own chickens in the yard.

      December 29, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
  24. naiadknight

    My family has some "secret" recipes, but if you hang around my kitchen long enough, you'll pick up the recipe. It won't be the same as what I make and what I grew up with, because it's never the same recipe twice in a row. We don't measure, so it's always for taste and feel and is constantly being edited.
    That said, the family recipe pie crust that I use and everyone raves over? Fannie Farmer cookbook, with butter or lard in place of shortening. My grandfather (baker of the family) gave me the highest compliment when he asked for my pie crust recipe. He was in disbelief when I toldhim it was the same crust he uses with a different fat. The family chili recipe everyone loves? According to my father, it's a slightly adapted version of the recie on the back of Bolner chili powder. Mine's a heavily adapted version of his a. Even if you follow the edited recipe I use, you won't get the same thing, because there are certain parts of the recipe that I never bothered to write down (roasting the peppers, addition of 3 or 4 more kinds or peppers, etc.)
    I've never run across a recipe I thought was perfect the forst time around, and I never bother to write down the more cardinal changes I make to a recipe. My food is never the same recipe twice, because I'm a fervent believer that any recipe, no matter how "perfect" it is, can be made better the next time.

    December 29, 2011 at 10:11 am |
    • Gina T

      In most Mexican dishes we never or rarely measure anything it is by sight or taste and if it is measured it is a pinch or a handfull. My grandmother is the best cook ever and to get a recipe she will tell you to watch her make it and write it down. So I know what your saying naiadknight. I don't get the big who ha about recipes like people are eating something no one has ever eaten before haha.

      December 29, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
  25. Lynn Ann

    I only use US cookbooks, as the Father would have it.

    December 29, 2011 at 10:04 am |
  26. Granny

    My mother-in-law's lemon meringue pie that we all worshipped was discovered on the Argo box a few years after she died. We roared! And still make the pie the same way, and still call it Mom's.

    December 29, 2011 at 9:52 am |
  27. Crematia

    I created a pasta salad with peeled cucumbers that my mom just loves. I was recently going through a Polish cookbook online, and boom, there was my exact recipe! I was kind of bummed, my recipe wasn't so unique anymore.

    My mom makes this chicken, potato, and cream of mushroom casserole that we all thought was her recipe. Nope, it's on the can of soup. Oh well, it's still good!

    December 29, 2011 at 9:45 am |
  28. TimeTo69

    I don't understand why people keep secret recipes unless there is some proprietary concern. If food is great then you should teach others to make it, so everyone can enjoy its greatness. No?

    December 29, 2011 at 9:44 am |
    • A real cook.

      YES!

      December 29, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
  29. Dawnarie

    My mother always made what we called a Mayonnaise Cake for our birthdays. I grew up thinking that cake mixes where for people who didn't know how to cook. She said she got the recipe from my fathers mother, I figured it had to be a depression era recipe, as it doesn't call for eggs or shortning. I never saw the recipe in a cookbook, until I search allrecipes.com and found several versions of it. It actually made me smile to think that other people actually know about this recipe.

    December 29, 2011 at 9:21 am |
    • Jess

      My Grandmother also had a recipe for a Chocolate Miracle Whip cake, which until now I thought was original as well.

      December 29, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
      • Dawnarie

        My mom will use Miracle Whip or Mayo, since she always has both in the house, so I have had it both ways. I only have mayo in my house. Did find out one thing, you cannot use the non-fat mayo in that recipe. You will end up with brownies.

        December 29, 2011 at 9:22 pm |
  30. Marcy

    Well since everyone is chiming in on recipes...cook books have been around for a long time...My mother has a Fanny Farmer one from the late 1800...we have used the spaghetti sauce recipe in it with some tweaks along the way...however, because of subtle differences in how my mother and I cook there is a taste difference in the sauce...not a large one and most people other then family would never notice...I notice because for me my mom's is better because her love for us is in it...my husband and I use the same recipe for chocolate chip cookies his are better...a recipe is a frame work the cook that makes it always puts their own spin on a recipe just from the subtle difference in how they measure an ingredient

    December 29, 2011 at 9:07 am |
  31. Margot

    I was making pumkin pie for the first time years ago to take to a friend's Thanksgiving dinner. She called her grandmother for the recipe. Her grandmother said, "Honey, it's on the back of the can!" My friend never realized her "Grandmother's Pumpkin Pie" recipe was on the back of the can all those years. I tell that story every time I make pumkin pie and my guests love the pie and the story.

    December 29, 2011 at 8:35 am |
  32. str8whtguy

    I love to cook. I'm terrible at it, but I enjoy it. I look for recipes on the internet and in the cookbooks I own, but I always throw my own twist into stuff. it generally takes me all day to prepare a meal, and afterwards, the kitchen is a disaster. Drives my wife nuts ("can't we just order a pizza, dear?"). The cashier at the grocery store also wants to kill me when I present a clove of garlic or a bit of ginger root so small it won't register on the scale. But the end result is delicious and incredibly satisfying.

    December 28, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
    • Margie

      You have to submit the recipe if you are going to talk about the yumminess!
      lol

      December 28, 2011 at 10:50 pm |
      • str8whtguy

        Margie: the recipe for beef and vegetable stir fry is from pages 665-666 of the 1997 edition of the Joy of Cooking book. I won't replicate the entire recipe here – it's too long. But some ideas: 1. prepare the marinade at least a day before and refrigerate. You can store this marinade for a long time, so you can use it for other dishes. 2. The recipe calls for marinating the beef for at least 20 minutes. I recommend at least two hours. Put it in a zip-lock bag, and shake it vigorously every 15 minutes or so. 3. If you don't like onions (I don't), take them out of the recipe, and increase the other veggies proportionally. 4. Do cilantro instead of scallions.

        December 28, 2011 at 11:22 pm |
    • Melody

      I do the same thing, there is always something added or tweaked in a recipe I find. I am also notorious for combining recipes.

      December 29, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
  33. Amuse

    One of my Mom's signature cookies was a fudgy, mexican-wedding textured creation called Roly Polys. She gave me the recipe – cut from a magazine and taped to an index card circa 1960. It sports buttery fingerprints and brown batter–spatters from use. It's one of my treasures. I'd have it framed, but then I wouldn't be adding to the history.

    December 28, 2011 at 10:10 pm |
  34. str8whtguy

    To quote Carl Sagan: If you truly want to make an apple pie from scratch, you'll have to re-invent the universe.

    December 28, 2011 at 9:58 pm |
    • str8whtguy

      along the same lines: Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

      December 28, 2011 at 9:59 pm |
      • Kathleen

        I want to put this saying on a T-shirt. Thank you!

        December 29, 2011 at 10:16 am |
    • Nashvilledeb

      Carl Sagan quote from "Cosmos," just about the best PBS series of all time! I totally love that quote from him but had forgotten it. Thanks for reminding me.

      December 29, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
  35. Andrew

    Everybody wants to believe that their recipe is unique. Before the Internet Age, a cook could believe that. Now, forget it. There are 7 billion people out there. If you want unique, you're going to have to skirt the edges of palatability – maybe slug and eggplant stew. But stuffing or brownies?? Not a chance.

    A couple of months ago, I was inundated with too much applesauce. In my desperation, I wondered whether you could make an applesauce pie. I'd never heard of such a thing before, but I looked on the web and found dozens of recipes for Applesauce Pie.

    There's not much new under the sun. Enjoy your cooking. Do it well. You don't need a unique recipe to make something that people will love, you just need to become dedicated to putting good food on the table.

    December 28, 2011 at 9:39 pm |
    • Jax

      You can also cook the applesauce down further and strain the juices. A few tweaks and you're on your way to apple butter. (It's the method I'm using to teach my sister's kids the apple butter I make for Christmas so we'll still have real apple butter in the future. A nine year-old just isn't prepped to spend 6 hours watching the oven. But they'll sauce it for me in the morning, then I can finish it off by dinner.)

      January 2, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
  36. ARP

    Not only does my family cook and share recipes we occasionally put together our own family cookbooks. I got one for Christmas that contained some favorite recipes from my deceased mother. My own specialty is chocolate chiffon pie and yes, the recipe came from a cookbook over 40 years ago.

    December 28, 2011 at 9:28 pm |
  37. gremlinus

    Yes many family recipes come from a package. Usually a very old package that doesn't exist any more. Doesn't make it less good. There are very few people that just "make up" a recipe, especially when it comes to baking.

    December 28, 2011 at 9:25 pm |
  38. Leigh

    My mother was an incredible cook and had a recipe box stuffed to overflowing with all her recipes ... Or so we thought.

    The first Thanksgiving after her death, my dad asked me to make a cake she made several years in a row when I was little. It was one of those all-day affairs, and she started it at Thanksgiving because the cake had to age a bit with several healthy doses of bourbon before she considered fit for eating.

    To the most holy recipe box I went and, wonder of wonders, found the card I wanted. Yep, there it was. Kentucky Bourbon Cake with a list of all the ingredients ... And nothing else. No amounts. No instructions. Just the ingredients. I sort of faked it by following a fruitcake recipe and using Mom's ingredient list, but it wasn't the same, alas.

    If you write down your recipes to pass along to your kids and grandkids, PLEASE have mercy and write the whole thing!

    December 28, 2011 at 9:25 pm |
    • Aloisae

      That's what you get for not paying attention while she was making it alll those years growing up! You have my sympathy though in not discovering the abbreviated "recipes" while your mother was still with you so that she would have been able to clarify things for you and I hope that through trial and error you will be able to replicate the beloved family recipes. My mom also had a bunch of those, written on index cards in faded ink. Growing up, us kids would add additional notations concerning amounts and temperatures and times (distinguishable by the sloppy handwriting and slightly less faded ink) and lines separating stages or components when we would make the recipes with mom. Finally, as an adult I've pretty much typed out full recipes with complete instructions for most of them from memory. Not to pass along to the family so much as for when other people ask for the recipes. I was a bit surprised by how long some of them were once you add all the details people want for what are actually pretty simple recipes.. and people usually laugh at the final section of my recipes where I put all the alternate directions depending on who was making it (for example: "Aunt X's version: substitute ground walnuts for the ground pecans in step 4 of making the meringue; add 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon to the flour before sifting in step 3 of making the pastry....").

      December 29, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
    • Jax

      You might be able to search online and find a recipe with her same list of ingredients. Then you'll be able to find better directions and tweak those to taste more like the yumminess you remember.

      January 2, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
  39. RP

    This is like that episode of Friends – and the Nestle's Tollhouse Chocolate Chip cookies.
    Yes – I share the basic recipe w. folks but never the secret tweaking I do to make it mine. If I use someone else's recipe for something, I always give them credit for it if someone comments on it.

    December 28, 2011 at 9:03 pm |
  40. Gene

    My Grandfather was a baker and ran his own shop until the depression forced him to close. When he would bake something I would help him reduce the quantity of ingredients from 50 pies or whatever down to the quantity we were baking. He would always add additional ingredients that weren't listed. He would say there's some you don't need to write down because you just throw in what's right for the mix.

    December 28, 2011 at 8:52 pm |
  41. coffeegrounded

    No two recipes are alike....take for instance a loaf of bread: Each berry of wheat, droplet of water, or the grain of salt beholden to the bake, is unique.

    I'm sure recipe snobs have their reasons, but I can't for the life of me, figure them out!

    December 28, 2011 at 8:43 pm |
    • allanhowls

      Not true: baking is a precise science, requiring similar amounts prepared in a similar way each time.

      Honoring the unique sprit of each H2O or NaCl molecule is just tree-hugging silly. It's chemistry, not religion.

      December 29, 2011 at 9:47 am |
      • coffeegrounded

        Where did you get religion out of my statement?

        I respect to disagree with you concerning the molecular values. Take for instance the modified food source. It's so far from the original form(s) that it scares the dickens out of me. lol.

        December 29, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
  42. dan the man

    thinking a receipe is totally original is like thinking you invented fire! somewhere at sometime, somebody tried what you "invented. Get over it, it's yours because of you, your hands, your heart, and a little bit of soul.

    December 28, 2011 at 8:17 pm |
    • Kewpie

      Dan you are so right!

      December 29, 2011 at 9:28 am |
  43. RealFoods

    My kids had a chance to try Stove Top for the first time this week at a potluck. They were expecting homemade stuffing. My son ran to the bathroom to vomit. The look on his face when I explained that that was "normal" and expected by most families in American anymore, he looked like he was ready to cry...then he asked me to teach him how "to make the right kind" this year. My kids were raised without processed food for the most part, so this story keeps repeating. I am raising proper foodies and it only takes one sampling of "spaghetti-os" at a friend's house to send them running to me to learn a recipe for what they really like because they don't want to be stuck eating crap when they are older.

    December 28, 2011 at 8:13 pm |
    • bologna on white

      your son ran to the bathroom to vomit? get off your high horse. i'd rather have my kids eat stove top from time to time than be that rude and conceited. when your kids are making easy mac at 2AM after doing kegstands, make sure to remind them to be proper foodies

      December 28, 2011 at 8:51 pm |
      • ctb67

        Amen. Teaching them good manners is much more important than the hotty toddy food snobbery. Anybody with good breeding will tell you that. If my kids pulled that crap, they would be forced to apologize to the host, be grounded for a week and made to volunteer at a soup kitchen.

        December 29, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
      • RealFoods

        He ran to the bathroom to vomit INVOLUNTARILY because Stove Top is disgusting, over-salted garbage food in a box. He was not being intentionally rude and I doubt anyone else noticed what happened. Who is really on the high horse. My guess is that you love your "easy mac" and stove top and you think all people can eat it.

        December 30, 2011 at 12:40 am |
    • NoFaceBook

      Well, I eat few processed foods, but have fond memories of Spaghetti-O's with white bread and butter even though my Dad made sauce from garden tomatoes that was delicious. Maybe you should spend a little less time worrying about your kid's eating processed food and more time teaching them manners.

      December 28, 2011 at 9:12 pm |
      • RealFoods

        I don't spend any time worrying about what my kids choose to eat...but I do not cook crap in my house. They know what they like. His manners are fine, thanks. He was discreet and no one noticed that he ran to the men's room.

        December 30, 2011 at 12:43 am |
    • George

      Sounds pretentious. Sorry you've never been hungry, for then you'd truly be a proper foodie.

      December 28, 2011 at 9:32 pm |
      • RealFoods

        I have most definitely been hungry in my life. Nice try, but your assumptions are showing.

        December 30, 2011 at 12:43 am |
    • Kewpie

      Sounds like you're raising children who are going to grow up to be elitist snobs. I too choose not to eat processed foods but I value frienships more than I do a "relationship" with natural foods. When someone is gracious enough to invite me to their home to share food they prepared, I am honored enough to eat whatever they prepare with a smile on my face. I believe that being asked to come to someone's home to share a meal is a compliment, I treasure each opportunity and by the way I am a chef.

      December 29, 2011 at 9:24 am |
      • Kathleen

        It would be an honor to have you over for dinner.

        December 29, 2011 at 10:14 am |
      • RealFoods

        No bad manners were displayed. Gratitude for food is always shown to the host. Again, no need to make assumptions.

        December 30, 2011 at 12:44 am |
      • RealFoods

        I am not raising children to grow up to be elitists. I am raising them to know what real food and real flavors taste like. They eat broccoli and love it. Canned salt soup, not so much. Stuffing in a box caused a bad reaction for whatever reason. Seriously–there are a lot of people talking out of their azzes here. My kids were not rude at any time.

        December 30, 2011 at 12:48 am |
    • allanhowls

      It's nice to know the difference between bland, processed food and homemade goodness, but it's even more important to teach manners when you're the guest in someone's house.

      I'd be mortified if my kids acted like that about someone else's cooking. It may not be the way I do it, or the way they'd like to eat it, but they will bloody well be polite and not humiliate someone who went to the effort to put food on the table for you ingrateful louts.

      As a "true foodie," I know there's good to be found in both supermarket processed foods and in the most exotic cuisines. I also know that food isn't as important as being a good person. Shame on your kids, and shame on your child-raising skills.

      December 29, 2011 at 9:52 am |
      • Kathleen

        You sound like both a good parent and a good dinner guest.

        December 29, 2011 at 10:15 am |
      • RealFoods

        Who exactly do you think was humiliated and HOW? How do people perceive that he was rude?
        The poor boy didn't make himself sick on purpose. He was at a church potluck and got a bit of a surprise he wasn't expecting. He didn't seek out the woman who made it to insult her–he dashed off to the john to vomit and then had a good drink. Later he begged me to teach him how to make the stuffing he likes best.

        December 30, 2011 at 1:01 am |
    • A real cook.

      A taste of Stove Top made him vomit?

      Horsefeathers.

      You are an inept liar and a scoundrel.

      I am no fan of Stove Top, but if it made people unused to it vomit, it would not still be so readily available. If you had claimed he said ti was disgusting, people might have believed you. Part of the fine art of lying is keeping the story believable.

      Deception: ur doin' it rong.

      December 29, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
      • RealFoods

        I am raising kids on real food and real flavors. They have been known to have similar reactions to salty canned soups, etc. on those occasions when they have tried them. A person who is not used to eating ANYTHING can become ill from it, especially if young.

        December 30, 2011 at 12:50 am |
    • sockpuppet

      I have a bit of the same problem, but not the rude kids. I have raised mine on real food too, not processed food. For instance, they had no idea that Kraft singles were supposed to be cheese and wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole. They mostly eat fresh raw vegetables and some dairy. BUT I consider this to be a pain in the rear. Frankly I would like to be able to cook a box of Kraft mac and cheese because it's cheaper and I grew up on it myself. So in trying to raise my kids to be HEALTHY (NOT foodies), I made it a bigger problem for myself. That being said, my kids know not to act like that at someone else's house, even though they are still young. I just tell people they are mostly vegetarians and the kids eat the salad and nobody is offended.

      December 29, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
      • RealFoods

        Why is everyone assuming my children are "rude"? This is so weird. The boy went to a church potluck and had a bad reaction to a kind of food he is not used to ingesting. It can happen to anyone, especially if expecting something completely different. he ran to the men's room to vomit. If he should ask me privately to teach him to make the kind he is used to eating is THIS what people think is rude? If so, I feel for your kids, they must not be allowed to express themselves at all.

        December 30, 2011 at 12:53 am |
      • sockpuppet

        REALFOODS you know, every person on here thinks your post sounded condescending and you kids sounded rude. So maybe you should reread your post. And if that's untrue about you and your family, maybe you need to learn to write in a way that represents you better. This is how you came off to everyone. Don't turn around and get offended by the reaction to your post.

        December 30, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
    • AndyL

      As a "foodie" myself, I hope you will teach your children that the preparation and sharing of food is one of the many ways that we can express acceptance and hospitality, the habits that keeps us from killing one another. Otherwise, they may grow up to be self-righteous little snobs, and give "foodies" a bad name.

      December 29, 2011 at 8:09 pm |
      • RealFoods

        My kids were not at any time rude or snobbish to their hosts and they NEVER acted in any way ungrateful. All interactions in which my kids asked for recipes, etc. were private interactions with me that no one else could overhear. They eat real food, they understand real flavors that they like.

        You guys are acting like the kid made himself sick intentionally O_o

        December 30, 2011 at 12:56 am |
  44. Tom

    I do not really have any family recipes, but II frequently use a recipe as a guide and tweak it some to make it "my own". I do it now, so I do not see anything wrong with people that do it then – nor would I expect people to just start cooking something without a basic guide of where to head, the recipe will have its roots somewhere.. Cooking has to have a starting point, even the "family recipes" will often have their roots in a basic recipe that was attained somewhere else. It is not like grandma was sitting around inventing how to cook everything herself. It is those tweaks those little personal touches or lessons learned after repetition of the recipe that get passed down and become a cherished "family recipe"

    December 28, 2011 at 8:02 pm |
  45. Kasey

    I've taken recipes from books as starting grounds, but I always find some way to tweek it to make it my own, make it tastier or easier to prepare or more like something I'd had at a restaurant. I will share recipes, but only with family or close friends. I'm not a cookbook for everyone.

    December 28, 2011 at 8:00 pm |
    • Mary

      Well Ms.Kasey,keep your receipes.I am sure others found your comment quite rude,I did.Kindness goes a long way,rudeness last forever.

      December 28, 2011 at 9:01 pm |
      • Martini

        Get a grip Mary! Maybe you've never shared a secret with your granny and treasured the fact that it was just between the two of you, but either you need to stop being such a sensi!

        December 29, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • Jared

      I agree Kasey. There are just some things that I prefer not to share. I've spent years perfecting some of my dishes and they are almost signatures of mine.

      December 29, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
  46. jd

    I have that same book which was given to me as a young girl. I've used it a lot over the years.

    December 28, 2011 at 7:59 pm |
  47. Eliwatney

    I have a lot of family recipes, most of them dating to the 30s when my grandmother was raising 7 kids on a WPA paycheck... Haven't found many of them in books. But I own the 2 volume set of the Doubleday Cookbook from 1974 and it is like Betty Furness with a super computer memory. Found out it is the primary book for many chefs, not sure about that but mine is nearly worn out and I have already run down another set for a measly $75....worth every penny!!! From pickled rabbit to Hindu nan and everything in between.

    December 28, 2011 at 7:36 pm |
  48. Katie

    This has happened a few times though I've found that the original recipe is tweaked enough they taste very different. The biggest bombshell came when I discovered my grandfather's chowder recipe (and probably the clam cakes and stuffies too) was originally from a newspaper clipping. But again, he tweaked it so it was a passing shock. We've since altered it to be gluten-free, so I suppose my family's next generation can have their own little shock too.

    December 28, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  49. sarah gilbert

    This has happened to me so many times! Even though most of our family recipes come straight out of the red-and-white-checked Better Homes & Gardens cookbook bible, one in particular, a pie crust recipe that's handwritten in my mom's recipe file: "Virginia Booze's pie crust" - I later found in a vintage shortening flier. (but then, how many ways CAN you make pie crust?) I admit to being a little crushed, but getting over it in much the same way you did.

    December 28, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
  50. Tommy Chong

    I could'a swore my favorite brownie recipe came from my Dad's brain, man. Boy was I shocked when I found it in High Times magazine. I was bummed, dude.

    December 28, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
    • Dude!!!

      So...uh, our entire solar system could be but one atom in the finger of some giant in another universe..., er, uh, wait, what were you talking about, again?

      December 29, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
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