Buttered Crouton

Good Cooking since 1995

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Are Recipes on the Internet Original?

I'm totally amazed that so many people turn to the Internet to find recipes these days

Mac and Cheese Casserole

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I'm totally amazed that so many people turn to the Internet to find recipes these days but then again, if you don' t have a cookbook collection what else can you do? Hey, what are you doing---"I'm searching for a recipe to cook for dinner", or "I'm searching for a chocolate chip cookie recipe", is often heard in many households. Which one will you choose and will it be a good one is the big question! Well, providing you search on a reputable site such as Epicurious, Gourmet and a few others, including goodcooking.com, you will more than likely be happy with your selection. In your search you might wind up on Aunt Tilly's page with hundreds of recipes that she's posted---but did you know Aunt Tilly is a terrible cook?! In fact her children would rather eat at a friend's house than at home, ouch! Yet you say to yourself, "this recipe sounds good", not knowing what her kids think of it. And you don't even know that she copied the recipe from Cousin Mary and then tweaked a few ingredients to her liking and called it her own. Guess what, Mary is a terrible cook too! It's on the Internet it must be good you say. It's time to wake up!!!

Well so it goes, hundreds of recipes are floating around that represent this scenario and then they get copied, and reposted as "my recipe" without ever being tested, that is, actually made by the person to taste for themselves, before they go online. To top it off, others then copy Aunt Tilly's recipes and repost them as their own. This is perfectly legal because a recipe cannot be copyrighted. Julia Child once told me to consider it a form of flattery, someone thought your recipe was so good that they copied and perhaps tweaked it to look like their own and then to pass it on as their own--but that was before the Internet came about with hundreds of cooking sites vying for market share.

Cooking is a skill, it's about learning techniques and not all in the recipe itself.

Let's look at similarities:

I am looking at the ingredients and not really the order of them or the method of cooking. For example, I'm not comparing the amount of time you cook the macaroni or for how you boil the milk, microwave or stove top. You might put croutons on top, a dash of paprika or slices of tomatoes. I want to see ratios and similar or not, so similar ingredients and amounts.
Amount of milk, butter, flour, cheese, salt, pepper and macaroni is point of comparison and will lead to a deduction, somewhat like a Sherlock Holmes of the food world. Look at them they all are so alike! Is it funny that hundreds of recipes are copied for cookbooks and recipes sites and then tweaked to suite the needs of the the website. It is so easy to say this is my recipe, I didn't copy it but changing 1 tsp. to 3/4 tsp. and copying the preparation method is copying. It happens all the time! Did you know recipes aren't considered copyright material! An acceptable asterisk (*) note, if you do copy/tweak one, is to say "adapted from" i.e. "Adapted from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking". I've seen this done in major publications and websites.