This Week’s Menu: The Stolen Recipe

Loco moco: a Hawaiian favorite

One adage that I often heard when I was teaching was, “if you come across a good idea, steal it . . . but then pass it on.” It was good advice then, and I think it applies just as much to recipes and cooking. If you find a good recipe, use it . . . but then pass it on. I try to link to recipes whenever I can, but sometimes our meals are just things I put together, no recipe required.

I once shared a recipe though that I felt that someone “stole,” because the woman I shared it with entered it into a contest as her own, and actually won first place! One day at Trader Joe’s, I was picking up a bag of their frozen potstickers, and a woman standing next to me asked, “how do you eat those?” I told her that we usually just fried/steamed them and ate them plain with some dipping sauce, but that sometimes I used them to make dumpling soup. It was a simple recipe: combine chicken stock, grated ginger, and a little soy sauce for the broth, and then add a bag of baby spinach and a bag of the frozen dumplings and heat through. She thanked me and took a bag of the dumplings with her.

Two weeks later, our local paper, The Oregonian, published the winners of their “five ingredients or less” recipe contest, and the first place winner was . . . my dumpling soup, right down to exact amounts of soy sauce and ginger I recommended, the bag of baby spinach, and the bag of Trader Joe’s dumplings! This woman submitted it under her name, and got bragging rights for MY recipe! I was very angry at the time, both for this woman’s nerve, but also because I could have been the winner (although I hadn’t seen the announcement for the contest). I thought about calling the paper, but in the end realized it didn’t really matter . . . I was happy to share the recipe with the woman in the store, and happy to share it with others, even if someone else had become the vehicle.

There is only one recipe to link to this week, but I will share another family recipe that I made this last weekend, a family favorite when I was young. I have no idea where my mom got the recipe – I don’t even know if it was ever written down:

California Herbed Butter

Melt one stick of butter. To this add: chopped fresh garlic, chopped basil (either fresh or dried), chopped green onions (including green tops), and fresh lemon juice. Add however much of these ingredients fit the flavors you prefer, i.e. you might like more garlic, or more lemon flavor, or have a lot of fresh basil to use up. The butter makes a wonderful topping for toasted bread, or can be put under the skin of a chicken before roasting. Unused butter can be kept in the refrigerator, or frozen, and then softened and spread later.

Hopefully this recipe will be a winner for someone, whether it’s entered in a contest or not!

Here’s what we’re having this week:

  • Tuesday (this evening): Grilled teriyaki chicken; zaru soba; cole slaw (This was bumped from last week. I’ll be dipping zoodles instead of soba)
  • Wednesday: Pad Thai with chicken; cucumber salad (not sure what I’m having)
  • Thursday: Grilled jalapeño-cheddar bratwurst; sauerkraut; grilled zucchini
  • Friday: Leftovers (WenYu works Friday evenings, so it’s become our leftover night)
  • Saturday: Mabo dofu; steamed rice; cucumbers
  • Sunday: Loco Moco; fruit (no rice for me)
  • Monday: Slow cooker balsamic pork roast; pilaf; green beans (I’m skipping the pilaf)

We’ll be getting lots of cucumbers, zucchini, bok choy, mung bean sprouts, and fruit at the farmers’ market this week. Otherwise, everything is on hand, so no other trips to the store will be needed.

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11 thoughts on “This Week’s Menu: The Stolen Recipe

  1. Snoskred says:

    The main reason I began sharing my recipes on my blog was because of a slightly morbid conversation I had with The Other Half. I got sick once and really wanted my chicken and sweet corn soup but he had no idea how to make it. I then realised that he had no clue how to replicate a lot of my recipes.

    I asked the question – what will you eat if something happened to me, and the answer was not very encouraging. I survived before, he said. Well I know what he was eating before and it was Not Great, Bob! So I started creating recipe posts, and now he has many of my recipes available, he can make one if I am feeling unwell.

    Thank you for sharing your recipe, I will absolutely be making it. I make quite a bit of garlic bread and this will work perfectly for it. 🙂

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    • Laura says:

      I have many of my favorite recipes stored online now. I doubt Brett would ever fix them if something, but I’ve found that it’s easier for me to find them that way than go digging through a recipe book. And, the girls may want to make them sometime in the future. Recipes are meant to be shared!

      Let me know how you enjoy the herbed butter!

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  2. Ashling says:

    Could you share your recipe with quantities for the dumpling soup? I randomly bought a package of dumplings today and soup sounds like a great idea. I promise not to enter it into any contests 🙂

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    • Laura says:

      That was a long time ago, but I will try. Soon after that incident Trader Joe’s sold a soy-ginger broth that was perfect for the soup, and I stopped seasoning it myself. Anyway, it was two 32-oz cartons of chicken broth, approximately 1 TBSP freshly grated ginger, 3-4 TBSP soy sauce, 1 bag washed baby spinach (not sure of the weight), and one bag of Trader Joe’s chicken potstickers. The ginger and soy sauce can be adjusted for your taste preferences. Heat the broth with the ginger and soy sauce; add the spinach and potstickers and bring to a simmer. Cook until the potstickers are fully cooked. There should be approximately 5 or 6 potstickers per bowl of soup.

      BTW, this was our favorite “first night” meal when we went camping! It was easy to pack the ingredients and fix over a camp stove.

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      • JJ says:

        I’ll have to try this next time I go to Trader Joe’s. Is this the broth you used? https://www.traderjoes.com/fearless-flyer/article/1511 I actually haven’t seen it at the one near me lately so I’m not sure if they still carry it.

        That lady had a lot of nerve using your recipe in the contest. I don’t blame you for being upset, but it’s good you let it go. Not worth getting upset about.

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  3. Rowena says:

    The woman saw an opportunity and ran with it — I know how that feels! I was once alerted by a blog follower that someone had stolen my recipe AND images and entered it in a contest. I contacted the contest admin, complained, gave proof of original content, and the entry was deleted. Still remember how angry I was then.

    Still…there is another thing that annoys me more and that is when someone uses my images without giving credit. I don’t see why it’s a big deal to credit the source – it’s like sharing, no?

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    • Laura says:

      Yes, what ticked me off at the time was she entered the recipe under her own name. There were no blogs then , or really anything online, and I realized it would be my word against hers.

      Intellectual property is a tricky area. I personally don’t mind people borrowing my photos (I’ve found them on Pinterest), but I do mind if someone is using them to make money (including using them on a blog with paid advertising) or outright claiming or insinuating they took the picture. Yes, a thank you or credit would be nice, but I know that realistically that isn’t always going to happen.

      BTW, we were once told that as teachers we were breaking intellectual property law and could be sued if we used a picture taken from a magazine that we had personally bought and used it as a picture prompt in our ESL classrooms.

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      • Rowena says:

        Your comment about teachers brought a smile and a laugh! I was contacted by a teacher regarding a photo that I took of “worm poop”. She wanted my permission to use it for her class and of course I replied that it wouldn’t be a problem. It surprised me to hear from her again, saying that it was generous people like myself who made her work easier. It just tickled me to death…easier? The world is a better place with teachers like her!

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      • Laura says:

        If I were using someone else’s photo for a professional presentation, or as part of something that other instructors could access and use, I would absolutely contact whoever took the photo for permission. But we all thought the magazine picture example was a bit much (it turned the guy didn’t know what he was talking about).

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  4. Hawaii Planner says:

    I’m not impressed with the TJ’s woman, & also would have been frustrated! M & I are solo without the kids this week, so meals will be more random than usual. Last night was Trader Joe’s mushroom ravioli (a little too rich for my taste), and tonight will be grilled chicken on pesto pasta. Here’s what I’m thinking about for the rest of the week:

    Thursday – stuffed peppers (freezer)
    Friday – pizza (doctored with kebabs from the freezer)
    Saturday – leftovers
    Sunday – spaghetti & meatballs, & garlic bread

    I ordered a crockpot off of Amazon (have never really used one) & I’m excited to get more flexibility in my menu planning with school starting again!

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    • Laura says:

      I always like your menus – the pizza with kebabs sounds fantastic – I would order that! I still would love your recipe for the chopped vegetable salad you prepared a couple of months ago, when you had family visiting. It sounded like something our family would love.

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