02 November 2007


This week I was asked for my favorite recipes to be included in a fundraising cookbook. The project organizers, in their solicitation, mentioned that recipes don’t enjoy copyright protection, and that we were free to pass on any we liked, even straight from cookbooks. I thought, “Huh. That sounds a little blithe,” so I checked it out, and it so happens that they weren’t really wrong.

According to the U.S. government, “Mere listings of ingredients as in recipes, formulas, compounds or prescriptions are not subject to copyright protection. However, where a recipe or formula is accompanied by substantial literary expression in the form of an explanation or directions, or when there is a combination of recipes, as in a cookbook, there may be a basis for copyright protection.” Sounds like a grey area, all right. (Read the full extent of the law)

But Joyce Gemperlein, writing in the Washington Post, says you might want to err on the side of being gracious. She suggests that the ethical thing to do is attribute any recipe you publish, even when modified, and mentions that news organizations almost always use the phrase “adapted from...”

So that is what I shall do here, and give you a moderately adapted recipe for

Mushroom and green olive stew
Adapted from Anna Thomas, The Vegetarian Epicure Book Two

4 T olive oil
2 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 chopped yellow onion
2 T flour
1 c veggie broth
1 28-oz can San Marzano tomatoes
1 t thyme
1.5 pounds mushrooms
1 c pitted ripe green olives
red wine, parsley, salt, pepper

Using a dutch oven or other good-size pot, saute the onions, garlic, and bay leaves in 2 T oil until onions are golden. Stir in the flour, lower the heat, and cook roux for a few minutes, stirring constantly. Add broth and juice from the canned tomatoes. Stir with a whisk to prevent lumps, then add the tomatoes.

Sauté the mushrooms and thyme in the remaining oil (or butter, if you prefer) in a pan over high heat until browned. Add them to the stew pot to simmer for 20 minutes. Then add the olives, along with the wine, parsley, salt and pepper. Serve immediately with a crusty bread.

I’ve left out Anna’s literary expression, and she certainly doesn’t call for canned tomatoes. She also prefers butter, but we’re trying to use olive oil wherever possible. Anyway, this couldn’t be easier or more delicious. I recommend it, as I do the cookbook, a well-thumbed legacy from my hippie forebears. There are some very inexpensive copies available used on Amazon right now.


Sean said...

looks delish! I want to try it!

Max said...

Let us know what you think, Sean!