Thursday, February 16, 2012

Stuff, Originality and Gingerbread Loaf Recipe

Met a lovely young artist at the Amherst Winter Market the other day named Chaldea. She has this print for sale on Etsy of knitting badgers. Very sweet. Check it out.....

My next door neighbor at the Winter Market is Amy's All Natural Soaps. I am addicted to her Sweet Anise with Charcoal Bar which is at my kitchen sink. It is a pretty grey shade with dark charcoal flecks (reminds me of a tweed yarn). It smells divine and removes kitchen odors. I gave a bar to friends the other night and they are hooked. Check out Amy's website - she has gorgeous soap and all really lovely. Her Dad taught her to make soap and she has quite a biz going. She is so sweet on top of it all.

Do you know NPR's From Scratch? It is a podcast that is incredibly interesting. Jessica Harris, the host, interviews people in business and finds out how they got their start. The guy who started Etsy was interviewed and was a good interview. I love hearing how businesses began and changed. Fascinating stuff to me.You think businesses that have "made it" never struggle but they all do. Check it out.

I've got a new recipe for you all but you'll have to read through all this.... Remember my post about copyright and my stolen image for sale on Etsy the other day? (BTW, thank you for all the awesome support on that!) It has had me thinking a lot (a real lot) about what is original and what is not. 

When I design knitting projects, I pull out my needles and my sketch book and start swatching. The design happens in my swatch. I very rarely look at knitting magazines anymore and don't buy too many knitting books. My shelves have lots of the old classics on them (Barbara Walker, Mon Tricot Stitch Dictionaries). As recently most of my design work has been in colorwork, I don't refer to my stitch dictionaries anymore - it is me and the graph paper and a pencil and eraser. Mostly I make projects up out of my head - ideas just come pouring out onto the needles. I'm sure I have such a backlog of ideas up there and each idea is triggered by something - either something I saw on the street, in a photo, in a fashion or decorating magazine, or from a past design that I made and want to update of improve upon. Mostly ideas are triggered by a deadline and a list of projects that needs to be made for a book project. If I have an idea which needs a stitch pattern, I may have to go to a stitch dictionary and check out how to do something. But mostly with cables, I just draw them out on graph paper and go directly to my needles. I am pretty much over taking a cable stitch out of a stitch dictionary and then turning it into a sweater. I find it pretty boring and unstimulating. I also see that that is what most of the new and trendy designers do now. Been there, done that, not very interesting to me anymore. I'd rather work up some beautiful color combo than lift a stitch out of a book and turn it into a sweater....

In my recipe development, I look at cookbooks all the time and read ingredient listings. So somewhere, I have probably seen something that I develop similar - or a version of it. But I usually just wing my recipes for my lamb recipe website, making it up as I add ingredients to a stew or soup. I do this pretty much every night when I cook dinner too! With recipes though, I take notes, list ingredients, and then re-cook everything to make sure it works. Oh, and then take a photo.

With baking, that is a different story - I usually follow recipes exactly so that they turn out. My friend Mike Dougherty (co-owner of 7 South Bakery Cafe in Bernardston) says baking is pure science. It wasn't until he told me this, that I started to think about baking that way. And he is right. (I guess that is why Alton Brown is so popular although I have never seen his show.) 

It is only recently that I started fooling around with baking recipes and changing it up. So here's what I have for you today - a recipe for Gingerbread Loaf. It came about like this - I saw a recipe in Everyday Food for little gingerbread muffins. BTW, I do love that mag. Found it here on Martha's website just now..... So here is how I changed the recipe - I altered the spices, took out the pumpkin puree and added homemade applesauce, increased the butter (yeah, I know), took out the buttermilk, added yogurt, crystallized ginger and raisins. Put it in a loaf pan. Made it twice (the second time my niece made it and we increased the butter and it turned out much higher and prettier than my first time (which is when I took this photo). So is this recipe mine? I don't know. Maybe there is a cookbook author reading who could tell us all. 

I welcome your comments today about originality, copying, etc today. And here is my Gingerbread Loaf Recipe. Really nice for a winter day, even if we have no snow. A bit of narrative too because this was going to be a post all by itself but then it morphed into something else.

Every winter I get a craving for gingerbread. It only happens in the winter when it is cold and I am craving things that make me feel warm and cozy. As far as I am concerned, there's nothing quite like the smell of gingerbread baking - the ginger, the cinnamon, the nutmeg, the molasses - oh, the smell. I can't remember eating gingerbread when I was young; at least I can't remember loving it then. Maybe it is more of an adult thing?

Tea in a pretty teacup and spicy gingerbread on a cold winter afternoon. What could be nicer? This is one of my favorite teacups. A long time ago, my friend Sally and I went on a whirlwind trip to England. One of our trips out of London was to Oxford. Our first stop was the Oxford Museum of Natural History. What an amazing building and collection. The structure was overwhelming. My biggest takeaway was all the huge structural columns built out of different stones. They would probably never let them build it like that now but oh, how gorgeous. The second part of our trip was a long walk to find a place we had heard about called Isis Ceramics. We walked and walked and finally found it in an assuming neighborhood. I bought a few of these handpainted teacups and saucers (they were seconds). They all have different animals on them including cows, sheep, goats and chickens. You can learn more about Isis Ceramics here. I love how they look old-fashioned, almost like the transferware that I photographed the cup and plate on as a back-drop.

Back to the point of this post.... the gingerbread. This recipe makes a very moist gingerbread loaf. Baking it in a loaf pan makes it easy to slice and a nice thing to bring to a friend's house. This loaf keeps really well. Wrap it in plastic wrap and keep it in the refrigerator and it will last two weeks - that is if you have the willpower to not eat it. It actually tastes better after a couple days.

Gingerbread Loaf
2 1/3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
a little bit of grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter
3/4 cup white sugar
1 cup applesauce (I used homemade, unsweetened)
1/2 cup molasses
2 large eggs - beaten
1/2 cup yogurt
1/3 cup candied ginger cut into 1/4" chunks (optional)
1/3 cup raisins (optional)

Glaze: (optional)
zest of one small orange
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan (mine was 9 x 5 x 3 1/2"). Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit your loaf pan with enough extra so there is an overhang to help pull it out when baked. (My gingerbread loaf stuck on the bottom of the pan and part of it was left in the pan. Next time I will use the parchment paper like shown here.) Grease the parchment paper on the top side so that it is easy to remove from the loaf.

Mix all dry ingredients (except sugars) in a bowl and set aside. Using a mixer, cream butter and white sugar until fluffy. Add applesauce, molasses, eggs, and yogurt and mix until just combined. Add dry ingredients. Fold in candied ginger and raisins if using. Pour into prepared loaf pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 60 to 70 minutes. Test for doneness using a cake tester or toothpick. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Remove from pan after 10 minutes and let cool. Remove the parchment paper when completely cool.

Glaze: Mix 2 tablespoons water (or orange juice) with orange zest and confectioner's sugar. Using a pastry brush, paint onto the loaf. This will make it rather sweet so omit this step if you don't like things too sweet.

If you have the time, let the loaf age for a couple days. It actually tastes better after a few days because the spices mellow and blend together. Keep it wrapped in plastic wrap in the fridge and it will hold for at least a couple weeks. It also freezes well.


Sarah said...

The girls' kindergarten teacher would announce every now and then "We MUST have gingerbread." Everything would stop and gingerbread would be made. I haven't made it in a long time. YUM!

Adaliza said...

I LOVE gingerbread - but only in the winter! I use Nigella Lawson's recipe that has Guiness in it. What is it about the smell? It fills the whole house with warmth & Christmas & frosty mornings and - of course - snuggling up under a blanket by the fire with a cup of tea and a tasty slice of goodness! When I get home I shall try yours before the daffs start blooming and Spring arrives in a blaze of glory!

Rebekah said...

Hi Kristen,

Copying and originality are often on my mind, too. And I strongly believe more people should stop and think every time they venture to create something to sell based upon someone else's. It has been becoming easier and easier to find inspiration (especially with the internet), and so, too, has the ability to use someone else's property.

The question that should always be proposed in a person's mind is: "Is this copyrighted?" If yes, do the necessary measures to avoid copyright infringement or just drop your whole idea and move onto something else.

By necessary measures I mean to contact the author/publisher for permission or study the source's copyright policies. Most of the time--especially in the world of crafting!-you will be given permission and asked to give credit to the creator or the publisher.

But what criteria is necessary for a design (be it in sewing, knitting, crafting, recipe making), to be labeled "original." That question has always perplexed me, especially when each situation is so different. I mean, it's obviously illegal to take a cardigan pattern from Vogue Knitting and publish it in Interweave Knits without permission, right? But what happens if a knitwear designer takes bits and pieces of this cardigan and creates a new design and submits it to Interweave Knits? Would that be illegal? Where do you draw the line between being creative and violating copyrights?

I guess for me, if I wanted to set out to create a cardigan pattern, I will look at the style details of the Vogue Knitting cardigan, put those in my memory bank and use the basic ideas as a foundation. Style details like a shawl collar, cuffs, rolled hem, etc. And that will be it, nothing more. I will not flip to the written pattern and formulate. I will not make an exact replica of the cardigan. And I will not use that cardigan as my sole source of inspiration. Because, let's face it, its more fun to pull a design together from several obscure sources!

So that's my thoughts on the topic--cannot wait to hear more sides to this story!

Unknown said...

Thank you for sharing this gingerbread recipe. I love the ingredients in it and can't wait to try it.

Cindy in (un) Happy Valley said...

I work in higher ed, so we're all pretty touchy here about copyright, plagiarism, and citations.
That being said, just about everything in the world is a derivative. Particularly in artistic and crafting endeavors. Many times seemingly identical pieces are developed completely independently. I see it all the time in bead work and fiber work is not much different.

Consequently, copyright is much different in this world then in the world of academic writing. Your photos and instructions/patterns, perhaps some methodology are copyrightable, however, the techniques are not. Also, once published the designer cannot control how the pattern is used. If someone legitimately purchases a pattern, and makes and sells the item, they are within their right to do so. They cannot distribute copies of the pattern however, and should not claim it as their own design. Your gingerbread is a derivative of a common recipe. I think you're safe.

Auntie Shan said...

Thanks for putting in the ISIS link! I am such a pushover for Blue/White pottery!! -- I've just checked out Their Site... AND, They have a **RHINO**!! :-D
I'm also a Fanatic Rhino-Collector!!

Nor, would I ever say NO to Gingerbread... However, I'm allergic to "apples"! :-[ But, I was wondering, do you think the Applesauce could be replaced with KIWI [minus the seeds]? -- I don't "Cook or Bake", but I would think that they both have the same sort of textures..? -- Thoughts?

Kristin Nicholas said...

Try kiwi or maybe the original canned pumpkin. How about peaches or pears. Pears are a classic combo w/ gingerbread. The idea is just to make it nice and moist...

Kathy at Knitting Off The Grid said...

I can't wait to try your gingerbread recipe. It's one of my husband's favorite desserts.

philogirl said...

I have to say the your blog is one of my favorite. I love your knitting designs and colors. I can really appreciate your farm life and love your pictures. I teach high school agriculture, raise meat goats, sheep, chickens, garden, and have cats.
Must read everyday,

Red Hawk said...

Yum! Sounds good.

As to your question about copyright. I peruse many cooking/baking blogs. I have seen many 'authors' say their recipe was "based on" and then give the source (as you did). I think this is appropriate in cases where the modifications are minor and/or one wishes to credit the recipe/person who inspired them. Now I have see innumerable recipes for gingerbread - all with significant commonality. Some of them were the handed down variety - old recipes probably made by grandmothers for generations and handed down. What am I trying to say is so many recipes go way back in time and no one truly knows the source.

Photos and prose are different. It is easy to see when one 'swipes' a picture and then tries to sell it as their own. Would it be copyright infringement if a person thought your picture of Olympia was neat and decided to knit a sweater of their own design and put it on a lamb and take a picture? T'would be nice to give credit to the person who inspired the idea but does this qualify as copyright infringement?

Nothing is easy but what is easy: Never take something that does not belong to you and use it for your own selfish purposes. That is both a moral and legal issue.

Denise said...

In the world of publishing, a recipe cannot be copyrighted. However it is considered correct and ethical to credit the source of the original recipe. That said, if a published recipe has some opening remarks, such as a history of the recipe or an anecdote, those remarks ARE copyrighted.

Kristin Is Now Writing Over on Substack

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