Seasonal Secrets – September

by Amanda McInerney on 17/09/2011

I guess most people who read this blog are in agreement with me that to eat as locally as possible is a good thing.  The reduction in the use of fossil fuels needed to move food across long distances is  good for the planet, the injection of funds to regional growers and producers is good for the local economy and food that is consumed as close as possible to it’s source of production is fresher, with less deterioration in the available nutrients, making it more beneficial and healthy to eat.  So – it’s all good!  However, trying to eat an exclusively local diet, depending upon what climatic region you live in, will probably lead to tears of boredom before bedtime.  Here in South Australia there are a wealth of foods that we grow, and grow very well, but there are plenty that, for economic or prevailing local weather condition reasons, we don’t.   I love good food and am not really prepared to go without a lot of the goodies that I can’t source locally, so when I’m choosing what food my family are to eat I look at local produce first and then fill in the gaps with the next nearest available source.

When it comes to vegetables, one of my particular favourites are sweet potatoes, which are not grown here in South Australia at all.  Needing a consistently good rainfall, average temperatures of 24C and no frost, sweet potatoes are grown on the eastern seaboard all year round in Australia, with Queensland responsible for 80% of the  total national crop.  Besides tasting fantastic, sweet potatoes are seriously nutrient-dense, being rich in complex carbohydrate, fibre, beta carotene and vitamins C and B6 and, although naturally sweet, some recent studies suggest they may help to stabilize blood sugar levels and lower insulin resistance.  Sweet potatoes are believed to have originated in in Central or South America where they have been cultivated domestically for thousands of years – interestingly close to another vegetable product that is very dear to my heart – the cacao bean.  This is about to get quite interesting so stick with me here, please folks!

A couple of weeks ago I came across an unusual recipe by the award-winning baker, Dan Lepard, in the food section of  the online version of The Guardian.  Creator of some of the most reliable and delicious baking recipes I have ever used, Dan had used sweet potato as a partial sugar and fat substitute in  some wickedly dark and delicious looking brownies.  The thought of combining two of my favourite ingredients and possibly slipping an extra serving of vegetables into the resident and perpetually sugar and carb craving kids was a challenge I was keen to take on and Dan didn’t let me down. These brownies are devilishly dark, rich, moist, fudgy and all gone – and my little loves have no idea what made them taste so great!

The original recipe is here, but I made mine in the Thermomix so I have included my conversion.  These could just as easily be made in any food processor, really.

Dan Lepard’s Sweet Potato Brownies – Thermomix conversion

Ingredients

  • 200 gm cooked sweet potato
  • 200 gm Dark chocolate (I used 70%)
  • 100 gm butter
  • 125 gm brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 100 gm plain flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 100 gm roughly chopped walnuts

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven 160C. Grease and line brownie pan.
  2. Bake sweet potato in skin until very soft, cool. Scrape out flesh.
  3. Place chocolate in TM, grind speed 7/10 seconds.
  4. Add butter, melt at 60C speed 1/3 minutes.
  5. Add sweet potato flesh and brown sugar, mix speed 5/10 seconds.
  6. Add eggs and vanilla, mix speed 5/10 seconds.
  7. Add flour and baking powder, mix speed 5/10 seconds.
  8. Add nuts, Reverse speed 3/5 seconds.
  9. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
  10. Cool in pan before cutting.

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{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

tracey September 17, 2011 at 7:26 pm

Had no idea sweet potato could not grow here – had just assumed they would like potato conditions.

InTolerant Chef September 18, 2011 at 6:34 am

These look great, I will sooo be making this recipe this week.
I agree with eating locally when possible as well, but living here in Canberra I sure would miss mangoes :-) We sure are lucky to have such a great range of climatic conditions available here are’t we?

Amanda September 18, 2011 at 9:10 am

Tracey – Sweet potatoes can’t handle the colder ground temperatures that we have here in winter and don’t like frost at all.
Bec – we are very fortunate with our wide climatic range here in Oz.

trudy September 18, 2011 at 12:56 pm

They look and sound great Amanda. Thanks so much for the recipe.

Barbara September 18, 2011 at 2:48 pm

I am so making this recipe in my Thermomix.

In NZ this potato is called orange kumura.

Erin @ she cooks, she gardens September 18, 2011 at 6:40 pm

Yum! These sound great, thanks for sharing.

Kate September 18, 2011 at 7:05 pm

What a great new look for the brownie – I will be making these for sure !!

Mandy - The Complete Cook Book September 18, 2011 at 10:03 pm

What lovely treats – they would be great added to a daily lunch box for school or work.
Have a super Sunday.
:-) Mandy

David Whitehouse, Business Manager for Dan Lepard February 22, 2012 at 7:11 am

This is a really difficult thing to ask, as I can see that you’re a fan of Dan Lepard, but we do ask bloggers not to post his recipes, but instead to simply give a link to where Dan chose to publish it (if it is online), or simply to name the book it was taken from, and then to write about how they adapted the recipe to the tools and ingredients they had to hand, and to concentrate on their own original words and photos.

Even with adaptations, there’s a copyright issue, and while it’s nice of bloggers to share their enthusiasm, we ask them to then share their readers by directing them to where Dan has published the recipe, rather than reprinting it.

So I’d ask you to take this Dan Lepard recipe off your blog and the Thermomix forum where you posted it at http://www.forumthermomix.com/index.php?topic=7268.0

If you need to discuss this with me, or if you’d like me to provide some links to recipe copyright information at the Australian Copyright Council, please email me.

Amanda February 22, 2012 at 6:35 pm

David – I was somewhat surprised to see your comment in my inbox this morning.
I’ve just had a look at the recipe I posted and find that not only did I directly link back to the original recipe, but the version I put on my blog was a conversion for making in the Thermomix. So, while I used a similar – but not exact – list of ingredients (not subject to copyright) I changed the method completely using dot-points to suit making the brownies in a Thermomix, not the narrative style used by Dan in the online recipe.

I realise recipe ownership is a very hot issue for cooks/chefs, particularly in light of the plethora of food bloggers and the unscrupulous content theft engaged in by some of them. I take pains to ensure that my content is original and, if inspired by someone else, I always acknowledge that and link directly to the source. I have taken legal advice re your message today and am assured that I am in no breach of copyright.

I think you might be better off hunting down wholesale site scrapers, rather than picking on Dan’s fans.

David Whitehouse, Business Manager for Dan Lepard February 22, 2012 at 9:08 pm

Hi Amanda,

I’m sorry you have a problem with my request, I would refer you initially to the Australian Copyright Council’s website http://www.copyright.org.au and their list of publications. In particular, at http://www.copyright.org.au/find-an-answer/browse-by-a-z/ under “R” you’ll find “Recipes: Legal Protection” (G019v09) which is worth reading in its entirety but particularly on page 3 notes that “You will not necessarily avoid infringement by making changes.” This is relevant because nobody disputes the fact that this is a Dan Lepard recipe.

It is difficult asking fans to edit their blogs to talk around a recipe rather than give it away, but the effect on Dan in losing control over the use and distribution of his copyright work is the same, whether it’s a fan’s site or that of a hardcore scraper where the recipe is posted. But alongside the copyright situation, as you are a fan it seems sad that you won’t respond to a request from Dan’s office for you to take one of his recipes offline. I didn’t ask you to delete your entire post, but simply to remove the recipe details and write “around” the recipe, rather than publishing it, which isn’t an unreasonable request for an author’s office to make

This situation is made worse by the Thermomix forum which you belong to, where you’ve been part of a group posting a large number of Dan’s recipes, without anyone even once asking if this was acceptable – and to be frank, it isn’t. You say you’ve taken legal advice and if you’d like to give me the name, address and email details of your legal counsel, I shall of course handle this matter through them, though it seems very sad to have to take it to that stage. The issue here is that your content is not original but simply “derivative” and while I know you gave a link to the original, this needs to be “instead of” not “in addition to” you publishing the recipe here.

Regards
David Whitehouse
Business Manager for Dan Lepard.

Thermomix Forum Webmaster February 23, 2012 at 8:26 am

David Whitehouse,

I am the admin and creator of Forum Thermomix and I’d like you to contact me directly about this issue (thermomix1@gmail.com). I personally see no wrong that has been posted. All web servers and content is stored out of Australia’s territory. So please drop me an email.

Regards

Admin Forum Thermomix

Amanda February 23, 2012 at 9:01 am

David,
I find your tone offensive and bullying. I have committed no impropriety and object to being bullied.
This matter has been passed into the hands of my solicitor who will be contacting you shortly.

Paul February 23, 2012 at 1:38 pm

I’m a practising intellectual property lawyer so perhaps I can help (NB: this is not legal advice for anyone, nor do I act for any party here, just a comment).

Copyright protects a particular form of expression – it does not protect the idea conveyed by that expression. With reference to recipes, it does not protect the method for making a dish, the list of ingredients, or the idea behind the dish. All that is protected is the particular way in which it has been expressed – the actual words.

The only thing which protects the use of a specific method for doing something is a patent – something which I assume Mr Lepard doesn’t hold over his Sweet Potato Brownies recipe.

So long as there isn’t a ‘word for word’ transcription of at least a substantial part of the original recipe (and not trivial things like the names of ingredients) then it’s unlikely that any infringement of copyright has occurred.

Just because a chef or author has a reputation and has fans, that does not give that person any greater right to prevent the use or reproduction of the idea behind a recipe than anyone else. The idea behind the recipe is not capable of attracting copyright, confidential, patented, or otherwise proprietary. It is irrelevant that people reading the post know that this recipe is drawn from a particular chef, or that the author identifies and acknowledges that fact. There is no obligation to write ‘around’ the actual recipe, as is suggested.

I’d suggest that anyone posting this type of thing (recipes etc) should make sure that any use of a recipe doesn’t involve a direct transcription of any part of the text of the recipe.

I suggest that Mr Whitehouse, who says he has legal advisors, should have regard to this section of the Copyright Act, too:

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/ca1968133/s202.html

From a purely practical perspective, my personal view is that roaming the internet posting material of debatable accuracy about the legal position on publicly accessible blogs and forums is unlikely to achieve the commercial objective which is presumably sought here. Perhaps in future a private enquiry and a request for the addition of a link to the relevant chef’s website might be more likely to yield a mutually acceptable outcome.

Barbara | Creative Culinary February 23, 2012 at 2:56 pm

As you know Amanda, the airwaves in the US are filled with the same rhetoric. I very much appreciate the information provided by Paul; the law in AUS is very similar to our own and the people insisting that a list of ingredients belong to them is laughable.

I left a comment on Mr. Whitehouse website which he has chosen not to approve so I’ll reiterate here. I blog about MY experience. I don’t blog to promote cookbook authors. I seldom make anything just as written and I always provide information and a link if possible for people who provided me with inspiration but I have no intention of investing my time in shopping, prep, cooking, photography and writing and then not feeling as if I have no ownership of the end result. If I do that work, then the recipe is most certainly going to be included on MY blog.

Funny thing…Mr Whitehouse has done nothing but sully Mr. Lepard’s name in my book. I did not know of him before and now all I know is that his representative is on a rampage regarding this issue.

Alex February 23, 2012 at 2:58 pm

+1 for Paul’s final comment. I’m yet to attract Mr Whitehouse’s attention (and for that reason am not leaving my website details) but I am most tempted to remove any mention of Dan Lepard from both of my blots. Not remove the recipes – note – just remove those lovely follow links, full of SEO goodness, those links to online sites where people can buy the books and, of course, the words “Dan Lepard”.

I’m not quite that juvenile but Mr Whitehouse’s approach just encourages people to omit all those details which is just counterproductive. Not to mention the ill feeling that’s been generated.

The Big-G February 23, 2012 at 7:28 pm

I also have to admit, I have NEVER heard of Dan Lepard until now. After this sort of behaviour, I will say that I will NEVER buy any of his books and will never mention him on any of my sites. There are plenty of other people and bakers who will appreciate it more. I agree with the above poster, I had never heard of him until now and as a result of Mr Whitehouse’s behaviour, I now know of him only because of this. Well done David!

Under_Exposed February 23, 2012 at 9:41 pm

David Whitehouse should either get legal advice, or sack his lawyers. This is a classic example of precisely what IS permissible in terms of adapting and publishing recipes. It is also a classic example of prohibited “groundless threats” in contravention of the Copyright Act.

Essjayeats February 24, 2012 at 7:14 pm

Interesting – I’ve been following this discussion over in the UK where there have been a few mainstream dead-tree media articles about it. I assumed that UK law was different to ours, as nothing they pointed out was IMHO a breach of copyright, by my understanding of it.

LisaD February 24, 2012 at 8:16 pm

If people aren’t allowed to reinvent, reinterpret, and publish their method of completing a recipe without the consent of the original author, this will be rather limiting for future authors. I hope Nigella contacted the inventor of the Victoria sponge before publishing “How to Be a Domestic Goddess.”

In all seriousness, there is a huge (ethical and legal) difference between copying a recipe out of a book currently in print and blogging about a recipe that is simply based on another. And there are much better ways for management to get in touch with bloggers. This isn’t exactly doing Dan Lepard any favours – which is sad, because he always seems like quite a nice bloke.

Jo @ Quirky Cooking February 24, 2012 at 9:04 pm

Oh, how did I miss this one??? Two of my favourite things – sweet potatoes and chocolate!! Thanks Amanda :)

Lila February 24, 2012 at 9:58 pm

This has been such an interesting read! I agree completely with all the comments bar Whitehouse’s incessant noise, especially those relating to the poor publicity for Dan Lepard. I will make sure to boycott his future publications.

MarjieC February 24, 2012 at 11:15 pm

As a business manager I would say that Mr Whitehouse has well and truly stepped in it and if I were Dan Lepard I would sack him. He doesn’t even have the sense to do his bullying in private.

The joy of cooking is the part that it is creative. Most chefs and professional cooks got in the game for this reason — sucking the joy out of the activity like this is really a huge business mistake (especially as his request is not even based on legal fact!).

I also had to look up Mr Lepard on the internet – him being so obviously famous and such (although becoming more so for the wrong reasons each time this is reposted). I Wonder what he thinks about getting egg on his face by association with this gentleman?! The more this is passed around without Dan Lepard making a direct comment about how silly this thing is getting (it’s brownies not genocide!) the worse it gets. Hire a PR guy instead of a ‘business manager’.

God February 25, 2012 at 12:02 am

This is God here, I own the copyright to Sweet Potatoes please can you contact me Mr Lepard as it seems not only are your claiming responsibility for Sweet Potatoes but your name is similair to Leopard and I own those as well.

The Bush Gourmand February 25, 2012 at 7:51 pm

Way to go God!

I, too had never heard of Dan Lepard before he was mentioned on the Thermomix Forum.
The bullying tone of his manager, or assistant, or whatever he is, has made it very unlikely that I would ever buy one of Dan’s books in the future.

CJ February 25, 2012 at 10:49 pm

Wow! This must be an important discussion… even God has waded into it!
It seems such a shame that the name of a, by all means, well respected chef is being dealt with in this manner because of a few stray words and the understanding of same.
I hope for his sake he has protected his future income losses as well…

Fuss Free Helen February 27, 2012 at 11:53 pm

This issue has been rumbling along in the UK for sometime, and caused some bloggers to consider giving up their sites, which makes me very sad.

I feel a tray of sweet potato blondies coming along for my next recipe.

sarah March 1, 2012 at 10:15 am

I’d urge people not to judge Dan himself too much by this. I’ve always found him to be kind and helpful on Twitter and the Guardian BTL and he in fact re-tweeted a link to my attempts to make a version of his hot cross buns as I was trying to get the hang of yeast doughs and was very encouraging even though I was on slightly dubious ground as I hadn’t altered the recipe apart from adding my mistakes and tips.

His books are wonderful and I’ve always respected him hugely. I’d like to know more about this David Whitehouse and whether he still works for Mr Lepard before boycotts are mentioned.

The Food Sage March 2, 2012 at 11:53 pm

Well done Amanda, for standing your ground. I would have buckled immediately under that bullying tone and removed the post completely. I admire your work and your constant references and links to your sources of inspiration. You’re one of the good guys.

Jez Cope March 21, 2012 at 2:10 am

I’ve had a similar experience with the marauding David Whitehouse — I caved straight away: http://posterous.erambler.co.uk/flaky-butter-buns-recipe

Well done for standing up to him! He really isn’t doing Dan any PR favours by behaving this way to a community which should be one of his greatest assets. I blogged my response here: http://erambler.co.uk/blog/sharing-flaky-butter-buns/

KJ Mercer March 21, 2012 at 9:37 am

Dan who?
What a laugh. The only thing this does is make me avoid precious Dan’s – whoever he is – stuff!
Get over yourself, David!

another outspoken female April 5, 2012 at 7:28 am

This is the most informative discussion on recipe copyright I’ve read thus far. Thanks Mr Whitehouse for sharing the link about copyright laws in Oz. Though mystified, after reading them, how he could think Amanda’s recipe contravened them at all.

I take recipe copyright seriously and only post my own, or my personal take on a published recipe, unless I have direct permission from the author. Though I’ve not asked many cooks to reprint a recipe, I’ve only been turned down once, though they appreciated me asking (as an aside if you had a self-published niche cookbook in Australia, didn’t have a distributer, didn’t sell it from your website and only sold from a handful of stores in 2 states – wouldn’t you want your recipe and link to new cookbook sent by email to over 700 Australian readers who perfectly fitted your niche? But I digress).

On the subject of copyright I have a greater issue with bloggers (and high profile journalists-turned tv presenter-turned high profile blogger) who continuously post other peoples photos without permission (at best a link to where the previous blogger had stolen it).

Cherry April 22, 2012 at 6:13 pm

I read the initial comments on this subject then skimmed down to the bottom. I hope this question is not redundant: How many of you have ACTUALLY clicked the link for the “original” version of an adapted recipe? Honestly.

The main issue I see here is cooks, chefs, etc., are prevented from potential sales and fans if visitors to blogs do not take the time to click the link. Who REALLY clicks the links? I know I have not clicked the links fewer times than I have. Does anyone else see that underlying issue please? I did not see it discussed on here. Concerning his (former) fans, I refuse to believe that bloggers adapting Mr. Lepard’s recipes are responsible for his success.

This intellectual property issue concerns me as well. Sometimes I just want to yell, “No one owns anything!”. :)

Mademoiselle Poirot May 12, 2012 at 9:04 am

Hi Amanda, I’ve just found your post whilst googling David Whitehouse as I’ve had a pretty nasty experience with him just today. It was lengthy (mostly on FB and I was so upset that I’ve unfortunately deleted the whole thread) , and felt like I was being bullied on my own blog which was awful. Even though he claimed to be polite and reasonable, his tone felt menacing and he was not prepared to listen to any arguments from my side.In the end I gave in, deleted the recipe and duly linked to the article he had provided. It was all about copyright and that I should link to the Guardian website (I had no idea the recipe was there as I had stupidly spent £25 on the book) instead of showing the recipe on my blog.

David’s sole job seems to be to trawl the net (I’ve found more posts like yours and mine) and “protect” Dan’s intellectual property – though judging by the amount of negativity surrounding his “comments” I’m not sure if he’s actually doing the author’s reputation any favours…

Anyway, just thought I’d let you know that you’re not the only one to have attracted DW’s wrath ;-) Have a good evening x

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