Link With Love

This post is long overdue: link with love established themselves this summer, and I wanted to tell you all about it, but I got swept up in the craziness of the preserving season. Now that it’s mid-October (can you believe it?) and things in my kitchen have calmed down somewhat, I want to talk just a bit about blogging, sharing, and playing nice in this big jungle gym we call the Interwebs.

‘Round about the time that I stumbled across link with love this summer, I had just been having a conversation with some blogging friends about seeing a lot of my work all over the Web. And not in a good way: don’t get me wrong, I love when people link & share recipes or ideas from the blog on the various social media sites or on their own blog. I’m still tickled pink that anyone is actually here, reading about whatever wacky ketchup or disastrous cake I’ve been whipping up lately (hell, my Mom doesn’t even read my blog) and making the effort to comment, discuss and share. The fact that I can inspire even a single person to get into the kitchen and cook something from scratch is more wonderful to me than you can know, and watching my recipes shared by readers on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest is a true joy. Sadly, a growing and sharing readership comes with a dark side: it’s very difficult to control where your original work ends up.

With plenty of good advice from Elise at Simply Recipes via her post on copyright theft at Food Blog Alliance, I had set up a few Google alerts for my blog name and key topics, registered my blog domain with FairShare, and did my best to keep tabs on where my work was traveling on the Web. Once I started paying attention, I was finding my work, including images, recipes, and entire blog posts, lifted wholesale, on various websites: aggregators, personal blogs, recipe sites. Sometimes with a link back, sometimes with a mention of the blog, often with no attribution at all. And let me tell you: it’s just weird to see your own words, including your personal jokes, notes, illicit swearing and/or husband’s tasting notes, on someone else’s blog, as if it were their own.

Upon finding my work elsewhere, I generally contact the site author and ask nicely that they do not post full images without permission, and that instead of lifting the entire recipe text, that they post an excerpt with a link back to the original on my blog. Nine times out of ten this request is met with heartfelt apologies, instant retractions, etc.: people are just sharing the love. We were all new bloggers once: my own protocol for sharing published works, in book or online form, has evolved over time, and I’m sure some of my early posts now break my own “rules” in that regard. It’s the tenth time that can be aggravating, frustrating and downright infuriating: the authors refuse to acknowledge your kindly worded request, refuse to take down your recipe or images, and/or continue to abuse your copyright by lifting multiple recipes without attribution. It’s enough to make this Scottish redhead see red.

At this point in the conversation, someone always asks, “Why do you care? Isn’t any exposure good exposure?” or “Why do you publish a blog if you don’t want people to read your recipes?” or the dreaded “If you’re going to put stuff up on the internet, you have to expect that it will get stolen.” Well, I’ll tell you why I care: it’s mine. And that’s not just a childish, 5 year-old’s whine: it. is. mine. My words. My voice. My images. I searched out the ingredients, I labored over the stove, I styled the final product, I set up the photographs, I edited in Photoshop for hours (or days!), I crafted a story, I tweaked and tweaked and tweaked the recipe until it was perfect. Or I didn’t: but told you all about how I might tweak in the future. Point is: it’s my labor of love to share as I see fit. I don’t want my recipes on some blog about losing weight. Or cooking ‘tasty quick dinners’ using packaged convenience foods. Or preparing for doomsday with 1000 jars of jam in a shed. It’s just not who I am nor what I stand for. My work: my control. (This, among many other reasons, is why I will never be a Hollywood movie director: I’d be the ultimate “artistic control” diva.)

It was about this time that I stumbled across link with love. And not to be all punny, but I loved the idea: it’s not all hard-and-heavy, “don’t steal my copyrighted work or I’ll sue your theiving ass!”; the message is open, friendly, approachable: “if you like this work, share the love, and give credit where credit is due.” Link with love calls upon the internet community to be a community: accept the responsibility that the very word “community” implies, treat each other’s work with respect, and protect our mutual assets by linking with love ourselves, and teaching others to do the same. I refuse to accept that sharing your work on the internet automatically equals opening yourself up to theft: and link with love agrees with me.

So, my personal rule for linking with love? Consider everyone my friend. After all, eveyone else who has created something from scratch, be it recipe, prose, poetry or photograph, feels the same: it is theirs. I wouldn’t dream of lifting one of Julia’s recipes, as is, and just publishing it on my blog. I would never use one of Shae’s funky Hipstamatic images without asking. I couldn’t imagine writing about one of Kate’s published recipes, or hip tricks, without her permission. And if I do make one of my friend’s published recipes, I write about it in my own words, with my own spin, or not at all, and of course I include a link, and some heartfelt praise, of the original. So I will just apply the friendship code to everyone: authors, bloggers, artists, photographers. I will link with love.

Questions? Comments? I’d love to hear ’em. Copyright and attritbution can be grey areas, especially with respect to recipes: I’m hardly the first to write on this topic. For more information on copyright law, recipe attribution, blogging ethics, and linking with love, see the links below. Know of a great resource that I’m missing? Please share.

All graphics from Link with Love.


  1. Thanks for the eloquent & informative post on what can be a contentious topic. I’m sure this will help people think about the topic in a productive manner.

    I’ll just keep linking back 🙂

    Now, if I could just figure out what Pinterest is…

    -the redhead-

  2. Asa knitter, this has long been a problem in our blog world. Some one will think they over paid for a pattern and will post the entire pattern on their blog to share it. We have established protocols for dealing with this. I recently used your apple ginger jam as the starting point for a gingerbread jam. I linked back and credited you and posted my recipe which is different from your recipe. And when people ask me for ideas and good recipes for canning recipes, I send them here. Why not treat others the way you want to be treated? Some people just do not get it!

  3. A great reminder and one I’ll pass along. I really, seriously hope I’ve never been in violation of this. As a very small time contributor of recipes, I can only imagine how upset I’d feel to see my recipes being passed off as someone elses and how surreal it would feel to see my words, my stories and my narratives on someone elses blogs.

    Keep up the great work. I’m going to continue to happily link away as I think you’re a genius and you inspire me to try new and creative ways to highlight the best of the harvest.

  4. Connie Sumer

    This is one of my favorite quotes:

    “No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.”
    ― Laurie Colwin

    I totally agree that we need to respect each other, support each other and share the love in the food blogging world. It’s the right thing to do! Having said that, I will add that I’ve noticed it is often quite difficult to truly “give credit” to someone for their “original” recipe when you know that you’ve got the same recipe in the family cookbook. It’s a straight-forward choice when linking photos or entire blog posts because those are truly original and can only come from one source. But, the same cannot be said regarding the recipe crediting issue. I have seen countless bloggers post recipes, pictures and blurbs about “their” recipe. They get credited, commented on and even get their own cookbooks and television guest appearances. But, if we are being totally fair here, many of those recipes were NOT their original creations. I have a collection of hand-written recipes (from many generations in my family) as well as very, very old cookbooks, some of them hand-written. Those “original” recipes posted on the blogs? Well, more than a few of them were contained in my very old hand-written cookbooks. So, who is the original “author?”

    None of us wants to see our photos lifted, our blog contents copied or recipes falsely credited. But, we do need to be very, very careful about what we call our “own” as “original” bloggers, as well. There are recipes out there that have so many variations it’s impossible to count them. Are all of those people plagarizing thieves?

    Food Bloggers are some of the nicest, most supportive, giving, sharing people you could ever hope to meet, work with or get to know. But, a few of them are some of the most arrogant, me-me-me, egocentric people you could ever have the misfortune to work with. As the food blogging world increases, and more people are sharing their culinary points-of view, it becomes nearly impossible for people to come up with a truly original way to cook. There have been food bloggers who swear that “theirs” was the original recipe and that someone else copied them only to have the “someone else” swear the same thing…and it’s gone back and forth and turned into a food war about whose recipe it truly was. I suspect they were both right and didn’t “copy” one another, had never even known the other one existed and shared a recipe (tweaked or original) that came from some basic recipe they’ve had given to them or learned over the years.

    The Food Network has wars going on between their professional chefs and cooks. There is the often-debated issue of “What makes a true chef?” with one camp subscribing to the notion that only those who have gone through accredited culinary institutions and received their little piece of paper can “genuinely” hold that title, while others subscribe to the idea that their experience with chefs world-wide, time spent under the experts’ hands-on tutelage and day-to-day, year-to-year preparation of cuisine gives them real-life expertise as to give them the right to be called “chef.”

    I guess there is no real “answer” to any of this because people have different opinions. But I hold the opinion that if we see our original photos and blogs posts deliberately passed off as someone else’s…that is a REAL issue. All of this other stuff, well, don’t we have more important things to do than police and reprimand, then blog rules, regulations and etiquette? There is a fine line between claiming what it rightfully yours and splitting hairs, adding to the negative reputation that chefs and food bloggers are increasingly gaining. Lastly, back to the subject of recipe originality…I think if we are worried about it, we ALL have to ask ourselves…”Has it been done before?” If it has, then it’s not “ours” either.

    • Connie,

      You raise good points: many of have said that “there’s nothing original left in the world.” I think David Chang might disagree 🙂 but I hear what you are saying. I have a chicken soup recipe on the site: I call it Kaela’s Chicken Soup. Not because I invented chicken soup (actually it’s an adaptation from an old cookbook), nor because there is anything unique about it, but because it’s how I make it, and have been, for years. So, if someone else makes my exact chicken soup recipe, and puts it up on their blog without crediting me? Meh. It’s chicken soup: while there are a lot of variations, at the end of the day, it is chicken, stock, vegetables, herbs. While a linkback to my recipe, if you used it for reference, is common courtesy, as you say, a chicken soup recipe is hardly original.

      What really bugs me is if someone makes my chicken soup, then to put it on their own blog, simply copies & pastes all the text of my blog post into their own. I want to hear how *you* do it: do you always slice carrots on the bias? Do celery strings make you crazy? Do you not own a big enough pot so you always split it into two saucepans? There is a story behind every cook, every kitchen, every meal. Your readers want to hear *your* story, not mine.

      I hear what you are saying on the recipe wars: I think it is pointless agita, for the most part. But I do feel that the “there are no original recipes” mantra often gets trotted out in food blog circles to excuse laziness: not writing your own original words, not researching whether or not someone else actually has created that recipe in the past, not acknowledging the several recipes or techniques from which you found inspiration.

      I often tell the story of how a particular recipe came to be, especially if I feel that there is something unique about it. And I will often a “wildly adapted from…” linkback, to a recipe that inspired an idea, then took off in a completely different direction. Mostly I do this because this is part of what fascinates me about cooking in general: how & why recipes come to be. But I also do it because it is simply nice: not only crediting the original recipe with providing me the spark, but sharing that recipe with readers, such that they may find their own inspiration. I think it allows for a richer experience: after all, if all you want is a recipe for chicken soup – you’re probably not coming here for it.


  5. Well said. And while it IS true that if you put something up on the Intarweebs, it’s likely that someone WILL steal it.. that doesn’t mean that you have to like it, accept it, or take it lying down. 😉

    That said – MAY I steal a “link with love” button for my blog and link it back to this post?

    • Hi Holly,

      The “link with love” badges are freely availble on the link with love website (cllck any of the links in the post, or the link with love badge to the right) in a variety of sweet colors. Theirs automatically links back to their homepage, which I think is appropriate: I don’t want anyone claiming that I ‘invented’ link with love! 🙂 But, I encourage you to spread the word on your own blog, and by all means, include a link to this post as a resource. The more we spread the word and commit to good behavior, the happier place the Web will be.


  6. Great topic! As a fellow food blogger – albeit a bit lazy for sometime – I don’t think this can be repeated enough & I am always learning something new in these discussions! Thanks for a nice way of looking at the topic!

  7. Brooke - in Oregon

    Well done and great links to check out. I post photos of the jams I make on FB and put the link to the recipe back to you or whereever I find it. I also wondered if that is exceptable to do with my business website? We have a Landscape nursery and I post fruit recipes or veggie recipes there too. Always linking back to the author, I assume that is correct but sometimes they say that makes an ass out of u and me, so I thought I would just ask. Second question is one of taking jam to a county fair, is that and ok thing to do if it is not ‘my’ recipe?? Just wondering. I know I have told you this before but you are the one who really got me started canning and I thank you again for that 🙂

    • Hi Brooke,

      For pictures that you are taking yourself, absolutely you can post them however you like, and it is a great practise to link back to wherever you found the recipe.

      As for posting recipes on your business site: if you’ve made the recipe yourself, and will be writing it up in your own words, then post away (if the original is from a book or other print media however, I try to check first to see if it is already online anywhere: if not, I would try to get the author’s permission to publish, or not publish at all). If you are simply trying to round up seasonal produce recipes to highlight an ingredient, for example, but you haven’t made the recipe yourself, I would definitely contact the author of the recipe and ask if you can crosspost their recipe on your site. Many will be happy to offer up their recipe/post for free, even in support of a business site (I have several times) as long as you ask, and include attribution/linkback.

      If you are putting up a round-up, of say, winter squash recipes, from several sites, then it is generally accepted to include a thumbnail picture from the recipe in question, without permission, along with a short excerpt and a linkback to the original recipe (aggregators do this all the time, and this is how they many without violating copyright law). Of course, it is always nice to be asked first!

      As for taking jam to the country fair: funny but I had exactly this conversation with Shae, at Hitchhiking to Heaven, over the summer. Many people take jams or preserves to the fair that they have made, but it is not their ‘original’ recipe; again, there are only so many ways to make jam. However, some people feel comfortable with that, and others would rather submit only something that they feel is uniquely “theirs.” These are the grey areas: I mean, peach jam is peach jam. But say some jammer out there is well known for her pomegranate & prosecco jelly (just to pick a wild idea off the top of my head) that is always willing prizes at her local fair. I would not feel comfortable simply making her recipe and submitting it to my fair: according to fair rules, everything would be kosher. But according to *my* rules, well.. I’d rather win for something that is more me. Something with chiles or booze, likely. Or chiles AND booze. So, there are winding paths to navigate in these situations: and, as someone said above, I always think the best rule of thumb is to imagine how would you feel if someone did the same to you. Or – ask! I would be tickled pink to know that someone was going to make one of my jams and submit it to a fair. And I would never know unless that person reached out to me to make sure it was OK.For all that the Web is a fabulous commincation tool, sometimes we forget to use it to, you know, communicate. 🙂


      • Brooke - in Oregon

        Thanks for the quick response. When I post my photos of your jam recipe (ones that I have tried) I say something like ‘Love this Cara Cara Jam with a touch of Habanero’ then put to try this great recipe:

        or on our Nursery site I did this:
        Peaches with Spiced Rum, recipe by Kaela from Local Kitchen.(

        I used rum that I spiced myself, White sugar and Dark Brown sugar. Otherwise I followed Kaela’s recipe and this is quite tasty!
        I have a photo album on our FB page called Dirt to Dinner – Seed to Skillet – Bounty to BBQ!! I really appreciate your feedback because I certainly don’t want to do something underhanded and sure hope I have not ever mistakenly done anyone wrong

        • I think that looks fine, Brooke. The Web is all about sharing, after all, and I think everyone loves to see someone enjoying their work, and a link to a recipe with a personal note is always appreciated.

  8. Great post. As a new food blogger I’ll admit I struggle with this. If I make an adaptation of someone else’s recipe I always link back. But I have come across some grey areas, particularly when working from print recipes. Stealing someone’s words or photos is an obvious no-no. Unfortunately it’s not university where plagiarism is punished with a zero and a trip to the dean’s office, so I think it’s up to bloggers to find some way to self-police (for lack of a better phrase).

    Also thanks for the links, I will definitely be checking these out.

    • Hi Meghan,

      I think it can get a little muddy when working from published recipes in books, especially older books and a “classic” recipe. As I said, my own thinking on this has evolved over ~3 years of blogging, and I know some of my early recipes are now breaking my own rules.

      One thing that I have done in the past, if I think a particular turn of phrase in a recipe perfectly describes what needs to happen, but it is clearly not wording I would choose myself, is include it as “…as Tony says, ….” I think this way you can be clear that you are not trying to ‘steal’ someone else’s words, but appreciating what an apt description it is.


  9. andreadevon

    thanks for posting this concise version of linking love. I think it is great that you are protective and proud of your work, as we all likely are. I always feel like grad school trained me to cite everything all the time, and I hope (!) that I’ve always done a good job of this while blogging and while teaching my cooking classes. I love the idea of sharing your story, your tasting notes, and your style is what really makes a recipe your own; I think the process of getting to a specific recipe just as important as the finished product. aloha, a

  10. This is a great discussion. Just to add my two cents, as the author of a published book that has recipes in it, I love it when someone posts a recipe they’ve enjoyed from my book and tells people where they got it. Likewise, when I find someone else’s recipe I love, I figure that writer would appreciate the shout-out, too — being careful, of course, to cite the source. If I post a recipe that came from someone’s book, I like to link to Amazon where readers can order it for themselves if they’re so inclined. I highly doubt any book author would be unhappy with you for that kind of attention.

    That said — of course you should rewrite the instructions in your own words. And sharing bunches of recipes from one book would not be cool, as then . . . who would need to buy the book?

    Anyway, this is a great discussion and I love reading everyone’s points of view. Cooking is indeed one of those arts where we stand on the shoulders of the cooks who came before us. Which one of us would have been brave enough to eat that first artichoke? 🙂

    • Thanks, Lynn, that is really good to hear. I know I have shared some previously-un-web-published recipes, but generally it is from a cookbook that I *love* and I am singing high praise. And always include a link to purchase the book, if it is still available. But, that said: I am trying to commit myself to asking permission in the future, if it is not a significant modification. It just seems the right thing to do. Hopefully, all authors will be like you, and love the shout-out!

  11. Great discussion and points. I agree that the most important thing at the end of the day is honesty. My blog is a reflection of what I’m cooking for my friends and family, and often times they are recipes from my favorite authors. I don’t understand the point in claiming them as your own when they are not. Personally, I’m a curator – not a hardcore recipe developer. I take the best of my collection, put my spin on things based on what’s in the fridge, and make sure everyone knows where it came from.

    I think one of the best ways to attribute another bloggers recipe is to not post the actual recipe at all, and link to their site saying “for the recipe for… xyz…. visit…. abc.” I think that’s the ultimate.

  12. Kaela, thanks so much for taking the time — and having the heart — to write this thoughtful post. I think your simple rule, to consider everyone a friend and treat them as such, is exactly right. I appreciate that I now have such a simple question to ask myself in those rare situations where I am not certain whether I’ve modified a recipe or process in such a way that it makes sense to post it as my own: What would I do if the person from whom I sourced the inspiration/underlying recipe were a close friend?

    I loved reading all the comments here, too, and completely agree with the way you and Brooke talked over the county fair issue. (Dang it, I will write about that one of these days.) My own entries have been a mix. As we’ve talked about, it’s standard and even expected that fair exhibitors will enter tried-and-true published recipes — and sometimes I do that — but I always feel best when I find a ribbon on something I’ve made at 11 p.m. when I’m acting like a mad citrus scientist in my kitchen, no books in front of me at all.

    Thanks again, friend!

  13. Stro

    This is my first visit to your blog, reccommended by a friend. I am a paper crafter and this happens all the time in the paper craft world! You can watermark your photos!!! This way if someone copies them, they copy your watermark as well. Leave your web address on the watermark for others to find you! There are other things you can do to, like imbed your images with a link back to your blog (i don’t know how to do that, but I’m sure the info is out there) Google paper craft blogs and you will find many articles on this subject. Good luck, and I like your blog! 🙂

  14. I’ve been starting to wonder about this topic as a new-ish food blogger. I’ve definitely got some work to do to tidy up posts now. I’ve just added the Link With Love badge to my site as well. Thanks, Kaela!


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