{Food Dish} Recipe Hoarders: It's Time to End the Insanity

The other day, my sister came out to me as a recipe hoarder. I was shocked. These cooking groupies have always dumbfounded me.

Now, to be clear, I’m not talking about “hoarding” in the TLC sense. (Can you imagine a house stuffed with recipes in every nook and cranny? It’s like a glimpse into my future.) No, I’m talking about a much more devious offense—people who don’t share their recipes.

To me the foremost principle of food and cooking is bringing joy and comfort to people. Whenever people enjoy something I cook, I almost always follow up with, “I’ll e-mail you the recipe!” I feel an obligation to share the recipe—the love—with them. I want them to be able to find joy from it whenever the whim strikes them.

So why would anyone hoard something that brings joy to others?

I learned from my sister that her habit springs more from laziness than anything else, so I’m exonerating her of guilt—after all, we all get lazy. But there are other, more purposeful examples of recipe hoarding. (You can tell I’m gearing up for an anecdote, can’t you?)

You see, there’s this honey butter. But it’s not just honey butter. It’s our family’s drug. It's the kind of honey butter you would dump Nutella for, and could make you imagine finally settling down and learning how to bake bread for. Every Christmas, a family friend generously makes this honey butter for all her friends and gives it out for Christmas cheer. We put it on my mom’s rolls (I’m happy to share the recipe with you), and it’s like crack. We can’t get enough of it.

We have pleaded for the recipe several times (probably past the point of common courtesy), and under normal circumstances, I'm sure our friend would happily share her recipe with us. But she CAN'T—see, years ago, in exchange for the coveted recipe, she promised another woman that she would never reveal the secret.

I don’t hold our family friend responsible. She’s a saint. She is keeping her word not to share the secret. And, because she is so kind, our sweet friend and her husband make the honey butter for us whenever we ask, and they make it IN VOLUME. (I’m talking tubs, here, people.)

But the person I do hold responsible is the woman who made her promise never to tell in the first place. Why would you insist on keeping something so amazing to yourself? Is it because the secret ingredient actually IS an illicit drug? (Trust me—we’ve wondered.)

I can understand when a restaurant won’t divulge a recipe—it’s their livelihood. But a normal person keeping the love from others seems silly to me.

So, I have two questions for you, gentle readers:

(1) Can someone please explain the hoarding rationale to me? Because I really just don’t get it—but if there's a good argument, I'm willing to concede victory of opinion.

And, (2) does anyone have an awesome honey butter recipe? I’m dying, here.


Kate Ensign-Lewis enjoys cooking, eating great new foods with her husband, finding good entertainment and art, and smothering her son with kisses.

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