≡ Menu

Special Snowflakes Want Your Jam, Cookies, Pickles, Fudge For Free

This seems to come up during the holidays with me and I was wondering if anyone else has this problem. I bake and can well enough that people ask me if they can either buy baked goods (usually cakes or decorated cookies), or canned items (pickles or jam). This falls into 3 different groups of people:

The people that expect to pay a fair price for the item made. They understand that my time is valuable and that I have a skill that they may not have. They do not balk or ask for discounts or freebies. These customers and friends are appreciative of the amount of work that goes into making a cake, cookie, jam or pickle.

The people that balk at the price and ask for a discount, or in this case the recipe. I had a person balk at the price of a jar of pickles, and then ask for the recipe so she could just “make it herself”. This was after she had explained she could not cook. I gave her “part” of the recipe, and then she complained that the pickles did not “turn out”.

I’ve also had people say-it’s just a jar of jam, can’t I get a discount. Someone said this to me once and I had just met them! I used to explain the time and expense involved in making things, but the people asking for a discount have no clue how to make the things I do and their eyes either glaze over in boredom, or they tried to argue with me on how deserving they were of a discount. I always respond now with “that will not be possible”.

The people that ask for “free”! Many years ago, when I first started canning, I had a neighbor ask for peach jam. I gave him a pint of jam and he went home. The next day he came back and asked for another jar, so I asked what happened to the last jar-from the day before. His reply was he ate the jar of jam with a spoon the night before and it was so good he wanted more. At that point I told him it took me several hours to make that jam and I had about $4.00 in supplies (not counting time), and no- he needed to go home. His reply ….” it’s just jam”! He never got any more jam from me, and luckily, they finally moved away.

How does everyone else handle these situations? 1206-18

I think you are handling it quite well. I get the same thing only with crafts and some confections. I make a one-of-a-kind Christmas ornament using paper to make 3 dimensional diorama shadow boxes. A few of them have tiny HO gauge train figures in them. I make them for me or family or a few select friends but never for sale. Last year someone asked me straightforward if I would give her a specific one that had 2 HO figures in it. Those HO figures are not exactly cheap and if I were to sell these ornaments, they would be $25 each, minimum. No offer to buy it, she just wanted me to give it to her. I demurred saying that my season of Christmas crafting is done for the year and I won’t be making any more until next December. She has, so far,not reminded me of this.

I smile and ignore people who outright ask me to give them something I have made and then I vow to not to talk about my baking plans in front of them ever again.

{ 86 comments… add one }
  • psyche December 10, 2018, 6:12 am

    This reminds me of a story on Not Always Right.

    As a “side hustle”, this woman baked wedding cakes which she charged a pretty penny for. She got talked into baking a cake for her MIL’s co-worker, who, unbeknownst to the OP, hired her because the MIL lied and told Co-worker that the OP would work cheap. She stood up to the MIL, who had a history of pulling stunts like this, and told her that wasn’t possible, that it wasn’t her fault she lied to Co-Worker, and basically to get bent.

    MIL left her alone after that.

  • Mames December 10, 2018, 6:14 am

    Giving part of a recipe is too passive aggressive.
    There is nothing wrong in saying that is my own personal recipe, that I’ve perfected for myself, I can steer you to one close to mine, but cant give away my secrets.
    People have a hard time saying no, I did. It has taken me a long time to realize I CAN say no and nobody is going o die.

    • sillyme December 11, 2018, 8:45 am

      Except anyone, and ANYone can now browse the web for a respectable pickle recipe. A little passive aggressive, maybe, but the OP has the right to protect her “proprietary” formula.

    • Princess Buttercup December 12, 2018, 4:26 am

      Agreed. I hate people who purposefully leave out ingredients when giving a recipe. Just say no, I’m not willing to share my recipes. It’s not that hard. But causing someone to waste food they bought is rude.

    • SS December 13, 2018, 8:40 pm

      I read that comment as the person trying to make excuses why theirs didn’t turn out and made a false accusation that the OP gave them only part of the recipe, which is why that comment was in quotes.

  • Leigh December 10, 2018, 6:43 am

    I knit, and run into the same problem. I have one scarf pattern with intricate lace ends that takes over 2 months for me to make because of how complex it is. On top of that, the yarn is $45 per skein. No one wants to reimburse me for just the cost of the scarf, let alone the time it took me to make, but they want that scarf for free. At this point I give them the name of the pattern and the yarn store, and offer to help them if they want to learn to make it themselves.

  • Jinx December 10, 2018, 7:07 am

    This has got me thinking, because I’m in health care, and I’d be mildly put out when people would stop me at parties and say “I have this problem, what do I do about it”, because A: I’m at a party, B: those problems aren’t cut and dry and require an assessment, and C: based on my profession’s treatment of problems, the answer is going to take probably 20 minutes. The part that really kills me is every time I take the time, people seem to never follow my advice anyway.

    I would think it was a bit much for people to ask me to do my job for free, but it’s easy to make that mistake when there’s no physical evidence. I mean, do people not understand baking a cake is work? And if not, why don’t they try baking? I mean, not even offering cost of supplies is insane to me.

    • Miss R December 10, 2018, 8:16 am

      “What do I do about it?”

      “See your doctor.”

      • Rinme December 11, 2018, 5:49 am

        This x 100!

    • JeanLouiseFinch December 11, 2018, 11:57 am

      As a law school student, someone asked one of our teachers what they should say if someone at a party asked them for legal advice, for free. He told them to say, “This advice is worth what you paid for it.” I agree with saying that and/or to add that if they really have a problem, they should see their doctor.

    • Bea December 12, 2018, 1:46 am

      My doctor friends tell people that their insurance only covered visits at their offices, to please call for an appointment to make sure their concerns are addressed properly.

      The law folk deflect as well.

      I thankfully got to be the accountant of the group, not too many free tax advice questions.

    • Tracy W December 12, 2018, 9:30 pm

      I understand the recommended response for medical types is: “Of course! Now take off your clothes.”

      • 2browneyes4 December 26, 2018, 12:47 pm

        I am an attorney and I often get people trying to “slyly” get free advice from me. While I always do my best for close family members, it gets VERY annoying when people use inopportune moments or “not quite correct” information to do so. I’ll tell 2 stories very quickly:

        1. I picked up a friend from out of town who was staying at his sister’s home while in town. I brought my nephew “Steven” to play with his grandson while we were away at a dance. When I arrived to pick up my friend, his sister started telling me about a dispute she was having with her next-door neighbor, but told me in a “can you believe her?” sort of way. I just nodded and smiled, and was glad when my friend was finally ready to leave. At the end of the evening when I brought him back to her home, I was visibly tired after a night of dancing, drinking and partying. As soon as I walked in the door, she shoved some court documents in my hand and said “what am I supposed to do?” I was so tired that I could not concentrate on the documents long enough to make sense of them. I smiled, put the documents down on the table, and called upstairs to say “Steven, it’s time to go!!” I walked out and never looked back. Not only is the area of law to address her concerns not my specialty, but I thought it was incredibly rude for her to shove her documents in my hand and demand answers without even asking if I minded looking at them, or if I had time to do so.

        2. The second story involves my paternal grandmother who loves to brag about her “lawyer granddaughter.” My parents are divorced but grew up in the same neighborhood so their families know a lot of the same people. I was in my hometown visiting my paternal grandmother and I was inside the house eating while she sat on the front porch. She calls me outside to “meet somebody.” I go to the door and there’s a woman I’ve never seen before sitting beside her with court documents in her hand. My grandmother said she wants to see if I can help the lady out. The lady smiles at me and says she’s heard all about me. She’s extending the documents towards me and said “I’m a long time good friend of your mom’s!” I said “Really? What’s your name again?” She repeated her name it didn’t sound at all familiar. I said “Are you sure you’re a friend of MY mother’s?” She said yes. I said “I’m sorry, but I’ve never heard of you.” I turned around and went back inside and my grandmother never tried anything like that again! Later, I asked my mom’s sister about the woman and she said she remembered her, but that she and my mother were more like enemies!!

  • Charliesmum December 10, 2018, 7:25 am

    I have a friend who makes jewelry. Really nice things, using semi-precious stones and vintage flatware (as well as vintage buckles and clasps). She basically re-purposes stuff to make them into really lovely, one-of-a-kind jewelry. She’s always generous about giving things out as gifts for birthdays etc. but she does sell at craft fairs and on etsy. We had one friend who constantly expected ‘discounts’ simply because we were ‘friends’. It really got on her nerves after a while; but she was at least good about pushing back and saying no. It does tend to amaze me how many people don’t understand the money and the work that goes into homemade crafts etc.

    • Jessiebird December 10, 2018, 11:36 am

      It’s funny when friends ask for or demand discounts on beautiful or delicious things their friends make or sell. Any friend of mine who makes something beautiful or delicious that I admire or covet or crave would get full price (if they were charging) and some kind of reciprocal gift (if giving to me), because I’d want to support him/her and express my admiration and appreciation not only for their creativity and skill, but for their entrepreneurship and/or generosity. And to thank them for putting some beautiful and handmade into the world! I’m probably an exra nice person. ;P

      (And I think the discounts originate from some sort of reciprocity in the relationship. See Marcel Mauss “The Gift.”)

      “It’s just jam!” What a comment! I just learned to make jam last week, and I too could eat it with a spoon from this particular person, and I don’t care about jam any other time, storebought or otherwise. She offered to teach me her technique, gave me a couple of jars after I finished helping, and I brought the bagels and homemade bread for our fresh jam snack!

      This is the problem (and boon, on the other hand, I suppose) with outsourcing and automating domestic production….freedom to do other things but disconnect from (knowledge of) fundamental modes of production, like food and clothing production.

  • nora December 10, 2018, 7:55 am

    I am a knitter and this happens to me a lot. People see something I’m wearing that I made and demand I make one for them too. My solution is to charge an obscene amount for even the smallest things. Either the other person leaves me alone (win) or they agree to pay me for my work (big win!).

    • Lerah99 December 12, 2018, 8:51 am

      This! I am possibly the slowest knitter on the planet.

      That cute scarf with a really simple cable pattern? That’s 3 months of me knitting every night.
      That hat with the simple ribbed pattern? That’s about 3 weeks of me knitting every night.

      It’s HOURS and HOURS and HOURS of work on top of the $30-$40 a skein I paid for the really soft baby alpaca wool so it would feel like a warm cloud.

      To then have my brother say “I don’t know what the kids want for Christmas this year. I guess you could just whip up another scarf and hat set like you did last year.” as if that was the cheap and easy option – infuriating.

  • Yasuragi December 10, 2018, 8:15 am

    I think it’s rather rude to set someone up to fail with a partial recipe. Either give them the full recipe or don’t give them anything.

    I’m an American living in Japan and it’s a common occurance for people I’ve just met to ask me to teach them English. They’ll say, we can meet in a cafe for a few hours two or three times a week so I can practice my English! I’ll even pay for your coffee! I used to change the subject. When that didn’t work I’d tell them my hourly rates plus travel time. That shut them up pretty quick. If they continued I’d ask them what their job was in if they could come over to my house and do it for free on their day off. Nowadays I just flat out tell them I don’t do that.

    • SS December 13, 2018, 8:45 pm

      I don’t think they gave a partial recipe. I think that they were accused of that when the other person was trying to make excuses why their attempt failed.

  • Stormy Summers December 10, 2018, 8:20 am

    These people are being rude – absolutely no question. They are asking for your time and money for free. But only giving someone ‘part’ of a recipe (aka an incorrect recipe) is basically trolling them. You know it’s not going to work, so now you are just wasting their time and money and ingredients to spite them – which I think is rude. If you don’t want to give them the recipe, then just say you don’t want to. Say it is a family secret or a source of income or whatever you want to, just have a polite spine about it.

    I love to bake, and have created several excellent recipes myself, and have had no problem giving them to anyone with an interest in my baked goods before. In fact when someone tries to demand I make something for them I will often just offer to give them the recipe instead. It doesn’t hurt me any to let them try, and then they will understand the kind of effort that goes into those things.

    • HenrysMom December 11, 2018, 4:29 pm

      I noticed that the original post had “part” in quotes. To me that means that it wasn’t that the OP gave her part of the recipe, but the other person didn’t do it correctly and then said that OP didn’t give her the right or entire recipe. There was a whole thread on it back at the E-Hell forum about that very thing, people bugging cooks for a recipe, then not following the recipe or doing substitutions, which resulted in a substandard produce.

  • Jill December 10, 2018, 8:37 am

    This may be unpopular, but I feel that to give “part” of your pickle recipe and then gleefully report that the pickle maker said they didn’t “turn out” is just as bad a breach of etiquette. There’s nothing wrong with saying that it’s a family recipe and you don’t share with anyone, or some other way to deflect their question. Lest I sound super judgy (which I don’t intend), I bad coffee cakes every Christmas for family, friends and coworkers and have had other ask to purchase the cakes for them to use as gifts. I’m always able to truthfully say that baking is such a big project that I don’t have time to make any additional cakes beyond what I’ve already committed to.

    • Bada December 11, 2018, 10:26 am

      Not an unpopular opinion at all! I was wondering if there was any charitable way to interpret the statement about only giving “part” of the recipe (why the quotes in the OP?). That’s super rude.

  • Michelle December 10, 2018, 8:59 am

    I think you are doing fine. Just keep saying “that will not be possible”. People undervalue baking, canning and crafting talents, thinking it’s easy or you should sale them for next-to-nothing. If it were that easy, everyone would do it.

    • Kitty December 10, 2018, 6:58 pm

      Don’t forget people that commission drawings/paintings from people, and are offended when these people demand payment. “It’s just art; it’s not that hard!” It still involves supplies that need to be bought and time. Or even those lovely people that say, “I’m paying you in exposure, isn’t that enough?” No because ‘exposure’ does not have a monetary value to it, nor is it actually physical.

      • JD December 11, 2018, 8:43 am

        I have a good friend who is a wonderful pencil/colored pencil artist, but she draws strictly for the love of the art. She has won at numerous shows in several states; she’s quite a good artist. She will make prints of her drawings and sell those, but refuses to create by commission, as that would create pressure for her she doesn’t want, and besides, she has a full-time job already in another field that she also loves. I’ve bought some of her prints, at full price, and would never ask for a discount, even though I’m one of the people who convinced her to start making and selling prints. She gets up an hour early every morning to draw before her “real” job, and takes 2-3 months to finish each drawing. She deserves every penny she gets for her drawings, but she tells me she sometimes gets people asking her to draw something for free. She always says sorry, no, and some do get offended.

      • Michelle December 11, 2018, 8:45 am

        Absolutely, Kitty. My deceased stepfather was a painter and people would see his pieces and want them for free. Sometimes he would give them as gifts, but then wanted him to do special pieces for free (including purchasing the paint, any special brushes, and canvas).

      • Ultrapongo December 11, 2018, 8:57 am

        It is even worse: People DIE from exposure…

      • Vicki December 13, 2018, 6:09 pm

        “Exposure to what? More people who’d expect me to work for free?”

  • DGS December 10, 2018, 9:11 am

    I think the OP is handling things fine with the exception of giving out “part” of a recipe. That’s passive aggression and unnecessary. No is a complete statement, so it would be just fine to say that she does not share her recipes, or to simply encourage the person to look up pickling online (there are many different recipes out there).

    People do not appreciate homemade goods, which are quite often far superior to store-bought and factory-made items; they tend to underestimate how much hard work had gone into making them. It is quite reasonable to not give them out as freebies and thus, cheapen one’s labor.

    • Devin December 10, 2018, 9:55 am

      Totally in agreement with you. I’m sure it felt good to be snarky in the moment and leave out key ingredients if the person requesting/demanding your recipe wasn’t being polite, but that’s really unnecessary. If I try someones food and really enjoy it, if it’s not immediately known that they sell it for profit, then I’ll ask for the recipe. I’d feel put out of i then invested my time and money to make the recipe only to find out it failed because they purposefully left out key ingredients. If it’s a ‘secret family recipe’ then just don’t share it at all.
      I’ve had several friends give up crafts they enjoyed because once they spent the time getting good, people started expecting presents of their crafts. I totally understand why they’d say no because the parts and labor of a hand knitted item, or quilt, or jewelry is usually more than what you’d typically spend on most people’s gifts.

      • Calli Arcale December 10, 2018, 5:42 pm

        I thought about that too. I guess I could understand if it wasn’t deliberately sabotaged but instead was merely written beyond the recipient’s skill level. A lot of advanced recipes do leave stuff out, because they expect you to already know those things. It’s still kind of a passive aggressive trap (oh, so you think it’s easy? so you think all you need is the recipe, huh? well, here then — have my cheat sheet, which is all I ever use because I know the basic techniques).

    • Anonymous December 10, 2018, 10:29 am

      Yeah, I was going to say the same thing. Giving someone only part of a recipe, is giving them the WRONG recipe, and it’s a dishonest thing to do. Saying “no” is perfectly fine, but lying isn’t.

      • inapickle December 11, 2018, 8:41 am

        I should have clarified what part of the recipe I left out. I gave her the recipe list of all of the ingredients and canning times, but not all of my secret tips and tricks in making the pickle (that I cut them super thin using a mandoline, how I soak the them in salt for much longer than the recipe states and I can tell by the feel of them that they are dry enough from the salt for canning, or that I only use certain brands of vinegar and spices because I think it affects the taste). This was the part that I left out-all the tips and tricks that I have learned from 30+ years of canning. If the base recipe was followed it would be a fine pickle, but not my pickle.

        • LadyCap December 11, 2018, 7:30 pm

          inapickle, I’m getting hungry just hearing you describe your method! 🙂

          And I think you were perfectly within bounds keeping back your special tricks.

          • staceyizme December 12, 2018, 1:09 am

            I think she was “in bounds” in giving any “part” of the recipe that she wished. Anyone foolish enough to demand something like that deserves to be given whatever form of dismissal is convenient. Why should the recipe giver be obliged to argue with someone so obstinate that they are neither willing to pay fair price for specialty items if purchasing them nor willing to develop the craft themselves over the course of time with considerable practice and experimentation? This “out” of giving most of a recipe that’s precious to a cook isn’t well thought of in many circles, but does serve the demanding soul right for trying to argue/ bully/ force their way into benefiting from the labor and experience of another person without their consent.

  • BeachMum December 10, 2018, 10:40 am

    The only thing is that if you’re going to give a recipe, I think it’s not particularly nice to give only half.

    I know I’m a better baker than many, but if I’m asked, I’m happy to give someone my recipe. Frequently, they don’t make the recipe, or call to ask me for help (which I’m happy to give). My MIL writes out recipes without all of the instructions, so that whatever you’re making doesn’t quite turn out like hers. I think it’s nasty of her.

    OP, the only thing I think you’re doing wrong is giving out part recipes. Either give it out completely, or don’t.

  • ladyv21454 December 10, 2018, 10:45 am

    I am totally hopeless at crafting of any kind, so I am more than willing to pay the asking price for quality work! As for Jeanne’s jam story: had I been the neighbor, and I liked the jam that much, I would have gone back to Jeanne and asked if there was any chance that I could buy another jar or two of jam – and been graceful if the answer was “no”.

  • JD December 10, 2018, 12:22 pm

    I used to make a sweet relish that took time to grind all the ingredients (we grew some of them in our garden and I bought the rest), letting it sit in brine overnight, several rinses, then making the vinegary syrup, cooking it all together and processing it in a canner. It was a two-day process. One year I had a lot of it, so I gave away a handful of half-pints as gifts. I was so surprised at how many people asked for it again as a gift — no offer to pay. I had the same thing happen with hot pepper jelly and wild berry jelly. I gave some of these people the recipes — the full recipe– if they kept asking for the product. They never tried to make the things themselves, and would sigh about how they missed mine. I have always worked full time, so making home canned goods was no easy task, and I ignored their hints.
    OP, I feel your pain, and it is very frustrating, but I have to agree with others that giving an incomplete recipe was not the nicest thing to do, and really, what did it accomplish? The recipient was obviously willing to make it, and had he/she had the right recipe, might be making it all the time, thereby never needing to ask you again. I’ve told people no to giving some out some of my recipes, if I suspected their motives might be to sell or in other ways take credit for my recipe (I’ve had people do that before). To me, that’s better than giving a recipe with ingredients left out.

    • inapickle December 10, 2018, 1:33 pm

      I should have clarified what part of the recipe I left out. I gave her the recipe list of all of the ingredients and canning times, but not all of my secret tips and tricks in making the pickle (that I cut them super thin using a mandoline, how I soak the them in salt for much longer than the recipe states and I can tell by the feel of them that they are dry enough from the salt for canning, or that I only use certain brands of vinegar and spices because I think it affects the taste). This was the part that I left out-all the tips and tricks that I have learned from 30+ years of canning. If the base recipe was followed it would be a fine pickle, but not my pickle.

      • Pep December 11, 2018, 6:32 am

        This is what I thought you meant — you provided the basic recipe without the modifications you’ve made through trial and error. Those hard-won changes are your signature and secret!

      • JD December 11, 2018, 8:27 am

        Okay, so you did give the whole recipe, just not your adding information. That is different. Yes, I wish you had clarified that, but I see now what you meant.

      • Bada December 11, 2018, 10:33 am

        Did you tell the friend “this is the basic recipe, I’ve made some on the fly adjustments” (or something that indicates you’re not giving out your personal adaptations/secrets)? If I was the friend, I’d want to know that, even if you’re not willing to tell what your secrets are, there’s more to it than what you gave. Otherwise I’d still feel misled.

    • Kitty December 10, 2018, 7:01 pm

      Hot pepper jelly? …that sounds really interesting. I can’t quite imagine it, though, is it similar to chutney (what one finds in Indian restaurants)?

      • Queen of Putrescence December 11, 2018, 6:48 am

        From what I know of hot pepper jelly, it’s not chunky but smooth like most jellies. Many people eat it with cream cheese on crackers.

      • JD December 11, 2018, 8:26 am

        Hot pepper jelly is actually made mostly with bell (sweet) peppers, at least in my recipe it is, but with enough hot peppers added in to made a delicious spicy sweet jelly. It is a “clear” jelly — no bits of pepper floating in it at all. The peppers are ground and cooked, but strained out completely to make the jelly. Since the color is not the prettiest, it’s often tinted green, or when selling it at Christmas bazaars, half of the jars are red and half are green.
        In this area of the south, pepper jelly is a huge favorite for topping cream cheese and bagels or cream cheese and crackers. People don’t like to make it because — 1) having to make jelly, 2) having to guess how hot the peppers are going to make the jelly, so as to keep it from being too hot, since peppers aren’t uniformly hot and 3) having to handle, grind, and strain hot peppers. I always wear gloves.

  • Gena December 10, 2018, 1:36 pm

    I’ve never understood family and friends expecting a discount. As family/friends – wouldn’t you want the crafter to get full compensation? My nephew painted my house a few years ago, and I gave him more than he asked because he’s my family, and I know he needs it. Other family members expect a discount – why should he spend time on your project at a discount when he can do others full price? and they are fully aware that he’s young, just starting business, and has a family of his own to support.

    • Stormy Summers December 11, 2018, 9:08 am

      You know – this brings up an interesting double standard in today’s society. As MLM (multi-level marketing) schemes get more and more popular, so many people are expecting their friends and family to buy pre-made junk from them at inflated prices to support their new business, but somehow we also turn around and ask for a discount (or free) on things that people put real time and effort into creating from scratch. I feel like this is an interesting statement on what we value as a society.

    • bap December 11, 2018, 9:23 am

      JD, I have done that same thing. I once called a young man to do a job for me. He was just getting started and had not had many jobs. He gave me a quote which I knew to be too low, but I also knew he was desperate for work. I hired him and watched him work literally all day and past dark to complete the job. He could easily have told me he would come back the next day to finish, but he didn’t and I felt it was for two reasons. 1) he wanted to make a good impression and 2) he REALLY needed the money. I just let him work and then wrote the check for double what he had quoted. I knew the job was worth every penny of what I paid him and was still a bargain from what professionals would have charged. The look on his face when he saw the check was worth the extra money.

  • Bernadette December 10, 2018, 1:58 pm

    I had a slightly opposite problem once. My husband had a friend who used to make meals and sell them to friends (ribs, fried chicken, sides). We would sign up for and purchase dinners when she would contact him. Her greens where the best we’d ever had, and she offered to make us a side of greens for Thanksgiving for $20. My husband gave her the money up front. 2 days before Thanksgiving he called to check in – see when he could pick up the greens, and she told him she needed another $20. We didn’t buy the greens from her, and that was the end of that. I’m sorry – but I’m not paying anyone $40 for a side dish of greens – that’s more than the damn turkey cost!
    He figured she spent the $20 he gave her and wanted him to pay again – but he wouldn’t.
    We were happy to pay the $20 she initially quoted, and always supported her little side business when she was selling meals – but we both felt like she was ripping us off on the greens!

    • VA Lady December 13, 2018, 8:20 pm

      did you get your original $20 back from her? and i assume that you no longer supported her meal service going forward. was she surprised that you weren’t willing to continue buying food from her?

  • Kirsten December 10, 2018, 2:04 pm

    He ate an entire pint of jam in one night? Good grief.

  • Sarah December 10, 2018, 3:08 pm

    I’ve had people ask for items I knit. They say “Well, you made it, so it’s free.” Hello – I have to buy the yarn, which, if it is of good quality, can be expensive. And the time! Even a baby blanket takes hours and an adult blanket/sweater even more!

  • inapickle December 10, 2018, 3:40 pm

    To clarify in giving her “part” of the recipe. I did give her the base recipe (all the ingredients and canning instructions). What I did not give her was my 30+ years of secret tips and knowledge in making this particular pickle (how I cut the pickles with a mandoline to get them super thin, that I soak them in salt for much longer than what the recipe states so they are super dry before canning and stay crisper, that I use certain brands of vinegar and spices because I think they taste better). That is the part that I left out, not an ingredient but my tips and tricks that make my pickles-my pickles. The recipe I gave her makes a perfectly fine pickle, but it will not make my pickles…..especially on the first try.

  • Sarugani December 10, 2018, 4:04 pm

    I‘m currently in the cookie baking phase aka „The Nightmare before Christmas“. I have several staples that I make every year and then I also like to try out new recipes. I give them as presents to people I love who don‘t bake themselves and who basically fall over themselves with gratitude and I always make way too many, so I usually take a big box to work, put it in the kitchen area and invite my co-workers to taste. Now, some of my co-workers are actually telling me which kind of cookie I absolutely have to bring, because it‘s their favorite and while I like the feedback and I was going to bake those cookies anyway, I still feel it’s pretty presumtuous, especially as those are the most work intensive of all my recipes and I already know someone will pout, because I didn‘t bring enough of them. Then, there‘s the supervisor who (as a joke that fell completely flat with me) told me to bring her my „work“ batch of those elaborate cookies, so she could use them to suck up to one guy higher up. That guy incidentally asked me about a key ingredient I intended to use and when I told him said „yeah, that’s okay“ as if I needed his approval for my recipe. Thankfully, it’s only 2 or 3 people who annoy me like that, the rest are happy to get a treat, say thanks and, if asked, will supply feedback which I always appreciate especially for the untested recipes.

    • FelFly December 11, 2018, 6:05 am

      I definitely have a similar experience. I am really skilled at making candy and caramels are ‘my thing.’ I usually do this around Christmas and most people are super grateful to receive a few pieces of candy, but I have one friend who always tells me that it has to be caramel. I like giving the candy away, but I also have to enjoy making it, so I find that attitude a bit frustrating because it is my gift to others. Making the same thing year after year gets old. So this year I decided everyone is getting fudge. 😉

      • Sarugani December 12, 2018, 5:52 am

        I do ask the people I go to all that trouble for, which kinds are their favorites, so I can include those if possible, but my co-workers, as much as I get along with most of them, they basically get the spill-over, not an invitation to demand extras. And they know how much work those cookies are!
        The bakery near here sells that kind in small bags for a price lower than I would have to charge if I sold them, but still quite pricey and if I give them out for free… ?

      • Pep December 12, 2018, 6:49 am

        But a good homemade caramel is so — good. I have tried to make them. The first time I got a hard, Sugar Daddy kind of candy that loosened your teeth. The next try yielded a lava-like substance that did not stop flowing. I hope your friends don’t nag you but I do understand why they want your caramels.

      • staceyizme December 13, 2018, 9:47 am

        I remember insisting to someone once that they “have to” do something. To be fair, I was in the right and the decision maker would have been reneging on something unjustly. I was too insistent, however, and was anxious about having my way in a volunteer context. She looked at me and said “oh, I do?” “do I REALLY?” (have to do what you have said). It let me know I’d crossed a line and I learned a valuable lesson that day. I wish that I could say that I’d never lost my equilibrium in subsequent situations, but that would not be the case. Perhaps, however, some of the expert makers of candy, cookies, crafts and treats could try that turn of phrase. It stopped me cold.

    • Liz December 11, 2018, 9:41 am

      Oh wow, I hate that. Don’t tell me what I WILL be making and WHAT I can use it it!

      I used to make cookies back in the day at the holidays. Mainly because I didn’t make a lot of money, so I’d give them to my CWs since I really couldn’t afford to buy gifts. I worked in a job where the mailroom did a lot for me, and as a thank you, I made a HUGE platter of cookies and took it down. One guy actualy had the nerve to say “cookies? why not sandwiches? We have enough cookies already” Are you kidding me??? I left that job but if I had been there again the following year, they would have gotten nothing.

      I decided again this year to do some, smaller scale, and brought in some for my CWs to try. Everyone loved them, so they’re what I’m making for my cookie exchange at work. Well, my one boss DID comment how she didn’t really care for the green and red nonpareils I put on top. Well, too bad.

    • Queen of the Weezils December 11, 2018, 4:01 pm

      I do a big cookie baking day this time of year too, and give them out as gifts. Part of the joy, for me, is cooking something different every year. If someone asked for a favorite, I’d tell them that.

    • eeek February 27, 2019, 9:37 am

      Coming to this party months late, but the story about making holiday treats for work friends reminded me of why I no longer do this. My DH and I make truffles every year as our family gift – honest to goodness hours and hours of work on multi-day recipes that require some skill with the techniques to make the goodies come out looking right. (Don’t worry, we get to eat the mistakes!) We like to have an array of candies in the boxes for family, so we generally have enough of each type left over that I can bring several dozen of these treats for my friends at work. I used to do this regularly, but now I don’t. Why?

      Well, work changed – a unit that formerly had 30 people now has closer to 60, and I only really know a few of these new people well. And 3 dozen truffles is different from 5 or 6 dozen, in terms of sharing the largess. But also, I discovered that one of my colleagues was taking a dozen and hoarding them, which meant that other people weren’t getting any. Another person found an empty candy box and started filling it with the truffles I made, planning to take them to a family gathering as her contribution to a treat swap. (In each of these cases, I interrupted the piggy and informed them that the treats were for my friends at work, and I’d only made enough for each person to have one – not for anyone to have several.) And, of course, I would get orders, like “last year you made some with pistachios! I want those! Bring those in tomorrow!!!” (Those folks get an icy stare and “what an interesting demand.”) I had one new, and quite distant, coworker inform me that her wedding would be in July, and I could give her truffles for the reception as my gift to her. (I told her as kindly as possible that I would be astonished to receive an invitation to her wedding, since we are not at all close and I would hope she would invite her dearest friends and family rather than me. She replied that I was right, it would be a small wedding and I would not be invited…but could still give her truffles. I responded more clearly: I certainly would not give an acquaintance a gift with a value of several hundred dollars in materials and labor. Shocked, she was.)

      These days, we still make the truffles for family, but a new wrinkle has come up – several family members have adopted the vegan lifestyle, and while one can certainly make candy that fits their dietary parameters, we do not choose to cultivate that skill. From our point of view, the results – compared to truffles made with cream, eggs, and fine Belgian chocolate – taste terrible, and though we’ve tried many recipes, they just are not any good. Next year, I fear, we may resort to giving gift cards. /sigh

  • Portfan December 10, 2018, 6:27 pm

    Perfect timing. I just finished a quilt that was kind of demanded of me from a close friend by her and her young daughter (there was no real ‘ask’ just a series of comments about how the child had ‘outgrown’ the quilt I made for her years ago and that it was time for a new one). The whole time I was working on it, I was resentful. While I appreciate that they obviously really liked the original quilt, I’m stunned at how people don’t seem to understand just how much time, energy and money goes into making a quilt. Normally when I do make somebody a quilt it is because I want to and have been inspired to do so. This has not been anything like that and I’m just grateful that it’s done. The whole thing has been frustrating.

    • staceyizme December 12, 2018, 1:19 am

      I’m sad for you that this “friend” pulled such a stunt. People will definitely use you if you allow it. Maybe you should keep the quilt that you made and ignore the entitled demands of those two? You aren’t obligated to provide custom made bedding for your friend’s daughter over the course of her lifetime. But- if you continue to indulge these gimme pig tendencies, your friend may up the ante and start requesting additional handcrafted quilts from you for her daughter, perhaps to coordinate with each of the four seasons…

  • Kitty December 10, 2018, 6:55 pm

    Any person that says “It’s just jam/pickles!” or “I can make that myself” should merely receive an, “Okay, then.” with a shrug of your shoulders, and then be ignored. If they are so sure that doing this is ‘just’ something that can be done by themselves, they can go ahead and make it themselves.

    • Queen of the Weezils December 11, 2018, 3:59 pm

      You could respond with enthusiasm too, like you’re sharing a hobby. “Oh, you should! It’s loads of fun! Half the fun is in the experimentation! You can find basic recipes online.” (and change subject).

  • Wendy December 10, 2018, 11:06 pm

    I’m wondering if the recipient accused op of only giving part of the recipe given the emphasis on part and turn out.

  • sillyme December 11, 2018, 8:46 am

    People don’t realize that “home-made,” or small batch food stuffs are MORE expensive to produce than the “store-bought.”

    I wish I had a skill people asked me to do for free and I could charge them. I wouldn’t do it for free, but I wish I got asked.

  • NB December 11, 2018, 10:54 am

    Yikes, this reminds me of a story I read earlier this year. A man contacted a woman who did crochet as a hobby on social media to commission a wool, queen-sized blanket. She quoted him a price that was (cost of materials + $2 p/hr in labor + shipping). A steal really, and he was horrible to her in an attempt to make her give it to him for free. At one point he even said “here’s what we’re going to do. You’re going to make the blanket, and I’ll give you $70 because I’m generous.” I can barely understand people doing this to people they actually know, but strangers, too? Entitlement is strong with some people, I guess.

  • Nancy December 11, 2018, 11:26 am

    Folks, I have a suggestion for all you home bakers, cook and crafters.

    Treat your business like a business. Get a quick consult from a local lawyer (yes and pay for that time) as to how you set up as a sole proprietor or husband/wife or whatever in your locality. Once that is done, set up books where you track your time and expenses, thus putting a fair price on your goods and services. (Sorry for the following:) You will have to pay taxes on your profits minus your expenses. In that US that is handled with a Schedule C on your tax return.

    Next when someone wants something for free or at a discount, you can produce your price list. If you choose to discount for some reason, that will be up to you.

  • staceyizme December 11, 2018, 12:41 pm

    You could always try looking expectantly at the designer handbag or nice scarf they have on and say “I’ll trade you”, deadpan. Or the nice sports car, large screen television, fantastic gold ring… Anyone who demurs should at least understand the “clue by four” they’ve just been hit with. Anyone who complains that it’s “just jam”, “just an ornament” or “just a home made craft” can be met with “it’s just a car”, “it’s just a ring”… (or whatever the object being used to make your point is). Asking for other people’s possessions is bold, rude and unlikely to win any friends. If you have people who value what you can do for them or give them instead of merely valuing your company or your artistry without coveting, it’s best to give them a wide berth, socially.

    • Danielle December 11, 2018, 4:57 pm

      “Oh, I was just following your lead that it’s ok to just ask for random things for free.”

  • Bea December 11, 2018, 2:09 pm

    As a business accountant I cackle at those who can’t grasp pricing structures. My go to is “oh, so do you work for free often?”.

    “It’s just jam” “that you devoured…yeah just jam.”

  • Queen of the Weezils December 11, 2018, 3:58 pm

    Stay firm! You’re doing the right thing! Is jam free at the grocery store? No. You’re no different. People who don’t respect the price of ingredients and labor required to produce a thing are freeloaders. Give away what you want to give away, that’s your choice. Cut a friend a price break if you want. They should thank you and enjoy the gift or the discount. Sell the rest as normal.

    A friend of mine makes jam on the side and OH MY GOD is it amazing. I could eat it by the spoonful! The peach-ginger made me happy to my toes, and the savory blueberry turned out to be the perfect sauce for lamb. And I paid for them all.

  • Mel December 11, 2018, 5:12 pm

    This reminds me of a few former coworkers.

    If someone wanted me to cook something, they would provide me the ingredients and the recipe if needed. The only 2 recipes I refused to make are sugar cookies and my family recipe for potato salad because of the time needed to get them to my liking.

    I love making pasta salad. It doesn’t take long to make, ingredients run around $30. I always put a little aside for a couple of coworkers. Once, I gave a bit to a new coworker. She asked nearly every week when I will make more. I offered to make her an entire batch if she brought me the ingredients and a container. She never had the money for it.

    A former supervisor found out I could knit a few things including hats and scarves. I don’t do scarves on commission due to the time it takes me to make them. I’ve only had one person take me up on hats and traded me a few things. This supervisor was talking about me making 10 matching sets of hats, scarves, and one other thing. She would need them in six weeks. I told her it was not possible in the time frame. She dropped a few hints, but ultimately left me alone over it. I calculated the cost with the cheap yarn, it was over $100.

    I did make her a few items down the road. Her and her family lost everything in an accident. She tossed everything in trash. I was not happy more for the time lost making it. I was recovering from health issues and was zapped for energy.

  • Marozia Teasdale December 11, 2018, 8:16 pm

    My mum is an expert with cake making, jams, crafts, etc. She also makes the best cabbage rolls (old family recipe). Dad’s friend, was a jeweller who adored her cabbage rolls and asked for some. Mum needed her watch fixed and the agreement was, she makes the rolls, he fixes watch, all square. This was 40 years ago, mind you. Mum got ingredients which were pricey. Made the rolls. Friend gives her back the watch and says “You owe me $40 for the watch”. Never mind how much she paid for the ingredients! She paid and her and dad cut him off.

  • Tan December 12, 2018, 6:05 am

    Glad it’s not just me that find people can be really “off” when it comes to homemade items. Often a spell of good weather results in my fruit patch giving a glut, which I tend to freeze and although I try to eat (with cereal etc). By early December I need the freezer space back so make gallons of jam which I then give away as I see fit. The amount I make and people I see varies, but I’ve been doing this long enough that anyone who knows me knows this cycle, and people have made an effort to meet up just for the jam. The only request I make of people is to return the jar(s) before next winter (these are expensive, large hinged jars btw). Several times I’ve met people in February and they asked why I never brought them a pint over- as in driven an hour out of my way dropped some off then left (as the only reason we didn’t met up was we were both busy).
    My favourite (and slightly passive aggressive) move last year was to give someone some in a cheap take-away style tupperware tub after they had failed to return 2 jars (I have seen this person is using my old jars to store pasta in their kitchen). And they did have the nerve to say “don’t you normally give me this in a big jar?” I replied that “I don’t have any jars left as some of my set has gone missing. I’m reluctant to buy new ones in case the old ones show up and I have too many”. (Note: They didn’t press the matter further and I didn’t directly accuse them of anything)

    • staceyizme December 12, 2018, 3:55 pm

      I don’t see why you couldn’t have simply said “I need my jars back. Thanks.” No accusation needed. It’s clear that they had the jars and equally clear that their return was expected.

      • Tan December 14, 2018, 6:04 am

        After the first jar I did bring it up at a couple of points in the year and then mentioned it when handing the second jar. I resigned myself at that to the thought that if this may go missing, so didn’t bring it up until giving them the tupperware tub. I was in their kitchen ~September last year and when they opened a cupboard (for coffee) I spotted the jars… probably should have mentioned them at that point but there was ~6 people in the room and didn’t want make a scene. They are otherwise a good friend and certainly not worth falling out over a couple of jars. Not met up with them this year- but will be and haven’t decided whether to give them anything.

  • Catherine St Clair December 12, 2018, 11:19 am

    My solution is simple-I tell them I don’t give away recipes, but I do give lessons to individuals. I tell the price I charge for them to come over and have me teach them how to make whatever it is they want. I include the cost of the materials, the time involved, and I will then give them the recipe. They seldom are that interested.

  • Ashley M December 12, 2018, 12:39 pm

    So I’ve found different sources, including Heath Ledger’s version of The Joker, but there’s a quote that goes “If you’re good at something, never do it for free”.

    I’ve found it to be quite true, and yeah it makes some people angry, but it’s how I ensure that people don’t walk all over me.

    People who appreciate quality don’t argue though.

  • Annie December 13, 2018, 8:12 am

    When I was at a wedding, my cousin’s husband came up to me and started relaying this complicated fact pattern involving wills and family members. He then wanted to know what he should do. (I’m a lawyer.) I told him to contact a wills, trusts, and estates lawyer. He wasn’t happy, but 1) I’m a criminal attorney, 2) I’ve just finished a martini, 3) the reception has just started, and 4) even if I was that type of lawyer, I wasn’t going to give him advice for free!

  • Ross December 14, 2018, 1:09 am

    We had a side gig running a booth at the local farmer’s market selling scones (mainly), jams and our most popular is the lemon curd. I can totally sympathize with the OP, in that people are always trying to strike a bargain or even worse, barter. Ended up with a soggy batch of fudge that way as some are not as careful with their quality control. Occasionally we’ll donate to a church bake sell or fundraiser or an organization we feel strongly about, but after spending a week baking, jamming and canning a product I’m proud of, I do it and myself a disservice by giving it away.

  • Constance Dulisse December 14, 2018, 1:21 pm

    I ran into much the same problem with Christmas cookies. I used to bake often and would begin my holiday baking the week leading to Thanksgiving. The cookies were given as gifts and there were usually an assortment of 5 to 7 varieties. It was a lot of work. When people started taking for granted they would receive cookies I began to get annoyed. When a distant relative, who never gave me a Christmas gift, got mad because she didn’t get a container of cookies, I stopped baking.

  • Chris Holland December 15, 2018, 5:12 pm

    One of the best responses came from a good friend. She’s a fantastic leatherworker and frequently gets requests along the lines of, “Can you make me one of those” (normally pointing to something she made for her husband.) “Yeah, but I gotta love you first.”

  • Connie January 11, 2019, 4:07 pm

    Giving half the recipe is ridiculous. Either share it, or explain why you won’t. Personally, I’m always happy to share recipes and find it flattering when people ask, but to each their own.

    And, to the other stuff, if it’s not working for you: say no.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.