Monday, June 10, 2013

Cooking without a Parachute - The Writing of a Cookbook

I have written and self-published a cookbook.  It is called, Cooking without a Parachute:  Fearless cooking from my kitchen to yours.  It has a very nice picture on the cover.  On Tuesday (tomorrow), Urban Kitchen will be open for a book signing party and I hope some people come.  I think they will, they said they would.  If they don't, I will have a lot of food left over.

I am a writer by nature, and probably by personality, since I enjoy writing once I sit down to do's just that sitting down part.  I was once told by an English teacher that I have a "native talent" for writing.  I'm sure I interpreted that to mean that since I was naturally talented, I didn't have to work at it.  And, since I thought I would do many things in this life besides write, I could just do it as a hobby.  The problem is this; when you are a decent to good writer, people find out and they want you to write things for them just so they don't have to.  I was always told I was good at English and languages but not math.  I found out years later, when I was trying to avoid any career associated with math that I was, in fact, very good at math.  I just had VERY BAD math teachers!  Constructing a grammatically correct and meaningful sentence is hard for many people.  It is not hard for me.  I have written many letters for many people because they thought they couldn't.  They probably were told they were good at math.  Consequently, I chose not to write for myself for many years because I was writing for everyone else, BORING!  But now, I am doing a lot of things that I either was never able to do or, at least thought I wasn't.

I have wanted to write a cookbook for a very long time.  In the 80's, my brother published a book of my mother's recipes to give to his friends and clients (He owned a printing company so he could print whatever he liked.).  As you have heard me say before, my mother was an amazing cook.  She had a "native talent" for cooking and one I like to think I inherited.  The book was called Bob's Mom's Recipes by Ma Conley and that is exactly what it was, a book of recipes.  Actually, it was a book of lists of ingredients and sort of what to do with them.  Each list had a title of some sort but beyond that, it was not a recipe.  I told Mom there was no way for anyone to use this book if they didn't already know how to cook.  I have also said that Mom was no teacher, and as such, I don't think she really ever wanted anyone to be able to replicate what she did.  She left out ingredients and steps and, in the end, it was just a pamphlet of ingredient lists with a couple of instructions thrown in.  Since that recipe book was printed, I have wanted to produce a cookbook that was useful and helpful.  But there are a lot of useful and helpful cookbooks out there; I needed something to make mine different.
My vision for this book is to weave recipes and stories together.  Almost every recipe has a story or a memory associated with it from my mother and our family.  My vision is also to update those recipes so that they are useful and helpful today. 

WARNING:  That is not the cookbook I have written at this point.  And, that is not the cookbook you will be seeing at my book signing on Tuesday.

Because here's the thing, getting published.  I am not the only person writing cookbooks (or any other book for that matter) and I am certainly not a famous person (not yet) writing a cookbook.  So you have to get out there with lots of other things before you can be published without publishing it yourself.  My first cookbook is self-published.  There is no shame in that.  It was a challenging task and I am happy with my first effort but it is just that...a first effort.  This is my "getting off the ground" cookbook.  It is full of recipes (with ingredients and instructions) from my cooking classes and also from my mother (I made up the instructions for hers and they work!).  I want people to cook without fear.  Julia Child said, "Don't be afraid!" long before cooking became the mega-industry that it is today.  But people are still afraid!  I can tell in my classes when you don't want to move or touch the food or cut it up so that it's easier to work with...I can tell!  So I want you to cook fearlessly and this cookbook is my first effort towards that end.

The "vision" cookbook will be written.  In fact, there are a number of vignettes I have penned and shared on my blog that will be a part of this future cookbook.
In the meantime, if you are in Tulsa, I hope you come to my book signing.  There will be food and drink and fun.  There will be cookbooks there for buying and signing.  I would like to say "hello" and thank you for supporting me whether it's on Facebook, in my cooking classes or just being there as my friend.
The adventure has just begun...
And as always...

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Come join the fun and take a class with us!  Visit my website at Urban Kitchen on Cherry Street and check out the Class Calendar.

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