Writing a Cookbook

Cooking is another of my creative pursuits.

I have an artist’s sketchbook with drawings and ideas for paintings, and in the midst are a bunch of recipes I cut out of magazines and glued into the pages. You take the ingredients and make something wonderful, or it fails and you learn how not to do it next time. Cooking is art.

I was looking through my recipe file and wondering how I could make a cookbook that stands out from so many that I have read. It definitely needs a lot of photography, I barely look at recipes that don’t show me what it looks like. My current tiny apartment kitchen is not photogenic at all. When I move in the next year or so, hopefully my next kitchen will be the perfect backdrop for some cooking pictures.

My file is currently arranged by category: Poultry, Eggs, Beef, Seafood, Main Dishes, Side Dishes, Salads, Soups, Snacks, Sauces, Fruit Deserts, Chocolate Deserts, Breads/Cakes/Muffins, Cookies, Holidays, Spice Mixes, Other. There is a lot of overlap, sometimes a recipe can fit into more than one category, so the system isn’t perfect. Most cookbooks break off into sections like this. What original and creative theme can I come up with to tie it all together?

Last year I was having health issues and I went to a chiropractor who is also a naturopath. I had a blood test done that showed that I shouldn’t be eating many of the foods I love. The test was IgG Food Sensitivity, not allergies, so there is some criticism to the effectiveness of the test. I tried her advice though and gave up gluten, dairy, peanuts, eggs, oranges, etc. I still reduce these things, but it was impossible to cut everything my blood showed a sensitivity to. Even rice, potatoes, corn, I need to eat something besides beef and leafy greens! It got me thinking what my Cree ancestors would have ate on the plains: saskatoon pemmican and bison. Then I read about what foods are best for different blood types. Sure enough, my O+ blood was indicating gluten and dairy shouldn’t be my main two food groups. For a while, I went on the Paleo Diet. I could write a cookbook based on foods that fit in that category, even though it’s not very original it would narrow it down.

My next thought was a cookbook based on frugal living. No fancy ingredients, just stuff you buy really cheap and transform into fantastic meals. I live my life spending as little as possible on things I don’t need. I am against waste. I meal-plan so I know what to buy and how much I need. Occasionally I will let the ingredients inspire me, especially if I’m at the Farmers Market. What can I make with rhubarb this week? List making prevents me from buying something I don’t need that goes bad before I can use it or freeze it. I think this would be a successful cookbook, showing others how to plan, shop, and make nutritious meals on a budget.

I was thinking if I started dating, the guy would be super impressed that his lady was a good cook. What do you want for supper? I’d ask. I don’t know, what can you make? Then there would just be too many choices and we’d end up at a restaurant or something. So my next cookbook idea would be like a giant menu, showing my favourite and most impressive things I can make. Then when I make dinner plans with the bf, he can just pick something off the menu.

Another idea would be a cookbook without measurements or specific ingredients, encouraging customization and creativity based on the reader’s taste. Want to make a salad? You could use this, this, or this. Mix and match.

When my grandmother passed away she left my mom her recipe file, as well as that of my great-grandmother. I could make a cookbook based on all those generations of clipping and saving recipes.

Recipes are not copyrighted, but I would probably change up the recipes anyway to make them my own.


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