Not to brag, but once upon a time I wrote a cookbook. But that was years ago and I feel like I can do better.
It was 7 years ago when a marathon of bad ideas came to me in this order:
- I should give everyone a cookbook for the holidays
- I should write the cookbook myself
- I should make sure the cookbook has at least 30 recipes
- I should photograph the recipes, step by step with a 6 year old point and shoot camera in my living room with zero natural light
- I should make the cookbook in 2 months, with no prior experience, and basically nothing but photoshop to doctor up the pages
I would like to underline that somehow I actually did this with only some type-setting help from a friend at the end. I then got them all printed by one of those online printers for about $20 USD a book and managed to mail them to people so they arrived right around the New Year in 2011. They looked exactly how you think a rushed, poorly photographed, poorly thought out cookbook would look.
Some sample pages from Cookbook #1
Let’s just call it “rustic”. Ever since then I’ve been wanting to try the project again with more time and more photography skills and give myself the chance to do better. Unfortunately the world has slowly shifted away from solid, hold them in your hands books, and even further away from cookbooks. So now it feels like a waste of energy but despite that lately I feel the itch to make a new cookbook especially since I’ve been faithfully updating my food blog for almost three solid years now and posting pictures of bentos for about 18 months. While there is never really much interest in my food posting, I really like doing it and I’d love to make a cookbook of recipes that are perfect for the types of lunches that I pack since most of them are pretty healthy, easy recipes that can be heated up, and most importantly the recipes can be made ahead of time.
I also feel like I have a pretty good handle on the point of view that I want to share with people about food. Especially as I get older, I notice how difficult it is to navigate recipe blogs because of the types of content you bump in to. I don’t just mean the recipe about mashed peas with a 6 paragraph story about this time the author saw a bird, though that certainly doesn’t help. It’s that often I will be looking at a food blog or cookbook and it’s based solely around the idea that you are dieting, or following a specific diet that will lead you to lose all the weight you ever gain, cure you illnesses, and somehow make your life perfect. I want to make a book that has no moralizing about food. A cookbook that views food as neutral or actually, rather positive because food is good. I want a cookbook that helps people make and pack lunches for themselves(or others!) if that’s a thing they want to do but it’s just one thing you can do as the recipes I have are easily full dishes and not simply cutesy lunch food.
In my previous cookbook, much like on my blog, I don’t really say anything about the recipes but in this book I do want to give some information and I’m working from a list to try and build out that information to make the book not just a recipe resource but a resource for how to make better lunches that look better and have a variety of things without making yourself cry thinking about them. I also want to give people a way to make their own lists of easy to go to food and recipes because I think that’s the only way people will ever reliably cook.
I am going to use a book making program this time around to make the book so hopefully the result will be less “rustic” and I might even enlist the help of a friend with a good camera and a portable lightbox to take pictures. Since I’ll be focusing less on the process of making the actual recipes and more on the process of building meals that should help cut down on the type of work I find most difficult (design and food photography) – though I have been getting more proficient at that too.
Anyway I’m just following the advice of a TED talk and putting my intentions out in to the world so I’ll get a jump on working on these things. Hopefully it’ll be “available” (aka free and finished) by New Years 2019 but I guess we’ll just have to see. I hope you’re looking forward to seeing it as much as I am!