T plus 7 days
T plus 7 days

Last Thursday I submitted the manuscript for my cookbook to University Press of Kentucky. I’ve never been on this end of a cookbook before. I’ve cooked from several, I’ve edited several, but up until now I’ve never written one.

Writing a cookbook is a lesson in multi-tasking – writing text, writing recipes, developing recipes, testing recipes, and living life outside “the book” with family, work, and other activities. At time the road was smooth and at other times when I was questioned my ability to write the book I wanted to write. In the end I strove to maintain balance and not wear the best male cook I know out as he took over the laundry and dish-washing. I happy to report we’ve all survived and my manuscript is in the hands of two outside readers hired by the press. I’m also happy to report I’m cooking from the book, tweaking recipes where they need to be tweaked, and resuming the life I lived in between the margins without any deadlines looming. Here are a few details:

Working Title: One Year in My Kentucky Kitchen – 12 Months of Menus, Stories, and Recipes for Fresh Homemade Food

Publication date: May 2011

Availability: Wide distribution through Kentucky bookstores and gift shops, and Amazon.com. I’ve always dreamed of having a book for sale in a Kentucky State Park Resort gift shop. We’ll see~

Keep up with the production and design of the book via this blog or follow me on Twitter @KentuckyKitchen or @GreenApron.

And now for something completely different….. my second weekend without writing a cookbook.…

Happy New Year's Eve!
Happy New Year's Eve!

I made my weekly trip to the supermarket this morning. I went early and stocked up on food for the weekend and the upcoming school week starting January 5th. It was a little bit of a challenge thinking about food for New Year’s Eve, New Year’s day, football bowl games, and school lunches all at the same time but I gave it my best shot.

I hope your Christmas season has been filled with family, food, and memorable times. Grab your camera and take some pictures – for you’ll never pass this way again. Happy New Year’s Eve to all and thanks for visiting my blog. Knowing you’re out there reading my posts makes my day. I hope you’ve enjoyed my recipes, tips, and bits of kitchen wisdom all in hopes of making us all healthier through food and cooking.…

Preparing A Weekly Menu

Grocery shopping is a necessary activity whether you cook or not. Unless you eat out all the time (expensive), or retain your own private chef (lucky), grocery shopping is something we all have to face. I thought I’d share what I do in preparation for my weekly trip to the grocery. It works for me, maybe it will work for you too?

1. Every week hang a preprinted grocery list on the front of your refrigerator. When you run out of a staple, circle that item on the grocery list so your brain doesn’t forget. Use this same list when you make your weekly menu. (Note about my preprinted grocery list: The order of the ingredients matches the aisles of the grocery store where I shop. The food isn’t organized in specific categories. In my grocery store the toilet paper and paper towels are not in the same aisle as the napkins, so on my list they are in different aisles, rather than in a section headed “Paper Goods”. My list also contains mostly ingredients, not many processed or ready-to-eat foods. For these reasons you may need to customize the list. Let me know if you see anything I need to add to the list.)

2. One the day before you head to the supermarket gather the following tools: the preprinted grocery list that’s hanging on your refrigerator, weekly bones of our menu guide, weekly ads for your supermarket, a copy of your calendar, and your favorite writing instrument.

3. Using my suggested “bones of our menu” (or write your own), make and take the time to create a complete menu that includes all the food you’ll need during the upcoming week: breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and if necessary, party food, special occasion meals, or food for a potluck at work. (Yes, you might have to make time. Even if you have to get up from reading this blog – go make some time to write your menu.) Make the menu as complete as possible. Having on hand all the food you’ll need for the upcoming week depends on the thoroughness of this menu. If you’re preparing a new recipe (and I limit myself to one, at the most two, new recipes a week), include all ingredients you need to buy. Try to remember to ask the others who live with you if there’s anything they know you need. It’s quite possible someone has emptied the peanut butter jar and you haven’t noticed.

4. Glance through the weekly ad for your supermarket and if pork tenderloin or chicken breasts are on sale, work those into the menu. Take advantage of 10/$10 specials, but only buy 1 or 2 at $1.00/each. Saving money at the grocery is a lot like painting – it’s 3/5 preparation. Prepare a thorough list and know what you’re going to buy, and by all means, know what’s on sale. Use coupons for items you normally purchase. Try not to let coupons lure you …

Thanksgiving Food Helplines

My countertops are covered with sweet potatoes, oranges, Yukon Gold potatoes, apples, and there’s a bag of cranberries in the refrigerator. This year we’re going to my mom’s house for Thanksgiving this year. (Read about our Thanksgiving last year on the Joy Kitchen blog.) This year I plan to bake a batch of my grandmother’s soft yeast rolls and a pan of pecan-crusted sweet potato casserole. What are your Thanksgiving specialities?

If you run into trouble in your kitchen this week, some of these phone numbers and websites might help. If I may give you my two cents: Thanksgiving is not a consumer-driven, gift-filled day, it’s about sharing a meal, plain and simple. Fill the day with some good food, good drink, and have a good time.

Butterball Turkey Talk: 1-800-BUTTERBALL (288-8372)

Empire Kosher : Poultry Customer Hotline: 717-436-7055

Fleischmann’s Yeast Baker’s Hotline: 1-800-777-4959

General Mills: 1-800-248-7310

King Arthur Flour Baker’s Hotline: 802-649-3717

Nestle Toll House Baking Information Line: 1-800-637-8537

Ocean Spray Consumer Helpline: 1-800-662-3263

Reynolds Turkey Tips Hotline: 1-800-745-4000

U.S. Department of Agriculture Meat and Poultry Hotline: 888-MPHotline (674-6854)

Shameless Plug
Shameless Plug

 

I guess since this is my blog I can write about any darn thing I want to. It’s hard though. I grew up in a large, estrogen-dominated family where drawing attention to ourselves was not encouraged. Walk in line. Follow the pack.

I’ll break from my upbringing for a moment to shout out about a recent accomplishment of mine and of my friend Shirley Corriher (and her dear husband, Arch). We worked tirelessly this summer finishing BakeWise, a highly anticipated baking companion to Shirley’s first cookbook CookWise. Shirley as the author, Arch as her live-in editor and nitpicker, and lil’ ole me as their freelance editor (for Scribner – thanks Beth Wareham!) did everything humanly possible to whip the manuscript into shape before turning it over to our precise copy editor, Suzanna Fass. Next, we poured over every word in the designed pages making sure that what we wanted said was in fact, well, said.

My editing work (all via telephone) with the Corrihers was a pleasure. What a sweet honor to help Shirley release BakeWise the world. Now I need to get myself down to Atlanta to celebrate at their favorite eatin’ spot. “Great day in the morning, BakeWise is out!”

BakeWises official publication date is Tuesday, October 28th. I’ll be in Chicago but, despite the forecast for chilly rain and wind, I can hardly wait to make a mad dash into a bookstore to view a copy of BakeWise “on the shelf”. I have a bound copy right here on my desk. I’ve seen it already – cover to cover, inside, outside and upside down, and it’s a beautiful thing. But, until I see the fruits of our labor sitting among other cookbooks it’s still a little hard to believe.

Amazon is shipping copies of BakeWise. If nothing else, visit Amazon and read the reviews. Next time you’re in a bookstore pick up a copy. Look at the fabulous photographs. Flip through the pages. Read a recipe or two. Can you smell the brownies?

OK, enough of that. Time to get back in line. I’ll return again and talk about something other than myself, and my friend Shirley.…

First Cup

I think at least one of my sisters, maybe all 6 of them, and perhaps my brother would agree – the first cup of coffee in the morning is the best.

Part of my evening ritual, while I’m soaking the pots from dinner in hot, soapy water, is to set up my automatic coffee maker for the morning. Dump old coffee grounds and  wet filter in the compost container. Rinse the insulated carafe. Situate a new, dry brown paper filter in the basket and fill with ground coffee. No I don’t measure, I just hope for the best. Pour cold water into the tank. Make sure it’s “set” to brew at 5:45 a.m. Brush teeth. Go to bed. Now I can’t wait to wake up.

The smell of coffee in the morning is rivaled only by the smell of bacon frying the a skillet, or the smell of a baby after a bath.

The first sip of coffee is rivaled by, well, nothing. It’s my signal that a new day has begun.…

Value Meals - Part II
Value Meals - Part II

So….. would the world come to an end if we had to start eating out at restaurants less and eating at home more, consuming less pre-packaged and processed food and more food we cook ourselves, buying less coffee at the local caffeine filling station and making our own coffee (or tea) at home, eating less drive through food that’s all the same and more of our own sandwich creations from our own cutting board.

In the end wouldn’t acts such as this help – our budgets, our waistlines and our families?  I can’t quit thinking about a world where we used our kitchens more for what they’re intended – cooking, sharing food, wiping up the counter tops and doing it all again at the next meal. Isn’t that value-added?…