Fall Cookbook Roundup
Fall Cookbook Roundup

It’s time for my semi-annual cookbook roundup. Fall and the Christmas/holiday season traditionally creates a busy time for cooks as well as cookbook sales and publication. My roundup this fall includes links to recently published articles about cookbooks from the perspective of food safety, gift-giving lists, the Frankfurt Book Fair, and the platform and success of Ina Garten.

Let’s start with an article that presents cookbooks as a biohazard because of harmful bacteria clinging to their pages.

And next are 11 best new cookbooks 2016 from the Independent in the UK. Topics for these cookbooks include seaweed, food of Palestine, a new family classics book from Jamie Oliver, foods of Pakistan, Miso cookbook, Cardamom Trail baking book by GBB Show semi-finalist Chetna Makan, food from the Amalfi Coast, Simple food by Diana Henry, Scandinavian comfort food, and Japanese cooking at home.

This list of cookbooks that add a dash of science to holiday meals includes books that explore the idea of science not just in a restaurant kitchen, but in the home kitchen.

This is a hefty report from the LA Times fall cookbook roundup and let me draw your attention to their look at the current state of the cookbook industry. This report takes a look at how cookbook sales responded to the digital and ebook response to recipes. In the end, sales have proven that cookbook users want physical books “with recipes that work, are explained well, and that they can follow.” Amen.

And a follow-up from the Frankfort Book Fair that reiterates that the cookbook sector of the market has been unaffected by a drop in sales unlike other sectors. Cookbooks can evoke emotion and are more visual which helps to explain why hardcover cookbooks still sell well.

Here’s a list of cookbooks [that] make tasteful gifts for foodies.

Ina Garten has written 10 cookbooks. Here’s a look at how she does it and what makes her books successful.

And finally, from the NYTThe Best Cookbooks of Fall 2016.

And if after all this, you still dream of writing a cookbook of your own, be sure to check out my blog for my Steps to Write a Cookbook Series.

Cookbook author and culinary dietitian Maggie Green coaches aspiring cookbook authors in the process of writing cookbooks, cookbook proposals, and building their author platform. Download her checklist “Am I Ready to Write A Cookbook?”

175 Simple Wintertime Pleasures
175 Simple Wintertime Pleasures

Originally published in 2011, I ran across this list in my files and it made me smile. Four years have passed since it was written, but it’s funny how there’s very little on this list that I would change. My kids are older, I’m older, and time is marching on, but the things that make me happy are pretty much the same. The Best Male Cook asked me this morning what I wanted for Christmas. I think I’ll show him this list. It pretty much sums up the way I feel about all the good things life has to offer.

  • A blank page
  • A clean bill of health
  • A dad and son headed to the mall
  • A drive through Kentucky back roads
  • A dusting of snow that won’t melt
  • A few priorities for the week
  • A fresh notebook
  • A freshly bathed dog
  • A freshly vacuumed rug
  • A good tear jerker
  • A hard day’s work
  • A hilarious movie
  • A hot shower
  • A job well done
  • A juicy homemade burger
  • A love note
  • A Midnight train to Georgia
  • A new pen
  • A new recipe
  • A new white shirt
  • A nice, wide, smile
  • A note from a friend
  • A photograph that catches a sideways glance
  • A pizza party
  • A pleasant-scented candle
  • A quiet house on Christmas eve
  • A roaring fire in the fireplace
  • A sleeping child
  • A warm pair of socks
  • A young boy with a new watch
  • Accomplishing a task long overdue
  • Aged gouda cheese
  • An a ha moment
  • An Aeropress coffee maker
  • An awake child
  • An emergency fund
  • An emphatic yes or no from a child
  • An evening wine and cheese party
  • An organized book bag
  • An unexpected hug
  • Another writer’s perspective
  • Automatic coffee pots
  • Baking Spritz cookies
  • Baking while snow falls
  • Bing and David singing “Little Drummer Boy”
  • Bourbon-barrel ale
  • Ceramic Santas my Aunt Eileen painted
  • Chap-Stick
  • Checking something off my list
  • Chili Con Carne
  • Christmas Spirit candles
  • Clementine tangerines
  • Constant Comment tea
  • Dave Bruebeck
  • Dinner with my sisters and my mother
  • Doing a little bit at a time
  • Dreams
  • Driving the back roads
  • Dusted tabletops
  • Eighty’s music
  • Energy
  • Fingerprint-less kitchen cabinets
  • Freedom to live with intention
  • Fresh Christmas tree
  • Fresh laundry
  • Fresh smelling shower gel
  • Fresh, whole ingredients
  • Frost on the rooftops
  • Getting up early
  • Good health
  • Gratitude and humility
  • Hair falling softly around my daughters face
  • Hand lotion
  • Happy school-age, high-school-age, and college-age kids
  • Having a plan
  • Having the pots and pans cleaned up before dinner is ready
  • Hearing a first grader read
  • Honey bell oranges
  • Hot chai tea with milk and a dash of sugar
  • Hot green tea to warm my hands
  • Hot tea and shortbread
  • Hot, hot water to wash dishes
  • Ice on the trees
  • King Rat nutcracker
  • Knowing I can accomplish a task
  • Krohn Conservatory Winter flower show
  • Lazy mornings at home
  • Leaving a secret note for someone
  • Lentil soup in the slow cooker
  • Less is more
  • Limestone walls in Central Kentucky
  • Lip balm
  • Listening to a good radio interview
  • Listening to children in the
GreenCat Wisdom
GreenCat Wisdom

In mid-December my youngest son volunteered to bring home a classroom pet during the Christmas break. On the Tuesday before Christmas, when he was dismissed from school, I found myself loading not only his backpack into our van, but also a bird cage wrapped in a soft white blanket. Inside the cage were two birds – Shortbread, a cream-colored finch, and Tiger, her gray sister. No more than 3 inches tall, the finches spent the better part of the Christmas holiday in our family room. They chirped and ate seemingly unaware that the environment outside their cage had changed. When we talked they flitted around and tweeted and when all was quiet they were quiet too.

When our cat, May May, discovered the finches I think she thought her Christmas gifts had arrived. For the remainder of the holiday she sat by the birds, patted their cage with her paw, waiting for one tiny chink in the bird-cage armor. She never left the birds’ side except to eat, drink out of the toilets, and take a romp in her litter box. I was concerned when we left the house, so to be sure Shortbread and Tiger were safe we put their cage in another room and closed the door. Otherwise, we kept a watchful eye on the birds. When the holiday break was over I whispered a silent thank you when the birds made their way back to school and the cat vs. bird show down was over. I must admit I was amazed at our cat, if for nothing else, for her persistence. Nature’s instinct to catch the birds created a focus I hadn’t seen before in her and she had one goal in mind – get the birds.

With the recent completion of my cookbook I feel like I’ve been stuck in a homogenous food rut filled with a repertoire of meals for which I need no recipes or cookbook: spaghetti, oven-fried chicken, and potato soup. This year I plan to persist and make food from some new cookbooks I’ve bought, but as I described in a previous post  I also plan to keep better track of my receipts, read at night with my older children, and maybe even set up an aquarium. More importantly, I’ll do my best to persist in the pursuit of these endeavors even if I feel the odds are against me. Similar to our cat’s goal to catch those darn birds, my goals will also require day-in and day-out persistence. At the end of 2011 if I meet any of my goals I’ll have my cat to thank. For in a strange sort of way she taught me something –to persist. To keep trying in spite of the obstacles that seemingly stand in the way.…

4 Ways A GreenApron Starts Her Year
4 Ways A GreenApron Starts Her Year

This blog post has been brewing  for several days as I ponder my first blog post of the new year. What is there to say for 2011? Well, in lieu of a recipe, best-of-2010 or favorite cookbooks list, I thought I’d share what the last few days of an old year look like for me and how I get my new year off to a bang-up start. This is longer than blog posts are “supposed” to be, but so be it.

1. Write down Notes from Christmas/Holiday 2010

Every year I make notes about the holiday season while it’s fresh in my mind. I write out the following items on a piece of paper with “Christmas Notes 2010” at the top of the paper. Then, I store the list on the top of a decorations box before I store it away for next year. My Christmas notes include:

  • Menus for meals prepared during the holidays
  • Parties we attended and what I wore. (Holiday outfits can often be recycled.)
  • Varieties of cookies, candy, and snacks baked and who I delivered cookie-gifts to (it’s usually neighbors).
  • Our actual Christmas day activites and if we traveled out of town that day what time we left and where we went.
  • What church services we attended and what time we left the house to meet our obligations and still be able to sit together as a family.
  • How many business and personal Christmas cards we sent and if we didn’t send cards I note that too.
  • List of gifts bought for the YoungAprons and our extended family.
  • When we visited Santa and did other activities for Christmas – Duke Energy Train Display, Live Nativity and flower show at the Krohn Conservatory, ice skating on Fountain Square, etc.

Then I answer these questions: What worked this Christmas? What didn’t work this year? What should I do differently next year? How much vacation time did I or the best male cook I know take?

This might seem like a bunch of information that I’d remember, but trust me: when I read last year’s notes I smile, remember, and chuckle to myself while saying, “Boy, I’m glad I made these notes”.

2. Make No More Than 10 Concrete Goals for the New Year

Call them resolutions, or call them goals, but just like 45% of other Americans I enjoy setting a few goals for the new year. Similar to my Christmas list (above) I write the goals down and then put the list away somewhere where I can read it at the end of the year. I keep mine in my journal. (If it helps, store the list in an envelope in the box with the Christmas/Holiday notes.) I usually set no more than 10 goals and when I read them at the end of the year I’ve usually accomplished at least a few of the goals.

Note: Over the years I’ve noticed that the bigger and more “fluffy” the goal, the less likely I am to accomplish …

Proof(s) On My Mind
Proof(s) On My Mind

Today I keep thinking of the word proof(s). Here’s why:

1. The first set of page proofs for The Kentucky Fresh Cookbook arrived yesterday. The pages look beautiful thanks to the hard work of the designer and of course the top-notch coding of the manuscript by the copy-editor. The interior is set with shaded and boxed text, menus, recipes, stories, tips, and beefy head notes. I’m typically amazed at this stage of cookbook production, or the transformation of any text to design for that matter.  Presto. Magico. (not a word I know) Beautiful. I gave the proofs a thorough side-by-side run through, and now a few final tweaks to get the final pages set. Then we head into the phase where the cookbook is proofread and indexed. Some might complain about looking at page proofs over the holiday, but since my hobby has always been reading cookbooks I consider this a holiday pleasure. Plus the best male cook I know is off work for several days next week so I can still read while the Young Aprons are directed by him to “shovel the driveway”, “clean your room”, “take out the trash”. Lucky YoungAprons. Never fear. This will be followed by, “Want to go ice skating?”, “Let’s make Chicago-style Dogs”, and “Anyone want to play Axis and Allies?”

2. I have some finely chopped pecans soaking in 80 PROOF Kentucky bourbon for my annual bourbon-ball-making session. With this in mind I’ll sign off and head to the kitchen. It’s a gorgeous snowy day here and I look forward to doing a bit of holiday baking. The photo above is my batch from last Christmas. Wish I had one right now.

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Oven-Baked Chex Mix Recipe
Oven-Baked Chex Mix Recipe

I find it necessary to post this recipe. It was and is the reason for several thousand visits to my blog. When I make Oven-Baked Chex Mix I know it’s the holiday season. I often switch out the bagel chips, this time for my beloved Cheeze-its. Let the Christmas season begin.

Makes about 12 cups

What’s your favorite tidbit to pick out of the Chex Mix?

It’s a good thing I clipped this recipe from the cereal box a few years ago. I noticed this year (and maybe this was true in recent years too) the recipe for Chex Mix included only a set of microwave directions. I’m a little funny about using the microwave to “bake” something. I’ve never tried making this in the microwave, but knowing what I know about roasting or baking I predict Chex Mix baked in an oven tastes better than Chex Mix stirred in the microwave. It does take a little longer, but that’s a wash in my opinion, because either way you have to cool the mix before eating. If you want microwave instructions just look on the back of a Chex cereal box. By the way, this recipe works perfectly fine with a store-brand Chex-type cereal if you so desire.

6 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
3 cups Corn Chex cereal
3 cups Rice Chex cereal
3 cups Wheat Chex cereal
1 cup mixed nuts
1 cup bite-size pretzels
1 cup bagel chips

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. In an ungreased large roasting pan, melt butter in the oven. Stir in Worcestershire sauce, seasoned salt, garlic powder, and onion powder. Stir in chex cereals, mixed nuts, pretzels, and bagel chips until coated. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread on paper towels until cooled. Store in an airtight container.

Cookbook author, editor, and Culinary Dietitian Maggie Green, RDN, LD coaches first-time cookbook authors during the pre-publication phase of writing a cookbook. 

Would you like to write a cookbook, but feel alone in the pre-publication phase of writing?

Are you stuck thinking about your cookbook idea or has you project fizzled?

Do you feel overwhelmed with publishing options and the recipes, photography, and publishing process?

I’ve been there. I know first-hand that there’s not a lot of support for first-time cookbook authors who don’t have an agent or a publisher yet.  That’s why I started my work as a cookbook writing coach.

Here are a few resources for you as you venture into the world of cookbook writing: 

An 11-point checklist that helps you answer the question, “Am I Ready to Write a Cookbook?”

Cookbook Writing Workbook

What Is A Cookbook Coach? 

10 Reasons to Hire A Cookbook Coach