“Humble Pie”: Lessons Learned from Writing a Cookbook

Glamorous and glossy shots of food are what draw us to cookbooks these days. Together with a lovely package of tempting recipes and some punchy tips and tricks, we hope to break the results.How hard would it be to write one?!

Or when you first started coming up with concepts and working on your debut cookbook, giving tableAs a longtime cooking instructor, I was hoping this would be more than just a delicious recipe. I dreamed of a companion to hold the hand of I wanted to write a book that explained not only what we cook, but why we cook. how Giving through our cooking.

With so many altruistic visions accumulating, it’s easy to live with only your own ideas in your own head. One of the hardest lessons for me in this process was learning when to hold onto that vision and when to let it go. When I think of Jewish cookbooks, images of matzo balls of his soup and platters of latts come to mind (yes, I’ve covered that too!), but when Jewish cuisine is I wanted to dig deeper into the roots of how it was done. Makes the most sense. Shiva House (House of Mourning). Friday night dinner. Give food to those in need. Why is Jewish tradition so food-centric? I argued that these ideas should flow through the book (in fact, these segments are in between chapters). I was eager to wait for a publisher who shared my vision.

As I knelt down in the recipe development, writing, and photography process, each day gave me the opportunity to hear other people’s ideas and when to let go. was taken when I lost my vote, stepping back and letting the photographer and stylist do the work. A recipe tester’s critical feedback can call into question the integrity of a recipe…but if I listen carefully, that same feedback can also make it much better. Finally, if a colleague bounces your essay back with more red lines than black, it’s an invitation to either humbly accept criticism or dig into your heels defensively (no, the latter is better writing !).

1,000 microdecisions were presented each day.

“There are four recipes with cherries and chocolate, which one is cut?”
“Does your reader make (and know how to carve) a whole roasted turkey?”
“How can we fit more information into the layout without straining the reader’s eyes?”

Every time I made a decision, it came closer and closer to book form. Day after day, week after week, month after month, I had to remind myself that this was not a sprint, but a test of endurance and guts. When deadline pressure mounts, do you stick with a recipe that’s not too bad, or test it over and over until it works? And no one in my family would eat it again. I’ll retest it anyway!? It took diligence, patience, and a lot of calorie burn to get it right (no one ever said recipe development was a diet. !).

There were moments when my sense of humor was tested, and there were unexpected situations that made me laugh and cry. The day before a shoot, I prepared a cheesecake that was perfect for the shoot. While carefully removing the pan from the baking water bath, the springform buckle failed and broke open. It seems to be able to turn over quickly. Before I realized what had happened, I was staring at the cake falling from the grate in the sink. had been completely destroyed. As I stood there with my mouth open, my son walked over and looked at the sink and said, “Wait! Grab a fork!” let me.

Hearing outside feedback and ideas inspired the book in many ways. “It would be great to have her QR codes for some of the videos of the difficult skills in the book,” my family suggested. I’m not a techie, so I almost dismissed the idea. But really, what would that feature have given me when I first started learning how to cook?! , they read the book. Learning to listen to others changed the trajectory of this project. (But also in all other endeavors you are working on.)

As the book developed, I still felt something was missing. A story of power to give through our cooking. “This is a cookbook, not a novel,” they said.But I insisted on making it a compelling read. favorite Innovative … is what makes you feel better and more confident about spending time in the kitchen. Yet it wasn’t until I started hearing and hearing other people’s stories that I found a common thread in people’s experiences that resonated within me. Conversations began to spur exploration and leads, even if there was an opportunity to meet a neighbor at the grocery store, meet a friend for coffee, or consult with a colleague. I searched and dug for anecdotes, community stories, and biblical sources to help shape my content. seemed to inspire. Receiving and enjoying shared food created feelings of connection and love that helped foster relationships.

Even now, talking to people has made me more sensitive to how the need to give through food binds us. “I loved cooking dinner when my kids were little,” she recalls. Then her eyes became sad and her voice weakened. “But now it’s just me and I don’t feel so good.” For her, her cooking was a means of giving, connecting and nourishing. Taking it away she lost all interest. For this woman, it wasn’t really about the specific dishes she used to make. For her it was about people. Isn’t that the underlying driving force behind many activities in our lives?

It was both encouraging and humbling to listen to and participate in the story. When the publisher handed over the first copy, they said, “Congratulations! It’s a baby cookbook! Whether it’s a hobby, a cookbook, or a personal goal coming to fruition, ride the wave of dedication and faith – they’ll get you on the other side.

Try a few recipes from my book, then get your copy of The Giving Table.

Rainbow carrots with charred dates and tahini
skillet potato kugel
Wheatberry salad with grapes and hazelnuts

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