Monday, March 2, 2009

Cook Up a Cookbook: No Culinary School or Publisher Required

By Pat Tanner

When Lorraine Bodger’s kit for creating your own cookbook arrived on my doorstep, I was prepared to scoff. In these days of simplified desktop publishing, I reasoned, who couldn’t put together a binder or spiral bound book of favorite family recipes? But once I delved into the box, I began to appreciate that it takes a bit more thought, organization, time, and commitment than most of us realize - and that some well-thought-out professional advice goes a long way towards producing the best version of whatever cookbook may be in floating around in our heads.

Ms. Bodger both inspires (“Find Your Own Food Personality”) and dispenses practical advice. No one, after all, is equally adept at all the tasks involved: collecting, test-driving, and rewriting recipes (including family stories); choosing a format (notebook, scrapbook, bound book); and designing attractive pages. She even includes cogent directions for taking great photos of food.

Practical advice for organizing, personalizing, preserving, and sharing recipes is shared in a 64-page booklet. There are chapters on how best to collect the recipes (by email, over the phone, in person, or by snail mail), testing (and re-testing) the recipes so they are failsafe, rewriting them “like a pro,” and producing a personalized final product.

The kit also comes with Chef’s Tips cards listing kitchen shortcuts, ingredient substitutions, yields, food storage guidelines, and other useful info. There are sheets of colorful stickers for “garnishing” your pages, but even these are well thought out, with labels like “Perfect for Parties”, “Kid Tested”, and “Grandpa’s Favorite.”

There is just one component of the kit that I do still scoff at: a paper chef’s toque that declares the wearer a “Culinary Genius.”

“Cook Up a Cookbook: Create Your Own Recipe Book From Scratch” (Potter Style, 2008, $21.95)

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