The Cookbook


I know cookbooks are not something normally discussed on fiction writer blogs, but I love cookbooks.  I have been known to read them for fun.  Especially, the ones that have family or regional history. You can learn  a lot, beyond just cooking.  My husband built me a cabinet, just for my cookbooks. OK, I might need a 12 step program.

There is a point, I promise.  This week I was given a beautiful covered casserole dish, for my birthday.  No laughing. So of course, I immediately began thinking of things I could make in it.  I didn’t go straight to my cookbooks, no I turned on my laptop and went to Pinterest. It wasn’t until later that I realized I haven’t used my cookbooks in months.  I go straight to Pinterest or some other online resource for recipes.

In response to that realization, I made a point of planning to cook something out of one of my cookbooks each night.  What does all of this mean?

It means, I’m no expert, that peeps are now looking to the web more than grannies tried and true cookbook. I wonder if this change is proven by cookbook sales.  Unlike regular books, cookbooks tend to be photo heavy.  I know I prefer cookbooks with a photo for every recipe.  I want a visual reference proving my Croquembouche is supposed to look that way. Or that my Flan fell flat and is an udder failure.

Pictures are key!

Cooking blogs have figured that out.  They can take an eternity to load, because they are so heavy with photos. They take a photo of the ingredients and then of every step until the very end.  So, are traditional cookbooks dead?

I hope not.  I have spent many hours pouring over beautiful morsels to make.  My children have enjoyed picking out sweets to make for birthdays, Christmas, and school events. It’s not quite the same thing, huddling around the laptop.

So in case you were wondering, here are my top 5 go to Cookbooks:

  1. Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook.  You know the red and white checked one your mother, and possibly your grandmother, owned.  It’s a great starter book, with plenty of photos.
  2. The Joy of Cooking, by Irma S. Rombauer and etc… This is the hands down best book.  If you only own one cookbook, this is it.  It covers techniques and everything.  Sadly, no pictures.
  3. The Thousand Recipe Chinese Cookbook, by Gloria Bley Miller.  Again no pictures, but this is by far the best Chinese cookbook.  Each recipe has plenty of variations to chose from, so it’s never the same thing twice.  Heat up the wok and get chopping.
  4. Chocolate, by Nick Malgieri.  Do I really have to explain this one! Plenty of scrumptious, drool inducing photos.
  5. Martha Stewart’s Cookies.  OK.  I’m not always a fan of Martha, but this is the best cookie book ever. Lot’s of photos.  Santa’s favorites are bound to be inside.

There are many other favorites I could add to the list, but these 5 cover the basics.  These are the ones I would take with me, if I was given a limit.

Do you have a favorite cookbook?




The Writer and Pinterest


A word of caution, Pinterest is addictive.  It can really cut into your writing time.  I know.  Here I am and I should be working on my WIP.

When I started using Pinterest it was a way to relax after work and look at eye candy.  Great pictures and pretty colors.  Kind of like jelly beans, fun but you can’t eat it for dinner.  Then I noticed pins related to writing.  Writing prompts, plot, characterization, etc..  I was amazed.  It had never occurred to me to pin articles about writing.  Now I have 414 (and counting) pins on writing.

As I continued to play, I came across boards that were obviously about characters or stories.  WOW.  I can  create a board that reflects certain characters and include articles or research that goes along with the story.

This board is about a character from one of my short stories.  She’s old and cranky.  Her one obsession, besides telling people how they are doing things wrong, is collecting porcelain houses.  I settled into my chair channeled my inner hag and created a board with things Ms. Stallworth would love.


Ms. Stallworth would never be on pinterest, heck she’d never use the internet.  But it was fun surfing the web looking for things that reflect her personality.

As mentioned above, I use Pinterest to contain research.  Recently, I researched gill nets, alligator meat, poisons from plants, and shot gun house floor plans.  I m still looking for a quick acting poison that causes vomiting but not death, but that’s another story.

This is a fun exercise after you know your character.  If you haven’t fully fleshed them out, I wouldn’t do this.  You run the risk of latching on to  a photo as inspiration, and it tends to limit your vision.  Pinterest, and Twitter, are the best tools in my procrastination arsenal, so beware.

If your main character was on Pinterest what would they pin?