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gfron1

The making of my own cookbook

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I like the information on weighing egg yolks found in Bouchon Bakery. They not only encourage you to weigh your yolks, they also encourage you to strain them first, to eliminate the chalazae. But I agree with Deryn: in baking, it makes sense to weigh yolks because it allows you to scale the recipe up or down. In other contexts, that level of precision may not be necessary. I wouldn't object to a book that had "47 g egg yolk" in one recipe and "20 g egg yolk (1 yolk)" in others, if it made sense contextually and/or was explained in the How To section.

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Thanks - ironically I just got a big box from Anson Mills. I want to see the difference between their benne flour and mesquite flour.

gfron - Tonight I was re-watching the Mind of a Chef series and there is an episode about rice (in the south) ... and references (many) were made to Carolina Gold Rice and the Carolina Rice Kitchen concept so I went to the Anson Mills site to see what they have to offer. They have a recipes section which, though it is not a full cookbook and it is online so the pages can be longer, I thought was laid out well and they seem to be dealing fairly well with some of the things you are currently wrestling with. Might give you some ideas for layout, etc. You may want to have a look at it - http://ansonmills.com/recipes

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Today I am going through and removing all of the extra spaces, extra tabs, and other crap that will make my designer's life hell. Now that I have an ingredient list format that I'm happy with I am setting it up in my document to make it easy for the designer. It looks like crap on my page but he'll just have to set his template tabs where he wants them and import, and then my text should all fall into place without extra tabs and spaces to throw things off.  Little things that I never considered when I started this project. Having done a ton of design work in my past is proving helpful and the only problem is that I haven't done any professionally since PageMaker, but the concepts still hold true.

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I should have known that Anson Mills would be very familiar to you, gfron. A bit off topic, but, I have tried neither the benne nor the mesquite flour, and would love to hear your comments/comparison some time.

 

Yes, the fiddly detail work in laying out a book is time consuming and patience straining. I haven't done a cookbook but I have created/set up a self-published book which also included many pictures and disparate blocks of text to organize. Glad to hear you are making so much progress - the finish line is in sight!

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So far I have had a direct conversion of mesquite and benne. Here's a recipe from the book - unedited, and I would love to see some tester take on all or part of it. The end is near now that I've gained clarity.

 

Yucca Blossom Ice Cream with Mesquite Cous Cous

 

448 g   Flour   3 ½ C

60 g     Mesquite Flour           ½ C

4 Eggs

60 g     2 Egg whites

 

Whisk the flours together and pour into a mound on your counter top. Make a well in the center. In a bowl, lightly whisk the eggs and whites. Pour the eggs into the center of the flours. Using a fork mix the eggs with the flours gradually working your way from the center to the outside. When the mixture becomes too cumbersome with your fork switch to using your fingers. Once combined, knead for 5 minutes and wrap in cling film. Let rest 30 minutes.

 

Roll the dough to 1/8” thickness and chop with a knife as if you were mincing herbs keeping the pasta about the size of a bb gun pellet. Let rest uncovered to dry slightly.

 

Yucca Blossom Ice Cream

 

250 g   Milk    1 C

160 g   Yucca blossoms, chopped      1 C *Note to eGer, I think this time of year maybe do a melon rind

245 g   Cream  1 C

240 g   Buckwheat honey (We like our local Bee Chama honey) ¾ C

6 Yolks

5 g       Salt      1 tsp

 

Place the milk and blossoms in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cover and remove from the heat, steeping for 1 hour. Strain the blossoms out of the milk and combine the milk, cream and honey, bringing to a simmer again. In a bowl combine the yolks and salt and whisk until light and frothy. Pour a third of the hot milk mixture into the yolks, whisking, and return the hot yolks to the remaining milk mixture. Continue whisking gently until the ice cream base is slightly thickened. Remove from the heat, cover, and let cool in the refrigerator overnight.

 

The next day freeze the ice cream in an ice cream maker, and transfer the ice cream to a container to freeze until firm.

 

To serve, fill a small stock pot with water and add 220 g (1 C) sugar. Bring to a boil. Add the cous cous being sure to break up the pieces before they go into the water. Boil for 5 minutes. Serve the ice cream drizzled with pine cone syrup over the cous cous after a meal of spicy goat tagine.

 

Suggested Substitutions: Lately I’ve been exploring the similarities between mesquite and benne. Benne is available from Anson Mills online.

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Its a little thing, but today I'm merging documents. I had made every recipe its own document, which is now proving to be a pain in the ass for editing. I want to do find/replace and such and have to open each document - 20-30 per section. Pain! My designer said he doesn't care how I save them but my knowledge of design software is that he will ultimately drop a document into his template. One document surely will be easier to do and he can place his own page breaks in. So that's what I'm doing with my life this morning. Cut. Paste. Save.

I would certainly think that your designer will drop a document into his template. However, you can make your editor's life much easier if you use paragraph and character formats appropriately in your document. Speaking as an editor, I'd dearly love to remove the bold, italic, and underline buttons from the toolbar of Word, and replace them with buttons that will apply an appropriate character style!

 

Today I am going through and removing all of the extra spaces, extra tabs, and other crap that will make my designer's life hell. Now that I have an ingredient list format that I'm happy with I am setting it up in my document to make it easy for the designer. It looks like crap on my page but he'll just have to set his template tabs where he wants them and import, and then my text should all fall into place without extra tabs and spaces to throw things off.  Little things that I never considered when I started this project. Having done a ton of design work in my past is proving helpful and the only problem is that I haven't done any professionally since PageMaker, but the concepts still hold true.

Believe it or not, the extra spaces, tabs, and the like aren't a big deal. I use a macro package to do this for me: I click a button, sit back, and it cleans up all of this sort of thing for me. I know I'm a couple of days late on this, but check with your designer first, to be sure you need to spend your time doing this rather than working on other tasks that are less easily automated.

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Keep an eye on the Spellcheck (in Word and other programs).  They're HORRIBLE and often mangle and distort or change completely what one had intended to be said/typed.  I like to disable this f*cking "feature".

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 Speaking as an editor, I'd dearly love to remove the bold, italic, and underline buttons from the toolbar of Word, and replace them with buttons that will apply an appropriate character style!

 

 

NOOOOO!!!!!  I like that I am able to create text that has italics, underline and bold sections or phrases as appropriate.  One does not use these willy-nilly – one hopes – but to NOT have them as available formatting tools is something I would fight very hard against.

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NOOOOO!!!!!  I like that I am able to create text that has italics, underline and bold sections or phrases as appropriate.  One does not use these willy-nilly – one hopes – but to NOT have them as available formatting tools is something I would fight very hard against.

At the risk of going off-topic, although this might be interesting information for anyone else who is contemplating producing a cookbook:

 

Word is a decent tool for getting the text of a project into shape, especially if it's something that has multiple authors or that needs a few go-rounds between author and editor. But AFTER that process, when it's time to make the cookbook look pretty and perfect and consistent, whoever is in charge of layout will port the document(s) into a more specialized layout program. And at this stage, text that's been changed WITHOUT HAVING A PARAGRAPH FORMAT OR CHARACTER FORMAT APPLIED is a designer's nightmare.

 

I'm not saying that I want to remove the ability to create text that is italicized, underlined, or boldface. But when I'm working on a document that needs to be internally consistent, such as (one hopes) a cookbook, it's vital that all formatting gets consistently applied. For example, in cookbooks, each recipe usually has a title. On the page, the titles of recipes are generally typographically differentiated: different size, different typeface, different color, different treatment, what have you. You could do all this manually: change the font family, change the size, change the color, make it italic, and make a note of what you did so that you can do the same thing for each following recipe. Or you could create a paragraph format, which you'd call something like Recipe Title so you know what you're using it for, which includes all this, and apply that paragraph format to every recipe title. The paragraph format could even include instructions such as "Always start at the top of an odd-numbered page". If you do this, and you've set up your cookbook file to be printed on both sides of the paper and bound into a book, every recipe title and presumably the recipe that belongs with that title will start on a right-side page, without you needing to do anything else to it. (No need to manually put in page breaks or insert empty pages!) You could also just start at the top of a page, without specifying even- or odd-numbered pages, in which case the recipe title (and recipe) would start on the next new page. The real beauty comes if you decide to change the way your recipe titles look. If you've manually applied the changes, you need to then find each recipe's title, and change it from right-justified blue boldface 16-point Arial to center-justified red small caps italic 14-point Times (or whatever), and repeat those changes on every title throughout. If you've used paragraph styles, you make the changes within the Recipe Title paragraph style, and bam! it automatically updates everything that has the Recipe Title paragraph format, with NO chance of a rogue blue character or a comma or period that somehow escaped being italicized. Spend a little bit of time up front to create paragraph styles for the recipe's title, any notes, the ingredients, the procedure, even photo captions or table headings or whatever else you need in your book, apply them consistently, and you've taken care of most of the formatting.

 

Paragraph formats apply to an entire paragraph. Word (and most other programs) have character formats in addition to paragraph formats. These are useful when you want part of a paragraph to look different than the rest of the paragraph (such as a few italicized words, or to add some characters from the Symbol font if the character you need is not available in the font you're using as the base for your paragraph format). When you click that little B button in the Word toolbar, you're applying an override to the paragraph format. These overrides wreak havoc later on: they don't necessarily transfer into your designer's layout program; if they do transfer, they create extra work for your designer; and they're easy to lose. (I speak as someone who has spent hours hunting through a hundreds-of-pages document for the one period that's italicized but is not supposed to be, and that will screw up the printing process if you leave it in.) What I would prefer to see, instead, is a B button that does not apply an override, but instead applies a character style called "Bold" (or, better yet, "Strong") where the character style is to make the text bold and leave everything else (typeface, size, color, and the like) untouched. This would have the same overall effect, and be transparent to most users, but make the editor's and designer's lives much easier in the long run. Ditto for the I and U buttons: have them apply character styles, not overrides. You can keep your buttons; I wish they worked differently because of all the busywork it would save!

 

From an editor and sometime designer's point of view, if you want to write a cookbook, there are a few little things that you can do when you get started that will ease the process later on, and make you into one of those authors that editors like to work with, at least from a technical point of view. With that, I'll get off my soapbox.

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160 g   Yucca blossoms, chopped      1 C *Note to eGer, I think this time of year maybe do a melon rind

 

What kind of melon rind? Watermelon (just the white part)? Having never tasted yucca blossoms (and I am unlikely to ever have access to them), I have no idea whether the taste is similar to that of a watermelon (or other type of melon) rind.

 

I will try out your recipe but unfortunately I can't do so right now since I am down south and most of my cooking equipment/gadgetry (including ice cream maker) is already up north. I know that doesn't help you right now so I hope others are able to test it for you more quickly.

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Deryn - I any melon rind will work. Its that tart, fresh, bitter taste that comes from the white part of cantaloup, honeydew or watermelon. That's the closest comparison.

 

And MelissaH - I hear ya loud and clear. I figure the less I do the better for the designer as it will be easier to add than to change. But again, my software knowledge is dated (PageMaker).

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On a side note, I just received Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook by Dina Falconi. Best identification book I've seen in a long time as it shows the plants at different times of the year. The cookbook is good, but boring. No pics and nothing really interesting, but still, well written recipes. Beautiful illustrations that have very useful content embedded in the pics.

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63742_10152821158254845_2499914847982890What a poser! For the most part my photographer has gone for natural unstaged pics, but this is one he uploaded last night from when I processed my county fair animals a few weeks ago.

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I'm looking forward to seeing where my designer puts all the b roll pics.  Ha! Just noticed that my penis lamp is in the background :)

MeatCutting.jpg


Edited by gfron1 (log)
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I've been working on getting an agent since so many publishers won't even accept a submission from a non-represented author. One agent told me today that he gets 800-900 submissions A MONTH! Holy crap!

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Agent who said he gets 800-900 proposals a month must have liked what he saw...45 minutes later he asked to see the full manuscript!

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you send him the article about you?

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Well...I checked the box on their submission form that said the manuscript was complete. I didn't expect an immediate response. I'm really like 2 hours from being done done done! So once I have finished (hopefully this afternoon), I will send him the manuscript with links to a few exciting things that he should like to see - like the Gastronomica article.

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As of 1:45 pm MST I finished writing. Then I headed into a massive weekend at the restaurant, so its just this morning that I am feeling some of the months of stress fall away. Feels good to relax for a while.

 

I've hired a local baker to do a consistency check on my recipes - making sure that every time I give a measure for oil it is the same.  1 C = 220 g and not 224 g. I had to do this because early on I was measuring for every recipe, and here at the end I was pulling old recipes from my blog and file and they had slight inaccuracies. 

 

I also was approached by a recipe tester who wants to charge me $50-80 per recipe. I can't afford that - around $3000. But she said that other books she's worked on the publisher has fronted that money to make sure it happens. I have a lot of trust in my consistency checker so I may ask him to do the recipe testing since he would do it for free or cheap, but he's a baker so he's accuracy driven.

 

Tomorrow I'll do another round of cleanup on the whole document, and figure out what we still need for pics, line up another photo shoot or two, and then we just wait for the editor to do her job before I go at it again.

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Just sent my designer a gazillion photos of Fluidita and Too Many Chiefs. Both are high design books, the latter moreso. Not sure if I can post any here with copyright issues - if I can please PM me so I can show these design ideas.

 

Both have a photo Index which is a neat idea - showing the dish with description and page number. I think this in combination with a regular text index could be fun. Too Many also has a seasonality chart to go with its dishes - love that, but not sure if it works since some of my dishes are year round. If you get a chance to put your hands on Too Many, do. The box, the cover stock, the paper...its all so beautiful.

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My designer and I have been struggling with the back cover. We both want it classy designed - simple and elegant. It has to have the ISBN and bar code, but the rest is superfluous...or is it? There's great marketing stuff on the cover - quotes, photos, brief description, but is that necessary? Latest stats I've found show that 50% of books are purchased online - back cover isn't important there, but that means 50% are bookstores - and we all read the covers when we're browsing.

 

Up until today we were leaning toward nothing on the back except a design and isbn, but today I got a copy of Dabbous (which is beautiful btw) and they had a printed sheet inserted into the cello wrap for the back cover. Perfect solution. Marketing info is there but one you've bought the book then you can get rid of it and have a beautiful cover.

20141111_133858.jpg

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Of course books in bookstores usually aren't wrapped.

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Personal preference, but I find info and the like too busy on a back cover. My niece just gave me the Manresa cookbook which has a very cool textured cover. It uses the black back cover for a few quotes from folks like Keller and Passard in white lettering - subtle.

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