Want to Self-Publish a Book of Family Recipes?
A new website will help!
Howdy cookbook fans!
And welcome to my last hot Austin update because Monday means BELGIUM!!! Where it is currently *checks phone* a reasonable 82 degrees and will be in the 60s all next week. Which means I am packing SWEATERS!! Monday also means fall cookbook season, and you will be getting your September book preview soon.
Publishing Start-Up Launches for Collaborative Cookbooks
I’ve been wondering for awhile now why this doesn’t exist, and now it does! Spice Write Inc. is a new self-publishing platform that allows you to collaborate on a cookbook with friends and/or family. It seems to function similarly to a Remento or Storyworth, in which family members are asked to write down memories and upload photos, which are later combined into a book and printed.
You can pick from a variety of themes, and the recipe editor seems pretty robust in terms of layout and format capabilities. Once your cookbook is complete, you can get your book printed as an 8 1/2-inch square spiral-bound book, which is the cheaper option, or an 8 1/2-inch square hardcover. Pricing varies based on page count—the base pricing starts at 24 pages—and is priced per book. Neat!
KICKSTARTING Canadian nutritionist Stacey Green is raising funds for a cookbook called You’ll Eat It & You’ll Like It, a cheeky cookbook about cooking for kids, written the grown-ups who love them (and are occasionally exasperated by them). $45 CA gets you a copy!
The Creative Brief
Yogurt & Whey by Homa Dashtaki
Many of the most compelling cookbooks are windows into an author’s life: an invitation to meet their loved ones, experience their cultures, observe their tastes, and glimpse their dreams. Homa Dashtaki’s Yogurt & Whey is a supreme example of cookbook as personal narrative. It not only offers thoughtfully written recipes, but also a portrait of Dashtaki herself—of immigrating to the United States from Iran, of assimilating into American culture while holding fast to her identity, and, finally, finding purpose making yogurt in the traditions of her Zoroastrian heritage (and establishing The White Moustache along the way). Dashtaki’s bright spirit permeates every page of Yogurt & Whey, whose striking cover effuses the same charm and playful eloquence as her writing.
“I think this book is so much more than a cookbook—it's Homa's story—and in that sense shouldn't look like a traditional cookbook,” says designer Allison Chi. And indeed the cover includes no vibrantly colored food or large title, and for a book so unabashedly personal, no prominent sign of the author (Dashtaki, in deference to her collaborators, even requested that her name be removed from the cover). Instead we have a quiet, evocative illustration by Keith O’Brien. Dashtaki and the team at W.W. Norton were supportive of an unconventional cover design, with Dashtaki requesting that it convey the feeling of making yogurt, adding “...it should feel exactly how it does when you hold a jug of milk straight from a cow: minimal, magical, pure, quiet, begging for guidance.”
Chi created as many as 30 cover designs, including several with macro photographs of yogurt. Dashtaki and creative director Sarah Cave deemed the photographic covers too modern, lacking the warmth and subtle mystery they were seeking. In response, Chi worked O’Brien’s art for the “Foundational Recipes” chapter into a set of cover sketches that evolved into the final approved design. “I felt immensely at peace when I saw the cover,” says Dashtaki. And with good reason, as the plump, creamy bubbles are dreamily dairy-like—buoyantly suggestive of bowls of fresh tangy yogurt.
Though illustrated cookbook covers are common in other parts of the English-speaking world, Yogurt & Whey’s gently abstract design is highly unusual in the American market. Dashtaki recalls a “compliment” she received that her book does not feel very American: “And I thought: So much of America is so beautiful and actually happens in the quiet…I can’t imagine a more American cover for such an American story.” She asserts that her experience in the yogurt business has taught her that American consumers are highly adept at identifying good content, regardless of its packaging. Dashtaki goes on to praise the many people who helped bring her book to life, remarking, “All I wanted for us was to put our heads down, not worry about sales or metrics, but [about making] ART, and to know that if we build something really beautiful, our readers will find us.”
RIP Sadly, the cookbook world has lost several key figures lately. Canadian cookbook author Rose Murray has died; I am seeing conflicting data that she wrote either 11 or 12 cookbooks, so let’s call her prolific. In the Hamptons, Helen Witty, professionally known as Mrs. Witty and the author of several award-winning cookbooks, has died at the age of 101. And finally Carole Walter, prolific cookbook author and culinary educator, has died per the IACP Facebook page. (H/T to the reader who wrote in to flag this last one, and who recommends her sour cream-streusel coffee cake recipe.) Condolences to all of their loved ones.
Coming Attractions: Hot Dish, Mushrooms, the Science of Baking, Cooking for One!
Hot dish! George Sorensen will write Hot Dish Confidential, “in which the author recruits a group of amateur gourmets to come to his little Minneapolis bungalow, prepare a meal together, and show him the ropes.” Which is fun. You know I love a casserole. Flexible Press, April 2024.
Forager Chad Hyatt will publish The Mushroom Hunter’s Kitchen—I say publish and not write because it looks like he self-published first. Mushroom recipes, duh. The Experiment, summer 2025.
Pastry chef Nicola Lamb to write baking science book Sift: Everything You Need to Know About Baking. 100 recipes, “fully Americanized.” Clarkson Potter, fall 2024.
And finally, Instagrammer Eleanor Wilkinson (568k followers) to write One Pot One Portion, 75 recipes for one! In one pot! Genius idea. Clarkson Potter, spring 2025.
Deep in this piece about Jamie Oliver getting back into the restaurant game (questionable move IMO) is the fact that he has sold TWO MILLION COPIES of his cookbooks. [FT]
Marie Curie’s cookbook collection will be radioactive for 1500 more years. [Science Alert, h/t Dr. Carlson]
Explore one of “Australia’s most important cookbooks,” The Commonsense Cookery Book. [SBS Food]
Why writing in cookbooks can make you a better cook. [Borneo Bulletin]
Okay that’s all folks! See you soon with September preview.