Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Now We're Cooking

My daughter and I have been talking about someday writing a cookbook together. I've already published some of my own recipes in my GCI books, and I have a lot of things I've invented or recombined that people might like. My kid is like Improv Chef in the Kitchen, so she would spice things up. I just have to hide the hot sauce, salsa and cayenne pepper; she inherited her uncle's asbestos-lined palate.

I'm also currently in month five of The Bark and Twigs Heart-Healthy Diet From Hell. I'd like to put together a reasonable cookbook for other people on this diet, too, because it drives you crazy trying to stick to it and not eat like a myopic squirrel. Honestly, if I see one more whole-grain English muffin, I'm going to develop a facial twitch.

I have tried all the heart-healthy products and know which ones are decent and which taste like cardboard (i.e. whole grain angel hair pasta is okay if you use a thick marinara sauce to drown out the damn "nutty" flavor, but whole grain lasagna noodles are made from strips of cardboard.) And oh, dear Lord, the Smart Balance Products. Don't get me started. How does that company manage to turn something as simple as peanut butter into crunchy fish oil-flavored spackling paste? And their fish oil-flavored margarine substitute? Doesn't melt. Ever. I swear to God, not even in a cast iron skillet on high heat. It just sits there, spreads a tiny bit on the bottom, and then leers at you like Jabba the Hut.

Anyway, thinking about titles for my future cookbooks got me to wondering about other writers, and what we'd see in the cooking section . . .

If Cookbooks Were Written by Fiction Novelists

1. Cool Granola: Make-it-Yourself Breakfast Cereals by Stuart MacBride

2. Hot Chile in the City: Sexy Tex-Mex Recipes by Alison Kent

3. If You Like That Nose Job, Don't Insult My Thai: Gourmet Cuisine by Dr. Douglas Hoffman

4. Kiss Hershey's Goodbye: Handmade Chocolates by Robert Gregory Browne (introduction by Bill Peschel)

5. Love Portions: Romantic Dinners for Two by Monica Jackson

6. Midnight Rapini: Salads and Other Vegan Delights by Holly Lisle

7. Pop Goes the Bundt Cake: Cooking with Coca-Cola by Rosina Lippi

8. Rocky Road Rules: Frozen Desserts by James R. Winter

9. The Next Person Who Offers Me Cheesecake Gets Slapped: Living on a Low-fat, Low-cholesterol Diet by PBW

10. You Cook When I Call You: Last-minute Meals for Unexpected Guests by Douglas Clegg

If you (or your favorite author) were going to write a cookbook, what would be the title, and what sort of cuisine or food would it feature?

27 comments:

  1. You might try Earth Balance. It's by those Smart Balance people but I guarantee it melts. It also tastes relatively good and has no hydrogenated oil or bad stuff in it. It also comes organic (although I don't know where to find that).

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  2. One of these days I think I'll write a book about dieting. A book about how you can eat pretty much anything you want to eat and still lose fifty pounds.

    Which is exactly what I did.

    Pizza, mexican food, pasta, chinese noodles. I ate it all. And I got full and felt happy as my belt went from the first notch to the fourth.

    Because I know the secret. And I'm keeping it to myself. Until I write the book.

    He-he.

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  3. Jeez, I jumped right over the Kiss Hershey's Goodbye. LOL. Love it.

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  4. LOL. Love the titles.

    Hmmm. I'll have to think about Frank Herbert would do with worms.... :)

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  5. Zornhau’s Feudal Oppressor™ Diet

    Modern health food owes much to peasant cuisine - simple fare, with lots of starch and greens, and little or no meat.

    To hell with that - I’ll have what that big warlord on the horse is having: MEAT AND LOTS OF IT!

    Who do you think has the optimum diet? The scrawny carl running screaming from the burning hovel with a spear in his back, or the lean muscled Norman, laughing as I drives the womenfolk off into slavery?

    The ”Feudal Oppressor Diet” contains dozens of great family recipes such as “Meat with your meat” and “Meat surprise (meat with a dressing of meat)” , and fantastic healthy breakfasts such as “Hunk of meat with some bread somewhere.”

    Order now for a free Feudal Oppressor™ Horned Helmet and engraved war axe.

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  6. Mexitalian Smorgasbord by EJ. (We're a little eclectic.)

    BTW, PBW, in case you didn't know, margarine is one molecule away from plastic. That's why it doesn't melt or attract bugs. I ditched the margarine and went back to butter a couple of days before I found that out, and now that my kids know, they won't have anything to do with margarine! I have not found it easier or harder to lose weight with the change.

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  7. Zornhau, your diet is giving me flashbacks to Atkins and Southbeach. (I did Atkins for, oh, a day. I lasted on Southbeach for three weeks. I lost one pound and went back to pasta. Low carb makes me cranky.)

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  8. WHAT'S WRONG WITH CRANKY?!?!

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  9. Cranky works if you're a feudel oppressor, but doesn't go over well with short people, who develop quivering lips. I recommend the happy mom diet. Lots of carbs and sugar. Offset by carrying 40 pound toddler in backpack up side of mountain. My book would be "Donuts are an essential food group".

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  10. Have you seen this?

    Also, I have cheesecake. Yummy cheesecake, with homemade graham cracker crust.

    *ducks and runs*

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  11. Better Living With Chocolate

    I'd group the recipes under chapter headings like:

    Eat This Now and You Won't Bitch-Slap That Idiot (Recipes for stress reduction)

    Boyfriend? What Ex-Boyfriend? (Recipes to cope with Breakups)

    Girlpower (Celebrating life with your friends)

    Better than Sex (Recipes so delicious you won't care that your sex life was awful.)

    Life is Uncertain (So, yes, eat these desserts first.)

    Chocolate Cure-all (Okay, so chocolate might not really cure, but it'll make you forget the problem for awhile.)

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  12. I just grabbed some organic whole grain pastas the last time I was at the grocery story. I hope those are better than the ones you tried...

    ej, I don't like margarine either. I have this memory from when I was very young of my mother squeezing artificial yellow coloring into a plastic bag of gooey, white, um...well it looked like lard to me, but it was either margarine or a butter subtitutue of some kind. Yech. I'm sticking with butter until a doctor tells me I have to watch my cholesterol (so far, so good!).

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  13. Are we talking about the same Smart Balance? I love that stuff. No transfats; almost the same as Earth Balance but contains whey. Tastes delicious too! (No, I'm not paid by the company; if I were I'd demand they ship cartons overseas to my address, since it's not available in the UK.)

    My cookbook is going to be called The Rotten Fruit Cookbook and will feature ways to cook the fruit you bought because it looked good and is now about to spoil so you have to cook it fast.

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  14. learning how to live without chocolate chip cookie dough by Shiloh Walker

    And I don't like it either

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  15. Oh man. Healthy food. My husband and I really need that. I hate healthy food. *sigh*

    My cookbook since I live on deadlines - The Joy of Takeout by Jaci Burton

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  17. Damng, managed to screw the italics in the first post.


    I like Zornhau's Feudal Oppressor Diet. :)

    I'd go for 100 Exotic Dishes You Can Put Garum In.

    For those not acquainted with Roman cooking: garum is a sauce made of rotten fish and some other ingredients which the Romans used much like Americans use ktechup.

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  18. Gina wrote: You might try Earth Balance. It's by those Smart Balance people but I guarantee it melts.

    Oh, I could kiss you. That's the one my dietician was talking about; I picked up the wrong one. Thanks, Gina.

    Rob wrote: Because I know the secret. And I'm keeping it to myself. Until I write the book. He-he.

    If you could make it work for everyone, you wouldn't need to write fiction. :)

    I'm on this diet not to lose weight (I've actually gained on it) but to improve my cardiac health, which has been taking a slow swan dive into the pits since my late thirties.

    Joel wrote: I'll have to think about Frank Herbert would do with worms....

    Thank you for that visual, Joel. Lol.

    Zornhau wrote: Who do you think has the optimum diet? The scrawny carl running screaming from the burning hovel with a spear in his back, or the lean muscled Norman, laughing as I drives the womenfolk off into slavery?

    You're forgetting about the daughter of the carl. She's the chubby, nondescript serving wench who's going to poison your haunch of venison soon as you get back to the castle.

    EJ wrote: BTW, PBW, in case you didn't know, margarine is one molecule away from plastic.

    Figures. If this Earth Balance Gina recommended doesn't work, I'm going back to cooking with olive oil. I love olive oil.

    Zornhau wrote: WHAT'S WRONG WITH CRANKY?!?!

    Why, nothing at all (I'd never argue with a man as heavily armed as you.)

    Charlene wrote: My book would be "Donuts are an essential food group".

    I want a copy of that one. Just to drool over the pages.

    Milady wrote: Also, I have cheesecake. Yummy cheesecake, with homemade graham cracker crust.

    (sobs)

    Mary wrote: Boyfriend? What Ex-Boyfriend? (Recipes to cope with Breakups)

    I love it!

    Julie wrote: I just grabbed some organic whole grain pastas the last time I was at the grocery story. I hope those are better than the ones you tried...

    Most of them are a bit on the chewy side, so I recommend cooking them a little longer than regular pastas. The whole-grain "nutty" taste varies from product to product but can be really strong, which is not something I want in pasta. I tend to be a lot heavier on the herbs and garlic in my sauces now because of it.

    Kathy wrote: Are we talking about the same Smart Balance? I love that stuff. No transfats; almost the same as Earth Balance but contains whey. Tastes delicious too! (No, I'm not paid by the company; if I were I'd demand they ship cartons overseas to my address, since it's not available in the UK.)

    It might be my taste buds are out of whack, but I swear, everything they make tastes like fish to me. It's got to be the oils or oil substitutes they're using to make the products because the taste doesn't vary (I do have a sensitive nose, so odor may even play a factor.)

    One addition for your cookbook: I use over-ripe bananas to make banana bread and freeze the loaves.

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  19. By the way, I don't know how strict your diet is, but assuming that you're allowed the occasional treat, Alice Medrich's Chocolate and the Art of Low-Fat desserts is an excellent book. People do get skeptical at the Low-fat in the title, but it's a very good book.

    I've come up with my title: The De-Stress through Desserts Diet

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  20. My cookbook would have to be: My Mother Was a Vampire: A Cookbook For People Whose Parents Deprived Them of Garlic As Youngsters.

    Seriously. When I got out of the house it was like GARLICPALOOZA. I went all Iron Chef on garlic. I put it in all my sauces, on my steaks, in my morning eggs, on my Thanksgiving turkey. Which was actually very good!

    I'm sure you've gotten plenty of completely unhelpful helpful advice since you went on your diet, and forgive me if I am adding to the pile, but I cannot recommend The American Medical Association Family Cookbook: Good Food That's Good for You (ISBN: 0671536680) enough. It takes one of the top five places in my (fairly eclectic and extended) cooking library.

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  21. I go through a lot of olive oil, too, which may explain why we haven't gained weight since switching back to butter! I especially like that it doesn't go back without refrigeration, such as when you lose power due to a hurricane. :) Good luck avoiding Ernesto, but if he comes to you, could you point him toward St. Louis? We sure could use the rain.

    >>Figures. If this Earth Balance Gina recommended doesn't work, I'm going back to cooking with olive oil. I love olive oil.

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  22. Lol Stephanie, I did that, too.

    And I bought a collection of 8 inch heel shoes because I always had to wear flat ones at home.

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  23. Jaci... honey.... *G* why doesn't this surprise me...

    My cookbook since I live on deadlines - The Joy of Takeout by Jaci Burton

    Sulk. I need to do more take out. I'm tired of cooking

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  24. Hmmm. I use Pam as a lubricant for cooking. I did pick up olive oil again -- I have some recipes to try that call for it.

    I use Smart Balance and find it works fine. I do agree with EJ that margarine is one step away from the plastic molecule, so real butter is truly the way to go.

    I was concerned about cardiac health, too. That's why I switched to vegetarianism in January. Within 30 days, my cholesterol had dropped dramatically, and so had my blood pressure. I've been weaning myself off blood pressure meds -- almost ready to drop them completely. I want to do the same with cholesterol meds, but it's tougher to self-monitor for them. Weight loss? I'm down about five pounds for this year. (Much better than the ten to fifteen I could easily have gained.)

    I've been very good about not eating meat, but I've not been what I call a prim and proper vegetarian -- I eat too much pasta, too much cheese, and bake too many french fries to go with my Boca Burger, but it's been a painless transition for me, and I've reached the point where I WANT to eat a little healthier on the veggie side. Oh, and perhaps strangely, I drink way more beer than I used to when eating a carnivorous diet -- I think I've bought three or four twelve-packs this year already.

    My cookbook? "One Dish A Week: For the person who hates to cook, needs to stock up, and doesn't mind eating the same meal every night for a week." By Jean

    Best wishes for your improved cardiac health. I agree that's pretty darned important.

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  25. Hey Jean, I know what you mean! I'm a near vegan and I don't even bother having my cholesterol checked anymore!

    I do need to exercise and cut out the sugar--tomorrow maybe! I posted a good recipe for corn salsa today, which contains olive oil, if you're interested. It's really yum, especially if you can get fresh corn.

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  26. Shut Up Until I've Had My Coffee, Wouldya (by me)

    Blood, Skip the Goddamn Roses (by LKHamilton, earlier version)

    Exquisite Souffles (by Wodehouse or whoever wrote To Say Nothing of the Dog)

    Endless Tea, Stewed (by Barbara Pym)

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  27. Meals to Die For: Home Cooking from Deepest, Darkest Maine by Stephen King.

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