Monday, June 24, 2013

You Should Write a Cookbook, They Said...

This past week I finally started putting together a project that has been in the concept stage forever. 

I've always baked and cooked, and my mom has always baked and cooked.  It seems like between the two of us, we are always baking or cooking, for ourselves or others.  In my case, this got way way out of hand after someone said: you could totally sell cakes, but that's another story.  The project I have been thinking about forever, though, is a cookbook.  I'm finally not spending everywakingmoment meeting with brides, their moms, their fiancés, their best friends, their children and their bridal parties (Hi, we're here for the wedding cake tasting.  Yes, there are 9 of us). I'm also not constantly at a bakery or up late at night designing, sketching, baking, and creating edible works of art, like turning this sketch...
Into this cake:

When I have free time like this, my mind turns to projects; hence, the idea of a cookbook.

I'm not saying I'm going to whip up a bunch of NEW recipes and call a publisher or anything, but with the combined total of like a thousand years of cooking experience in our family, I thought it'd be a wonderful gift to my two girls as future graduates, wives and mothers, to compile a book with all of our family's favorite recipes in one place.
This will also be a great gift to myself, so I can skip the endless flipping through book after book, muttering, "Criminy! WHICH book has our favorite gingerbread recipe?!?"  This will be a one-stop collection drawn from my many cookbooks, 4x6 note cards,  my Polish grandmother, my mom, my years in the wedding cake industry, magazine tear-outs, etc.  If you've ever eaten at our house or attended a wedding with one of my cakes, you have an idea what it will contain.  So far everyone who's heard about this project, wants a copy, which is sweet but is so not what I had in mind.  (No pressure there; now it has to be Really Perfect).

Not that you won't be able to maybe snag a copy someday, for a price, but I am nowhere near that point yet, so don't get all excited. 
After talking about it as an idea for probably 2 years now, I finally started working on it this past week.  I actually downloaded what seemed like a very cool self-publishing book program from online, (which shall remain nameless) chose the book size and general chapter titles, and wrote a brief introduction (which will, no doubt, go Long).  I started  with their automatically formatted 'recipe' pages, which seemed AWEsome at first.  Right away I ran into a glitch with their automatic, nonoptional text "bleed" feature, where you can be typing blithely along in a text box on a 2-column page, reach the bottom of the column, and you assume (why not?) that the bleed of the text will carry into the next column. On the same page. 

For some reason, however, this is NOT where your overflow text ends up.  At first, it's not apparent where it ends up, only that there is an "Issue" and that it has been "Fixed".  If you've typed enough of the overflow text or aren't paying attention, you will suddenly realize that you are typing on a whole new page, somewhere Out There in the book, but you are definitely no longer on the same page.
After most of a day spent doing a lot of cut-and-pasting, deleting, undoing, and some major cursing, plus a near all-out I am SO not doing this, I figured out the text bleed thing.  Somehow it bleeds, not onto the same page, (where it belongs) but into the next available blank text box, *usually* the next page.  Wth??  I can only assume that, if the next page were already full, then this random bleed function could also technically put your continuation of "Aunt Lillian's Coconut Easter Eggs" on a page in the Meat chapter, and then Easter's screwed and the BBQ has a funny 'tropical' flare.  But I digress…

Long story not much shorter, I turned it all off for awhile and considered my options (quit, find another program, or figure this out), and decided that I DO want to have this book done in my children's lifetime, so I took a break, turned it back on, and dove in.
So far, I'm pretty happy with the progress I'm making.  It's been a surprisingly slow process, trying to figure out the best way to add recipes:  book by book, and jump around all through my chapters, adding recipes? Or chapter by chapter, sorting through 30 different books for ALL my favorite chicken recipes at once?  I've settled on book by book, mostly because having ALL the cookbooks I own sitting on the coffee table is making the living room look like a major hoarder lives here.  See? 
Not cool…Now there's nowhere to put your feet.
I'm prepared for this whole book-writing thing to take a long time, because there's also still the whole issue of adding photos.  Occasionally I've taken pictures of cool things I've cooked at home, which ususally turn out like this:
(I know, pretty awesome composition, huh?)
Since snapping pro-quality pictures of food at home is not an everyday thing for me, there's an obvious problem here.  Almost every photo I've tried to add have returned an "Issue" with resolution, which the program wants to "fix" by resizing the image to like a 1 x 1" square.  That's totally not what I have in mind, since most really awesome cookbooks usually have glossy full-page photos and could double as a coffee-table book.   I tested it using some of the pro cake pictures I have from wedding photo shoots that were published in print and online, to see if they would work in this program, but even THOSE seem to be not good enough (really??).   Plus, I can't just put wedding cake pictures on every page of a cookbook.

(This says nothing about Marsala Chicken, to me. Even my kids would see through that. Cake chapter photo, though? yes, maybe.)
I haven't figured out how to solve this problem yet, so for now I'm going to focus on just getting the recipes added to the book, leave the formatted spots for photos along the way, and hope to figure it out before it's all done.  Then I will sell it to everyone on the planet and become a billionaire with my own TV show, radio show, cable show, books, magazines, and product line in every major box store, muahahahahaha.

If it's worth doing, it's worth flying by the seat of your pants, is what I always say...or was that Martha? 

No comments:

Post a Comment