In the last Cookbook series post, I told you all about how I was lead to the recipe ideas and what inspired us for the chapters. In this post I wanted to share with you how I put the ideas into actual recipes that I could share with others.
Honestly this was going to be the more difficult part. Cooking is similar to science experiments in the sense that there is a fine balance with certain ingredients, especially in baking. If you are off even the slightest....failure. I hated science class and math... so how on earth do I love to cook and bake? Well I like that I can eat my experiments at the end of it, rather then getting an "A" in math or watching things turn different colours like in chemistry.
What was great is I had a plan. I could see the food in my head on how I wanted it to look, and I could taste how I wanted it to taste. Even though it seemed a bit daunting to come up with 50 recipes, I realized it was at least going to be a yummy journey... with possible "eww" moments. Although I never really make things that are "eww", I have had a few "um no" recipes that just were not good.
I was lucky to have my husband, in laws, and friends who were more then willing to help taste test everything, even the rejects. There was a fair amount of trial and error, and research. I looked up a lot of variations of recipes and combined them. Quite a few were just ones where I winged it, wrote down everything and BAM magic happened. To be honest those were some of my favorite ones!
I dreamt about every recipe, like I said earlier I could see it and taste it without an actual physical object in front of me. That is a funny thing with how my brain works, it is very visual. As I started cooking and baking everything just fell into place. I only had a few recipes that I needed to redo and start over. One of the ones that drove me nuts was the Calamari recipe in Lexie's pub section. I knew what I wanted, but I had never actually cooked with squid before. I was at a bit of a loss on what parts I should actually buy. Again, lots of research on the best ways to cook it. Buttermilk is your best friend when it comes to squid. I actually had to re buy the squid three times! The first time I bought the wrong parts of the squid, the second time the lighting for the pictures was gone so I had to plan to redo it, and the third time was a charm and we got a beautiful picture! I took them to a party and they disappeared fast!
With some of the recipes that I had a general idea with, I still wasn't sure exactly the ingredients. So I would bring my cutting board out and visualize what I wanted. To me, a blank cutting board is like a blank canvas. It is open to so many possibilities. Like an artist staring at a canvas, or a pianist at the keys of a piano, a cutting board and the kitchen is where my creativity flows out.
Katie came up with a set number of original recipes she wanted for the book. It broke down to 10 recipes per chapter. Once we knew what each chapter was going to be focused on it helped with the direction of what type of recipes we needed. All in all I really wanted to focus on a balanced lifestyle, mixed with some fun extravagant and delectable goodies that are not an everyday occurrence. I think we accomplished that and created a fun vibrant book full of some awesome flavors and things that will have your friends and family begging for more.
One recipe that I actually made up years and years ago is one that all our close friends absolutely love. I always get messages or requests to bring it to parties. I now have to make a triple batch depending on how many people show up. I am telling you it is gone within 15 minutes. That recipe is the Jalapeno Popper dip found in the pub section.
I often went to Pinterest or Instagram to scroll through for some inspiration. I have read the Health and Happiness Society series and that really was the biggest inspiration. As I visualized and worked through all the characters that the chapters are based on I really tried to channel what they would be thinking. Coming up with the recipes I also wanted to focus on that fact that everyone and anyone can cook. I really wanted to keep the instructions as simple, but detailed, as possible. My focus for the instructions on the recipes was to keep it simple but also to help challenge you if you wanted. In the book there is a variety of skill levels. Some recipes are a paragraph long and are literally dump and go ones. Then others take some more love and time.
It was such a neat experience to go through! With blogging about food and recipes I do things so often that is was neat to see it come to shape in a different form.
In the next installment I will be sharing with you all about how I staged and photographed the beautiful full page pictures in the cookbook. That was a whole new skill set that I got to develop and grow, as did my husband... I had no idea he was such a natural with food photography! So stay tuned for more!
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