Tuesday, 3 June 2014

You wanted a cookbook, and you're (hopefully) going to get one

Baked Sweet Potato Samosas: almost the only way I like sweet potato!
UPDATE: There is a preview of the cookbook feel/format in my "Cookbook preview: cooked rice, three ways" post.

One of the most common questions I'm asked is when my cookbook will be released.

And I'm working on it. For real.

The thing is: it takes a ton of time, energy and money. The first two, thankfully, I'm not terribly short of. But I'm not exactly rolling in money. So I'm in the process of developing something I can't afford, but that I really want to develop, and that I have reason to believe could be beneficial to people other than me.

So today's post is simple: to announce that I'm working on it and to get a sense of who would be interested in supporting the project if I committed to seeing it through completion. There may be a Kickstarter campaign in my future, but if I can't even get the backing of people who are already reading my blog, I question how successful it will be. So I'm going to outline what the book will look like, and all I need is an answer to this question:

Would you buy this cookbook if it existed?

So here's what it's all about.

The cookbook has two main purposes:

  1. To connect cooks (new and old) with delicious, homemade recipes that are consistent with a number of specific dietary needs (gluten-free, raw, nut-free, etc.)
  2. To provide cooks with ideas that will allow them to use up items they aren't sure what to do with, and by doing so, reduce food waste and increase (even a little) the overall sustainability of our food system

Working with special diets

These PB cups are vegan, gluten-free and made without sugar.
At one point, I had to cook gluten-free and without sugar for my diabetic mother. Add that I'm vegan and that she hates all legumes and it's just a mess if you don't know what you're doing. You want a challenge? There you have it.

But because I have the experience of cooking for people with a ton of different dietary needs (everything from Halal to corn allergies), I've become really good at it, and I have an understanding of food and how it works that I probably wouldn't otherwise. In other words, my experience qualifies me to write a book that specializes in diets that are more restricted than...well, just being able to eat whatever you want.

Food waste

These graham crackers are vegan and also use up the almond pulp you
have left when you make your own almond milk at home.
I've actually, literally cried as I threw food in the compost. And I've actually, literally squealed as I watched other people throw out their onion skins. There is so much that we do with our food, but there's also so much that we don't. It's estimated that between 30 and 50% of all of the food grown in the world never makes it into someone's tummy, and I'm not including the inedible parts (like the peach pit). Part of it is because consumer culture says that every tomato has to be perfectly round, so the ones with nubs are never put on the truck in the first place. But part of it is also buying that thing that looked interesting in the grocery, but then not knowing what to do with it and letting it spawn a whole new species of fungus in your produce drawer.

My vision is to index the cookbook by ingredient, and to include less-common ingredients. In the past, I've been stuck when I had 10 litres of pumpkin purée and I thought I'd be sick if I had to eat one more pumpkin muffin. It would have been really useful to have a cookbook that I could flip to the back of, search for pumpkin purée, and see that I can also make soup, pasties and plum sauce out of it.

The book will, obviously, also be indexed by recipe so that those looking for, say, a brownie recipe can find it. But it will also be indexed by ingredient, to give cooks ideas, as well as by special diet, so that gluten-free people aren't wading through an ocean of wheat to find one good recipe.

Concluding remarks

I hear I'm a good cook, and I maintain that it's not just that I know a lot about food, but also because I have very high standards. And since I'm good at what I do, and passionate about it, I'm not about to put together a book that isn't top-notch, and that doesn't yield amazing results for the people who use it. So if quality is a concern, I know my word is just my word, but you do have my word that quality is one of my top priorities.

I'd love to be able to share this project with you. If you have comments, questions or words of support, please leave them in the comments below so that I can gauge if this is going to become a reality.

Thanks for reading!


  1. You've got a buyer! Maybe even index by meal-time (breakfast, lunch, snack, ect..) or by dietary-needs - as long as the pool of money permits, whats a few more pages?


    1. Thanks a ton for the suggestion, Drew! I strongly suspect that would be really useful. Perhaps this could be the table of contents, and then the indexing at the back of the book could have the recipes indexed by special diet, ingredient and actual recipe title (e.g. "roasted potatoes" or "ginger cookies").

      Also, thanks for the support! :)