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What makes a good cookbook? And what are your favourites?

 
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I’m writing a cookbook and am interested to hear other opinions about what is great to see in cookbooks, and things that aren’t so good. I'll post some of my answers to this in a comment below, and I am interested to hear other answers, even if it's just a comment on the amount of photos in a book, or something you've seen in a book that you'd like to see more (or less) of, or any other ideas that can help towards creating a great cookbook.

A few other things I wondered about…
I use Australian terms for things - eg ‘mince’ instead of ‘ground meat’. Already my way of writing ingredient lists is a bit clunky-looking sometimes because I try to make the choice of ingredients flexible (e.g. a recipe will work with kangaroo or other wild meats instead of lamb), and also because I put multiple measurements for things in sometimes (e.g. grams as well as cups). Would it be confusing if I just used the Australian names for things in the text, and then had a glossary at the back to explain the terms?

I like to see colour photos of completed recipes in the book, but it probably isn’t necessary for every recipe. Is there a certain amount of photos you like to see in cookbooks? Is a full-page photo with roughtly half, or a third of the recipes a good amount? Or is it better if I include photos for nearly every recipe, either full-page, or with four photos per 8”x10” page? What are your preferences for photos in cookbooks?

Is there anything you’d really like to see in a seasonal/local/homesteading/permaculture-inspired cookbook?

Anything you really don’t want to see in a cookbook?
 
Kate Downham
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Some things I like to see in cookbooks:
•Practical designs where I can quickly glance at the recipe while cooking and don’t have to strain my eyes or stop to read it. Other notes in recipes (e.g. introduction to the book, possibly the headnotes at the top) can be in a smaller font, but I really like it when the ingredients list is in a font I can quickly read from a few feet away. If I can fit the method in with a large text as well, then I’d like to.
•I like it when ingredients are listed in the order they’re used.
•Information about using leftovers, how long something will keep for, and what other dishes it goes well with can be really good, and it makes me more likely to cook the recipe.
•The recipes I generally make from books are more of the ‘everyday’ sort rather than fussy gourmet ones, in the past I might have been wowed by exciting things that are fiddly to make, these days I prefer stuff that is not very time consuming to make.
•I prefer it when recipes use simple hand tools rather than assuming you have a bunch of electrical gadgets and digital scales at your disposal.
•I love it when recipes are made from ingredients that can be found local to where I am - e.g. honey as a sweetener instead of sugar, animal fats instead of oils.

Things I don’t like in cookbooks are pretty much the opposite of the above, when authors recommend wasteful stuff such as covering bowls with plastic wrap, if recipes have major errors that make them fail, or use heaps of expensive/specialty ingredients with no instructions about how to substitute for stuff I might already have. I have a few minor dislikes but some things I overlook if the book is awesome in other ways.

Sometimes I like it when cookbooks set a bit of an atmosphere with the writing, but other times when authors try to do this it can annoy me, it probably depends on the author’s writing style and focus, and it’s hard to know just how much of this to put in a cookbook. I want my book to be something that sparks joy with the images and writing, but I don't want to use too much space doing this when I have a lot of recipes and recipe photos.

Other than that, the cookbooks that I consider to be my favourite are very different from each other, and more to do with the personality of the book, and the recipes in it rather than the actual design of it. My favourite cookbook of all time is probably ‘The Forgotten Skills of Cooking’ by Darina Allen, but there’s also a lot of recent ones I’ve enjoyed such as ‘My New Roots’, ‘Grown & Gathered’, ’The Nordic Cookbook’, and a few different River Cottage ones. There are a couple of classic ones without photos that I like such as Elizabeth Luard's 'The Old World Kitchen', but I generally prefer books with photos.
 
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Things I like in a cookbook (I collect these):

  • Pictures. You don’t need a picture for every recipe, but you do need quite a few through the book. Colour please.
  • I like alternate measurements. This is a touchy area for a lot of people. As a breadmaker I like weight in grams. Other people hate a recipe in weight measurements. As a Canadian we learn both Imperial AND metric. Other people are one or the other. Or other.
  • Unusual. Don’t give me the same old. Kangaroo meat and substitutes? You have me hooked.
  • I don’t mind a story with a recipe. Some of my fave cookbooks are like that.
  • My absolute fave cookbooks currently are permaculture/foraging/hunting/fishing/gardening focused. Forget all that usual cookbook stuff. I want to know, How do I cook that mushroom that is poisonous unless cooked the way the Russians do it? You know, the secret info of people who know the foods most people don’t.

  • I hate the same old same old thing that's been done forever. Unless it's an undying classic.
     
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    I'm a former baker (MANY, MANY moons, ago!!), married to a retired personal chef. I have gotten rid of more cookbooks than many collectors keep - and still possess more than most, lol. Things I look for are time honored methods/techniques; fresh, bold flavors &/or traditional cultural recipes; alternative options for measuring, i.e. both volume and weight; bright pictures (we eat first, with our eyes, after all); great organization, including table of contents and index. Bonuses I enjoy, but don't actually need would include stories, particularly for the author's family recipes, or the actual history, of historic recipes.

    Things I tend to reject include (the obvious) recipes that just don't work; repetitive, possessive-pronoun-heavy wording, i.e. 'take your pan, and oil it, then take your batter..." - really, I feel that was about a lot of extra words, in general. 'Remove from heat' is less tedious, when I'm reading and cooking at the same time, than 'take your potholders, and carefully remove the saucepan from the burner, to a trivet'. I've been known to reduce page long recipes to an ingredients list, with a paragraph of instruction (plus credit, so I know where it came from), so I can have the recipe without the nonsense, then turn around and give the book away.
    I like the unusual, but I'm not likely to drop $50 on a single ingredient, only use a teaspoon, and leave the rest untouched, in my pantry, for the rest of my life. On the other hand, we DO keep a very small quantity of saffron on hand, because there are a few dishes we use it for, for special occasions. I know some folks who just leave it out, because it's stupid-expensive, for their comfort - and I can absolutely see that - but we love it, so it's worth it, **to us**.

    Hm. I'm not sure this was any help, at all, or just more of a peeves list, lol
     
    pollinator
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    Healthy, plant based recipes with mostly basic, whole food ingredients. Nothing too expensive. Shorter ingredient lists.

    Mostly nothing too complex. Those recipes with five different recipes inside each recipe are fun to look at but I won't buy them because I will never make them.

    Dessert recipes that aren't all focused on chocolate. Fruit is nice, especially fruit sweetened.

    Color pictures for every recipe. I have cooked enough to basically picture most completed items but pictures still inspire, especially when I want to try something new.

    An index by ingredient is handy so if I have berries and am looking for those recipes, for example, it's easy to find them all.

    To answer your question, I think using different terms with a glossary is fine. Mentioning it in the intro is good. Not everyone will read that but enough will to make it helpful.
     
    pollinator
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    My favorite cookbooks are the ones that set me up for easy improvisation based on what I have. "How to Cook without a book" was one of the first cookbooks I learned from and while I don't do that style of cooking so much anymore I'd be ecstatic to find more books that have general guidelines on how to make dishes or at least lots of options for substitutions.

    I also like the zero mile diet cookbook because it has recipes based around what's likely to be in season or around at a given time. I've read other "local flavors" type cookbooks where the author mixes fresh ingredients from different seasons because they were buying them at stores that truck in the food from places with different growing seasons, which is kind of missing the point of "local flavor" in my opinion.
     
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    Carla Burke wrote:I've been known to reduce page long recipes to an ingredients list, with a paragraph of instruction (plus credit, so I know where it came from), so I can have the recipe without the nonsense, then turn around and give the book away.



    Yes! Too many books write novellas in stead of stick with it!!! If a recipe can not be boiled down to a standard index card, it's unlikely to survive my kitchen long term when I purge and edit my books. I have 3 kids 5 and under, a small homestead, and am trying to help my husband get a tech startup rolling, so my time to peruse books is sadly reduced to a few glimpses here and there, often while waiting for appointments with the kids (or sometimes shamelessly hiding in the bathroom when my husband is at home), so I keep a book or two in my car.

    Pictures: I like pictures in cookbooks, but some of my favorite recipe books do not have any illustrations or photos in them at all. If you provide pictures, make them high resolution, and quality pictures. If there's a very involved method or process hard to explain, you can provide illustrations for how to do it to make everyone's life easier. I have about two meters (for the Metric Aussie) of bookshelves dedicated to cookbooks, and the homesteading books provide probably another half meter of books that contain some form of recipes. I even have a few books that would be easier to classify as "home economics" and "food history" than cookbooks. I peruse, and edit, and cull my library at times. I'll try to remember to list some "keepers" to give ideas for what I like when I get a chance to look through the books. You can use the "preview" function on Amazon to spy on books you don't own.

    Measurements and terminology: I grew up using the Metric system, but have had to teach myself how to use the Imperial system after I moved to the U.S. If you prefer one measurement over another, go with it, but please include a glossary for the more localized terms. This helps you make your way into the international market. Also, a North American and most continental Europeans likely wouldn't know what "gas mark 3" is, so include the temperatures and conversions, too. I've run into this a bit with my new favorite Indian vegetarian recipe site. Their instructions describe the cook time as "three whistles with the pressure cooker", and I'm like "I don't actually have a pressure cooker". I enjoy learning, but it does mean I have to look this stuff up elsewhere to adapt my cooking based on available equipment.

    Introductions: If you have a recipe for kangaroo, write the recipe for kangaroo, but you could include a substitution suggestion for it in an introductory paragraph sharing a little bit about the origin of the recipe, or the use of the ingredient, since us "up over" (probably not an accurate term) don't really know much about kangaroo. If an ingredient is optional, it's nice to add "(optional)" after it in the ingredient list.

    The less equipment I need, the better: Just like with the pressure cooker for Indian recipes I mentioned above, don't recommend the use of specialized gadgets, unless absolutely necessary for a successful recipe. I lived for about 6 years as a housewife before I even got an electric mixer. Most recipes assume you have one, just to give an example. In stead of "using a mandolin, slice x thinly", just put in "slice x thinly" and the reader can decide what tool to use.

    Notes section at the bottom of a page: Although it's a cardinal sin for me to write anything apart from the owner's name into a book, one of my favorite books on fermented foods, has space for notes at the bottom of every recipe page, so I can take notes on what did, or didn't work. This is actually rather useful for the kind of cooking I do. If I know that I can't get a hold of "hartshornsalt" (ammonium carbonate, a common leavening agent in traditional Scandinavian baking), I know I need to use double the amount of baking powder for the same leavening effect, but it's easier to write it down under the recipe.

    Many self-published cookbooks have this problem, if you start reading reviews! Have people test your recipes exactly as written, and provide feedback. It's easy to modify a recipe, but for a cookbook, it's vital to get the recipes cleaned up and tested to see if they need a tweak. If half the comments you get are "needs more salt", or "not spicy enough", you know to tweak quantities before going to print. Self published books often omit how long it takes to prepare a recipe. If I need to, or if I can, prep something the night before, I need to be told.

    Book Types: The kinds of books I have range from home butchery, cheese making, and bread baking - very basic but specialized skills, to in-depth looks at various ethnic cuisines, and their methods. The ones I keep often have simple everyday recipes that are ordered by season, and type of dishes or meals. I like having a feel for when something is in season. This obviously means it's winter down under when it's summer here, but I can work off of that.

    I'm sorry. My line of thought breaks here, since I keep getting interrupted by kid bedtimes. I'll try to get a bit of a book list of a few of the ones I like, and a couple I can think of, that I remember getting rid of, and why. We had a small cluster of earthquakes last night/morning and my focus is on cleaning the house and securing some fragile and heavy stuff a bit better, just in case the next one is bigger than a 4.6...
     
    Kate Downham
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    Thank you all for the thoughtful responses! It is really good to hear from others who appreciate cookbooks.

    A few more things I’ve wondered about…

    The amount of salt is such a personal taste, and I generally have it as ‘add salt, to taste’ at the end of a recipe if it’s a pot of something. Does it help inexperienced cooks if I have a specific amount listed? Or are they going to use a refined salt instead of the less-salty unrefined salts that I use and then get something that is oversalted? Or is it better to list a guide (e.g. 1/2-1 teaspoon unrefined salt, to taste)?

    I like to have gluten-free and grain-free options for my recipes when I can. I’ve seen some cookbooks have a little ‘gf’ or picture key on the page to show that a recipe is suitable. For these options, is it better if the gluten-free variation is listed in the ingredients list (e.g. “pearl barley or medium grain brown rice”), or is it easier to read if it just says ‘“pearl barley*” with a little note at the bottom of the page saying “*use brown rice for a gluten-free version.”? I think I will distinguish the 100% gluten-free recipes from the “gluten-free if you use this choice of ingredient” with different keys, but I'd still like to be as helpful as possible without cluttering the page up too much.

    I’ve attached a photo I took of the Milkwood book as a possible design idea to get more photos into the book. This is a good design for showing processes (e.g. cheesemaking, preserving), or seasonal/atmospheric photos, but I wonder if this four images per page might work to show four different recipes, and then the recipe pages would have “see picture on page 123”. I’d still like to have a lot of recipes with a full-page photo opposite, but at this stage it looks like I have to keep it under 250 pages so I am trying to find the right balance between lots of photos and lots of recipes.
    _5273626.JPG
    [Thumbnail for _5273626.JPG]
    page from Milkwood book
     
    Kate Downham
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    Viola Bluez wrote:Things I like in a cookbook (I collect these):

  • Pictures. You don’t need a picture for every recipe, but you do need quite a few through the book. Colour please.
  • I like alternate measurements. This is a touchy area for a lot of people. As a breadmaker I like weight in grams. Other people hate a recipe in weight measurements. As a Canadian we learn both Imperial AND metric. Other people are one or the other. Or other.

  • It's interesting to read your response. I think Australians and Canadians have a lot in common with cultural influences coming from both the UK and the USA. Growing up here, we mostly used cups, but butter was always measured in grams, where as these days most Australian cookbooks are in grams. I like grams for larger amounts, especially for baking, and for butter, but I like to have both options in a cookbook. I get annoyed when recipes call for 5 grams of cardamon and so on because my analogue scale only measures in 25g increments. I had a digital scale for around 6 months, it was very temperamental and after a short time just stopped working completely, and after that I just didn't want to rely on one, where as the analogue scale I've had for the past seven years or so has just lasted and lasted and is still accurate.


  • Unusual. Don’t give me the same old. Kangaroo meat and substitutes? You have me hooked.
  • I don’t mind a story with a recipe. Some of my fave cookbooks are like that.
  • My absolute fave cookbooks currently are permaculture/foraging/hunting/fishing/gardening focused. Forget all that usual cookbook stuff. I want to know, How do I cook that mushroom that is poisonous unless cooked the way the Russians do it? You know, the secret info of people who know the foods most people don’t.

  • I hate the same old same old thing that's been done forever. Unless it's an undying classic.


    I don't think I'll be much help with the weird mushroom secret! I might have some ideas for the more easily-identified/safe mushrooms though, and other foraging. I think I have a few tricks up my sleeve I've learned from cooking 100% from scratch every day. I can't switch off permaculture thinking in my head and am always coming up with ways to get the most results out of the least effort, and how to make use of what is abundant and enjoy the process of it. I think there need to be more cookbooks written by people that have a life outside the kitchen, as this can affect how doable the recipes are when there's animals and garden to tend to, and also how sustainable it is as far as human effort goes.
     
    Kate Downham
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    Carla Burke wrote:I'm a former baker (MANY, MANY moons, ago!!), married to a retired personal chef. I have gotten rid of more cookbooks than many collectors keep - and still possess more than most, lol. Things I look for are time honored methods/techniques; fresh, bold flavors &/or traditional cultural recipes; alternative options for measuring, i.e. both volume and weight; bright pictures (we eat first, with our eyes, after all); great organization, including table of contents and index. Bonuses I enjoy, but don't actually need would include stories, particularly for the author's family recipes, or the actual history, of historic recipes.

    Things I tend to reject include (the obvious) recipes that just don't work; repetitive, possessive-pronoun-heavy wording, i.e. 'take your pan, and oil it, then take your batter..." - really, I feel that was about a lot of extra words, in general. 'Remove from heat' is less tedious, when I'm reading and cooking at the same time, than 'take your potholders, and carefully remove the saucepan from the burner, to a trivet'. I've been known to reduce page long recipes to an ingredients list, with a paragraph of instruction (plus credit, so I know where it came from), so I can have the recipe without the nonsense, then turn around and give the book away.
    I like the unusual, but I'm not likely to drop $50 on a single ingredient, only use a teaspoon, and leave the rest untouched, in my pantry, for the rest of my life. On the other hand, we DO keep a very small quantity of saffron on hand, because there are a few dishes we use it for, for special occasions. I know some folks who just leave it out, because it's stupid-expensive, for their comfort - and I can absolutely see that - but we love it, so it's worth it, **to us**.

    Hm. I'm not sure this was any help, at all, or just more of a peeves list, lol


    Lol! I've gotten a lot of cookbooks out from the library recently to look for design and photography ideas for my book (and to read the recipes for wording and techniques), and I could probably come up with a 'pet peeves' list a mile long! I have probably learned more from these books about what not to do than I have about what I would like to do.

    What you've said about the extra wording is really helpful. Quite a few of my recipes start with something like "Heat a stewpot over a medium-hot stove and add enough lard to generously coat the base. Once the lard is hot, add..." - Would this be better if I got rid of "once the lard is hot" bit? Or is this a good precaution for people new to cooking who might try to brown meat in a pan that isn't hot enough? It is hard sometimes to balance the wording so that experienced cooks won't get annoyed with it, but so people new to it can still get great results. Fortunately, I've never written anything silly about trivets like the example you gave above! That sort of wording really annoys me as well, so hopefully I won't be guilty of it.
     
    pollinator
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    As a classically trained chef, I enjoy cookbooks with stories and unique concepts. The entire recipe needn't be unique, but there needs to be some aspect of it that wouldn't have just occurred to me. In my current phase of culinary development one of my favorite issues is the best way to preserve anything, and often it isn't a singular answer. So, like with green beans, I preserve them many ways, canning, freezing, pickling, but each of these ways has a different end product. One isn't necessarily better than the other, but they aren't the same, and the finished dish from one versus the other aren't the same.
     
    Kate Downham
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    Sonja Draven wrote:Healthy, plant based recipes with mostly basic, whole food ingredients. Nothing too expensive. Shorter ingredient lists.

    Mostly nothing too complex. Those recipes with five different recipes inside each recipe are fun to look at but I won't buy them because I will never make them.

    Dessert recipes that aren't all focused on chocolate. Fruit is nice, especially fruit sweetened.

    Color pictures for every recipe. I have cooked enough to basically picture most completed items but pictures still inspire, especially when I want to try something new.

    An index by ingredient is handy so if I have berries and am looking for those recipes, for example, it's easy to find them all.

    To answer your question, I think using different terms with a glossary is fine. Mentioning it in the intro is good. Not everyone will read that but enough will to make it helpful.


    Indexes by ingredient are really helpful. I will definitely be doing this. I am contemplating other indexes as well to let readers quickly find slow cooking meals, quick meals, things that reheat well, and so on.

    Fruit desserts can be tricky, because some of it has such a short season, and it can annoy me getting a book and finding that I can't make most of the desserts because the right fruit isn't in season at that time. I am trying to put interchangeable fruit recipes in for basic cakes that can be made with many different kinds of fruits, maybe a galette or pie, fruit crumbles, and ways to serve different stewed fruits and preserved fruits.
     
    Kate Downham
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    Meg Mitchell wrote:My favorite cookbooks are the ones that set me up for easy improvisation based on what I have. "How to Cook without a book" was one of the first cookbooks I learned from and while I don't do that style of cooking so much anymore I'd be ecstatic to find more books that have general guidelines on how to make dishes or at least lots of options for substitutions.

    I also like the zero mile diet cookbook because it has recipes based around what's likely to be in season or around at a given time. I've read other "local flavors" type cookbooks where the author mixes fresh ingredients from different seasons because they were buying them at stores that truck in the food from places with different growing seasons, which is kind of missing the point of "local flavor" in my opinion.


    I really like adaptable recipes. I do a lot of adapting on my own, but it's nice to read in books that the author has tried a particular substitution and it works.

    And I agree with you about seasonal cookbooks - I like them to be what is in season in the local area at the time, rather than what is available in shops from far away. Many of the "sustainable/local/seasonal" books I've read have this problem, as they're written by chefs rather than gardeners. I try to grow as much as possible in my own garden, and tomatoes are only in season here for a couple of months, capsicum and eggplant are a bit of a gamble, but many of these local/seasonal books seem to be packed full of recipes for these vegetables, but not the ones that are available for longer in a temperate climate.
     
    Kate Downham
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    Penny Oakenleaf wrote:

    Carla Burke wrote:I've been known to reduce page long recipes to an ingredients list, with a paragraph of instruction (plus credit, so I know where it came from), so I can have the recipe without the nonsense, then turn around and give the book away.



    Yes! Too many books write novellas in stead of stick with it!!! If a recipe can not be boiled down to a standard index card, it's unlikely to survive my kitchen long term when I purge and edit my books. I have 3 kids 5 and under, a small homestead, and am trying to help my husband get a tech startup rolling, so my time to peruse books is sadly reduced to a few glimpses here and there, often while waiting for appointments with the kids (or sometimes shamelessly hiding in the bathroom when my husband is at home), so I keep a book or two in my car.

    Pictures: I like pictures in cookbooks, but some of my favorite recipe books do not have any illustrations or photos in them at all. If you provide pictures, make them high resolution, and quality pictures. If there's a very involved method or process hard to explain, you can provide illustrations for how to do it to make everyone's life easier. I have about two meters (for the Metric Aussie) of bookshelves dedicated to cookbooks, and the homesteading books provide probably another half meter of books that contain some form of recipes. I even have a few books that would be easier to classify as "home economics" and "food history" than cookbooks. I peruse, and edit, and cull my library at times. I'll try to remember to list some "keepers" to give ideas for what I like when I get a chance to look through the books. You can use the "preview" function on Amazon to spy on books you don't own.

    Measurements and terminology: I grew up using the Metric system, but have had to teach myself how to use the Imperial system after I moved to the U.S. If you prefer one measurement over another, go with it, but please include a glossary for the more localized terms. This helps you make your way into the international market. Also, a North American and most continental Europeans likely wouldn't know what "gas mark 3" is, so include the temperatures and conversions, too. I've run into this a bit with my new favorite Indian vegetarian recipe site. Their instructions describe the cook time as "three whistles with the pressure cooker", and I'm like "I don't actually have a pressure cooker". I enjoy learning, but it does mean I have to look this stuff up elsewhere to adapt my cooking based on available equipment.

    Introductions: If you have a recipe for kangaroo, write the recipe for kangaroo, but you could include a substitution suggestion for it in an introductory paragraph sharing a little bit about the origin of the recipe, or the use of the ingredient, since us "up over" (probably not an accurate term) don't really know much about kangaroo. If an ingredient is optional, it's nice to add "(optional)" after it in the ingredient list.

    The less equipment I need, the better: Just like with the pressure cooker for Indian recipes I mentioned above, don't recommend the use of specialized gadgets, unless absolutely necessary for a successful recipe. I lived for about 6 years as a housewife before I even got an electric mixer. Most recipes assume you have one, just to give an example. In stead of "using a mandolin, slice x thinly", just put in "slice x thinly" and the reader can decide what tool to use.

    Notes section at the bottom of a page: Although it's a cardinal sin for me to write anything apart from the owner's name into a book, one of my favorite books on fermented foods, has space for notes at the bottom of every recipe page, so I can take notes on what did, or didn't work. This is actually rather useful for the kind of cooking I do. If I know that I can't get a hold of "hartshornsalt" (ammonium carbonate, a common leavening agent in traditional Scandinavian baking), I know I need to use double the amount of baking powder for the same leavening effect, but it's easier to write it down under the recipe.

    Many self-published cookbooks have this problem, if you start reading reviews! Have people test your recipes exactly as written, and provide feedback. It's easy to modify a recipe, but for a cookbook, it's vital to get the recipes cleaned up and tested to see if they need a tweak. If half the comments you get are "needs more salt", or "not spicy enough", you know to tweak quantities before going to print. Self published books often omit how long it takes to prepare a recipe. If I need to, or if I can, prep something the night before, I need to be told.

    Book Types: The kinds of books I have range from home butchery, cheese making, and bread baking - very basic but specialized skills, to in-depth looks at various ethnic cuisines, and their methods. The ones I keep often have simple everyday recipes that are ordered by season, and type of dishes or meals. I like having a feel for when something is in season. This obviously means it's winter down under when it's summer here, but I can work off of that.

    I'm sorry. My line of thought breaks here, since I keep getting interrupted by kid bedtimes. I'll try to get a bit of a book list of a few of the ones I like, and a couple I can think of, that I remember getting rid of, and why. We had a small cluster of earthquakes last night/morning and my focus is on cleaning the house and securing some fragile and heavy stuff a bit better, just in case the next one is bigger than a 4.6...


    I have no idea what ‘gas mark 3’ means either. I am cooking on an old Rayburn wood stove after many years of cooking with electric stoves, so my heating instructions tend to be ‘medium-hot’, ‘medium’, around 180ºc/350ºf oven and so on instead of marks. I try to give secondary clues as well, such as what something should look like or smell like, as I’ve cooked on lots of different stoves and I the baking/sautéing timing can change a lot depending on what it’s being cooked on, I think these clues can be helpful to include in recipes.

    It’s funny how what is ‘normal’ to one cook can make recipes impossible for others. I think it’s a bit lazy on the writer’s part to not include alternative instructions. The only appliance I use is an immersion/stick blender that I use for soups every now and then, so it can be difficult to follow recipes by other people at times, and a source of comedy to imagine their washing up pile up from all their mixers, blenders, juicers, and so on.

    Good point about recipe testing. Some of the worst errors I’ve seen in a cookbook have been in one published by a fairly well-known publisher, so it’s not always easy to tell if the recipes are tested. Some authors have recipes that I can follow exact directions for and they turn out perfectly where as other author's recipes I make always taste like they need something extra.

    For seasonal cooking, I am dividing the year into eight parts, with it as ‘early winter, late winter, early spring, and so on, rather than months, so it will be easy for people in the northern hemisphere to use it.

    Thank you so much for your help. I have young children as well, so I know how busy it can be. I look forward to hearing more of your thoughts on cookbooks when/if you find a spare minute to post : )
     
    pollinator
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    Without reading all the replies.

    A picture for all recipes helps but they could be 4 to a page and then a couple of pages of recipes rather than together.
    Units should be consistent as a Brit cups are useless we don't own them, grams are best but most Brits can manage in ounces (our scales have a button to switch!) Also specify how big your teaspoon/tablespoon is as it varies.
    For adaptations, how about instead of being in the ingredients putting a cooks note at the bottom or in a little box.
    I like little stories with the recipes, so say where you found the recipe or a story about one of the ingredients.

    You'll need to decide what type of cook you are aiming at, I personally hate cookbooks with a forward of "basic" recipes like stock I feel I wasted half my money!
     
    Sonja Draven
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    I honestly don't envy you the decisions you have to make. So tough!

    In reading your questions, I realized I am gf and vegan and have a fair number of allergies so I have been making substitutions for ingredients for many years. So I don't care if a fruit isn't in season, I have experience switching things out. I know gf grains, etc. But when I was less experienced I found those tips very helpful. And my favorite cookbooks are the ones where I can use them nearly as written.
     
    Carla Burke
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    Kate Downham wrote:
    Lol! I've gotten a lot of cookbooks out from the library recently to look for design and photography ideas for my book (and to read the recipes for wording and techniques), and I could probably come up with a 'pet peeves' list a mile long! I have probably learned more from these books about what not to do than I have about what I would like to do.

    What you've said about the extra wording is really helpful. Quite a few of my recipes start with something like "Heat a stewpot over a medium-hot stove and add enough lard to generously coat the base. Once the lard is hot, add..." - Would this be better if I got rid of "once the lard is hot" bit? Or is this a good precaution for people new to cooking who might try to brown meat in a pan that isn't hot enough? It is hard sometimes to balance the wording so that experienced cooks won't get annoyed with it, but so people new to it can still get great results. Fortunately, I've never written anything silly about trivets like the example you gave above! That sort of wording really annoys me as well, so hopefully I won't be guilty of it.



    "Heat a stewpot over a medium-hot stove and add enough lard to generously coat the base. Once the lard is hot, add..." - Would this be better if I got rid of "once the lard is hot" bit?"
    Honestly, if I were to rewrite it onto a recipe card, it would probably end up more like,  'heat a generous portion of lard on med-high heat. Add...' with no mention of the pot,  unless it requires a heavy bottomed pot, then, it might be, 'in a heavy-bottomed pot, heat lard till hot, over med-high heat. Add...'.

    But, thinking about this, in respect to my personality (lol), I also realize that part of my 'don't tell me what pot to use, or to be careful, or...' probably comes from a deep loathing of anything even vaguely hinting at micromanagement, lol. If I'm making stew, I'm going into it with the assumption that I'll need an appropriate pot.

    On the other hand, it could be a demographic thing - who is your primary audience? If you're looking to educate, maybe you're looking at a situation that calls for more detail. So, a book geared toward beginning or novice cooks would probably be much more helpful to them, with more specifics, to prevent them from being confused and frustrated. If you're looking to write a cookbook for adults who have spent half their life in the kitchen, that will be an entirely different sort of book, or they will roll their eyes, for feeling their 'intelligence is being insulted', lol.

    I think my best advice here, is going to be to thoughtfully consider all this information you're gleaning, toss out what doesn't jive with your style, and just write it. No matter what you write, some will love it, some will hate it, and everyone else will fall somewhere in the middle.
     
    Penny Oakenleaf
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    Viola Bluez wrote:Things I like in a cookbook (I collect these):

    I want to know, How do I cook that mushroom that is poisonous unless cooked the way the Russians do it? You know, the secret info of people who know the foods most people don’t.



    If you mean false morels (Gyromitra esculenta), the process is called "ryöppäys" in my native Finnish. I don't think there's an English term for it. I'm not Russian, but grew up one border west of Russia. The process is similar to blanching, but you boil them longer to remove the mostly watersoluble neurotoxin gyromitrin. 1 part mushrooms to 3 parts water, boil for 5 minutes in a well ventilated space (outdoor kitchen for the win!), discard the water, rinse mushrooms thoroughly, repeat with another round of boiling and rinse. Experts disagree on if this process renders the mushrooms completely safe, but that's the standard operating procedure. They're often available as dried mushrooms outside Scandinavia and Poland, but have to be processed the same way.

    Re salt: It's good to have a chapter at the beginning of the book saying what kind of staples you use, and why (what kind of cooking oils, and why, for example). If you only use kosher salt, or mineral salt, or sea salt, here's a good place to provide a substitution ratio for say common table salt, which will wash your hands from responsibility if someone seriously doesn't know how much salt is right. My mother-in-law is one of those. She'll pour salt on my cooking before even tasting it, without second thought, because she's so used to doing it. Thankfully we share our love for my husband, and their grandchildren and my children, so I have something with the in-laws to bond over, even when I sometimes want to butt heads.

    I'm cooking for 14-20 people (nobody RSVPs these days?!), so I'm trying to juggle cleaning house, entertain three kids aged 21 months to 5 years, and smoking ribs. I'll be back later again. ;)
     
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    Kate Downham wrote:I’m writing a cookbook and am interested to hear other opinions about what is great to see in cookbooks, and things that aren’t so good. I'll post some of my answers to this in a comment below, and I am interested to hear other answers, even if it's just a comment on the amount of photos in a book, or something you've seen in a book that you'd like to see more (or less) of, or any other ideas that can help towards creating a great cookbook.

    A few other things I wondered about…
    I use Australian terms for things - eg ‘mince’ instead of ‘ground meat’. Already my way of writing ingredient lists is a bit clunky-looking sometimes because I try to make the choice of ingredients flexible (e.g. a recipe will work with kangaroo or other wild meats instead of lamb), and also because I put multiple measurements for things in sometimes (e.g. grams as well as cups). Would it be confusing if I just used the Australian names for things in the text, and then had a glossary at the back to explain the terms?

    I like to see colour photos of completed recipes in the book, but it probably isn’t necessary for every recipe. Is there a certain amount of photos you like to see in cookbooks? Is a full-page photo with roughtly half, or a third of the recipes a good amount? Or is it better if I include photos for nearly every recipe, either full-page, or with four photos per 8”x10” page? What are your preferences for photos in cookbooks?

    Is there anything you’d really like to see in a seasonal/local/homesteading/permaculture-inspired cookbook?

    Anything you really don’t want to see in a cookbook?




    I think it's a matter of opinion and how you live your life, for me I use old cookbooks like the original betty crocker's from the 60s. I dont have power so I need recipes without things like a food processor.  It taught me alot also, like how to store eggs and which side up. As well as which cut of meat comes from where.

    I like recipes I can easily understand what ingredients are what and how long to beat or how to cook over a fire, not many cookbooks teach you how to bake on a woodstove and the only place I've found much information is on this forum. Pictures are helpful as well, but that's just me.
     
    Penny Oakenleaf
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    Jolene Jakesy wrote:I dont have power so I need recipes without things like a food processor.  It taught me alot also, like how to store eggs and which side up. As well as which cut of meat comes from where.

    I like recipes I can easily understand what ingredients are what and how long to beat or how to cook over a fire, not many cookbooks teach you how to bake on a woodstove and the only place I've found much information is on this forum. Pictures are helpful as well, but that's just me.



    Emphasis mine... Have you seen Marie Beausoleil's "A Cabin Full of Food", Jolene? She's in an off grid situation, so she cooks without refrigeration and electric appliances. https://www.amazon.com/Cabin-Full-Food-Mostly-cookbook/dp/1480058084
     
    Kate Downham
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    I hadn't heard of that book - it sounds good.

    I'd like to include off-grid cooking information in my book, especially about wood stoves, working with hand-milled flours, fridge-free and freezer-free cooking and food preservation, along with recipes designed to work with knives and chopping boards rather than machines.

    I am contemplating giving an off-grid focus to the book, but I worry that this might put a lot of people off. It is hard to know whether to do a cookbook with a broader appeal and risk people ignoring it because there are already plenty of seasonal/local/real food cookbooks, or to do something quite specific and risk people being put off it because they're not off-grid or don't want to be off-grid...

    I find it a lot easier to just write and take photos and follow my own inspiration to create something beautiful than I do to figure out audiences, marketing, and all of that stuff!

    Things I've been writing about:
    •100% local foods recipes for temperate/cold climates (or close to 100% local)
    •Nourishing traditional foods/Weston A Price inspired, with some primal/paleo influence
    •Written in a relaxed way, presenting the way I do things, rather than making the reader feel guilty for forgetting to soak the grains etc.
    •Using local honey as a sweetener and preserver
    •Preserving foods without cane sugar
    •Cheesemaking, preserving meat, making the most of seasonal abundance, and other traditional skills
    •Baking great sourdough and other stuff in a way that doesn't require much hands-on time, equipment, or washing up
    •Recipes and techniques that are sustainable not just for the ingredients they use, but as far as human effort goes

    People who I think would get the most out of it:
    •New homesteaders, and aspiring homesteaders.
    •People that want to connect more with their food, and learn skills without being overwhelmed by too much information - I give just the recipes and techniques that work really really well, rather than extra stuff that might fill the pages of specialist cheese/sourdough/charcuterie books.
    •Anyone interested in a collection of everyday sustainable local seasonal recipes, rather than fussy gourmet ones
    •People interested in long-term survival/preparedness
    •Anyone that wants to live off the grid and cook from scratch.
    •People that want a beautiful and inspiring cookbook

    I'd like it to be easy enough for people new to cooking from scratch to use, but with enough interesting/unique stuff that experienced cooks will still get a lot out of it. I hope I am not aiming for too much!
     
    pollinator
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    Things I like in cookbooks are:

    Time for the recipe at the top...
    Prep time, Active Cooking time, Resting time, Waiting time...Total time. Do I have time to make this dish today?

    Suggestions for side/main dishes to serve with, or wine/beer/beverage pairings...
    Ways to make it a great meal, not just a great dish. This could be part of some prose describing how wonderful this dish is, where it comes from, traditions...

    No-nonsense instructions. Written for a basically competent cook. Easy to scan to find one's place in mid-process? some visual cues like bullets, bold or underlined steps or ingredients?

    Salt and Pepper measurements only if it matters, otherwise "to taste" is fine.

    Things I don't like in cookbooks are:

    Ingredients with totalized measurements such as: 1-3/4 cup of flour, where later on in some verbose instructions...1/4 cup of the flour is for browning the meat, and 1-1/2 cups is for making the dumplings...
    I'd rather have two entries together for the 1-1/2 cup and the 1/4 cup of flour and I do the math to check the pantry.

    "Total Cooking Time: 3 Hours", where again in the verbose instructions, 2 hours of that is idle time "chilling in a fridge", or the opposite "Cooking time" neglects to include "marinate for 4-6 hours"

     
    Kate Downham
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    I agree with you about the measurements. I've made mistakes following recipes in the past because they list ingredients in that way.

    That is a good point about the times as well, and something I find helpful, especially if something needs to be soaked or marinated.

    I wonder what the best way to list the timing for a slow cooking stew would be if I need to provide timing for sautéing onions and browning meat, as well as chopping up vegetables, and slow cooking.

    Would it be...
    Preparation time: 20 minutes
    Cooking time: 2 to 4 hours

    Or would this idea be better?...
    Preparation time: 10 minutes
    Active/hands-on cooking: 10 minutes
    Slow cooking: 2 to 4 hours

    The first option is simpler, but the second option might help people that only have small windows of time here and there to chop a few vegetables or get something cooking, and also might help people to distinguish between standing-at-the-stove-stirring time from hands-of slow cooking time, making them more likely to make the recipe.
     
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    I have kept only a few cookbooks over my 50+ years of cooking - a few for 'reference' ability (Joy of Cooking for its Ingredients section, 1940's Culinary Arts Institute Encyclopedic Cookbook, and Laurel's Kitchen for nutrition references). Overtime I have kept recipes that I've re-written to my own taste and preparation way notes. I've put these into computer (word) files so I could print them and place them in a 3 ring binder. This allows me to have only the recipes I need to follow laid out in the pattern/order that works best for me. It also allows me to write 'update' notes on the recipes for next time I make them and for updating on my computer to printout again. The binder I got has a clear plastic cover where I have inserted an 'Index' of my recipes for reference plus lets me wipe it clean as use shows on it.

    Beyond that I do have a small collection of older cookbooks that I like mainly for how these are more basic ingredients oriented.
     
    Kenneth Elwell
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    Kate Downham wrote:I agree with you about the measurements. I've made mistakes following recipes in the past because they list ingredients in that way.

    That is a good point about the times as well, and something I find helpful, especially if something needs to be soaked or marinated.

    I wonder what the best way to list the timing for a slow cooking stew would be if I need to provide timing for sautéing onions and browning meat, as well as chopping up vegetables, and slow cooking.

    Would it be...
    Preparation time: 20 minutes
    Cooking time: 2 to 4 hours

    Or would this idea be better?...
    Preparation time: 10 minutes
    Active/hands-on cooking: 10 minutes
    Slow cooking: 2 to 4 hours

    The first option is simpler, but the second option might help people that only have small windows of time here and there to chop a few vegetables or get something cooking, and also might help people to distinguish between standing-at-the-stove-stirring time from hands-of slow cooking time, making them more likely to make the recipe.



    I think a combination of the two would be better.
    Preparation time: 20 minutes
    Slow cooking: 2 to 4 hours

    Preparation and active cooking in this case are basically the same thing, whereas the slow cooking is the set the cooker and walk away.
    Knowing a time window is nice for scheduling, and to know how soon might be enough and how long is just too long.

    I'd be more likely to separate preparation time from active cooking, if there were a resting period in the fridge (like a pie dough, or marinating) or if the preparation could reasonably be done ahead (as in the morning for an evening meal) or if the prep time is longer than the cooking time (like for a stir fry).
    I like the distinction between hands-on and hands-off cooking time.

    I struggle sometimes with timing a main dish and two sides, getting everything ready to plate all at once. Knowing how the times can and can't nest together, and most importantly counting the clock backwards from "done" to when each dish should hit the pan...
    I think this is another facet of I was trying to get at with the "great meal" versus a "great dish", sides that not only compliment a main dish, but maybe also use the oven (at that temperature), or can be held warm while you add the finishing touches (so you aren't trying to save everything from burning).
     
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    I google recipes a lot now and haven't seen a cookbook I want to buy in years, but you can pry a few of my cookbooks from my cold dead hands. The Joy of cooking and the moose wood cookbook, and a few others come to mind. They are books which I will sit down to read for enjoyment and inspiration, not just to make dinner.

    I like cookbooks with flowery/descriptive/evocative/informative intros to sections and sometimes recipes. And really short, concise recipes that don't have too much extraneous info. I tend to like recipes, a la the Joy of cooking, with ingredients used in order and a few notes, like "whisk together 1 cup sugar, 1 egg, 1 tsp vanilla, slowly add 1 c flour, 1 tsp baking soda' etc.  I love books with options, substitutions,  and tips in a notes section. I love the joy of cooking, and refer to its ABOUT and KNoW YOUR INGREDIENTS Sections a lot. I imagine an about section for a seasonal cookbook could have growing facts,harvesting tips,  some history, and ingredient storage ideas.

    I HATE poorly tested cookbooks. Get at least 2 other someone's - preferably who dont normally cook witb you/didn't learn to cook in the same place to test everything without you in their own kitchens. Test your oven to see what the temperature really is, and keep in mind that pan materials will effect cooking times. I like descriptions of what done looks like and a range of times. (Until bubbles do x, until pan sounds hollow, etc).

    I also hate cookbooks with expensive and obscure ingredients, or lots of ingredients that are preprocessed and need to be bought (I dont keep pudding mix, cake mix, or condensed soup on hand, for example, but I do keep the ingredients to make those things from scratch! ). Or weird equipment- if I own a pasta maker, I probably make pasta enough I don't need a pasta recipe! A list of your staple ingredients and equiptmental is helpful too.

    I also love a few regional/international cuisine cookbooks which tell a story about many recipes. Full colour photos of the food, don't matter much to me,  but I do love hand drawn illustrations. I like books with glossaries by ingredient, and with tables of substitutions, and with unit conversion tables. I like really flexible recipe "concepts" in addition to real recipes..... I like pairing suggestions too sometimes.
     
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    I was trained as an engineer, and currently a baker, so I have trouble with cookbooks based on guessing and "feeling".

    If a recipe calls for 1 cup of chopped carrots, why not say that the cup also has a mass (weight) of 125g. Every person chops carrots differently, but the carrots lend their flavor based on the mass of the material.
    What is 1 medium onion? 50g/100g/1000g?
    I like Thomas Keller's salt measurements if you don't provide a mass (2-finger pinch of salt, 3-finger, etc.) But it makes for a more consistent recipe if you also include 4g salt. (I even use my powder scale for reloading on some small measurements in grains (1 grain = 1/7000 of US lb. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grain_(unit))

    Like a few others have said, I rewrite most recipes that I've worked out in a way that makes sense to me. Usually with a mass and volume measurement.

    It sounds like you are doing more than due diligence to make a great cookbook.

    Also, when providing mass ratios, it makes it easier to scale a recipe to any size.

    100g flour
    100g butter
    100g eggs

    x4, x10, or even x 0.4 the ratios work out whether for a cake, or a pot of stew. Might research baker's percentages. Also, http://www.cookingforengineers.com/ might be off the beaten path for recipes, but I always check it first when searching for new things to try.


    Looking forward to seeing your cookbook. Keep the thread updated, or add new ones as you progress. You can build quite a following by keeping people involved in the process.

    Good Luck!

    -Dewayne
     
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    Similarly, I'm compiling a 'family cookbook' to save all the old recipes that the 'grannies' used, so have ran into the same issues you're experiencing.

    I've found it's less confusing for everyone if a cookbook sticks to one recognised format and doesn't try to be everything to everyone. For example, if readers don't know what 'mince meat' is, they really should 'Google' it and find out - a learning experience on worldwide terminology.

    In regards to metric versus all the other measurement systems, frankly, metric 'rules'! (pun intended) Apparently there's only three countries that don't use metric: Burma, Liberia, and the USA. So, unless you intend to release the book solely in those countries, there's little concern.

    Providing dry measurements in weights rather than volumes is easier too e.g. 250g of flour instead of 1 cup.

    Same goes for uncommon measurements like 'gas mark', simply use Celsius.

    A 'pinch' is pretty universal, so is 'season to taste'.

    Many cookbooks have a section at the front or back devoted to measurement comparisons.

    Regardless, people will figure it out, it's not rocket science, and besides, it is rare that recipes require super accuracy anyway - all ovens differ in temperature so people adjust cooking times accordingly.

    One of the best recipes I inherited from 'The Grannies' uses only one measurement: a jam tin. It doesn't matter what size, just use the same tin for all the measurements. Now that's standardisation!
     
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    I vote for weight measurements where applicable. Could be cool to have a picture glossary of what "a pinch" or "a tablespoon" or whatever other unit would look like cupped on the palm of your hand, the way Julia Child does it on TV.

    I don't like personal narratives in my recipes (I'm looking at you, food bloggers).

    And if you have the time/inclination, I think recipes should have nutritional information for the final dish, like total grams of protein/carbs/fiber, etc.

    Good thinking soliciting so much varied feedback!
     
    Jain Anderson
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    Dewayne Cushman wrote:I was trained as an engineer, and currently a baker, so I have trouble with cookbooks based on guessing and "feeling".

    If a recipe calls for 1 cup of chopped carrots, why not say that the cup also has a mass (weight) of 125g. Every person chops carrots differently, but the carrots lend their flavor based on the mass of the material.
    What is 1 medium onion? 50g/100g/1000g?
    I like Thomas Keller's salt measurements if you don't provide a mass (2-finger pinch of salt, 3-finger, etc.) But it makes for a more consistent recipe if you also include 4g salt. (I even use my powder scale for reloading on some small measurements in grains (1 grain = 1/7000 of US lb. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grain_(unit))

    Like a few others have said, I rewrite most recipes that I've worked out in a way that makes sense to me. Usually with a mass and volume measurement.

    It sounds like you are doing more than due diligence to make a great cookbook.

    Also, when providing mass ratios, it makes it easier to scale a recipe to any size.

    100g flour
    100g butter
    100g eggs

    x4, x10, or even x 0.4 the ratios work out whether for a cake, or a pot of stew. Might research baker's percentages. Also, http://www.cookingforengineers.com/ might be off the beaten path for recipes, but I always check it first when searching for new things to try.


    Looking forward to seeing your cookbook. Keep the thread updated, or add new ones as you progress. You can build quite a following by keeping people involved in the process.

    Good Luck!

    -Dewayne



    Dewayne, I also switched from US standard measurements (cups etc.) to weight of ingredients for most of my recipes, especially baking. Weight is more accurate and I find also quicker to measure. It has the added value of allowing (dry) ingredients to be measured all a once and mixed (wisked/sifted) together for better mixing with 'wet' ingredients. I have a little reference sheet in the front of my rcipe binder listing different ingredients and their (cup) weights, example - sugar 200 Gms., flour (wheat) - 100 Gms, rice (& rice flour) 125Gms. etc. My scale is just a kitchen one that isn't as accurate as what one would use in a lab, but seems to work fine. And of course one can adjust (+/-) to consistency and taste as experience builds.
     
    Jain Anderson
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    Just a fun addition to this thread - I received an 'ethnic' cookbook complied from my great grandmother's emigrant family group. People of her back ground (Russian German) all included recipes that they and their families eat during the 'pioneer' days (late1800s/early 1900s). After looking through it I 'subtitled' it -  1000 ways to cook 100 things using 20 ingredients. Most people now would not choose to make or eat these type of foods which where mainly carbs and fats ;-) But i had to admire the resourcefulness and cleverness of these women who kept their families fed with very limited resources.
     
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    Great topic!

    One of my most-used cookbooks, Midwest Gardener's Cookbook, is
    -arranged seasonally--super useful for actually cooking and planning my family's food for the week.
    -within seasons, is arranged by garden ingredient. I can look up basil, green onions, radishes, or rhubarb and find a variety of recipes to use, with notes on substitutions in the intro to each ingredient. This is great. When we have something growing, or have foraged, we often have a lot of it and actually might need a lot of ways to cook it to make use of it.  
    -written by a cook and gardener who cooked for her family and for community events for decades. I love a cookbook I can trust. You really want the tried and true favorites. If I make something from a cookbook and it doesn't work out, I'm not likely to try another recipe from that author. I think it helps if your target audience can clearly see what kind of recipes these are. Easy-peasy? Show-stopping stunners?
    -plain and simple. no photos at all, but clear and concise. I love this cookbook, but I think I got it for cheap on a remainders shelf. I'll bet beautiful photos sell much better.  I actually wish the author had put a few more notes in. I love her little bits of wisdom and culture! It does help a lot to have appetizing photos of the finished dish. I do have some glossy coffee-table cookbooks that I love. They are more inspiration than workhorses. I tend to have to copy the recipes out because they won't stay open/aren't easy to read from. This makes me less likely to use the recipes. An author needs to decide what they are going for, and do that really well. No one cookbook can be all things.
    -usually the only rare/scarce ingredient is the one I'm looking it up for. Practical and accessible. I have a basic pantry and want recipes I can make without extra hassle, with those fresh ingredients. Unless it's for a wedding or holiday! Then it's worth the effort to do more elaborate things.
    -simple, straight forward recipe and ingredients list, easy to work from. I like a story about the recipe ahead of time, to draw me in. Notes about substitutions are nice after the recipe so it doesn't get too cumbersome.
    -uses cups, teaspoons, etc. I don't measure most recipes exactly so I don't care that much. If you're doing a perm. cookbook, it will by necessity be very localized, right? So I'd use whatever is the easiest and most common system of measurement in your area, to make it easiest for people who are likely to have your ingredients and seasons! It does matter more for certain kinds of things--I'm less likely to cook a cake from a metric cookbook, but it's not that hard to look up conversions if I need to, and it would be cumbersome to have everything noted in triplicate!

    I think there's a great need for a little guidance in using new foods, and learning to eat and live permaculturally, and connecting to local or historic food traditions. I'm so thankful for the work of the authors whose advice and recipes I use year-round. Hope you get your wisdom and insights out there in just the right way! Good luck!
     
    Libby Jane
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    One of the best recipes I inherited from 'The Grannies' uses only one measurement: a jam tin. It doesn't matter what size, just use the same tin for all the measurements. Now that's standardisation!


    Intriguing! I love this. Share the recipe?
     
    Jain Anderson
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    Libby Jane wrote:

    Jain Anderson wrote: 'ethnic' cookbook complied from my great grandmother's emigrant family group. People of her back ground (Russian German) all included recipes that they and their families eat during the 'pioneer' days (late1800s/early 1900s). After looking through it I 'subtitled' it -  1000 ways to cook 100 things using 20 ingredients.

    I make these kinds of food, and this is my background! What is the cookbook?



    It was a cookbook compiled by Russian Germans in US. I make the 'fresh little dumplings' (Spaetzle?) but do it gluten free. Most of the recipes were (wheat) flour based so I passed the book on to my brother for his wife to try. Here's a link to it
    https://www.ahsgr.org/store/ViewProduct.aspx?id=5324118

     
    Jolene Jakesy
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    Penny Oakenleaf wrote:

    Jolene Jakesy wrote:I dont have power so I need recipes without things like a food processor.  It taught me alot also, like how to store eggs and which side up. As well as which cut of meat comes from where.

    I like recipes I can easily understand what ingredients are what and how long to beat or how to cook over a fire, not many cookbooks teach you how to bake on a woodstove and the only place I've found much information is on this forum. Pictures are helpful as well, but that's just me.



    Emphasis mine... Have you seen Marie Beausoleil's "A Cabin Full of Food", Jolene? She's in an off grid situation, so she cooks without refrigeration and electric appliances. https://www.amazon.com/Cabin-Full-Food-Mostly-cookbook/dp/1480058084



    I have not until now !! TY imma spend hours on this!
     
    Penny Oakenleaf
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    Jolene Jakesy wrote:

    Penny Oakenleaf wrote:Emphasis mine... Have you seen Marie Beausoleil's "A Cabin Full of Food", Jolene? She's in an off grid situation, so she cooks without refrigeration and electric appliances. https://www.amazon.com/Cabin-Full-Food-Mostly-cookbook/dp/1480058084



    I have not until now !! TY imma spend hours on this!



    Just remember to get the second edition if you can, it has an index. My first edition does not!
     
    Penny Oakenleaf
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    This picture is not representative of my current home library, it's taken about December 2016, but the cookbooks are mostly towards the left side, and unexpectedly, organized. My shelf is usually just piled with stuff I need to quickly get out of toddler reach, without consideration to where it will end up at... I've cycled through some of them, and purged a couple of trips' worth to the used bookstore, after I ran out of space. I'm about to embark on another purge/sorting spree, and hoping to have a better idea of what, in the words of Marie Kondo, "sparks joy" an what doesn't, and can try for a picture while they're still tidy.
    Homesteader-bookshelf.jpg
    [Thumbnail for Homesteader-bookshelf.jpg]
    December 2016 edition
     
    Posts: 27
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    basic foods, scratch recipes (as opposed to assembly directions, ie "buy a pre-roasted chicken, cut it up, place on whole wheat bread, etc...").  Cheap, genuine, comfort food, not mini-portions of artsy-fartsy stuff that requires ingredients you can only use in a few dishes (juniper berries, anyone?).  Foraged or homegrown food recipes are a plus, as are game, rough fish, ethnic frugality recipes, and home preserved foods.  The best cookbook I ever read was "Good Food for Hard Times" with its inexpensive, yet different ethnic takes on cheap eats. I also love WW 1 and WW2 rationing recipes - very creative.
     
    gardener
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    I had a friend in college who decided to write a cookbook for other guys.  Every recipe started with the instruction, "Wash one pot".  When it was time to serve the dish, he instructed you to "Wash one plate and one fork".

    Oh the assumptions he could safely make about slovenly college guys.

    He had a recipe for cold cereal.  He had a recipe for a refried bean sandwich with just two ingredients.  He had a recipe for Hamburger Helper.  Every week for the entire semester, he printed out a new page and handed it around to the guys on the floor.  

    No, he never got it published.
     
    It will give me the powers of the gods. Not bad for a tiny ad:
    permaculture bootcamp - learn permaculture through a little hard work
    https://permies.com/wiki/bootcamp
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