The cookie cookbook project – testing, testing…

Pundits have been telling us to “get a hobby during difficult times,” if just to do something other than be glued to media and watch the world burn. Because as informed and active as we all like to be, life just has to go on. For us, it’s the Cookie Cookbook Project – and we are now in the recipe testing and cookie photographing stage.

When you develop a recipe and get to make friends with it, it’s key to make it several times while following your own instructions exactly to iron out all the wrinkles. Then you give the recipe to a friend and say, “Hey, bake this, let me know if it worked!” That’s to make sure the recipes will be reliable for the reader (that’s you, cookie lovers, or else why would you be reading this blog, right?)

Making these massive amounts of cookies in the off-season, (i.e. not before the holidays,) is also a photo-op. Every good cookie cookbook benefits from lovely images of the final product, as well as from practical images of the production steps. We tried to take a few photos with our phones, but finally I caved and contacted a real, experienced food photographer. Enter Laurie Petrilla, who took my author portraits, and who became interested in the project. As a disclaimer, please know that the photos in this blog are my own, and I took them by sort of copying what Laura did, minus the eye for lighting and a professional camera. I just wanted to play, and here they are.

What does one do with massive amounts of cookies in the off-season? Well…

  • Don’t keep them around the house, lest they assume permanent residence on your hips
  • Send them to work with hubby
  • Bring them to your friends who are chefs for both a bribe and a professional opinion (yes, using lime macaron with a mango filling is an overkill, admits chef Raf of Aubergine, but I had to ask a direct question 🙂
  • Bring them to your local political protest (Yes, really. People now know us as the cookie people.)
  • Double-wrap them and stick them in the deep-freeze for next week’s photo op.

Now, making a cookbook is a surprisingly expensive endeavor. We’ve been baking since my husband discovered my mother’s Czech Christmas cookie spread of no fewer than nine varieties. Now we have a collection of around one hundred recipes, of which we make twenty to thirty every holiday season. And lest you think we are all insane… we give most of them away to family, friends, clients, and other fine folk as make it onto our “cookie list.”

What’s expensive about a cookie cookbook?

  • The hard costs: ingredients.  Nuts and butter add up especially, and so does chocolate.
  • Professional photography – that’s one investment a cookie cookbook can’t do without.
  • Print setup – because to include quality color images, it’s wise to go a lot more upscale than I’d bother for a genre fiction novel.
  • Video editing – because we are taking short videos to document certain production steps. Those will be available on their own YouTube channel, and the e-book version of the cookbook with be linked to them directly.
  • An editor.

And thus we’ll need to set up a Kickstarter, and you’ll hear more about that soon.

How did this project turn into “a thing?” I thought this would be simple. Bake a bit, write it up, take a few photos… but, no. Some things are worth doing right.

Stay posted. An occasional cookie recipe will pop up on this blog for your enjoyment. In-between all this baking, I am still writing my genre fiction. Currently, that would be “Like a Torrent,” sequel to “Like a Rock.” Since I can’t offer you a book of my own at this time, I invite you to check out a feel-good, spring-is-coming novella with horses and guys falling for each other: Cherry Blossoms.  It’s just the right antidote to snow, and to the travails of our increasingly complicated world. Think of it as a literary equivalent to a macaron.


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