My first book, “One Caregiver’s Journey,” is a memoir of the near-decade I spent as the sole 24/7 caregiver for my mother. 

Although the book follows the full journey, I did not decide to finish the manuscript, have it professionally edited, and published until nearly two years after her death. I swore I was done writing and would not publish another book.

The decision to spend time creating a family recipe book did not come without hesitation. There are two commitments to be made when writing a cookbook. The first is a commitment of time to dedicate to gathering the information, and the second is the commitment to the decisions to make when deciding which recipes to highlight. During a terrible cold snap in the winter after my mother’s death in 2017, I set out to paint the kitchen pantry. That plan was derailed as I began removing all the cookbooks I had seen and used since my childhood. Rather than open the paint can, I carried the books to the dining room table and began perusing the hundreds of wonderful items she and I cooked together over the years. 

As a tribute to my mother, I grabbed a ream of paper from my office and began to handwrite favorite recipes. I took her favorites from each cookbook and recipe box.  

The dining room table was stacked with cookbooks for a couple of weeks until I had finished this initial task.  I made piles of recipes by main dishes, cakes, cookies, candy, and breads on the table. I placed them in order and brought them to the local Office Depot to be printed. I bought binders and dividers and made a cover and named the book “Generations of Good Food.” For indeed, the book was one of many generations of recipes. Recipes I remembered my mother’s aunts making as well as those perfected by my late grandmother. I had 20 copies of the packet made and gave them to my mother’s granddaughters and some special nieces. That was the first broken promise to me not to write another book.

Shortly after “One Caregiver’s Journey” was launched in 2019, I committed to collaborating with ReadersMagnet to promote and market the book. Fast forward to May 2020, when I received a call from ReadersMagnet senior management asking if I would be interested in publishing another book which would secretly be the basis for determining where issues were in their production process. I was also asked to tie the cookbook back to my first book by sharing family stories related to food and recipes. My first task was to transcribe the recipes from my handwritten master copy onto my computer.

 Unfortunately, while typing the instructions for one of the first recipes, it said, “chop the garlic,” and I noticed there was no garlic included in the recipe. Literally, after that, I either cooked each recipe in my head or actually made each recipe to ensure they were right. It took nearly five months to transcribe 200 recipes, and then I had the manuscript professionally edited. While transcribing, I wrote stories describing how most of the recipes were unique to my childhood and family gatherings or experiences. In October 2020, I submitted the manuscript, and the guinea pig of creating a family cookbook project started.

How did I select recipes? Many of my recipes are from a time when women stayed home, refined their skills, and spent hours in the kitchen.  

As I worked through the recipe boxes, I discovered many recipes that were easy, quick, and could be made by children. Thus, I settled on a diverse range of recipes, from those requiring basic skills to those that are more difficult. Because I am from a large Italian family, the book contains many variations of pasta dishes. Our family has a mantra – there is no vegetable in the garden that cannot be sauteed in garlic and oil and added to pasta. My father had a sweet tooth, so there are many cookies, cakes, and pies that my mother made with great frequency. If you are contemplating writing a cookbook, my suggestion is to select a diversity of recipes. Unless you are compiling only cookies, breads, or the like, readers enjoy diversity in cooking.

Do you add photographs? Publishers have criteria and pricing for adding pictures or photographs. There are certain criteria for taking photographs that make food look good.  

I can take pictures with a camera or my phone for an Instagram post, but I would recommend having food photographs for a book taken by a professional photographer. My book contains photos of my family because it spans six generations of my mother’s family. The oldest photograph is the first one in the book, which is nearing a century.

How many recipes do you include? Generations of Good Food contains about 200 recipes.

To be sure, there could’ve been double that number. At some point, we need to take multiple issues into consideration. Do you want to commit the time and, frankly, the brain damage to copying more recipes? The size of the book will determine pricing to the public. The size of the book will determine whether it is printed in paperback or hardback. The bigger the book, the more marketing strategies an author must consider. I have been posting different recipes on Instagram to provide diversity that is not included in my book. Is that the best thing to do? Truly, it is all subjective to the author.

Creating a family cookbook significantly requires time, energy, and patience. The financial considerations are at the forefront for some people and one that is decided as the book progresses. Am I glad I created the cookbook? Yes, I can tell you without hesitation it is one of the nicest things I have ever done for myself and in memory of my mother.

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