Friday, June 6, 2014

It's all in the recipe!

by Lorraine Bartlett / Lorna Barrett / L.L. Bartlett

I'm a collector of cookbooks.  I have wayyyyyy too many.  I love the ones that have beautiful photographs to accompany the recipes.  I like to know what my food is supposed to look like (at least according to a well-paid food stylist).

Recently, I edited the latest edition of The Cozy Chicks Kitchen.  Man, I have new respect for cookbook editors.  It's HARD WORK.  I pretty much learned editing recipes from (what I used to think were the hack jobs) of the copy editors who review my traditionally published books.  The Booktown and Victoria Square mysteries both contain recipes.  I learned that the directions need to follow the list of ingredients.  (Nobody told me, I just figured it out after a couple of books and lots of revisions to my recipes.) That all the recipes (written by different people) need to follow the same style.  I learned lots more, too, but I've put it out of my mind until the next time I'm called upon to do something similar.

Well, not ENTIRELY out of my mind.  It's those cookbooks I buy that don't have terrific instructions that remind me what a good recipe is supposed to consist of.

Okay, let me clarify, not really cookBOOKs but cookBOOKLETS.  Well, that's not entirely right, either.  They're little digest size cookbooks that are usually done to promote products or as fundraisers for churches, schools, scouts, 4-H, etc.  The recipes in these little booklets vary in quality.

For example, the directions for Monster Cookies says:  Combine all ingredients together until well mixed together. Watch closely as they will burn easily. Bake about 10 minutes in a 350 oven.

Okay...should the cookie sheet be greased? Ungreased? How much constitutes a cookie?  Do you roll them in balls? Do you drop them from a spoon?  What sized spoon?

Million Dollar Cake:  Bake in greased floured pans for 30 at 350.

Okay...what SIZE floured pans? 8 x 8? 9 x 9?  13 x 9?  How about adding those dry and wet ingredients?

Sometimes it's just fun to read through these recipes just to try to find the glaring mistakes or omissions that can really play havoc with a recipe. Not that I haven't been guilty of the same.  How about that peanut butter cookie recipe I supplied that had no peanut butter in it?  (Gulp!)

What's your favorite kind of cookbook?