Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Cookbook Mania—A Writer’s Project

A warm welcome to Kitchen Excursions' newest contributor, multi-published author Claudette J. Young. Claudette is in the process of creating her first cookbook, Get REAL in the Kitchen, a collection of delicious, nutritious recipes of which she is editor-in-chief—and we’re hoping she’ll share a few of those recipe, such as the one for the Cornish Game Hen pictured, in upcoming posts.

How does one create a cookbook? Claudette is going to tell us. Read on!
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Most writers have three duties in their lives: family, obligations, and Works in Progress. My life tends to careen out of control at times due to an over-enthusiastic inner voice that keeps screaming "I can do that!"

Cornish Game Hens Cooking
On a frosty day back in March, I had one of those internal screaming fits while Sister, our friend Jody, and I were having our workout day. We’d all been on a new nutrition plan because of Sister’s diabetes, Jody’s pre-diabetes, my weight and my need to support them in getting their health under control. Out of my mouth flew words that I hadn’t begun to appreciate.

"We should write a cookbook and put in all those dishes we have to re-invent to fit this new meal plan."

And the rest is history. (Let it be noted here that on my desk sat the following, waiting patiently for continued work: polishing on book of poetry that needed to go to publisher, one YA fantasy novel needing to go past Chapter Three, one women’s mystery novel needing to go past Chapter Four, plus a writing course and a few smaller projects, and editing/brainstorming work from various other writers.)

We began planning that afternoon. I got the position of editor. After all, I am a writer. They were the primary chefs extraordinaire. Sister also wrote the Foreword as she had precipitated the new eating regimen. I was left to contribute my favorite quick breads and a couple of other minor dishes.

By the end of that first creative brainstorming session, we’d decided on most of the recipes that would be included (we’d been creating new recipes for a few months) and moved on to setting a deadline to have the whole manuscript finished and ready for a publisher. Enthusiasm had overruled senses in this case as well. Since I was the editor, I got to set the deadline: June 30, 2012.

We had our goal lined up and ready to stalk. We had our recipes waiting to be cooked, presented for photo ops, and an editor with little spare time for anything other than survival. Oh, yeah, this was going to be tight.

I had learned early on that the layout is one of the most critical facets of putting together a cookbook. Such manuscripts have distinct formats. I only needed to study a few of the cookbooks lining our bookshelves before I created the necessary layout.

One of the major considerations we dealt with at the very beginning was the number of potential recipes we intended to include in the book. Sister is a photographer, which meant that she could easily provide the photos of select finished recipes that would grace the book’s pages. We wanted a professional look to the book.

Photos take up extra space on the recipe’s page. I had to factor in the new length of each recipe with a photo. Only then could I estimate the complete number of pages within the manuscript.

For me that number was important for revision efforts. Flipping back and forth between recipes, sections of foods, etc. was a nightmare of futility I could do without. Getting a handle on approximate placement of text could eliminate some of that frustration.

I was handed recipes in digital form. It was a matter of plugging them into their assigned slots. I’m ever grateful that one of the first things we created during our initial planning session was a Table of Contents. I only needed to verify that recipe matched intended slot, fit the parameters of food exceptions on the meal plan, and was marked off the "items-yet-to-be-provided" list.

We’re now at the second week of May. All but a very few recipes (mostly my quick breads) are plugged in and ready to go. The format is set, photos taken of many of the dishes selected, and a date has been set for a Taste Testing Party that will focus on the Appetizers and Desserts. Invitations are going out in a week or so for that party.

The one thing we haven’t done is a nutrition chart for each recipe. That consideration was deliberate. Our food choices use only organic/unprocessed ingredients with the exception of herbs, spices, and dairy. They contain only Stevia, wee amounts of molasses or honey, and whole grains. No white potatoes occupy page space; only sweet potatoes or yams.

Vegetables are the primary place holders on our plates. Chicken and wild caught fish or seafood carry the majority of the meat requirements, interspersed with occasional lean beef and pork. Salt is limited. Dry beans are a favorite since they help stabilize blood sugar. Besides, we like them.

Creating this cookbook took all of these factors into consideration. It has been a large project, but one which has forged an even stronger dedication of time to our health and our futures. Great progress has been made so far in that area, even as we share this book with others who also want better choices for their health.
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Claudette J. Young began life very early, sucking in information and experience like her mother’s vacuum inhaled grass stems and dandelion fluff after a day in the sun. She’s lived in many areas of the country, preferring to experience places for longer than vacations allow. Along the way, she’s collected characters, dialects, impressions, that get translated into poems, essays, and stories. Claudette began sharing those translations in 2009 and continues to write with passion and determination. Her success is defined by her own criteria and satisfaction.
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Visit Claudette on the Web:
Sampling of Claudette's published works:
Yahoo News/Associated Content (Travel, op-ed, children’s story,
       Yahoo Writer Style Book)
SuperTeacher Worksheets (Math Word Problems and quizzes,

      incorporating reading comprehension with problem solving and logic skills)
Sea Giraffe Magazine [online] (Poetry pending release date)
Soft Whispers Magazine [online] (Poetry)
The River Literary Journal [online] (Poetry)
Small River Stones Journal [online] (Poetry)
Prompted: An International Collection of Poems (Poetry Anthology)
My Friend, Smories and other online magazines (Children’s stories)
ICL Newsletter (Articles for children’s writers)


  1. Welcome to Kitchen Excursions, Claudette.

  2. Thank you so much, Dawn. It's good to be here and meet all of these lovely new people.

  3. How wonderful! Claudsy, what a fun thing, to share the recipe for a cook book. ;) This interview is wonderful, and I am now drooling all over the place. Much luck with the finished project!

  4. Thanks, De. God willing we'll have this wrapped up by deadline and on the way to whichever publisher is willing to Get REAL.

    We've name our book "Get REAL in the Kitchen" since it deals with non-processed ingredients.

    We'll hope readers and cooks agree with your assessment of its possibilitites.

  5. Why can't I just come right over? What an interesting page and what an interesting interview.

  6. Thank you, Andrea. I try to do at least one interesting thing a year. This is it for 2012. Glad you liked it.

  7. I'd like to thank you, Pat, for having me here today, and for letting me borrow your friends and readers, at least for the day.

    Thank you again.

  8. Claudette, it's been a pleasure, and I hope just the first of many more posts. Thanks to everyone who stopped by to welcome Claudette and say hello!

  9. I'm a bit late to the blog, but I just wanted to tell you Hooray for you and your cookbook co-horts. I believe this is a cookbook many folks need and will enjoy. A taste testing party? What fun! I have put together a couple of e-book recipe collections. It's a lot of work and I am not a professional photographer. The photos never look as delicious as the dish. Best wishes on this giant endeavor!

  10. JQ, anytime you'd like to share some of those recipes here, just give a holler. Thanks for visiting!