I thought I knew what I was doing… until I started writing a Cookbook

Cookbook Update #1: Failing all the fails

So, this whole writing recipes thing is not something that I am deeply unfamiliar with. You know, I’ve been a food blogger for what, five years now? Putting together recipes is something I do on a regular basis.

And then I got asked to write a cookbook.

Upon first pass, you might think that writing a cookbook is not that terribly different from writing a blog. However, I am here to say that it really, really is.

There are two things that I have been finding especially challenging since starting this process. The first is the fact that I don’t really write things down while I am making them. For me, cooking is a fluid process and I’ve been doing it long enough to know that I just sort of toss and throw and taste, and ultimately at the end of the day, end up with something that tastes pretty delicious. Since I’m now writing a cookbook I have to be responsible and write down every single ingredient, every quantity, and the entire process that it takes to create the recipe. This has not been an intuitive thing for me. It’s been something that I’ve really had to focus on and keep reminding myself to do.

The second thing I’m finding challenging about writing a cookbook is the fact that most of the time my blog posts are simply riffs on other people’s recipes. For example, I will go to the Farmer’s Market and find some really beautiful ingredients that inspire me. Then I’ll come home and do some research online and find a recipe that looks interesting. Then I’ll make the recipe, but I’ll put my own spin on it I’ll change up some of the ingredients. Sometimes I combine two different recipes. I’ll add specific herbs or flavourings and then it becomes mine, and I share it on my blog.

However, with a cookbook you can’t riff off of other people’s recipes. All the recipes in my book need to be original. And to be honest, there aren’t really a lot of recipes out there about Aquafaba even to riff off of, given how new of an ingredient it is. This entire process is challenging. It’s challenging because my level of failure right now is extremely high. Cheese, for example, is my nemesis. I have probably tried to make it a dozen times so far, with varying degrees of success. Some of it went down the drain or into the garbage, and some of it was middling okay. But it’s hard, because failure doesn’t feel good, and I have to continue to keep pushing on even through all the failure. I can’t give up.

I’m trying to see failure as part of the process. Like, every time I fail that’s one more thing I know not to do. One thing I can strike off the list. My hope is that every time I fail, I learn from that failure, and it helps me to refine and find tune the recipe to make it better.

Still, it’s always hard to not give up when you’re discouraged. Thank goodness for you guys. Thank you again for your words of encouragement and support. It really makes a difference.

I’ll be back next week with another update, so stay tuned…

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One comment

  1. When I am feeling weighed down by failure, I reread this: https://siobhancurious.com/2011/09/26/fail-better/ As a colleague of mine sometimes tells her students, “We are failure machines!”

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