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Best practices for designing your cookbook

I attended the IFBC (International Food Blogger Conference) last fall, and sat in on a plethora of interesting and valuable sessions on how to cook for, write, photograph, and market my blog or cookbook, but I found a slight gap in the itinerary. There seems to be a lot of information out there on how to conceive of and publish your work, but very little on the process that falls in between: how to create a visually appealing product.

I love food as much as I do book design, so a good cookbook exemplifies both of these parts of me. But as much as I relish the medium, I am even more critical when a book is presented in poor design. Even if the recipes are sound, if the pages are not visually appealing—much like your finished recipes should be on the plate—then I am not hungry nor inspired.

Think about how often you notice the design of a book. Probably not very, unless something has gone awry—a typeface that is contradictory to the tone of the book; type that’s too small/large with poorly justified lines; low-quality photos and illustrations—any of these can detract from the beauty that is your prose.

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Stuffed House, Filled Cookies

My grandmother was one of thirteen children. Her sister, the eldest of the thirteen, had seventeen of her own. Needless to say, my mother’s side of the family is staggeringly huge. This resulted in Thanksgivings, Christmases, and Easters that were more akin to a theatre production than a family dinner. I can’t say how many ever attended. Of course, it was never all at one time, but my best guess would be close to forty relatives on any given holiday.

Christmas Eve, in particular, conjures the most memories for me. Held in the home built by my great-grandfather in 1909, then shared by my grandmother and her sister—both divorced, they raised their children there together—the cramped two-room ground floor of the house swelled at its fittings, holding umpteen brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, spouses, kids of varying ages, and presents for all, that spewed at least ten feet out from under a large freshly-cut Christmas tree.

My grandmother and great-aunts would work for weeks making candy and cookies for the festivities. Dinner was all homemade, from scalloped potatoes and farm-raised ham, to dinner rolls tinted with red and green food coloring, to my grandmother’s date-filled cookies, a crumbly, beautiful blend of vanilla sugar cookie and creamy, luscious date filling, that I can still taste to this day if I close my eyes and remember hard enough—although it’s probably been twenty years since I had them last. Read more

5 tips to stocking a gluten-free pantry

To start, let me just say, being gluten-free is no snack at the beach. It’s time-consuming, expensive, and a general pain. But, for many of us, it’s a necessity of life. I decided to eat gluten-free about a year and a half ago, after nearly a decade of misery that was quickly leading me to hate food. When I finally switched to a gluten-free diet, I realized just how much I was consuming, and why I was miserable all of the time. Gluten is like a little mouse in your house, hiding in the tiniest, most unassuming places, so if you have decided to change your lifestyle and rid yourself of this persistent pest, here is a list of what to buy, and what to watch out for.

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