Inspiration springs from unlikely places. I stumbled on mine in a Toastmasters Speeches by Management manual. Its “Deliver a Progress Report” project called for me to deliver a progress report on…anything. Since I was no longer working, I wondered: What should I report on? How about that cookbook I was going to write some day?
I had started a cookbook years prior. After my divorce, I began a cookbook for fellow bachelors. Champagne Brunch: What to Do When You’re Over Forty and She’s Still There in the Morning would be filled with easy, tasty brunch recipes, plus practical advice for bachelors. “Avocado and Shrimp Brunch” and “How to Open a Bottle of Champagne without Making an Fool of Yourself” were just two of the articles I had drafted. It was coming along great until my research assistant gained thirty-five pounds and dropped out. Thirty-five pounds and she was only visiting on the weekends—our brunches were that good. The jinx continued. I lost the only copy when my disc had a head crash. I promised myself I’d try again some day.
The cookbook was it. That’s what I’d report on, I decided. I was ready. I had been cooking since college, and had perfected hundreds of recipes over the years. I escaped dorm food when I moved in with two other guys who cooked. Dinners got even better in graduate school. I teamed with a Belgian whose hobby was French cooking, and a Turk who had worked his way through college as a chef at Benihana. Good old American burgers and fries weren’t going to cut it on my nights to cook. I had to do better. Once I got married, I cooked when we had guests for dinner. When my mother-in-law started asking me for recipes, I knew I had something good going. I perfected hundreds of recipes over the years. I had everything I needed to write a cookbook—I thought.
A darker picture emerged from my online research. A cookbook has a target audience, a theme, and a bazillion recipes. It’s organized with a structure, an index, and a descriptive title. I had none of those. I had recipes scattered everywhere – scribbled on old index cards, stuffed into cookbooks, and scattered all over random access memory. I had a database and a desire. A cookbook was a long way off. That would be my progress report to my Toastmasters Club. Being a retired rocket scientist, charts and tables were in order. How many beef recipes did I have? How many pork, pasta, etc.? The picture was bleak and that’s how I painted it.
The audience applauded my presentation. And then, they rallied around a fellow in need. They presented the options offered by modern publishing technology. Print-on-demand and e-books open the world to niche books. They encouraged. I listened. I learned.
And, I sat down and did it.
The cookbook needed a target audience. I’d write for people like me who wanted restaurant quality food without quality restaurant prices. My cookbook needed a theme. “Cooking well should be as much fun as eating well” worked for me. It also needed a title. Updating my old one to “When You’re Over SIXTY” didn’t sound promising. I went with a working title: The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook. Then came the integration of forty years of kitchen creativity. The result was easy to use and fun to read. Searching Amazon and Google showed no one was using my working title so I kept it. My cookbook was ready to go.
I surveyed Print-on-Demand publishers online, and selected BookLocker as my first choice. I submitted the manuscript and Angela Hoy responded, “I already ate dinner but now that I’ve thumbed (well, clicked) through your book a bit, I’m starving! ;)” With her expert help, the cookbook soon became a reality.
My test kitchen is still developing new recipes in the Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook tradition: Fun, easy, tasty, healthy, and made from ingredients people have on hand. The good ones are published in my weekly Food 4 Thought column. The best have been incorporated into an expanded second edition available from BookLocker or from your favorite online bookseller.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Got champagne taste and a beer budget? Here’s the cookbook for you. A great meal doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. For the cost of burgers out, you can dine on filet mignon at home. Woodrow Wilson’s The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook shows the way. This small volume is full of recipes so simple that they’re a joy to cook, and tasty enough they’re a joy to eat. Whether it’s an intimate dinner for two, or having the boss over for the first time, you’ll be proud to serve from this fine cookbook.
One meal eaten in rather than eaten out pays for the book. With the money you save cooking with The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook, you could serve filet mignon every night.
Woodrow Wilson is a retired rocket scientist, a retired Toastmaster executive, and a relapsed workaholic, He is a Caltech PhD chemist who brings creativity out of the lab and into the kitchen. His original recipes will brighten your day from brunch to dinner. His science fiction and medical fiction will keep you awake half the night.
Woodrow is also the author of Dead Astronauts, The Utah Flu, Fish Story, and Stranded on Mars.
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