Writers@Work: Writing Cookbooks by Maggie Green
Writers@Work: Writing Cookbooks by Maggie Green
For my 18th birthday my boyfriend gave me a copy of the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. It’s possible another teenaged girl may have felt insulted to receive such a gift, but I loved it. He knew that I was starting to cook more and needed a basic place to begin. It wasn’t long before we started spending evenings together in my kitchen preparing exotic recipes such as veal scaloppini, Caesar salad, and Peach Melba.
About a year later one of my aunts gave me a copy of Southern Living Annual Recipes for Christmas. I read the book cover to cover and each recipe line by line. I prepared several recipes that had an eighties-type-flair: flounder with shrimp sauce, strawberry cream cheese dessert, sausage onion squares, and Kahlua pie. One of my older sisters expressed disbelief that I’d choose to stay at home and cook when I could be at a movie, party, or sporting event. At the same time she seemed confused by my choice of reading material because she liked classic literature such as Johnny Tremain, Little Women, and Island of the Blue Dolphins. Little did she know cookbooks exposed me to a new world of formulas, ratios, exploration, and tastes. I loved the way cookbooks brought together the world of cooking and writing.
Cooking became a routine for me and I majored in dietetics in college and then attended culinary school eight years after I finished college. The more I cooked the more my romance with my boyfriend blossomed around our mutual love of food and cooking. After we married, we practiced the belief that cooking is the best the way to nourish ourselves, our family, and those we care about. As for writing, I began to practice that more too. I developed a writing routine so that every day I sat down to place words on the page. I learned to check my ego at the door when I turned my work over to an editor. I understood the importance of diligence, especially with recipe writing, but soon learned that mistakes happen, errors slip through, and that practice made writing easier and better.
Several years into my career as a food, cooking, and nutrition professional I had an epiphany that the practice of cooking and writing were very much the same. The best cooks show up at their cutting boards day after day to prepare ingredients and a meal. Cooks who are successful at getting meals on the table most likely have a routine for shopping and cooking. They understand that recipes don’t always turn out perfect, but the practice of cooking makes them a better cook. Writing, on the other hand, is also a sensual and tactile experience when a writer weaves words to tell a story. Like cooks, writers use tools specific to their art: pens, pads of paper, and keyboards. Their writing serves others who read their work and a good story feeds and nourishes the soul.
In my writing gig I work with food, words, recipes, and people every day. Some days I write about food and nutrition to educate others about keeping their bodies healthy. Other days I edit recipes for my clients with the goal of helping them serve their audience better. Sometimes I coach aspiring cookbook authors to identify their audience as they build their platform. It’s more and more common that my day also includes giving aspiring cookbook authors permission to pursue their dream of writing a cookbook. Everyday I’m happy to do what I do: write, cook, and coach. As long as there are pots, pans, pens, and paper there’s no place I’d rather be than alongside a well-written cookbook, or someone who wants to write a cookbook of their own.
About the author. Maggie Green lives in the suburbs of Northern Kentucky, just across the river from Cincinnati with her husband (the best male cook she knows), their 3 teen- and tween-aged children, a cat who sleeps by day, and a devoted, shelter-adopted doggie also named Maggie. Maggie, the person, trades her time for money as the owner of The Green Apron Company where she offers services as a cookbook coach, cookbook and recipe editor, food and nutrition writer, and industry consultant. Maggie is also the author of The Kentucky Fresh Cookbook (University Press of Kentucky, 2011). Maggie’s life in her kitchen and at work focuses on cooking whole real ingredients with occasional Cheez-Its and store-bought cookies thrown in for good measure. Maggie values family, time to write, good health, and fuels her passion everyday with the marriage of nutrition, writing, and cooking.
Maggie worked diligently as a lead editor for the 75th anniversary edition of the Joy of Cooking, and works to promote the true joy of cooking through her work editing their newspaper articles, web content, and page-a-day calendars. Maggie edited The Ultrametabolism Cookbook, and the James Beard award-winning cookbook, BakeWise, by Shirley Corriher. She has appeared on The Diane Rehm Show, WXIX, WCPO, and WNKU offering cooking and recipe tips for seasonal cooking. Maggie also writes From My Kitchen Table, a monthly food column, for a community newspaper.
If you have a passion for cookbooks and would like to explore writing your own cookbook, please schedule a complimentary Cookbook Clarity Assessment phone call with Maggie today. You may also feel free to visit her website to receive a complimentary copy of her Cookbook Writers Resource Guide.