Cookbooks? They're a dime a dozen these days. And what do writers know about cooking—they spend their days at computers and order in pizza, right? Hold on and take a look at We'd Rather be Writing: 88 Authors Share Time-Saving Dinner Recipes and Other Tips. The title is a tip-off—most writers would rather be writing than cooking (disclaimer: not always this one, and I do have a recipe in the book). But there are some great recipes here, from meat dishes to fowl and fish and soup and chili, vegetarian and even a few vegan ideas. Some recipes will be familiar sounding—stews, enchiladas, and the like. But they're shortcuts, much quicker than the way you've been doing them.
And a few were downright new and intriguing to me. As the author/contributor writes, "Peas are polarizing—you either love them or hate them." She loves them and so do I, so I'm going to try peas pureed with crème fraiche, Parmesan and mint. Want to make soup out of it? Add chicken broth. Or blend with mashed potatoes and top with a fried egg.
How about eggs in a tomato-spinach sauce? Or eggs in purgatory, which is much the same thing and one of my favorite dishes. Recipes suggest main-dish smoothies, a good yogurt sauce, all kinds of things that writers rely on and you've probably never thought of.
But the unique thing about this cookbook is the timesaving tips, divided into cooking tips, household tips, organizational tips, writing tips, and miscellaneous. In the latter category, I like "Let it go." If it's not major in your life, don't waste time stewing over little things. A tip we all know about but don't always do: meditate. And one from me: nap.
In the cooking tips, I found an old friend—the soup pot. Just put leftovers in a refrigerator container and once a week, see what you've got. I called it soup of the week, but my kids called it "brown soup" because that's how it always came out. This book has better instructions than my haphazard version.
One tip that appears in several sections is to list, list, list. Errands to run? Make a list of them in geographical order. Grocery shopping: organize your list according to the layout of the store. Too many extraneous details demanding our attention? List them and then check them off one at a time.
And a tip for all of us: if your plate is full, learn to say "No" to that extra volunteer project, that speaking gig you don't have time to prepare for, even that charitable cause you can't fit in. You can only stretch yourself so far and trying to accomplish more only results in stress.
In short, this is much more than a cookbook. It gives ideas for feeding the body, of course, some of them outstanding, but it also gives ideas for feeding and caring for the inner you, the soul if you will. It's a great book to explore.
USA Today bestselling author Lois Winston straddles two worlds. She's an award-winning author of mystery, romance, romantic suspense, humorous women's fiction, children's chapter books, and non-fiction under her own name and as Emma Carlyle. Like Anastasia, the protagonist in her Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, Lois worked for several years as a crafts editor. A graduate of the prestigious Tyler School of Art, she often draws on her art and design background for much of the source material in her fiction. Visit her website.
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