Ten Lessons Learned in Cookbook-Writing

Skinny Dish! Launch Party, Washington DC

Now that Skinny Dish is out, here are some valuable lessons I learned along the way.

1. Do not refer to the cruciferous family of vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage) as “stinky.” No cookbook publisher, reader, eater, kid, or other human finds this funny.

2. Plan to ONLY eat cookbook experiment food until the book is written, or plan to name your next book Cooking with Trader Joe’s Cookbook: Fat and Famous!

3. Do not leave your camera on tripod unattended, even to just run to the kitchen to grab another garnish. Wind, dogs, cats, and little boys will quickly have you scrambling to replace lenses on eBay.

4. Never use a hand blender. They are dangerously cute and unnecessary. But if you do, be sure to deliver a copy of your book to the hand surgeon and guy who stitched you back together in the ER. This will give you closure and a smile.

5. Do not think that when your child drinks the OJ prop in your food photo that you can just refill it with water like you did your parent’s vodka bottle in high school (see Confetti Pancakes photo, page 64).

6. Fiber only has one ‘R’, no matter how much there is.

7. Pasta actually takes 8 minutes to cook, eventhough 6 minutes sounds way faster and better (6-Minute Meals became 8-Minute Meals in the final version).

8. If the book is focused on weight control, be sure to have more veggie dishes than desserts.

9. Do not use dried rosemary in any recipe. It’s chewy, bitter, and will ruin perfectly delicious stuffed mushrooms. (There’s none in Skinny Dish, but it was tried in 2 different recipes that were tossed out.)

10. If you want soup splatter on your kitchen ceiling, fill your blender to the top with hot soup, cover it, and turn it on high. If you like your ceiling as is, check out the Safety Tip on page 95.

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