Background. Some time ago, we realized that one of the main barriers to Slow Food’s ability to reach everyone on the socioeconomic ladder was the fact that many people simply don’t know how to cook. We came up with the idea of a kitchen primer, a genuine “starting from zero” book that would convey the basics of cooking with the most inexpensive tools possible. Our goal was to publish the cookbook using Amazon.com’s print-on-demand service, sell copies to college students, and use the proceeds to fund additional copies to be donated to the Mid-Ohio Foodbank.
We held a potluck last year to generate recipes for the book, and we got some excellent entries. Then we visited the Foodbank… and we realized that we had a problem. The Foodbank’s clients receive just about any kind of raw material that you can imagine, from cuts of pork to kohlrabi (but not spices), and an ideal cookbook would help them cook all of it.
After pondering this problem for a while, we came up with a solution: instead of teaching specific recipes, the book should teach people about techniques (frying, simmering, etc.) and foods (which foods go together; which techniques are best for which foods). Once we’ve laid those out, we can give some examples of how to make the best meal you can out of the ingredients you’ve got. That way, people can learn something far more valuable than following recipes: improvising.
That’s the new approach of the cookbook. Much of the book is written, and we have photography and design expertise to convert it into its final form.
State of Project Development. Advanced; four of the book’s five chapters are largely written and are in the process of being edited.
What We Have. Project leader and author (Bear Braumoeller), photographer (Kristen Stevens), layout designer (Andrew Dehus).
What We Need.
- Help compiling the best 2 or 3 ways to cook a wide range of food (example: Asparagus—boil for 5-8 minutes, then drop in ice water; or slice into 3-4 pieces and sauté in oil) and the most important notes to add (Asparagus—clean sand from tips).
- Publishing knowledge, to tell us whether alternatives to Amazon’s service are worth pursuing.