Slow Food Columbus Blog

Living the slow life… one day at a time

Project: “Slow Food on a Fast Food Budget” Cookbook

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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. That’s clearly impossible: Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything is a massive tome, and even it doesn’t actually cover everything.

After pondering this problem for a while, we came up with a solution: teaching techniques (frying, simmering, etc.) rather than recipes, and then including short recipes as special cases of techniques. That way, people would realize that, if you can sauté asparagus, you can sauté green beans… or nearly anything else. We could then build, for each technique, a library of mini-recipes that can be cooked using that technique, and in a subsequent chapter lay out some combinations of mini-recipes that would form a good meal.

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. What we lack is a large catalog of recipes. An ideal recipe would:

  • focus on sustainable ingredients if possible
  • teach people how to cook a single thing (a vegetable, a cut of meat) rather than a whole meal
  • be easy to prepare in a Dutch oven or cast-iron skillet, or on a baking sheet
  • be an example of either frying, sautéing, baking, roasting, simmering, or braising
  • be very simple
  • be breathtakingly delicious

We also need specific expertise, as noted below.

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.

  • Recipes. Please email them to the project leader directly.
  • More ideas for Chapter 2 (“How to Think Like a Chef,”) ideally from professional chefs. Please leave a comment below.
  • Publishing knowledge, to tell us whether alternatives to Amazon’s service are worth pursuing. Please comment or email directly.
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Written by Bear

February 21, 2012 at 5:46 am

Posted in Projects

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