Some people ask me why I don’t put recipes in my books. They point out that I often mention food, and cooking, especially in my current work in progress, and they also say that many successful mystery series have featured recipes.
Here is my response.
A. I rarely cook. I can make some food my children liked when they were small, a Friday night chicken dinner, great brisket, and little else. My husband does most of the cooking, which is why we don’t starve or eat cereal for dinner (which I do when he isn’t home.)
B. I don’t like to cook. Pots require watching, stirring, tasting, all of which slips my mind, which inevitably wanders elsewhere.
C. None of my recipes are my own, meaning that I would be publishing something that wasn’t rightfully mine. My husband makes up recipes all the time, but never writes them down. Whenever I try to do that, it requires take-out food.
As much as I don’t like to cook, I do like to bake, and I am pretty good at it. I can look at a recipe and tell whether it is worth the effort, or whether I should leave the cookbook page undirtied by splatters and crumbs. Most of the time I am right and there are few pages in any of my cookbooks that advise me to not try that at home.
I mostly make cakes and challah, some pies, some cheesecakes, and sometimes a gallette or a clafoutie. I also used to decorate cakes for birthdays and other occasions.
When I have a book signing, I do it at home, completely covering my dining room table with home baked goods, fruit, and cheeses. I serve wine and I honestly think I care more about people eating than buying books.
What I like about baking is the simplicity (okay, not always) of making a recipe, measuring ingredients, mixing them as directed, and putting them into the required baking pan and then into the oven. I can set the time and do whatever I want until it goes off.
However, as with cooking, and maybe even more so, I cannot share my recipes with readers. They were not handed down to me through the generations, they come from cookbooks, magazines, and from the internet. They all belong to someone else. Sure I might tweak a recipe slightly to enhance the flavor, but I don’t do it much. I get rave reviews when I bake for other people, and I do share recipes, but I don’t take credit for them.
So I don’t put recipes in books. What I do put in is a slice of me, a pinch of my family, a dollop of my husband, a scintilla of reality, all completely my own. And that is what I’m willing to publish.