The making of a cookbook

When the idea for the cookbook came to me I was on a weekend trip to the Oregon coast for Levi's birthday. That Friday afternoon, however, as I was biking home from work, going about 2mph up some silly hill, I fell on my bike. Operative word being on, as opposed to off the bike as I was using those clip-in pedals. We're on a sabbatical - those pedals and I.

On the taxi ride home (Yes, I said taxi.) I was certain I'd broken the arm. I did not break my arm however. A few hours and a few hundred bucks later I had the diagnosis of "pain in upper arm". Sweet.

Options on that Friday afternoon:
A) stay home and mope around OR
B) go to the coast for birthday with friends.
B. Thanks.

So with pain in upper arm, I drove to Lincoln City, Janan and Levi in the lead. Good choice. That night we grilled steak, made stuffed tomatoes and roasted potatoes. Janan baked her bread and a cake. Great choice.
The company. The food. The rain. The beach.
All incredibly vividly lovely.

For breakfast we made a scramble with the chanterelles I brought and afterwards I packed up with my pain in upper arm to drive home.
I did what I always do on car trips alone - cranked the Radiohead and got reflective. I reflected on, what else - food.
And that's when the idea came really.
There were meandering thoughts about women's food stories. Lightbulb. The history of bierrocks. Lightbulb. What I could do to make my pie crust better. Lightbulb.
So here we are!

I've never written a cookbook, and I've never written a book.
But I've written and I've cooked.
I consider myself Mennonite, as have my ancestors, so I've decided this somehow qualifies me.
This may be like that time in the 7th grade when I sang "Hero" by Mariah Carey at the school talent show in green jeans and a wide-collared shirt. But I really really hope not.

In the meantime, this writing of cookbook is fun! So far as I can tell, it entails the following:
Researching Mennonite history

2. Understanding my family history

Reading lots and lots of cookbooks - Mennonite, Amish, Parsi, German, Italian, French, Russian, that Momofuku guy's book, the fancy, not so fancy and so and so forth.

Cooking - That should be obvious. I've been lucky enough to have been taken under the wing of chef Robert Reynolds on this front.

Going to Kansas - Where the family history sits waiting to be discussed and written down. Where there are women, men, aunts, cousins, mothers, my own and others, coffee cups in hand, who I'm dying to talk to and watch at the stove. I booked the trip for July!!

Speaking of cooking, we had a great dinner: fried razor clams from the Flying Fish Company, asparagus, and mashed potatoes. That Flying Fish cart will definitely get more attention here so look alive.
Asparagus is in its bounty. Totally wonderful.
Recipe: I saute mine in a bit of butter and lemon, covered on low heat, with a sprinkle of salt till tender. Don't overcook. Trust me on this.

Up next... the first in the "Mennonite Women Serious about their Food" series. Who's up? Grandma Annabelle Boyts of course! This is her at their wedding. My grandpa Jim at her side.
Can't wait!

Here's to pain in upper arm...


  1. Katie, I've been following your blog and am SO excited about your book. I am a total More-With-Less devotee (although I sometimes wish it was More anecdotes from the Goshen cafeteria and urban foraging, and Less soybean casserole recipes) and something of a wannabe Mennonite. Bet you haven't read the word "wannabe" since you last sang "Hero" in green jeans. Anyway, I'm rooting for you and love the blog! And I wanted to let you know that I made your grandmother's peppernuts recipe (Sarah sent it on my request) this Christmas!

  2. I have photos of that meal if you want them!

  3. Amy, Thanks for reading and for your witty enthusiasm! I'm with you on the More-With-Less reflections - I won't be visiting the soybean cart anytime soon. I LOVE that you made her peppernuts! She'll be featured soon for sure... How were they?

  4. Hi Katie,
    I am poking around on a Sunday afternoon and finally took the time to visit your shoefly pie project. Thank you for inviting me to be witness to the blossoming event. I love your wit and it will be so interesting to see your slant on Mennonite food and the culture and heritage that surrounds it. All the best!

  5. Lovella,
    Thanks so much for stopping in! Glad you enjoyed it... I'm excited to visit more soon.
    Take good care!