Collecting and Refining the Recipes for My Book

Last week, I wrote about how Float House Family Favourites came to be published. It began as a small Christmas gift version and I knew there were a lot more recipes I could include. Recipes I’d used my whole life.

When Alberta school children were sent home for the last two months of the school year in 2020 to learn remotely, my three grandchildren responded well. They sat at their home computers for school which lasted from 9 am to noon. Once school was completed they were free to do other things around their farm. They regularly participated in preparing part of the family meals. For at least four months they were guided by their parents as they learned to cook. Many times they would use my biscuit mix recipe as a base for other recipes or for making pancakes.

When COVID-19 hit us all, it eliminated many of my social responsibilities and community events. When I completed work on my friend Margaret’s Finding Freedom book, I started assembling my other every-day recipes. It was fun sorting through a lifetime collection and those of others in our family.

Early on I came to realize the book should use both imperial and metric measures. I had created a completely metric foods text when I was teaching that won recognition as the first Canadian metric text book. What I didn’t know, was which type of measurement should be listed first. I needed to find the best format.

That’s when I appealed to a team of professional cooks and recipe book writers I’d met at a writer’s conference in Ontario. These professionals called, The Cooking Ladies, offered advice from their experience, which put me on the right path. We decided putting metric first, followed by imperial measurements, was best. A writer friend in Vancouver contributed valuable recipe testing.

Once the format was decided it was easier to choose which recipes and photographs to include. Finally, the big day came when I had the manuscript ready to present to my book designer. It was a very busy time for her and it felt like a very long wait for the first proof to be ready.

Eventually the big day arrived; I reviewed the proof, made a few changes and once completed, ordered 52 copies from Island Blue. For the next two weeks I supplied friends who really wanted copies and others whom I wanted to have them.

I could see how quickly my stock was disappearing so I ordered up another print run. However, I ordered too soon. My professional reviewer alerted me to some mistakes in ingredient measures. The only thing I could do at that stage was prepare a page of corrections to insert at the beginning of the book. So, I have made the corrections this way and also sent corrections to my designer. The next print run will be correct.

Should you like to obtain a copy of Float House Family Favourites, you can find it at Melinda’s Biscotti & Coffee House in North Saanich. You can also purchase it from my website www.myrtlesiebert.com for $22.00 (delivered locally) Copies are also available from my daughter in Langley, my son in Nanaimo and a friend in Campbell River. Contact me for more information.

The Story of a Little Recipe Book

In 2018 I flew to Calgary to visit my grandchildren for Thanksgiving weekend. My daughter was busy with customers and their horses in the barn, leaving me to enjoy the children. They wanted to bake, so we did. They made my recipe for biscuit mix and then used it to make Impossible Pumpkin Pie. The youngest, who seems always to be hungry asked if she could make her snack.

“What would your Mom say if you asked her?” I asked. “She lets me have it anytime,” she replied.

That’s when I recorded the first recipe for this book. She shook a covering of Kashi cereal on a microwave plate. Then she poured cream into a cup measure and filled it to the top with chocolate chips. Into the microwave it went. While it heated, she dug into the freezer for some favourite frozen berries and sprinkled them generously over the Kashi. Lastly, she poured the melted chocolate mixture over the plate and its contents. Each of the three of the children took up a spoon and enjoyed the snack.

The following June, I returned to be a guest at the year end celebration of their 4H club. In a telephone conversation their mother had explained that her children had announced to the club business meeting that they would look after the desserts for the meal. Grandma would be there to consult. And with my supervision they did prepare all those desserts on the cover of this book, enough, and plenty left over, for 100 guests!

Float House Family Favourites

Which brings me to the following December. Other than long sox for riding, books all around and maybe movie passes I was stuck for what to give them for Christmas. I approached my book designer and my printer and I asked if it would be possible to create and print copies of a small volume of the recipes they had used and the picture illustrations I had taken. We had only 3 weeks, until Christmas but they told me it was possible as most of the business rush had been completed. So, on the day before I left to join my family for Christmas on Maui I left the print shop with 4 ‘proof’ copies of the first edition of Float House Family Favourites.

This first edition had their faces on the cover, enjoying the snack, and pictures of the children doing the baking inside. You will note that this second edition does not identify the makers but their creations, and some of mine are shown throughout the book.

Current Writing Projects

While calmly reviewing what I have been doing during the past few months since COVID 19 descended upon us I have tried not to be angry about the losses. I’ve attempted to remain, calmly busy and be philosophical as each new health requirement was laid on, by a remarkably calm Dr. Bonnie Henry.

Early in the new year I tackled the assorted pages of a manuscript written by an elderly friend (93) who, when she was allowed to leave the hospital had needed regular nursing care in a senior’s centre. I visited her in that new home and promised to put it together for her in a form that could eventually be printed.

At about the same time I undertook to create a book of recipes from those I have used during my life. I was able to include some that had been shared from other sources. Assembly of the chosen recipes was relatively easy until I reached the place where I needed to decide layout and whether or not to use both Imperial and Metric measures. (I had earned an award for the first all Metric textbook in Canada)

Some years ago, at an annual meeting in Ontario of Canadian Authors Association, I had met two women who called themselves the Cooking Ladies. They made a business of preparing and serving food to conventions like ours, from their trailer. When not doing that they created and sold recipe books. Perhaps I could ask these professional cooks I had actually met for the needed advice.

Thankfully they were more than willing to help and I followed their advice: Imperial measures for the first row, followed by appropriate equivalent Metric measures in the second row, and then the name of the measured ingredient.  It appeared that way through two edited book proofs, before the actual printing stage. Apparently, I do not qualify as a careful editor – there are errors in a few of the measurements, currently being corrected in the second print run.

The cover in colour is beautifully appealing, coil binding permits the book to lie flat and be easily read in the kitchen, and my designer and printer are proud of what we have created. But any mistakes are discouraging. An experience last Wednesday in Mark’s Workwear World, brightened my day. The young female clerk was a girl I knew, being very helpful trying to find knee-high sox for my grandchildren who wear riding boots. From the other side of a row of sox she turned around and exclaimed, “I love your new recipe book!” It made my day.