Though I started a blog around 2013, I decided to start afresh with this new website. So, I’ve been blogging with text from my original cookbook which was called Astrid’s Modern Hobbit Recipes, starting in March, 2016. I’m telling the tale of The Hobbit with recipes. All recipes can be located in the enormous category section in the sidebar. To follow along, start with Chapter 1 “BILBO’S PANTRY.” Locate the earliest dated post and start your culinary story there (hint: it’s about Serious Moonlight and “Shire Seasoning.”).
In the past five years, I have completed two cookbooks. As I said above, my first foray into cookbook writing was originally entitled Astrid’s Modern Hobbit Recipes. A publisher snapped it up and online traffic began! Then the J. R. R. Tolkien Estate got wind of it…
Yada, yada, yada…I rewrote the whole thing to avoid any unpleasantries.
Unfortunately for me, a completely unknown author who doesn’t happen to own a restaurant or know any celebrities, the book was no longer a sure thing. The whole experience taught me many things about the industry; namely, how to deal with disappointment and rejection and how to be extremely patient. In the meantime, I lost my first publisher and eventually my agent. I still believed in the cookbook, however, so I decided to become more proactive about the whole process. This led me to start a blog and eventually look into self-publishing on the Kindle. So far, blogging and dealing with social media has been rather time-consuming! I did publish on the Amazon Kindle in 2013. Lots of exposure in social media led to an eventual contract with a new firm, Oloris Publishing. This independent press published my book on October 24, 2016.
And then in June, 2017, my publisher decided to close the business. This was unexpected and aggravating for awhile, but turned out fine in the end. I bought my manuscript design from them, made a few changes (including a new cover), and set off on my own. My second edition was released by IngramSpark on October 31, 2017. Yes, I chose Halloween, because, well, Monsters…
Any cook/chef/baker will be informed by the hundreds/thousands of recipes he or she has seen before. This must account for the many “adapted from” recipes I have seen on so many blogs. I strive not to ever do this, and I have only included original recipes in both of my books. Inevitably, a recipe might be similar to someone else’s—after all, aren’t there only seven stories in the whole field of literature and they are constantly reworked and modified? At least, that is what one of my Latin professors said long ago. If I do adapt someone’s recipe for the blog, I’ll definitely let you know this!
I’ll get an idea for something yummy, then I’ll come up with a first draft. Occasionally, I get lucky; sometimes, I’m lucky on the second draft. Then I’ll test it two or three more times, depending on what it is. If a recipe is too troublesome, well, you’ll never see it. I torture my family and any guests we might have by asking them if I should change anything or is it good just the way it is? They’re probably pretty tired of reviewing my foods all the time, but they also eat pretty well around here.
You should also be aware that I am testing recipes at a high altitude. You might have to make some adjustments in baked products; maybe not.
By the way, you might be wondering what experience I have in this field. I started basic cooking in elementary school. In high school, I received chef training in various regional cuisines, ranging from Chinese to Moroccan to Italian. I graduated with honors from the professional baking course at our community college. I have catered numerous parties with excellent results. I even catered my own wedding and made the cake, though in hindsight, I would never consider doing that again. I was a dressmaker for 20 years, specializing in bridal. That’s not related to cooking, of course, it’s just FYI.
My second book was written sort of by accident while the first book was in publishing/legal limbo. I’ve tentatively called it:
The Fat Outburst (How I Lost My Gallbladder and Found a New Way to Deal with Dieting)
Here is the blurb for this one:
Part memoir, part diet plan, and part cookbook, The Fat Outburst (How I Lost My Gallbladder and Found a New Way to Deal with Dieting) is a sometimes sad and sometimes sarcastic examination of one devoted foodie’s journey to a healthier weight. After an emergency gallbladder removal, Astrid Tuttle Winegar suddenly had a dieting epiphany and eventually developed a realistic plan for dealing with real world food and drink situations. She lays out a 28-day example of her strict regimen as well as some easy recipes, lots of pep talk, and snarky cultural commentary. The Fat Outburst is a refreshingly honest look at the obesity problem in America, told by a woman who perpetually lives with the struggle to lose and maintain a healthy weight, especially when she visits restaurants, grocery stores, and even her kitchen pantry…
That sure is a fancy font.
This book is currently in a different sort of limbo, though I do still live by this diet plan (at least when I’m trying to be good…). It sits in the back of my mind and I’m not sure how I’ll proceed with it. It is an angry book; I describe many embarrassing moments within, and I often use various salty words (to put it mildly). Maybe I’ll give it a rewrite and offer it as a PDF or put it on the Kindle as well… for now, it’s on the back burner, simmering like a stew…