Monday, June 13, 2016

The Birth of a Cookbook

Hello everyone! While I've shared some aspects of my cookbook writing journey on my Facebook page, I have been hesitant to do it here because, frankly, I didn't know where to begin. Where does one begin to explain what it feels like to fulfill a dream? When I started writing this blog in 2010, my main goal was to one day write a cookbook. This blog was to serve as my writing portfolio. While some bloggers enjoy the social aspect of blogging and responding to comments, I've enjoyed the writing process. It is hard for introverts like me to do the social thing even in a virtual world. 

I'll confess here for the first time that, when I submitted my cookbook proposal to a publisher last summer, I did so with the resolve that if the proposal was rejected that I would pack it all in - the blog, the Facebook page...the dream of becoming a writer. It was time for me to grow up and put away the food blogger props. No more dishes, linens, and cookbooks for me. It just wasn't meant to be that I would have any success as a writer. So, with yet another rejection looming in my mind, I hit the submit button and received a message that I would know something within two to six months, prolonging the inevitable. But, something miraculous happened. Eight days after I submitted my proposal, I received an e-mail from the acquisitions editor stating that my proposal had been accepted. My cookbook would be published!

So, work quickly began on Southern on a Shoestring with a focus on Southern cooking on a budget. I wanted so badly to convey to readers how deeply I understand financial struggles and also how much I admire the act of feeding a family to the best of one's abilities. 

My Food Philosophy:

My food philosophy is that people shouldn’t have to spend a lot of money to put a nice meal on the table for their families. I also believe that there are many people out there who are struggling to make ends meet and they should be applauded for feeding their families to the best of their abilities. I wrote Southern on a Shoestring with those people in mind because I am one of those people.


My main area of interest is budget cooking. Fortunately, Southern cooking is fairly inexpensive as it incorporates local ingredients that are inexpensive when in season. I have never gone into a grocery store without being highly aware of the cost of an ingredient. I always buy food that is on sale and also purchase store brand products. With creative seasonings, it is easy to make inexpensive food taste delicious.

Pantry & Freezer Stockpiling:

I believe in keeping a well-stocked pantry and freezer so that I can create meals from scratch, often recreating some of our favorite boxed meals. In addition to a well-stocked pantry, I keep a freezer full of packages of meat bought on clearance. I brainstorm ways to stretch small packages of meat to feed my family of four through creative use of pantry ingredients, a variety of spices, and fresh vegetables.

Southern Influence:

Being born and raised Georgia, I cook the food that I grew up eating. Most of these traditional comfort foods are simple to cook and include common ingredients. And, most importantly for someone on a budget feeding a family, these foods yield numerous servings that can be stretched for more than one meal. 

The Cookbook:

With Southern on a Shoestring, I have attempted to merge my food philosophy with my interests in budget cooking, pantry stockpiling, and Southern recipes. The recipes that I have included in the book are simple to prepare and the ingredients are readily available in any grocery store. My intent is to create recipes that will encourage people to put a simple, delicious dish on the table, to make their struggle just a little bit easier.


For those of you who buy the book, I hope that you will enjoy it and will find a recipe or two that your family will love. Thank you to all who have inspired and supported me in this endeavor!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

My Cookbook - Coming in July 2016

Coming July 2015 from Cedar Fort Publishing
Pre-order on Amazon

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Real Food Real Kitchens Blog Tour


"Real Food Real Kitchens prides itself on four words: family, food, culture and history."

In Real Food Real Kitchens, Craig Chapman invites us along to explore the kitchens and food culture of the citizens of New York. Within the book, we journey to kitchens in Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx, and Staten Island.

The book is divided by these areas of New York and each section features several families from that area. These families open their homes and kitchens to the readers and allow us to learn about their food culture and history while sampling a tradition recipe.

Each feature story contains a sample recipe along with photographs of the family, cooking process, and finished product. The photos are extremely realistic - no food styling here - and make you feel that you are actually standing in someone's home kitchen.

Disclaimer: The publisher provided me with a review copy of this cookbook; however, the opinion expressed here is my own.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Party Style Blog Book Tour, Plus Giveaway

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Party Style: Kids' Parties from Baby to Sweet 16
by Gemma Touchstone
Cedar Fort Publishers
There are many books that get me excited, but some of my favorites are party styling books. I love to look at the recipes and tablescapes and imagine throwing my own parties. Because I am completely lacking in creativity when it comes to decorating, I surround myself and stock my library with party books for both food and decorating. Party Style by Gemma Touchstone covers both topics and is a welcome addition to my collection.

This book contains detailed information on planning and finding inspiration for your parties, including schedules, themes, invitations, and prep work. Now, as a foodie, I was most interested in the selection of recipes that were included in the book. I'm always searching for new ideas for appetizers and treats to bring to showers and work events. I found plenty of recipes here to satisfy children and adults alike.

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Some of the cute recipes that appealed to me were Circus Cake Batter Cookie Dip, Lemonade Chex Mix, World's Best Hot Chocolate Cheesecake Dip, Ritz Party Dip, Salad on a Stick, and Pizza in a Jar. All of these recipes seem simple to put together and will add a unique twist to a party spread.

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The last part of the book contained photo spreads of different party themes. As a mother of two boys, I enjoyed seeing the spread for a Mine Craft party. The ideas seem simple enough for even someone like me to pull off. I know my kids would love it! There are plenty of party ideas for both boys and girls. 

This book is perfect for anyone who wants to make a party special for their children. But, you don't have to have children to enjoy this book. You'll find numerous recipes and ideas that can be incorporated into other events that you may have in your life. I enjoyed reading the book and am looking forward to using the ideas featured here at my next gathering.

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More information about Gemma Touchstone's upcoming book tour events:
  • You can get over $2,500.00 worth of exclusive party printables with your Book purchase for download off of the web site 
  • Gemma Touchstone will be teaching pin worthy parties at the pinners conference in Salt Lake City, UT Nov 6th & 7th and you can save 10% on tickets with ticket code partystyle
  • Gemma Touchstone will be speaking at ISSE along with  Colin Cowie and some other amazing speakers and you can save $500.00 on your ticket when you mention PartyStyle Book Tour
  • Find Gemma at the OC DATE NIGHT MARKET March 11th
  • For more dates on her Tour around the USA Please visit the Blog 
  • Gemma's Next HOLIDAY HOSTESS is already in the works and will be out in time for the holiday season in 2016 
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For more information about the book:

For a sneak peek on Gemma's web site:

In celebration of the book's release, Gemma is hosting a giveaway of some great prizes. Enter to win at the widget below.

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Giveaway runs till the Blog Book tour is over from October 1 - November 15th. THE GRAND PRIZE is a kitchen aid mixer, IPAD Air, Honeycomb Decor Pack with multiple sizes and colors, Bakers Bling sanding sugar in several colors, $100.00 gift card to Home Goods, $100.00 Gift card to Michael's Craft Store and an Autographed copy to the book. 3 ft LOVE Balloon Set. These are Gemma's Must haves for the perfect party.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: The author provided me with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Review: Alana Chernila's The Homemade Kitchen

As a fan of Alana's first cookbook, The Homemade Pantry, I have been beside myself waiting on the release of her second book, The Homemade Kitchen. And, while the wait was torturous, it was definitely worth it. Alana Chernila writes the blog, Eating from the Ground Up, which I have followed for several years now. Her writing style is beautiful and she joins two of my other favorites, Ashley English and Amanda Soule, as women I admire as writers and experts in their fields of interest.

The Homemade Kitchen is a dense book that should be read slowly and intently. Yes, it is full of recipes, but it is the essays that come between the recipes that I enjoy the most. These essays give you insight into Alana's home and heart.

There were two moments in the book that I immediately connected to my own life. The first was, "Noodles. So many noodles? Can a person live on noodles and butter?" "Yes, they can." I am in complete agreement with Alana on this one. Yes, since my boys were toddlers, they have lived on noodles with olive oil and a sprinkling of garlic salt. We call it seasoned noodles and they still request it to this day. My 12-year-old tells me that he's going to need me to give him the recipe when he moves out. There is something so special about building memories with food.

In the opening of the chapter, Slow Down, Alana writes, "When I need to create time, I walk out the door and try to find it in the yard." This line really resonated with me because I, too, go out in my yard when I need to reflect on what my future could be. I walk through my back yard and dream of turning it into a homestead overflowing with fruits, vegetables, and possibilities.

After reading this, you may say that this should be a review of a cookbook not of my life. But, that's the beauty of this book. I was able to connect certain pieces of the book to my life which made me appreciate the recipes even more. I have only scratched the surface of this book as it is deep and rich and requires a long-term commitment to be fully appreciated.

More about The Homemade Kitchen: Excerpt below from the publisher's web site.

This book is a map for how, day in and day out, food shapes my life for the better, in the kitchen and beyond it.
—from the Introduction
Start where you are. Feed yourself. Do your best, and then let go. Be helpful.  Slow down. Don’t be afraid of food.
Alana Chernila has these phrases taped to her fridge, and they are guiding principles helping her to stay present in her kitchen. They also provide the framework for her second book. In The Homemade Kitchen she exalts the beautiful imperfections of food made at home and extends the lessons of cooking through both the quotidian and extraordinary moments of the day. Alana sees cooking as an opportunity to live consciously, not just as a means to an end.

Written as much for the reader as the cook, The Homemade Kitchen covers a globe’s worth of flavors and includes new staples (what Alana is known for) such as chèvre, tofu, kefir, kimchi, preserved lemons, along with recipes and ideas for using them. Here, too, are dishes you’ll be inspired to try and that you will make again and again until they become your own family recipes, such as Broccoli Raab with Cheddar Polenta, a flavor-forward lunch for one; Roasted Red Pepper Corn Chowder, “late summer in a bowl”; Stuffed Winter Squash, rich with leeks, chorizo, apples, and grains; Braised Lamb Shanks that are tucked into the oven in the late afternoon and not touched again until dinner; Corn and Nectarine Salad showered with torn basil; perfect share-fare Sesame Noodles; Asparagus Carbonara, the easiest weeknight dinner ever; and sweet and savory treats such as Popovers, Cinnamon Swirl Bread, Summer Trifle made with homemade pound cake and whatever berries are ripest, and Rhubarb Snacking Cake.

In this follow-up to Alana’s wildly successful debut, The Homemade Pantry, she once again proves herself to be the truest and least judgmental friend a home cook could want.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.