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Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Chasing the Cookbook!

A Day in the life of... 
Joan Porte


As a cookbook author, my methodology is not typical of most writers. I do not have to face a blank screen or piece of paper and will the words out of my right brain. I don’t have to fear writers block. However, that does not make my task any easier than that of the novelist or biographer. In fact, I am not as fortunate as those lucky people are. Every time I sit down to work on a recipe, I face something much more dastardly. It is the memory of the days when I had to chase my mother around the kitchen to try to have her actually write down a recipe for what she was making. Don’t snicker! This is something that can cause flashbacks of horrors for decades.

Members of my mother’s family were of the touch-and-feel school of cooking. If you would ask her how much salt to add to a pasta recipe she would say something like, “Feel it, when it feels like there is enough, it is good.” How do you write a recipe that reads – amount of salt --- to the feel? It can’t be done.


One day I was determined to get her recipes on paper and spent days which seemed like decades  – yelling “STOP” every time she was about to add something – and then grab a measuring cup to get some idea of an amount. It was not pretty – nor were the looks she was throwing me throughout the process.

Actually today, when I see one of her recipes, I smile at those days.  I now know that they were good training for cookbook writing because they instilled in me two skills you must have to write a good recipe. The first is measure, taste and measure again. Whether it is an old recipe that needs to be updated or something I concoct I pay special attention to that extra ½-teaspoon of cardamom and the ¼-teaspoon of lemon zest that will just make the dish pop.

When I get an old recipe – and I love scouring colonial cookbooks for ideas – I, of course, have to change some of the meats. There is not much call for squirrel anymore. Then I always update the herbs because today fresh is always better. However, you cannot just toss in the same amount of a fresh herb as dried. Something like oregano packs quite the punch and 2 teaspoons of fresh will destroy the flavor of every other herb. Therefore, you measure, taste, and measure again.

The second lesson is to take the recipes that friends gave and make it your own. In other words, I had to “feel them” and see if they needed something else to suit my personal taste. Many friends offered family treasures for my cookbook but I had to rework each so they had the same “tone” as all of the others and still had my touch. I would make the recipe exactly as written, then take those same ingredients, and make it my way.

What do I mean by tone? You have to remember that a cookbook is still a book and you do not want to have it appear disjointed as if two different voices had written the same book. It is a mistake to take someone else’s words and think that they will flow naturally with yours. I had to be sure that everyone was fine with me not taking her recipe verbatim. I wanted no hard feelings but had to be sure it was totally mine.

So, while the training was harrowing I thank Mom for the lessons and for the food – and the memories.


“Signs of the Tines: The Ultimate Astrological Cookbook” is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Sign of the Tines.  Link for chart readings or contact Joan via email or visit her blog (above). Download her podcast Astrological Cooking.
The 295-page book with more than 120 recipes is written to celebrate a unique pairing of food and astrology. 
Goodreads
Amazon.com
Barnes and Noble
A new breed of cookbook that combines personal astrology with a love for preparing and sharing delicious meals. 
Astrologer and gastronome Joan Porte brings a new, fun twist to cooking by showing anyone who loves to cook how to personalize a menu for your family and friends. Beautiful photographs complement the more than 120 featured recipes organized by zodiac sign. Choose a dish or plan a multi-course meal with selections from: Appetizers, Soups, Pasta, Veggies & Fruit, Meat & Fish, and Dessert for each of the twelve signs. SIGNS OF THE TINES is a heart-warming and mouth-watering invitation to eat in alignment with our stars!
Discover why:
Scorpios have a craving for pasta puttanesca
Librans feel grounded when they dig into a chocolate mousse parfait
Cancerians stand tall with their bowl of Brunswick stew
Virgoans set aside their healthy-conscious habits when faced with chocolate raspberry ramekins
Aquarians respond to the sustainable fish used in Pollock with berry prosecco sauce
Pisceans beat a common ailment when feasting on quinoa with roasted root veggies.
"These recipes are taken from a number of sources; some are family gems, others I've concocted and tweaked over the years," says author Joan Porte.
The home cook will discover how astrology as a source for new food ideas and new ways to entertain friends. And the astrology enthusiast will discover how cooking can be a new use for astrology as a way to add more meaning to the daily ritual of eating we perform to survive and thrive.
Enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win a signed paperback and a $10 Starbucks Gift Card!


Joan Porte started "playing" with Astrology when she was in grammar school. She always had a fixation with the planets - Pluto being her favorite (surprise she is Scorpio Sun!) Yes, Pluto is still a planet to her! She put her astrology "toys" away when she grew up and went into the "real world," sadly convinced that it was time to do more important things. The universe and her North Node in Sagittarius woke her up in her mid-thirties after which she began an intensive study of Western astrology.

According to Joan, "Modern Man takes for granted the Sun and how its energy propels and sustains life. Moon energy controls the tides yet we ignore the other more personal influences it has on our bodies and lives. We have lost the art of appreciating and reading the stars as messengers from the god and goddess. Humanity has disconnected from its source

and consequently suffers emotionally, spiritually and physically."

"Each person is born with a map - a soul map - that is his or her astrological chart. It is a map through the maze of life that shows the karma we need to balance our soul's desire for a life that leads to enhanced soul growth. I simply read the map - illustrating where you have been and where you are going to make your journey through life less bumpy." With this cook book Joan is combining her astrological knowledge with her lifelong love of cooking in her own inimitable way.
 

Gram’s Cranberry Pie

Every Christmas my friend, Diane Stoy, makes her Gram’s cranberry pie as a way to keep her grandmother’s memory alive. It is a wonderful tradition – to be appreciated by tradition-bound Cancer, and a very good pie! This is what Diane has to say about her Gram’s pie. “So you thought cranberries were only for use in cranberry sauce??

Here is a famous original recipe for cranberry. Gram lives on in many ways, but especially in this recipe. Over the years, her granddaughter shared this special treat with many others in Washington, D.C. Now this delicious memory can be enjoyed by friends everywhere. Thanks, Gram!”

1 ¼ cup fresh cranberries, washed
1 cup sugar, divided
1 egg (2 eggs if you want a fluffier batter)
¼ cup butter, melted
½ cup flour
⅛ teaspoon baking powder
¼ cup walnuts or pecans (optional. Diane leaves these little buggers out when she brings this to my house.)
1 cup whipping cream or vanilla ice cream (optional)
Makes one 8-inch pie
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Place the cranberries in a plate and sprinkle with ¼ cup of the sugar. In a large bowl mix all of the other ingredients well except the ice cream or whipped cream and pour on top of the berries. (Batter may be thick.) Bake for 45 minutes in a greased 8-inch pie plate. Serve warm or cold with the whipped cream or plain.
To serve with the whipped cream just beat the cream with an electric blender until it becomes cream and dollop on top.
You can also serve with vanilla ice cream. 



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