Writing my memoir about food, family, and fun.
Written by Joy Bellis
I’ve collected so many recipes through the years that my file was full, my ring binder couldn’t hold more pages, and the newspaper clippings were turning brown with neglect. The spine of the ring binder announced in bold letters, “Some Day I’m Gonna Write My Own.” Writing my own cookbook was my intention after the first time a friend asked me for a recipe.
My daughter, Jody, bought me an early edition of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking as soon as it came out. I was thrilled, bought some kitchen twine to wrap herb bundles, and even considered buying a real chef’s mandoline. I actually made a couple of Julia’s detailed preparations, and they turned out perfectly delicious, but I came to the conclusion that I didn’t have the time, nor inclination, to cook in that manner regularly.
I knew that any cookbook I might put together could not live up to the standards of Julia and James, those masters I so respected. But, I learned an important lesson: If you set such insurmountable goals, you won’t even have to try to reach them. That can save you a lot of useless labor. So the recipes kept piling up while I learned to replace the Campbell’s soup with quickly prepared sauces, learned what spices did to enhance my food, and found that frozen puff pastry would suffice in place of that pound of butter, cups of flour, and a day of rolling and folding.
But what about the cookbook? I really intended it to be a souvenir of my life for my children and grandchildren—a reminder of my life, and my mother’s—when I am gone. I started to write about how one food preference led to a long search for the ideal recipe for a Bolognese sauce for pasta and where we found it. That suggested a pattern to follow. Where did we go to eat what and whom were we with? As I pursued that course, the book began to take its final form. I amazed myself when I started to record our travels and to recall some unique experiences.
My original intention was that no one other than my immediate family would read my. Much of the material in the book comes from a series of essays that I wrote for the classes I attend at Las Vegas Memoir Project, for people who don’t know any of the characters I’ve written about.
As I approached completion of the book, I wondered whether my experiences would be of interest to anyone other than my family. By self-publishing it, I could distribute it immediately to my family and a few friends who were interested in what I was doing. I discovered that a print-on-demand service, the Espresso Book Machine, was available in Las Vegas. My son, Jack, a professional in the publishing world, had already seen the Espresso Book Machine (located in the Writers Block) and assured me that it was the proper route for the short run I wanted.
Scott and Drew, operators of the book machine, were very attentive and their service was reasonably priced. Very quickly, I received copies of my book and became a published author. I hope my recipes and my stories enhance everyone’s appetite for life’s meals.