How big is your kitchen — getting a cookbook printed
By Veronika Ederer
Ever since I found a publisher for our cookbook on Native American recipes in February, I felt like living in an “on and off relationship.”
First we celebrated that we found a publisher who would get our book printed the way we wanted it to be, and we don’t have to pay for it. The publisher — in Munich, Germany — had no problems with our book consisting of more than 200 pages — almost all in color and its dimensions being U.S. letter size. We wanted it to be in a landscape-size format, as well — a real large book. To celebrate, I invited my team to a special dinner where I served Piki bread (a Hopi bread made out of ground blue corn), which I bought during my trip to New Mexico in 2019. The dinner also included cholla buds, mesquite cookies and succotash.
It was a grey, overcast Saturday in early March when we prepared the last recipe to be included in the book — which was bison spare ribs that we cooked on a campfire in a friend’s garden. We knew it would be our last meeting like this and we took more than 150 pictures instead of the typical 40 to 80 to cherish this “last time.” A few days later, I visited some friends in Munich and had a very pleasant meeting with the publisher.
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Then COVID-19 hit the world and in Germany every non-essential business shut down, which included printing companies. My teaching changed as of March 16; I was now homeschooling six different classes of gifted children in Switzerland instead of teaching in class. However, since my lessons are enrichment classes and not mandatory, I still had a lot of time on my hands. So I worked on the final manuscript, sent it to different people to copy edit, added a few more pages and went through our photos to select landscape-format pictures. I submitted the final manuscript and all the photos to the publisher in May. We were ready.
Afterward, we continued meeting to enjoy our meals together and talk about our future plans and upcoming events. We were very euphoric about the book becoming a reality.
A few weeks later, we got the contract from the publisher, which stated that we would get 7% of each sold book, but only after the first 100 books were sold. My friends were very disappointed. Since I’ve already published two books and a lot of articles, I knew that this is an author’s reality. I convinced them that there is no way to get more money, especially if this is the first book published at this publisher. Well, we knew we wouldn’t be millionaires after publishing this book. With the estimated €3.30 ($3.89), the sale of a book would bring barely enough to buy a scoop of ice cream in Switzerland. Nevertheless, signing our contract was a highlight.
Summer came and we were waiting for news about our book. I joked that my friends were surely dying of boredom, not knowing what to do with themselves after finishing the cookbook.
In July, I visited my father in northern Bavaria and stepped in the publisher’s office to check on the final proof. He designed the cookbook the way we wanted it to look, and I only had to switch out two photos, which I sent him after returning home. A few more weeks passed, and the printer companies were permitted to open and resume their work. School started again and it was back to work for me, too, which meant my time got more and more limited.
Then in October, the publisher wrote me that he couldn’t find a printing company, which could print and bind a book of this size! If it were to be portrait size — no problem, but landscape size was too big. Of course, we could look for a different printer in Asia or eastern Europe, if it weren’t for the COVID-19 numbers rising again, and we wanted to have the book out before Christmas.
I immediately informed my team, and we met to discuss what to do. Would it be OK to print the book in a smaller size? Would it still be “our” cookbook? I made lists with pros and cons and finally admitted a strong point for the smaller size. How big is our potential reader’s kitchen? Do they have space to open up a landscape-sized cookbook? But then again, we spent four years and planned the book in this size and style. We decided to sleep on it before making a decision. Finally, we decided to agree on a smaller size, so I ordered a test printing.
A few days later, the publisher wrote me that he found a printing company which could do a big book like this, in the big size. But it had to be an offset printing where no test printing is possible, since it is too expensive. Again, I informed everybody, we talked it over and slept on it before deciding: It’s a go. We trusted the publisher and the printing company and hoped that the book would turn out just as we planned.
Only a week ago, I got huge boxes filled with advertising cards featuring the cookbook. We started sending them out via mail, distributing them in person and digitally.
After all these weeks of stop and go, today, we hope that we’ll have the cookbook available within this year. The printing companies are still open, but working with reduced staff. Keep your fingers crossed for us while we are waiting. Christmas is getting closer.
Meanwhile, I’ll share the next recipe with you that we made for our celebration: succotash. It is a hearty stew and a fine dish for a cold and dark evening. Enjoy.
7 oz dry kidney beans
3.5 oz green beans
7 oz canned corn
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, diced
2 Tbsp pumpkin seed oil
2/3 cup of bacon or 1/2 pound ground beef (or pork or chicken, cubed)
1/2 cup beef or chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
Soak Kidney beans overnight in cold water.
Heat the oil in a deep pot. Add the onion and garlic and stir until they are translucent. Add the meat or bacon and stir well until it is brown or the fat is rendered from the bacon.
Add the bell pepper, the kidney beans and 1/2 cup of the water it was soaking in. Bring to a boil, then add the green beans and the corn. Add the broth and return to a boil. Lower the heat and let the stew simmer for about an hour or until the kidney beans are tender. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve hot with a slice of fresh bread.