Author Archives: mjaneross

Our Cookbook Now Up on Amazon!

M. Jane Ross

Great news! Story Circle Network has just opened an account to sell SCN publications through Executive Director Peggy Moody filled out the online application earlier this month with our own cookbook-anthology Kitchen Table Stories as the first online product. As soon as we shipped our stock to Amazon, anyone anywhere in North America was able to get their copies direct from Amazon, with all the click-and-smile ease that we’ve come to expect from the company.

Kitchen Table Stories continues to be available directly from SCN. Actually, the SCN sales are now handled by SCN founder Susan Wittig Albert herself, and if you like, you can ask her to inscribe your copy when you order. Since SCN keeps 100% of the purchase price from these direct sales, we certainly hope that members of the SCN “family” and our close friends will want to order our cookbook from Susan Albert's book-order page and benefit SCN.

The new Amazon listing for Kitchen Table Stories will allow us to reach out and sell to a much broader audience. We're excited that we'll now be accessible to readers who may not know SCN and who might be hesitant to place an order through a website they don’t know but are totally comfortable with ordering from Amazon.

Yes, as Easy as Rhubarb Pie, MJ Ross. Over the rest of this year, I’ll be working on some book promotion ideas aimed at bringing our book to the attention of the new generation of home cooks. I owe a debt of gratitude to book publicist Amanda Willis for pointing out to me just how relevant our recipes and stories are to today’s economy. We’ll be working on reaching folks who are rediscovering home cooking and baking and looking for frugal and tasty ways to stretch the family’s food budget. I’ll certainly be getting in touch with the authors featured in the book to enlist your help (drop me a line if you’re keen to get started or would like to help plan this effort).

The page for Kitchen Table Stories is now open for business and I’m looking forward to sharing our own down-home stories and flavors with home cooks everywhere!

Food Writing to Fly By

M Jane Ross

Have you noticed, airplane food has gone from mediocre via dismal to non-existent!

For better or worse, on my recent trip to Vancouver to visit my daughter, I had packed the most scrumptious and mouthwatering reading of the year: The Best Food Writing of 2008, edited by Holly Hughes. I hungrily slurped up succulent chapters on every food group from biscuits to pork butt via foie gras and mangoes. And I wolfed down detailed descriptions of meals from some of the US’s superstar chefs, all while I crunched on the only food available on two flights and five hours of flying—a couple of dry-as-cardboard granola bars I’d thrown into my purse on my way out the door. As a chaser to that dismal fare, the book was torture, but in a good way.

The 48 short chapters all originally appeared in other publications, mostly as articles in major magazines and newspapers, though several are excerpted from cookbooks and foodie memoirs. Many are written by professional food writers (ah, now there’s a job I could go for). What I came away from the book with (aside from hunger pangs) is that, in the most engaging writing, the author’s passion for their subject shines through in every element of their story.

Learning to make sausages. MJ Ross 2008. These writers don’t just tell us, “I love Cajun food.” They show it, unequivocally. They chronicle week-long excursions in search of the perfect gumbo. They risk ridicule from chefs and cooks and eviction from their family homes in their fervent desire to understand and master the preparation of a dish they’re passionate about. They describe not only the tastes, smells and textures of the subject of their passion. They research and then describe every detail they can find of their ingredients’ provenance. And wow, does this search for knowledge and flavor enliven their writing. Just the way the dollop of foie gras that they add to the hamburgers at Sweets and Savories restaurant in Chicago turns a plain old sandwich into a work of art (see Peter Sagal’s article, "Let Them Eat Paté," on p. 13 of The Best Food Writing of 2008).

Writing prompt: Show your passion for your subject: look for ways you can research the subject of your stories to enliven the writing. For example, you can look up historical details of the places you write about using the internet. Or better yet, go back to a place from your past and talk to longtime locals about their memories of the place.  Like baking bread, you’ll get a better, tastier, more authentic product if you get your hands dirty and experience the details of your story up close and as personal as you can get.