Cookbook tricks, piping hot

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Tired of cold turkey sandwiches yet? You and me both, my friend. I’m already thinking about my next cookbook project: Thanksgiving, the Aftermath: Things You Can Make with Week-Old Leftovers That Won’t Make You Gag. Because to paraphrase the president of the Hair Club for Men, I’m not only one of the Blurberati, I’m also a Blurbarian.

My current project is a cookbook for my mom, and I can’t show it to you just yet, because the element of surprise is always vital in holiday gifts and castle sieges. But hooo-wee, that thing is tricked out … every text box and slick feature BookSmart offers, I used. We’re talking the cookbook version of a lowrider here.

What kinds of tricks, you ask? Here you go:

1) Add illustrations. Under the theme button on your toolbar, you can choose from seven different themes, and each one comes with a color palette and set of original illustrations drawn by Blurb’s supremely talented Sam. For my mom’s cookbook, I chose downtown-chic Atrium, which comes with elegant silhouettes of flatware, whisks, and grain. Instant wow factor, right there.

2) Name names. There’s nothing quite as flattering as seeing your name in print, credited as the contributor of a recipe, the inspiration for a dish, or a culinary mentor. So spread the kudos on thick as cream cheese in your Acknowledgements and Dedication pages, and invite people to contribute quotes for quote pages – add a page, and change the layout to Acknowledgements, Dedication, or Quote in the upper left. Add contributors’ names in the text boxes provided under the recipe title, and on the back cover if you like. Everyone who gets a mention will eat it up, and anyone who doesn’t might just be motivated to help with the dishes next time.

3) Tell stories. Under the recipe title and above the recipe instructions, there’s a text box where you can tell the story behind the dish. There’s gray ghost text here asking what the dish tastes, looks, or smells like when done properly, but you could also describe a time when you got this dish completely wrong, or explain where and when your tastebuds fell in love with this dish. If you need more room to hold forth, add a page and change the layout in the upper left corner to History or Text Only.

4) Make introductions. Inquiring minds will want to know why you thought these recipes belonged in a book together. Are they all mainstays of your traditional holiday meal, cocktail snack recipes contributed by boozehound friends, or ways to cook a bitter melon, Iron Chef style? Add a page, change the layout to Introduction in the upper left, and explain the method behind your culinary madness.

5) Get professional help. No, not from a therapist – check out these free tips from Anneliese Doyle, author of The Mix and Match Menu Cookbook. For more ideas from industry insiders, check out (you guessed it) Blurb’s own How to Make a Book. And if you want to get a professional massage after you finish your cookbook, hey, that’s a perfectly legitimate part of the creative process. Or at least that’s what I try to tell my boss.

If unlike cold turkey, these cookbook tips leave you craving more, check out The Electronic Librarian to learn from a fellow Blurbarian who’s been there and done that. Got any cookbook tips of your own to share? Post them here for all to enjoy, potluck style.

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