Interview with Cookbook Writers Heather & Lucinda Wallace
Lucinda Wallace and her daughter Heather got together and decided to write a cookbook about one of their favorite subjects...Cookies. Lucinda has been baking since the age of 11 and Heather has been writing both regionally and nationally for over 20 years. What a team!
Their new cookbook is called 101 Easy Peasy Cookie Recipes Cookbook, and it is filled with "deliciously easy recipes" that are written for home cooks like myself who don't always understand all the jargon that goes with baking. I'm learning though.
Their new book has chapters including No-Bake Cookies, Roll-Out Cookies, Shaped Cookies, Drop Cookies, and Bar Cookies. They have sent me one of their favorites, Colossal Double Chocolate White Chip Cookies, which you can find on my blog.
Interview with Heather and Lucinda Wallace
Let's start out with how did you decide to write a cookbook about making cookies?
Lucinda: Writing 101 Easy Peasy Cookie Recipes seemed like a perfect way to combine our two interests; baking and writing.
I read you were very successful with a recipe newsletter but how different is it to write a cookbook from writing a weekly newsletter?
Heather: Writing a cookbook is a much more enjoyable experience because you don't have a weekly deadline.
I have to ask. Where did you come up with the title 101 Easy Peasy Cookie Recipes, and is there a story behind it?
Heather: I wanted readers to know that these recipes were simple and fun. I think that easy peasy perfectly sums up that message.
Many visitors to the Reluctant Gourmet website write and ask for advice on writing their own cookbooks so what advice would you give them?
Heather: When writing a cookbook, your first objective should be to have fun. If you enjoy the creation process, your readers will enjoy the end result equally.
How did you decide which recipes to include? Was there a specific criteria or was it based on your own personal favorites?
Lucinda: The recipes had to be simply delicious and deliciously simple.
101 Easy Peasy Cookie Recipes is broken down by different types of cookies. You have your Bar Cookies, Drop Cookies, No Bake Cookies, Rolled Cookies and Shaped Cookies. For those of us who may not be familiar with some of those terms, can you give us a brief description of what they are and how they are different from each other.
Heather: Bar cookies are made by pouring or pressing batter or other ingredients into a baking pan. After baking, the cookies are typically cut into squares or rectangles. Drop cookies generally require a soft dough that is measured by spoonfuls and then dropped onto a baking sheet. No-bakes are the easiest cookies of all. Mix the ingredients, then drop them with spoonfuls or press them into a pan.
Lucinda: Rolled cookies use a stiffer dough or a dough that has been chilled. The dough is then rolled out to the required thickness and cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Shaped cookies are also made from a stiffer dough or a dough that has been chilled. The dough is hand-shaped before baking.
It looks like you self-published 101 Easy Peasy Cookie Recipes. What is it like to not only write a cookbook but then publish and market it yourselves?
Heather: Writing, publishing, and marketing your own cookbook is certainly more labor intensive. You have to wear many more hats.
Lucinda: Yes, it's a lot of work but also very fulfilling.
Do you have any advice for all of us wannabe writers who would like to publish a cookbook someday?
Lucinda: Choose an area of cooking that you enjoy so that you can have fun along the way.
Heather: Do your research and go into the project with a plan.
I would like to know now that it is done, is there anything you would do differently?
Lucinda: No, we are both very pleased with this project.
Let's get back to what this book is all about...making cookies.
Besides purchasing this cookbook, what would you say to a home cook to help them get over their fear of baking?
Lucinda: To make an omelet, you must break a few eggs. The same applies to cookies. So, get in the kitchen and get cracking.
From your own personal experiences, what 3 - 4 cooking mistakes do you see home cooks make when baking cookies and what can they do to stop making those mistakes?
Heather: Never place dough onto a warm baking sheet. Doing so will cause the dough to melt and spread before it has even had a chance to begin baking.
Lucinda: Spreads should never be used as a substitute for butter or margarine. Your cookies will flatten and the results will be disastrous.
Heather: Always preheat the oven. If you fail to follow this step then the oven won't be hot enough for the first couple of batches, which means that the dough won't rise properly.
If you could give a home cook just 3 valuable pieces of advice when it comes to baking cookies or baking anything for that matter, what would they be?
Lucinda: If you don't like nuts or must omit them, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of flour to avoid flat chocolate chip cookies.
Heather: Before rolling out cookie dough, sprinkle your board with powdered sugar rather than flour. Using flour will alter the consistency of the dough and cause it to become too heavy.
Lucinda: To ensure evenly browned cookies, use a good quality baking sheet that is shiny and at least two inches narrower and shorter than your oven rack.
What are your 5 favorite cookbooks and why?
Lucinda: As a bridal shower gift, my mother presented me with a cookbook that she had handwritten. It contained all of my favorites that she had prepared for me as a child. That will always be at the top of my list.
I have a 1972 edition of Betty Crocker's cookbook that I found invaluable.
My mother passed down Mary Margaret McBride's Encyclopedia of Cooking. It's just volume after volume of great recipes.
I also have a 1959 edition of Pillsbury's Best 1000 Recipes, Best of the Bake-Off Collection that I absolutely love. As you can see, I'm into vintage cookbooks.
Last but not least, I would like to round out my top 5 with 101 Easy Peasy Cookie Recipes. It contains all of my favorite cookie recipes and writing it with Heather gives this book sentimental value as well.
If you were helping outfit a new kitchen just for baking and making cookies, what basic pieces of equipment would you recommend they purchase: (not brands but what pieces and sizes)
Lucinda: Just off the top of my head, some essential items for the beginning baker would include assorted sizes of measuring spoons and measuring cups, spoons for mixing, a hand-held electric mixer, a wire whisk, spatulas, a pancake turner, a rolling pin, a grater, a kitchen timer, mixing bowls, oven mitts and pot holders, cooling racks, an
apron, an assortment of baking pans, and preferably two to three baking sheets.
What is your signature cookie recipe and can you share it with us?
Heather: I would have to say that my favorite recipe in the book is Oranges and Cream Cookies. The taste of these cookies instantly transports me back to my childhood when I would crowd around the ice cream truck with my friends waiting to buy a Creamsicle.
Lucinda: My favorite is Colossal Double Chocolate White Chip Cookies. I like them best still warm from the oven with a glass of ice cold milk. These chewy chocolaty cookies are such a favorite at our house that both Heather and I wanted to share the recipe with your readers.
Thank you Heather & Lucinda
You can find their recipes for Colossal Double Chocolate White Chip Cookies on my blog.