WMBTSG: Day One (Make comments to this post to participate)

Welcome to day one of the annual Writer Mama Back-to-School Giveaway. One lucky winner will walk away with these three (3) items:

Chicken a la King & the Buffalo Wing by Steven Gilbar
Hungry for a little culinary trivia? We all know that the sandwich and eggs Benedict are named after people and that Dover sole and Irish stew are named after places. But how about the Granny Smith apple or the Bing cherry, the Bermuda onion or Anaheim chile?

In Chicken à la King & the Buffalo Wing, you’ll find bite-sized entertaining histories of how certain foods and beverages came to be named after people or places—complemented by more than forty-five scrumptious pull-out recipes. This fun and informative reference “menu” is perfect for foodies and language lovers alike. Bon appetit!

  • Features more than 300 food names and their origins.
  • Includes 50 recipes from world culinary history.

Chicken a la King and the Buffalo Wing
Food Names and the People and Place that Inspire Them
by Steven Gilbar
Writer’s Digest Books, 2008
ISBN 978-1-58297-525-2
$16.99 hardcover, 192 pages

Author Bio
Steven Gilbar is the author of several references and anthologies, including Reading in Bed: Personal Essays on the Glories of Reading, Bibliotopia, Published & Perished: Memoria, Eulogies, and Remembrances of American Writers, and Natural State: A Literary Anthology of California Nature Writing. He lives in Santa Barbara. View examples from the book at writersdigest.com.


Fix, Freeze, Feast cookbook by Kati Neville & Lindsay Tkacsik

Millions of shoppers save money buying groceries in bulk — trays of boneless chicken breasts, pairs of flank steaks, and flats of ripe tomatoes. But savings can quickly become losses if those bulk quantities spoil in the refrigerator or lie forgotten — unlabeled and unrecognizable under layers of ice crystals — in the back of the freezer.

Kati Neville and Lindsay Tkacsik have built businesses teaching home cooks how to take advantage of bulk savings by shopping wisely; converting food purchases into delicious, healthful family dinners; and labeling and storing the meals for easy access on busy days. They share all their best recipes and organizational wisdom in Fix, Freeze, Feast, a cookbook every price-conscious shopper will love, and warehouse club members shouldn’t be without. With their help, home cooks will have freezers stocked with easy-to-prepare entrées, ready to be defrosted and cooked for weeknight family dinners. Imagine the comfort of knowing a homecooked meal is always available.

Each recipe includes instructions for dividing, preparing, and storing the raw ingredients, and a second set of simple directions for thawing, cooking, and enjoying the food. Designed for the way people cook today, Fix, Freeze, Feast meals are lighter and fresher than traditional bulk-cooking recipes, with a focus on simple stews and stir-fries, quick grilled or broiled main courses, and popular ethnic meals such as Beef Fajitas and Cashew Chicken Stir-fry.

Add to the entrées ready-to-bake cookie doughs, warming soups and side dishes, fruit smoothies, and portable kids’ snacks, and those warehouse club shopping trips begin tolook more valuable than ever. This is a system that saves time, saves money, and saves families from the empty calories of takeout food. Make room in the freezer for next week’s dinner.

Author Bios:

When Kati Neville went back to work after the birth of her first child, she learned to put home-cooked meals on the table every night by filling her freezer with make-ahead dinners. In 2002, she created Make and Take LLC, the first meal preparation service in the Portland, Oregon, metropolitan area.

Lindsay Tkacsik has always loved cooking with a wide range of foods and flavors. She brings her enthusiasm for bold tastes to both her meal preparation business, Mealtime Solutions, and her cookbook writing. Lindsay lives with her husband and three daughters in Washington. More at their website.


Writer Mama BBQ Apron from Writer Mama Stuff at Café Press

Original Writer Mama cover art by Claudean Wheeler, modified by Burton Haun.

Today’s question: Have you ever incorporated food into your writing? Is food something you write about for publication, for pleasure, or about in your journal? Have you ever longed to write a cook book or be a restaurant reviewer? 50-200 words on how food comes into “play” in your writing to enter today’s giveaway drawing.

If you are new…don’t take my questions too literally. Just write 50-200 words on the above topic and see what comes out!

If this is your first post in the giveaway, please read “Da Rules.”

You can comment until midnight PST each day.


28 Responses to “WMBTSG: Day One (Make comments to this post to participate)”

  1. 1 gautami tripathy September 1, 2008 at 4:07 am

    Being an Indian, I am very fond of spicy food. As a poet, yes I write a lot of poetry, I have written about food in a few poems. In fat some time ago I wrote something about Indian Kitchen on my blog.

    Although I don’t cook that much, however I like to read cookbooks. I buy those! I never thought of writing one as I am scared by the sheer varity of spices used in Inian cooking. We also make use of a lot of chillies!

    God, you made me go on!

    Now please do count me in!


  2. 2 Meryl K. Evans September 1, 2008 at 5:25 am

    I’ve used food as an analogy in my non-fiction writing to make the article more interesting. So many wonderful cookbooks already exist and I’m no original cook. I follow everyone’s recipe. My cooking strength comes in the ingredients I use in the recipes.

    While I enjoy luxurious restaurants and reading the food section of the newspaper, I have no desire to become a food critic or write about food. I think it’d be too dangerous for my already unhappy waistline.

  3. 3 Renee September 1, 2008 at 5:47 am

    My very first successful query was centered around making sure parents had their fridges and freezers stocked with adequate meals before bringing home baby. How many of us relied on the kindness of friends and family and way too much take-out during the first few weeks of our babies’ lives? The idea was a hit, and one I repackaged and sold at least three other times after that.

    Since then, the topic of food has definitely come up in my writing — I even wrote a weekly restaurant review for my local newspaper for about a year. That job led to me writing monthly kid-friendly restaurant reviews for our regional parenting magazine. Writing about food and restaurants is a great thing to have on a writer’s resume!

  4. 4 Amber September 1, 2008 at 6:32 am

    Woe to my characters if I should be hungry when I write. While writing my first novel it became apparent that my characters would embark on a culinary feast complete with descriptions from all the senses if I were hungry. Unless I’m writing a food scene, the writing rule is that I should have a full belly.

    At some point I think I’ll have a food critic character so I can live vicariously through him or her for a little while. I am on a strict low fiber diet so my character would be able to eat the things I used to and would love to eat again. The downside is that in my 30s I’m much more open to trying new foods than I was in my teens or 20s. I suppose I’ll have to feed hubby and have him tell me what things taste like. hehe

  5. 5 Amie H September 1, 2008 at 6:50 am

    I love writers like Ruth Reichl http://www.ruthreichl.com/ who bring out all the flavours of life. I appreciate how thinking about food in a story reminds me to incorporate all the senses and that the best writing makes us feel like we are present in the experience.

    I haven’t written about food, but I do keep a diary of sorts in my cookbooks (something I learned from my mother). Next to the recipe I write the date and place and occasion, a review of the recipe and any special memories. So I can look back and see that I was craving pancakes when I was pregnant with my son or remember that french toast was the first breakfast I served as a newlywed. I’d like to work on an article about food someday and my cookbook journals are a great place to start.

  6. 6 rowena September 1, 2008 at 7:18 am

    Ahh, food. I used to work in the restaurant industry in NYC, and I learned so much about food by watching the chefs, cooks, etc. I used to do all sorts of experimenting with food and it was almost like a new art for me. Now I’m a stay at home mom who worries more about whether or not my preschooler will finally reject chicken nuggets, the last food, it seems that is on his list of acceptable eatings. I wanted to write about food and cooking in my blog, but I got too distracted with the actual cooking I had to do… and discouraged by the cooking that I was unable to do. 😦

  7. 7 anniegirl1138 September 1, 2008 at 7:43 am

    As someone who suffers from food allergies, I find food challenging in a frustrating way. My life, and that of my family, sometimes have to revolve entirely around what I can or cannot eat. Consequently we eat in – even when we are traveling. The joy that is culinary exploration is not one we can indulge in now.

    I feel guilty. My issues keep us from trying new places or using meat in recipes. Many spices are off limits which means food is often bland. The recipe rotation is quite limited and grows stale quickly.

    I find myself in grocery checkout’s thinking that the this or that women’s magazine looks like it has some great recipes before remembering that they are probably not adaptable. I would love to find that chef or cook who creates a recipe from the mindset that all recipes should have degrees of variation – like a yoga pose.

    When I write about food, I feel almost as sad as when I am writing about grief or loss because in a way, I have lost something.

  8. 8 Heather September 1, 2008 at 8:25 am

    I’m jealous of people who love to cook. When I watch a TV cooking show, and see the passion these people have for their craft, I’m positively green. Why? Because I do not like cooking, but with a family of six, I have to cook all the time! If I could get as absorbed in a recipe as I do in writing a story, or stitching together a quilt pattern, the four ‘o clock, “What’s for dinner?” wouldn’t be such a dreaded thing.

    So obviously, I haven’t considered writing a cookbook. The closest I’ve come was a parenting article titled, “Eat Your Veggies… Please?” On that end, I’m an expert. The food writing I really need to do is a weekly meal plan for my family, and after 22 years of marriage, you’d think I’d have that down. Nope.

    But I can certainly be inspired by a good magazine article or how-to book (such as Fix, Freeze, Feast) that can make my most-dreaded job an easier one. God bless the food writers!

    And thank you, Christina, for bringing back the Giveaway. I’ve really been looking forward to it. ;o)

  9. 9 Alyce September 1, 2008 at 9:50 am

    All of the writing that I have done so far has been just for me. I have experimented with writing short stories that are true or historical fiction, and I have also dabbled in science fiction. Thinking back over those stories I can’t remember ever focusing on food in order to enhance a storyline. I will have to incorporate that into my writing more often.

    I have journaled about food before, especially when writing about family traditions. Most of my family traditions seem to be centered around food. Knowing that certain smells and tastes can evoke strong memories, it makes sense to me to record the food that we ate along with the events that happened on those holidays.

    One in particular that comes to mind is a five-bean soup that my great-aunt always made for family reunions. I have never eaten that dish anywhere else, and so have a very strong memory connection between the two.

  10. 10 Laurie Thompson September 1, 2008 at 10:14 am

    I have a friend whose son is a “super-taster.” He can tell if milk came out of a plastic jug or a paper one, and often even which dairy it came from. He will only eat certain brands of a few foods. I suspect my husband has a bit of that. He can take a bite of something new and analyze every ingredient in it, right down to the spices and seasonings.

    I’m an anti-taster. I can’t tell the difference between the most obvious ingredients. I envy those who can enjoy cooking—and eating—since it’s a basic function of life. But I am not one of them. Fortunately, my husband is, and he saves me from living on cold cereal and EasyMac (usually).

    Food rarely finds its way into my writing. When thinking about incorporating the five senses into a piece, taste is the one that always leaves me drawing a blank. How can you describe something that you can’t discern? Perhaps someday I’ll find a book or a class that will help me train my palate. Until then, writing about food leaves a sour taste in my mouth.

  11. 11 Abbey September 1, 2008 at 10:28 am

    Although I love to cook and eat, I’ve never thought of combining food and writing — other than making sure I always have my favorite snacks on hand when I’m on deadline!

    My favorite magazines are food-related, so maybe I should start tapping into this market — it might be a natural fit!

  12. 12 nathalie September 1, 2008 at 11:42 am

    I keep a “Kitchen Journal” on my blog to keep track of some of my mishaps and adventures in cooking. Most of the time I feel like Amelia Bedelia in the kitchen but I still feel compelled to share my stories. As far as professional writing about food, my first magazine article was a write up about a new restaurant for NW Palate. Very exciting even thought the cost of the meal far exceeded my pay; the experience was priceless. I am exploring the idea of becoming a vegetarian in my personal life but am not quite ready to take the leap. Enter Samantha Sincere – one of my characters, a vegan who moves to a rural town where she ends up hitting it off with the local butcher despite his time on the killing floor.

  13. 13 elizaj September 1, 2008 at 11:49 am

    Being an eater much more than a cooker, I have not considered writing a cookbook. I have spent hours reading them though – Martha Shulman is a favorite, and “Food that Really Schmecks.” (great title)

    Being a restaurant reviewer is out of the question. I can see myself raiding the place at midnight for just “one more bite” of something scrumptious tasted earlier that day.
    I don’t think so.

    All the restaurant reviewers I’ve seen are thin, too. What’s up with that?

    As a reader, I am always disappointed when the author skips over the menu “they had supper and then … ” I want to know what they *had* for supper! In detail!

    I purposely made my friend drool in an email I recently sent her.

    “So this is us today … my kids and me. The best company!

    On the menu,
    Just picked from the garden

    Sun warmed raspberries swimming in cream

    Ripe tomatoes
    Zucchini- stir fried with onion and thyme
    Green Beans padded with melting butter
    New Potatoes – peppered, salted and yes, buttered too

    Grilled Steak – the very finest cut.


    Sailing and Beach volleyball Olympics on the tube, with balmy
    breezes blowing through the windows of our living room.

    This is it. I’m in love.”

  14. 14 cookerycontent September 1, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    Quiche la poodle! Christina, you’re serving up the giveaway with just the right pinch. I’m still blogging over at Cookery Content-Life’s Ingredients, and food-writing for pleasure and publication. Food started working its way in to my writing after I transitioned to the arts beat. It’s all connected. Sometimes it works, just like my recipes, and sometimes, I delete the leftovers. — Mary Ann Ebner

  15. 15 Laura September 1, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    Food seems to be an integral part of my life. I am always planning menus, trying recipes, making grocery lists. Even though it’s just my daughter Cat & I here now, I still make the bi-monthly menus. I just got into the habit back when my twin sons, and all of their friends, were here. I just love to cook & bake. I enjoy the whole process, from preparation to sitting down to eat together. The most fun comes when Cat & I cook together, especially if we’re just making something up.

    Having raised three kids on an extremely tight budget, I learned to cook very frugally. Some of our family standard recipes have come from finding myself trying to make dinner out of what I had on hand. I have considered writing a cookbook someday, on frugal cooking. I’d want to include not only my best recipes, but also the method, of how to make a dinner out of ingredients on hand, and how to extend a previously prepared meal to encompass extra guests. For now, I’ve published our family favorites in my church’s cookbook.

  16. 16 lilynick September 1, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    I love food. Cooking it, eating it, and reading about it. When it comes to writing about food, I have only written about it in my journal. Years of entries noting what I ate, didn’t eat, and wanted to eat. How boring is that? Step one of the international rules of dieting: Write down what you eat. Truthfully, writing it all down did not make me a better dieter, only one that felt guilty. It also gave me plenty of opportunity to review past indiscretions, and feel bad again.

    Happily, that’s all over with. When I write about food in the future, it will be with the same delight that I hear in Paula Deen’s voice when she’s cooking. Yup, food porn. Luxurious, yellow butter melting slowly over the top of a warm cinnamon roll that has soft icing on top, just waiting for a fork to plunge in. . . Mmmmmm. Wonder what’s in the fridge?

  17. 17 Barbara Belland September 1, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    I don’t want to write about the food per se, but what the smell, taste, feel and colors evoke in my memory bank. I want to write about the dinner I served at least once a week when my children were young, that my husband later referred to as “our poor meal.” Creamed tuna over toast, and on the poorer days, made without eggs. Tuna, the cheapest I could find that reminded me of cat food when I opened the small cans, frozen green peas, and hard boiled eggs were the main ingredients. I made it the same way my mother had, and I supposed, her mother before her. Now, not always needing a poor meal, but perhaps just wanting one, I’ll prepare it again for my son and, upon seeing it, he simply remarks, “That’s my Mama.” His smile over this simple food, is priceless.

  18. 18 alirambles September 1, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    Food is definitely a big part of my life and makes an appearance in all my fiction–characters cooking together, eating together, etc. And yes, I’ve secretely always wanted to be a restaurant reviewer! And reading cookbooks is one of my light-reading things I do when my brain is too tired to focus on much else. I could never write a cookbook, though. I enjoy cooking but I’m not methodical enough about it to actually perfect recipes enough to publish them!

  19. 19 Janel September 1, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    I love many aspects of food including eating it, cooking it, reading about it, but I have never written about it. I design and write patterns that are published in beadwork magazines.

    In the fifth grade I decided I wanted to become an author. When I became an adult that dream was revised to being a published author. Except now that I’ve had over a dozen articles published I have again revised that dream to published fiction author or even more ideally a culinary mystery author. I have been reading that genre for many years and I have quite a collection of those books on my shelves, along with way too many cookbooks. Lately there have been a few characters and a setting floating around and developing in my mind, so hopefully I’ll take the plunge and start writing soon!

  20. 20 Celestial Goldfish September 1, 2008 at 5:55 pm

    Oh yes, I incorporate food into my writing. My first decent fiction manuscript featured a protagonist who worked in her parents’ restaurant. The place served “home-style victuals” so I had a great deal of fun playing with the setting in my mind and creating the dishes they would serve there. When I took part in a Writer’s Digest Online workshop and the class critiqued my opening chapters, I added in their suggestions for tasty dinners they’d like to eat there. It enabled me to pay them a small tribute for their help.

    I’ve played with the idea of posting recipes on my writing blog. Cooking – baking especially – are a big hobby of mine, and I love sharing good food. That prevents me from eating it all myself!

  21. 21 Elizabeth M. September 1, 2008 at 6:00 pm

    I enjoy writing about our experiences with food when we travel because we like trying new restaurants and taking the opportunity to try new things. I like to talk about the atmosphere, the colors, the sounds, and of course the flavors and appearance of the dishes we try. It’s fun to try the native dishes of the area and we almost always try the specialties of the restaurants because that just makes sense.

  22. 22 Mary Jo C. September 1, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    Ooo, I LOVE food!!! Eating it, cooking it, smelling it and even writing about it. (In fact, these posts are making me hungry!)

    I have found a few favorite flavors waft over to my journaling, be it guilty pleasures or healthy fare.

    The novel I’m writing has a character with exotic tastes and rich culture with foods that are unique and tempting. I’ve researched foods from her region, the foods for certain occasions or traditions, along with recipes. I plan to actually cook up a few. How else will I know what fried plantains taste and smell like??

    Mangia! Mangia!!
    ~Mary Jo

  23. 23 Rosemary Lombard September 1, 2008 at 8:36 pm

    Sometimes a bite of food finds its way off my fork into my writing. Why? Food so often triggers memory—by association, to be sure, but also because it encompasses so many, perhaps all, of the senses. Inhale the aroma, feel the drip off your chin, listen to its crunch . . .

    A passage from my watermelon story illustrates the place of multiple sensory details in food as they play into the vagueness of episodic memories–those of repeated sensations or events—and how they feed nostalgia.

    . . . . We each took another piece, and the only sound was that gentle crunch held reverberating privately in our mouths. She raised her fork for another, but paused.
    “When was the last time you had watermelon?”
    I didn’t reply for a long time. I just sat there, trying to let the cool familiar sweetness trigger a replay, but it was coming hard.
    The last time I had watermelon, I thought, blurred into the next to last time I had watermelon and back and back until the reds and greens, spherical, elongated, faded into a misty collage of shapes and color, dripping chins, and smiling faces. . . .

  24. 24 Katrina September 1, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    In the process of writing the story of my great uncle’s tour of duty as a WWII B17 bomber pilot, I wrote of his first meal when he returned to the States. The main idea of the section was actually his recognition of combat fatigue, but it was fascinating to explore how he might have experienced this first meal after 11 months of a lot of powdered eggs and bad coffee. What did the diner smell like when he first entered? What did his meal (his favorite: hamburger) look like when first set in front of him? How did that first bite taste? It became a far more illuminating piece with these sensory details included.

  25. 25 KristyG September 1, 2008 at 9:01 pm

    Watching “My Best Friend’s Wedding”, a movie that came out a number of years ago, was the first time I thought about being a food critic. Julia Roberts’ character was a far cry from the stodgy older gentleman that reviewed our local restaurants. Of course, she made the career choice attractive and charming, but I no longer had a stereotype of the restaurant critic stuck in my mind. While I haven’t followed that path, it still crosses my mind once in a while. Food and writing: what a wonderful combination.

  26. 26 Jenna Bayley-Burke September 1, 2008 at 9:09 pm

    When you write romance novels, food is a key element. At least for me. In my first it was all about chocolate truffles, and having a man make you waffles. (sigh) The second featured a caterer, so I got to play with exotic fruit. What people eat and how they look at food can show so much about them, it’s a great characterisation tool. And it can be quite sensual…

  27. 27 Joelle Jensen September 1, 2008 at 9:20 pm

    I don’t write much about food, although I think about it a lot! Food, that is. I have thought about writing down recipes and dream of a cookbook occasionally, but I’m not really a food writer. I’m not really a fiction writer, either. I do envy those who can describe food so well that I get hungry.

  1. 1 WMBTSG Drawing Number One: And the winner is… « The Writer Mama Riffs Trackback on September 2, 2008 at 4:41 pm
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