Producing Cookbooks: The Old-Fashioned Way

When my husband and I decided to start manufacturing our Handy Aid Cookbooks we realized quickly that the most cost-efficient way to do so was to do them ourselves. I did all the recipe developing and writing in my apartment. But the books had to be printed on huge sheets of plastic-coated stock and then cut into 3×5 inch sized cards. We found a suitable printing operation in the neighborhood that could print each job for us. But the cards had to be placed on a large collating table in numbered order for each book to be hand-assembled for later punching and binding. The printer very generously offered to let us use some empty space in the back of his plant for our little operation. This was ALL in the price of the printing and cutting since he wouldn’t agree to our suggestion that we RENT this space.

The title page from The Chef’s Tour, with a photograph of Dick and me in a mock passport. Published in 1952.

Throughout our early days I had the good fortune to meet particularly kind-hearted father figures who admired my entrepreneurship and really wanted me to succeed. We hired our first employee to help with the collating. We went round and round the table that Dick found to gather the pages for the first book. Once they were gathered we had a hand- and foot-operated punching machine to punch these cards appropriately for the insertion of the plastic binder to hold the pages together. I learned to operate it. In retrospect I cannot imagine how the operation worked so well. I was still managing the days alone as my husband had his day job, but he did his share in the evenings after work. Orders were starting to come in fast and furiously and I felt sometimes like Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times trying to keep up when I thought I had reached my exhaustion point. Dick would urge us to complete another batch, promising a pizza afterwards from our local pizzeria, UN on west 23rd Street.

Remembering those early days and jumping around from restaurant to restaurant to sample, taste, and adapt our experience into my own recipes, I landed at this week’s recipe share: Frogs Legs Provencal. Get creative using this recipe as a jumping off place of your own, and let me know what you think.

—Chiers

The Cookbook: The Chef’s Tour, A Visit into Foreign Kitchens

SHARED RECIPE: Frogs Legs Provencal

page 51 from The Chef's Tour

Click this card for the Shared Recipe post

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