Vegging Out

Do you participate in a CSA (community supported agriculture, or a farm share)? A few of us do, and we’re always thrilled to pick up our fresh-from-the-farm veggies. It’s pure incentive to eat healthy and create a delicious meal around the local ingredients provided. This week’s bounty includes, among other things, succulent sweet corn, brightly flavored onions and perfect little red bliss potatoes.

What to do with these seasonal treasures? Peter Davis’s gorgeous cookbook, Fresh & Honest: Food From the Farms of New England and the Kitchen of Henrietta’s Table, which we published in 2008, has inspiration. His Roasted Corn and Crab Chowder popped out as the immediate answer. Baking the corn in the husks will surely impart wonderful flavor, and substituting red bliss potatoes for his suggestion of new potatoes should do the trick. And how can you go wrong with fresh rock crab in the height of summer?

Here’s Chef Davis’s sensory delight of a dish:

Roasted Corn and Crab Chowder
Serves 8

Ingredients:

4 ears corn, unhusked
1/2 gallon chicken stock
2 strips bacon, diced
1/2 cup onion, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 medium-sized new potatoes, cut into bite-sized cubes
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 pound rock crabmeat
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Bake the corn in their husks for

40 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool.

Husk the corn and remove the kernels with a knife. Set aside.

Take 1/2 cup of the stock and bring to a boil in a saucepan. Add three-quarters of the corn kernels and cook on medium heat for 20 minutes. Puree the mixture in a blender or food processor.

In a large pot, sauté the bacon until lightly browned. Add the onion and celery and cook until transparent. Add the flour and cook over low heat for 20 minutes, stirring to keep from burning.

Gradually add the potatoes and remaining stock. Cover and cook until the potatoes are soft. Add the corn puree, reserved kernels, turmeric, and crabmeat.

Cook on medium heat for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

What are your favorite garden-fresh recipes? Please share!

Summer Reading

(image via ucsblibraries.wordpress.com)

We don’t know about you, but come summertime we’ll make any excuse to flee to the beaches of Cape Cod. If that’s where you’re headed, make it a point to stop into Books by the Sea in Osterville. The indie bookshop enthralls tried-and-true bibliophiles as well as those combing its cache for the perfect beach read. Located on the ever charming Main Street (there is also an outpost in South Yarmouth), the store is friendly and as big on community as it is on words. Not only is the staff well-versed on all titles, its owners are dedicated to showcasing local talent. This summer, they’ve planned a slew of readings, signings and lectures, giving patrons even more reason to come calling. We’ve had the good fortune of appearing at the store for a book signing—and were wowed by how the store encourages dialogue between author and reader. It’s a special shop to be sure, but don’t take our word for it, see for yourself. Books by the Sea’s happenings are posted on their Twitter feed: follow @BooksByTheSea or check them out at booksbythesea.net.

Riddle Me This

©Priscilla Hayes

©Priscilla Hayes

One of the most rewarding stages when making a children’s book is piecing together an edited manuscript with corresponding illustrations. There is a satisfaction—almost like completing a 2000-piece puzzle—that comes with matching text to images in different ways, all the while being mindful of page count.

That’s where we are currently with The Too Much Love Story, an exuberant “fable in paint” created by local artist Priscilla Hayes. This children’s book, set in a seaside town, pairs a heart-tugging tale about love and family with Hayes’ vividly rendered paintings. Hayes’ happy, rhythmic pictures have an instant appeal on the page, and are sure to inspire children and adults alike.

What compounds the thrill is when the author or illustrator, who, despite the fact that he or she knew they had the raw ingredients for a successful book, gets jazzed about how all of the pieces coalesce. It’s gratifying to see how their words and images take shape in book form, and rewarding for all sides to engage in the roundtable discussion that occurs throughout the process. For us, this creative dialogue between the creator and the creative team is what it’s all about. It’s how the very best book—for both the reader and the author—is achieved.

Cover Me

Ever wonder what goes into designing a book cover? Lauren, a designer at Orbit Books, left her video screen on capture for six hours while she worked on designing a book cover. The result is a fantastic, time-lapse video of the design process for that oh-so important marketing tool. The video is condensed down to just under two minutes and is set to music that makes you feel like you are watching a really cool/artsy commercial. If only cover construction went this fast. Take a look…

It’s Personal

A while back, we had the pleasure of producing Chef Peter Davis’s cookbook Fresh & Honest: Food from the Farms of New England and the Kitchen of Henrietta’s Table. Chef Davis, the lauded toque at The Charles Hotel’s beloved restaurant known for its sunny, homespun feel, knew long before it was de rigueur that sourcing farm-fresh ingredients for his New England-style fare created the most flavorful, wholesome dishes. From the restaurant’s inception in 1995, Henrietta’s Table championed sustainable, organic fare, and Davis forged close relationships with farmers, cheese makers, and fishermen peppered throughout New England. His patrons responded, returning regularly for a singular Sunday brunch, as well as for comfort food faves like Yankee Pot Roast, Maine Rock Crab Cakes, and Chocolate Bread Pudding with Rum Caramelized Bananas and Vanilla Ice Cream.

In Fresh & Honest, cowritten by Alexandra Hall, and with palette-whetting photography by Heath Robbins, Davis shares Henrietta’s Table’s most requested dishes with home chefs everywhere. With tantalizing recipes that run the gamut from breakfast to supper and dressings to drinks, the cookbook celebrates ultra fresh flavors, as well as the farmers and suppliers who produce them.

Clearly, Chef Davis was driven to share his message about the value of farm-to-table cooking with readers. But why did he choose to keep his hand in the project? We pulled the exceptionally busy chef out of his kitchen for a few minutes to share his thoughts on getting a book of your own published.

Three Bean Press: Why did you decide to custom publish your own cookbook?

Davis: I was looking to have control on the outcome and to allow for more of my personal touch and opinions in the book.

Three Bean Press: What was your favorite part of the process?

Davis: Getting together with the team, and working and brainstorming on what the best look and feel [for the cookbook] would be.

Three Bean Press: What tip would you give authors looking to self-publish?

Davis: Get help!

Three Bean Press: What is most gratifying about being a published cookbook author?

Davis: Having Fresh & Honest done. It took a lot of work, but the result is very rewarding. It’s something to be published.

“Something,” indeed. Fresh & Honest recently nabbed the New England Book Award for “Best Cookbook,” so we guess Davis isn’t the only one who thinks so.

What makes a good book cover?

When you go to a bookstore and you are not quite sure what you’re looking for, what makes you pick up a certain book? Is it the title or maybe the author? For me, it’s always the cover; I like to pick up several and admire them thoroughly before I even open the book.

What makes a good book cover? For starters, know who your reader is. Are you designing a science fiction book? If so, you want to make the book look similar to other science fiction books so the reader can easily identify it. However, you also want to make it unique—and compelling—enough so the reader picks up your book over the others. Not always an easy task!

A good book cover captures the story and gets the reader intrigued enough to want to open the book and read more. Many times I will pick up a book because I find the front cover design so fascinating that I have to know more: case in point, The Mayor’s Tongue by Nathaniel Rich. The cover is so striking and a complete throwback design-wise that I have to know what the story is about. A simple, to-the-point graphic always grabs my attention, like the black and white cover for Forgetting Things by Sigmund Freud. Whether you are drawn to it or away from it, chances are you will notice it!

A book cover should also be pleasing to the eye. Colors should complement each other and the information should be organized so the reader can easily see the title and the author’s name. The image should have some visual interest and not just be plopped in the middle of the page; off-center is almost always better. However, there are times when a designer will break all of the rules and it just works! A good example is the book, Milk: The Surprising Story of Milk Through the Ages, by Anne Mendelson. The colors are drab, the photo is straight up centered,  the fonts are a bit hard to read and your eye isn’t sure where to go first, yet this is a beautiful cover that works and no doubt grabs attention in a bookstore.

What makes you pick up a book?

5 Self-Publishing Myths Debunked

It’s an exciting time to be an author. The emergence of e-books, print-on-demand technology and the prevalence of self-publishing are radically changing the face of the publishing industry, and bringing new opportunities to writers. Though there’s no denying the success of J.K. Rowling types who have hit pay dirt going the traditional route, this is no longer the only way to roll. Given the new trends in the industry, we say it’s time to let go of the “old” way of thinking, and good-bye to some of self-publishing’s biggest misconceptions.

#1. Only writers without talent self-publish. First and foremost, traditional publishing is a business. If a given manuscript is considered risky, or the marketability of a given text is unclear—particularly by a first-time author—chances are a contract isn’t offered. It may sound jaded, but salability trumps content. Because contracts with traditional publishing houses are getting harder and harder to come by, many very talented authors aren’t waiting for a contract that may never come. The following authors have self-published at one point in their careers: Margaret Atwood, Deepak Chopra, Stephen King, James Joyce (Ulysses), Beatrix Potter (The Adventures of Peter Rabbit), Marcel Proust, Irma Rombauer (The Joy of Cooking), Mark Twain (Huckleberry Finn) and Walt Whitman. Darn good company, right?

#2. If I self-publish, I can kiss a contract from a traditional publishing house good-bye. Not true. Given the current climate, many literary agents are scouring self-publishing markets for bankable reads by authors who are generating book sales and making a name for themselves. Self-published authors can, in effect, test the waters and provide valuable market research for the New York firms, who can then swoop in and ink a deal.

#3. Booksellers won’t stock my book if a big-name publishing house doesn’t print it. Good reads can absolutely find a place on the shelves of booksellers and a presence on Internet storefronts, but, as with any worthwhile project, you have to be committed. If people are looking to buy a given book, stores will stock it. To do this, authors need to get the word out, create a buzz and then a demand for their book. They need to network, give readings and press interviews, contact retailers, and foster relationships with those who have contacts in the marketplace. If an author isn’t up for those challenges, they need to hire someone who is.

#4. Self-publishing is vain. We think self-publishing has gotten a bum rap. Writing and illustrating, like other art forms, are means of creative expression. Using a proper canvas or finding a complementary frame for a painting isn’t considered arrogant. Why is “framing” a story or packaging it in a way that it can best be enjoyed any different? We think sharing a good story is generous; it spreads joy. And what of the author who has a tale to tell that can help others? A current client of ours has a medical memoir meant to enlighten, if not inspire, others in a similar predicament. Conceited? More like honorable, we’d say.

#5. If I self-publish, I don’t have to be as concerned with quality. This is lunacy. If your book is meant for public consumption, it simply must be well edited and well designed. These days, you can slap a cover on anything, but PLEASE resist the urge to do so. Remember the company your book will keep. Shoddy looking, typo-riddled tomes don’t stand a chance next to impeccably honed narratives with deliberate designs. If you want your book to sell, it’s paramount to do this as well as the next guy, which is why at Three Bean Press all of our publishing packages include proofreading, editing, creative input and design.