In my introduction to The Restaurant Dieter, I forgot to mention that I had edited a healthy foods cookbook. It seemed so long ago, until I was looking for something and realized copies still were available on Amazon.com.
The HeartSmart Cookbook was a joint venture of the Detroit Free Press, my employer in the mid-1990s, and the Henry Ford Hospital Heart & Vascular Institute in Detroit. At the time, I edited the food section (along with some others). A weekly recurring feature in the food section was the HeartSmart recipe.
My collaborators in this affair were the woman who ran the program at the hospital and the certified home economist who ran the test kitchen at the Detroit Free Press. The latter was a goddess of domestic affairs; for one Thanksgiving, Jeanne crafted a dinner that could be turned out in two hours. She taught me almost everything I know about food, including and especially, the danger posed by raw eggs in a recipe. I think of her fondly and often when I’m cooking.
One of my chores for the newspaper was to edit the recipes in the Food section, which is not as easy as one might think. A mistake in a newspaper story is unfortunate, but a mistake in a recipe can be a disaster. The meatloaf recipe that called for a cup of milk, when it should have called for a tablespoon, still gives me nightmares.
“What am I supposed to do with this mixture?” the woman on the phone demanded of me.
“Add more breadcrumbs?” I offered hopefully.
And then there was that recipe that called for you to mash the potatoes and set them aside. What you were supposed to do with them later to complete the dish was never clear.
Of course, when you’re publishing a cookbook, the necessity for recipes to be accurate is all the more important. A correction cannot be issued in the newspaper the next day. So my job was to thoroughly check the recipes we’d planned to include plus edit the text.
It turned out rather well and racked up sales that any cookbook author today would crave. It helped that the book was offered for sale at the many speaking engagements undertaken by the Henry Ford Hospital Heart & Vascular Institute.
Still, it was nice to pull up Amazon and see 14 new for $6.50; 63 used from 1-cent; and one listed as “collectible” for $3.99.
And, of course, to read the lone user review, which says:
“I have loved this book and the dishes I’ve made from its recipes for years. The editors’ knowledge of food and flavor balance is apparent in every recipe I’ve tried. Some recipes do not excite me but eventually I may try them. Not every recipes is quick to prepare but I’ve always found that the results have been worth the time I’ve spent. I bought my first copy over 20 years ago, recently gave that to a friend and bought another copy for myself. I couldn’t be without it. Oh, yes, and the best part is that the food is healthy!”