I’m Writing a Cookbook

I’ve been writing Herbivoracious for just over three years now. What started as a whim (and with the bravado of the utterly naive) has become a labor of love and a way to share my passion for great vegetarian food. It has allowed me to learn more about writing and photography, improve my cooking, and get to know incredible food people all over the world.

I’m so grateful for my readers. You have encouraged, critiqued, and supported me, and helped the site grow by sharing it with your friends.

Many times you have asked me, in comments and conversation, “when are you writing a cookbook?” The honest answer is that I had started one, over a decade ago, but I lacked the vision and commitment to make it happen. Now I’m ready, and when the good folks at Harvard Common Press reached out to me this summer, I knew the time was ripe to bring this project to fruition.

The book will come out in the fall spring of 2012. I’ve already started writing, testing and photographing the recipes, and I’ll be working hard at that until next summer. At that point, we’ll go in to editing and production mode, putting on all the final touches. Some of the recipes will be the very best and most popular ones I’ve published on the site, freshly edited and improved, and others will be brand new, never before seen.

But what was that about prizes?

Many of you know that my day job is software engineering. I’m one of the programmers for Adobe After Effects. (If you haven’t heard of it, we describe it as Photoshop for video and film). Before we ship a new release of our application, we have hundreds of passionate beta testers who work it over from every angle, making sure it works beautifully and spotting all those nasty little bugs.

I love this process because of the interaction with our customers, and because no two people use After Effects the same way. I think the same is true of recipes. People don’t have the same stoves, the same skillets or spatulas, and certainly not the same tomatoes or salt or herbs. They don’t whisk the same way, or have the same idea of when a fritter is golden brown.

So I thought, why not beta test the recipes? I test them hard, and I know they work for me, but I want to make sure they are rock solid for you before they get committed to the printed page.

Harvard Common Press is excited about this “public beta” as well, so they’ve agreed to give away one book a week from their catalog as a prize. Here’s how it works. Send me a note (right now!beta testing is over) at michael [at] herbivoracious.com saying that you’d like to test a recipe. Let me know if you have any specific food preferences, allergies or dislikes and I’ll choose one that is a good fit. You test it and give me your feedback on a simple survey form.

The names of everyone that tests a recipe in a given week goes in a hat, and the winner gets to choose their own prize from the Harvard Common Press cookbook catalog. We’ll do this for at least 10 weeks, and probably more as long as you guys are interested!

I’m incredibly excited about this cookbook, and the opportunity to create it with the feedback of everyone that has helped me build Herbivoracious is the icing on the cake! I hope you’ll join me, and I’ll keep you updated as the project progresses.

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Posted by Michael Natkin on Monday, October 18th, 2010 in Cookbook Project, Miscellany.

15 Responses to “I’m Writing a Cookbook”

  1. Reply
    October 18, 2010 at 8:45 am #

    Wow, a cookbook! How exciting! Congrats! (And that’s three !!! in one short comment! 😉 )

  2. Reply
    October 18, 2010 at 10:49 am #

    Congratulations on getting your cookbook off the ground!
    I would love to help test a recipe. We are gluten free and vegetarian at our house.

  3. Reply
    October 18, 2010 at 11:28 am #

    I’d be interested in testing vegan recipes. (as long as they don’t involve fennel!)

  4. Reply
    October 18, 2010 at 11:47 am #

    Great news, so maybe you could visit me sometimes here link to alessandrazecchini.blogspot.com, I am writing a series of posts about getting your cookbook published and all the process.. leave a comment please, readers will appreciate it and they may want to find out more about your book too!



  5. Reply
    October 18, 2010 at 3:58 pm #

    Wow congrats on the cookbook deal! I can’t wait. Unfortunately, I think I have too much going on to help test, but I’ll be envious of those who do and get to try out your delicious recipes early 8).

  6. Reply
    October 18, 2010 at 9:41 pm #

    Yay !! I’m totally in for beta-testing !! One email coming right up !

  7. Reply
    October 18, 2010 at 9:56 pm #

    What a fabulous idea of “beta testing” your cookbook recipes! Fun for you and the testers!
    Good luck!!!

  8. Reply
    October 19, 2010 at 5:54 am #

    Very cool! We are in for testing a recipe, of course. Just sent you mail.

  9. Reply
    October 19, 2010 at 10:19 am #

    great news. It’s wonderful that you’ll have herbivoracious in print form. As for the recipe testing, I’m in

  10. Reply
    October 19, 2010 at 11:18 am #

    interesting fact!!! I’m a mechanical engineer by day…so apparently we both ride the geek train. I would love to test a recipe. I will send you an email. Congrats and way to follow your dreams while still hanging onto a paycheck!

  11. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    October 21, 2010 at 8:47 am #

    I've been reading your series on cookbook publishing! Great info. Definitely any readers who are thinking of writing one should check Alessandra out.

  12. Reply
    DeAnna Adkins
    October 25, 2010 at 8:01 am #

    Congratulations on the cookbook deal. It sounds like it should be a blast. My husband and I would love to test out one of your recipes. We are vegan but do eat sea food, minus scallops. I cannot wait to try out another one of your great dishes.

  13. Reply
    November 8, 2010 at 3:49 pm #

    Congratulations on the publishing of your upcoming cookbook. I am new to your site, but would be love to beta test one of your recipes. My husband and I try to eat healthy and my husband has high cholesterol so I would appreciate testing something that you think would work for him. We are adventurous eaters and look forward to taking part in this. Thanks for the opportunity.

  14. Reply
    November 3, 2011 at 8:37 am #

    I have been following your blog for many years. I still remember that special dinner years ago. You are amazing and to think you do it all with a family and a job. Michael, I am so happy for you and can’t wait to see the book.

  15. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    November 3, 2011 at 9:05 am #

    Thanks, Keren! Your help at several key points along the way has been a big part of making this all happen.

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