Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Thousand Words

Well, I'm to the point now that I have to start looking for illustrations. The reader reviewers said the book must have illustrations, and I agree. They suggested photos from the period. That's tricky because photography had only just been invented, and wasn't common in the West. Of course we're very familiar with the Matthew Brady photos of the Civil War. But out west, we were only taking pictures of architecture and groups of important men. A lot of portraits but not many pictures of food. I suppose there are DUP photos of many of the women whose recipes will be featured. Here's one of Patty Sessions:

And here's my other hero, Emily Barnes, who wrote very explicitly about her food:

I found one photo at the Utah State Historical Society of people sitting on a lawn eating watermelon. The one you see here isn't that one, but it is similar, from a later date.

Here's one I call "Portrait with sauerkraut." Its not from a Mormon pioneer source. There just aren't that many good food photos from the period. Can I still use non-Mormon photos?

Then there's this lovely image of an itenerant cider-making operation. The details are exquisite.

I'm also thinking that perhaps we should go with some line drawings in the absence of photographs. I have a box of crayons and some printer paper. Do you think I can muster the skills? Or should it be farmed out to a professional?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

How Strange...

Well, I've started into making a few revisions on the manuscript, as requested. As I went about it I thought, "Ya know, I should talk to some sort of Dutch oven enthusiast for a modern perspective about why people do Dutch oven cooking today..."

So I got online and started surfing around and came up with a name and phone number of someone who seemed to be in the thick of that scene. He graciously consented to a telephone interview. Over the course of nearly an hour he told me about the organizational structure of the International Dutch Oven Society, and the best way to clean your Dutch oven. Yup.

When I asked about Dutch oven traditions from his parents, he said there were none. Nope. He only picked it up a few years ago just for fun. The feeling I got was that it was a very contemporary hobby for a lot of people, having absolutely nothing to do with history whatsoever. Instead it is an alternative to grilling with propane.

How very strange it seems to me...

So I went back to revising the preface and first chapter. It turns out they were both jumbled together and the chronology was all messed up.

It doesn't make a very interesting story, does it? I bet you're even disappointed that you read all the way to the end. Nelson says, "HA ha."

Thursday, May 6, 2010

This Just In...

I haven't written in a while, and I'm sorry. The greater portion of my research has wrapped up, so I'm not really finding new stuff very often.

Several months ago, I submitted the finished manuscript of my book to the publishers, and they gave it to a couple of review readers. It had to be proofed for historical rigor. This called for two independent reviewers to read and make thorough comments. The reviewers are respected authorities in the field, who make a recommendation to the publisher about the worthiness of publication. These reviewers remain anonymous (so that I won't offer them bribes of homemade pies to influence their reviews). Today I received copies of the anonymous reviews. I thought I'd share a couple of juicy nuggets with you, purely by way of boasting.

Reviewer #1 said, "This manuscript contributes greatly to the study of foodways in the latter half of the nineteenth century." Whoah there! I started to feel giddy, and then read on. "This book, if published, will be of interest to scholars, history 'buff’s' fascinated with trail history, staffs of museums and living history farms, and the general public who values history." Imagine that, someone besides me thinks there might be an audience and market for the book! This reviewer went on to say that the manuscript needs some serious editing, and maybe not so many recipes but more analysis.

Reviewer #2 said, "I believe that Brock’s research is extraordinary." Heh. I think I know how to do research, but I could do better with writing and analysis of the research. This reviewer also went on to say, "Brock is to [be] congratulated for his painstaking research over two years." Then followed several pages of things that needed a strong editorial hand. But the best part of all is that this reviewer contributed a couple of recipes from her own family dating back 5 generations. I share one of these with you here.

"Molasses Candy
1 cup molasses
1 cup sugar

Boil until stringy in cold water, not so it breaks or hard. Pour in greased pan, cool, then make a roll and pull into lengths and cut in pieces."
~Anne Hess Milne
St. George, Utah

Thanks to everyone who helped me get this far, including all of you who read here.