The French Home Cookbook
The French Home Cookbook
A perfect introduction to easy French cooking, this beautiful book has over 400 delicious recipes that are simple to cook at home.
A perfect introduction to easy French cooking, this beautiful book has over 400 delicious recipes that are simple to cook at home. Read more
My name is Louise and ever since I was a teenager I have loved food, words and France. So it’s no surprise that I realised that my true passion was for cookbooks and, in 2014, I launched my own cookbook publisher, Poach my Lobster. I'm pretty sure it's the only UK publisher that does just food books and, with your help, we will produce the first book, The French Home Cookbook.
The word ‘French’ can be a bit offputting in a cookbook title, because French food has a reputation for being complicated and ‘cheffy’, but French home cooking is neither. Let me tell you a story to explain what I mean.
As a 16-year-old girl I was sent to France one summer to improve my French. Coming, as I did, from a family that was barely interested in food, it was an experience that changed my life. Amongst the grammar tips and new vocabulary, the lesson I really learnt was that good food could be enjoyed all day, every day, not just on special occasions.
The person I spent most time with was not my exchange partner, or any of the other three children, but their mother, Denise, who devoted herself to making delicious food part of their lives. She taught me that good food, great food even, is within our reach every day, all day, not just now and again. Sometimes she cooked for hours, sometimes only for a few minutes and, however hard I watched at first, I could never quite see how it worked. She had 40 years of experience, 40 years that lent speed and dexterity to every turn of her pastry, every flick of her whisk. I was convinced that it was magic, a French gift, denied to the likes of me. Eventually though, I realised that her food was not only brilliant but also simple and, unexpectedly, very easy to recreate.
This book is the closest I’ve come to finding a paper equivalent of that simple French brilliance. It’s a translation of this book, which came out in France in 2013 and it offers a perfect introduction to French home cooking. A treasure trove of over 400 delicious and straighforward recipes, dishes that you can get on the table for lunch or dinner, all year round, without fuss and without spending the whole day in the kitchen, this is the sort of food that we all want to eat, but often don’t know how to make. It’s the sort of cooking Denise would be proud of, and you will be too. You probably can’t have Denise, or someone like her, in your kitchen every day (okay you definitely can't have Denise...) but you can have this book.
The French Home Cookbook has already gone from an untranslated book to a Word manuscript. Now, with your help, I can turn it into a beautifully produced 304-page book. I have bought the rights, translated the text, paid for a professional edit and sample designs and the money raised from this Kickstarter campaign will pay for the design, proofreading, indexing and printing.
You can contribute as follows:
- 'starter' level: for £5 get a thank you in The French Home Cookbook;
- ‘main course’: for £20 get a thank you in The French Home Cookbook and a first edition of the book;
- ‘main course for two’: for £35 get two first editions of The French Home Cookbook (the second one for only £10) plus two separate personal thank yous in the acknowledgements;
- 'three-course meal': for £80 get a thank you in The French Home Cookbook, a first edition of the book and an exclusive, limited edition, letterpress-printed poster (500mm x 500mm) with a quote from Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own: 'One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.' A digital preview of the poster, produced by New North Press, is below, as well as more details about letterpress printing and how the poster is being made;
- 'three-course meal for two': two first editions of The French Home Cookbook, (the second for only £10) plus two separate personal thank yous in the acknowledgements and an exclusive, hand-printed letterpress poster with one of my favourite, food-related quotes, by Virginia Woolf: 'One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.';
- the full 'Taster' menu: for £500, get all of the above treats, plus I will come and cook a three-course meal for you and three friends. Only available in London and within a 50-mile radius of the capital. Limited to two backers.
Everyone who pledges for a main or three courses will be sent a recipe Christmas card (either by post, in the UK, or via email, elsewhere), so that, if the pledge is a gift, you have something to give on the day (the book won’t be ready till summer 2015).
The letterpress poster
Letterpress printing is a glorious example of the joys of print. I am no expert but I completely love it. Here is Richard Ardagh, the designer, talking about what the craft is and how this poster is put together:
'Letterpress is the traditional form of printing – as it existed for over 500 years – using wooden and metal type blocks. At New North Press in East London we’re proud to keep this beautiful craft alive.
Each word is set by hand, letter by letter, from our type library of over 700 fonts. Then word and line spaces are inserted and the form can be locked up and transferred to the press for makeready, proofing and corrections. We use Albion hand-pull presses from the 1870s, so every print is inked by hand using a roller, then wound into the press whose platen applies about a tonne of pressure to the blocks. The press is adjusted so that the blocks perfectly kiss the paper – in this case lovely Colorplan Sapphire from GF Smith with metallic silver oil-based ink. The wooden display type used is a 20-line condensed grotesque and a 10-line De Little swash italic. The author’s credit is set in 12pt Modern No.20.'
If the project is funded by the end of the campaign, this is the plan:
- print the recipe cards during the campaign, if it looks like we'll be funded, so that they are out in time for Christmas;
- wait for Kickstarter funds (this takes about 2 weeks, so hopefully just after Christmas) we will receive the money;
- get the posters ready for printing (to be printed first two weeks in Jan); distribute by end Feb;
- book design starts (first proofs due end February);
- first proofread (completed mid-March);
- second proofs arrive (early April);
- second proofread, index commissioned and proofed (end April);
- book to print (mid-May);
- books arrive (end June);
- books sent out to backers (beginning July).
Book publishing schedules are notoriously elastic but I have ten years of experience managing hundreds of books at once for large corporate publishers (e.g. at HarperCollins UK) so, all things being equal, this is about how long it will take. Obviously things may go wrong, files may corrupt, people may fall ill but I will keep you updated if and when the deadlines change.
How you can help
By contributing you not only get great rewards but also take part in building the new world of book publishing, where people like me get to produce the books we want, not through the old system of speculation (publisher produces book, puts it on market, hopes it will sell) but via the new system of subscription (publisher has idea for book, tests it by selling it to the market, knows it will sell). You’re buying into a revolution, the crowdfunding revolution, where the ideas that matter are supported by their market.
With just over 1000 backers at main-course level, the book can be published and 1000 of you will get a little bit of France in your post next summer. If I raise more than my target, I will be able to print more books and, if requested by backers, print more copies of the letterpress poster.
Risks and challenges
Publishing a book takes time but the longest part of the process is over: I have negotiated and bought the rights to the book in the English language market; I have translated the book; and the book has been edited by a professional.
The designs for both the cover and the inside of the book have been agreed, the printer estimates are in and, once the book is funded, I will be able to buy paper. I have over 10 years of book publishing experience, including several managing the production of over 200 books a year in a large corporate publisher (HarperCollins UK) so I have planned the production schedule based on my knowledge. Friends high up in the industry have checked my figures and my timetable and declared them realistic and workable.
Evidently, with just one person working on this book, I might face personal issues, such as illness, but I will keep you posted if this happens. I have given a year of my life to this book, and a year of savings, so I am completely dedicated to publishing it and sharing it with you.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (28 days)