SNE: The Manuscript Recipe

A few notes on the creative process related to the manuscript for my next book, Super Natural Every Day.

SNE: The Manuscript

I thought I'd take some time to write about Super Natural Every Day. The manuscript and photography are due this summer so why not wipe the spelt flour off my cheek, let the quinoa simmer on its own for a bit, and share a bit about how I'm working toward that not-so-far-off date?

I'll start by telling you about my creative process, which, in a broad sense, starts by collecting things that inspire me. I keep all sorts of scraps, notebooks, photos and random text files around. They live in drawers, on desktops, some are paper, others are digital. Thoughts and inspirations set aside for later, someday, next year. Occasionally, I'll cluster a few of these things together if there is some sort of connection that strikes me as interesting. If I'm really excited about something, that particular cluster might end up in an envelope or folder.


Many of the ideas, images, and thoughts related to this new book lived in a simple paper folder for a time. I'd add a copy of a recipe from one of my notebooks occasionally, or a photo of a place that evoked a certain feeling or sense of place. I might pull the folder down every few months, spread all the notes and elements across a table and think about what I was looking at. What could I add? What should be taken away?


There was a point when I thought it was time to get more serious. If I wanted to turn this into a cookbook what might it look like? Feel like? What would the themes be? How would it be structured? Which recipes? I started answering some of those questions and began to work on an outline.

My outlines usually start by organizing the book into sections, and then breaking those sections down into more detail (and recipes). As the project matures the outline turns into a 4-5 page road map/blueprint for the book. This document changes and evolves constantly based on what I feel is working and what isn't. But having a strong outline in place helps to let me know (at a glance) where I'm at in the overall process and where I'm headed. It's surprisingly easy to get lost.


I color code and mark up one version of my outline based on where I'm at. A plus mark following a recipe name means it is tested and has a head note. Two pluses means a photo is completed. A plus before the name means I've converted the recipe into international weights and measures. Highlighting the recipe name in green? That means it's in good shape and ready for some time in a kitchen other than my own.

Sorry, let me back up a bit. Around the time I've fleshed out an outline, I also set up a binder (see the first image). At this point it's pretty much a dummy book. I fill it with sheet protectors and section dividers. It helps me imagine the actual object I'm working on. It keeps me organized and enables me to actually see any progress I'm making. My outline corresponds with the pages in the binder, page by page. I assign one recipe per sheet protector, the most current version of the recipe is visible. If there is a photo to go with a recipe I have it in the same pocket visible through the back side. It makes it easy to move pages and recipes around, and keep track of versions of recipes (and related notes).


It would be disingenuous for me to tell you this process is all sunshine and flowers. Writing and photographing a book is hard for me. Aside from this (quite public) recipe journal, I'm a relatively private person. The book process takes me out of my comfort zone. Maybe because it's such a monumental effort to make it happen? So many people involved! It's just an entirely different world of expectations, with all hopes tied into a single grand gesture. I think to myself - I want this book to be good, I want it to find the slice of people who will find something special in it, I want it to find a home in welcoming kitchens. I want the recipes to work in your kitchens. And on and on and on. Just know, I spend a certain amount of time talking myself out of the trees.

So I'm here, chipping away at the book one word, one sentence, one head note, one photograph at a time. The binder is bulging, with only a few blank pages left to fill, but I suspect I'll be testing, tweaking, and revising down to the last minute...I know many of you would be amazing testers - I might need to enlist some of you for a bit of help, if you're game (more details on that in a future post)...

101 Cookbooks Membership

Premium Ad-Free membership includes:
-Ad-free content
-Print-friendly recipes
-Spice / Herb / Flower / Zest recipe collection PDF
-Weeknight Express recipe collection PDF
-Surprise bonuses throughout the year

spice herb flower zest
weeknight express

Comments are closed.

Apologies, comments are closed.




I love reading your blog!! I am a foodie and I love to cook. I own your book as well!! I would love to help out and be a tester. It looks like you have quite a few volunteers. FYI, I am not working so I am free. I live close to SF as well. Good luck and you have us to give you support. I can't wait to see the final outcome.

Rachel Azarnoff

I like your site, recipes and the sharing of the publication process. I would enjoy testing if and when you need it.


I've made many of your recipes from both the book and this site with invariably good results. I have cooked for many years including a summer job cooking for the late Baroness de Rothschild and her frequent guests at her summer home in East Barnard, Vermont. I also cooked for a year in a private school in the Chianti hills outside of Florence, Italy. When living in Japan, I was a guest on 3 TV shows in Tokyo, all of them focusing on natural health issues. For one of them I prepared a five-course meal entirely based on tofu! Would love to be one of your testers! I'm also a very good editor -- M.A. from Harvard in English & Education.


I've love to be a tester. Cooking is one of my favorite activities and I really enjoy your blog.


Thanks for sharing a glimpse of how you bring it all together. It is so interesting to see and hear your creative proccess. Really look forward to hearing more and to seeing the final outcome! Wishing you good luck with it all! Amy.

ooo. i am definitely interested in testing! i have been following your blog for about a year now, and i am just so very excited for your upcoming book. i wish you all the luck and a gigantic dose of clarity and calm for the home stretch!


ok...the "talking myself out of the trees" is great. Getting a glimpse into your creative realm is a special treat. Your spark is igniting other sparks in the world!


Hi Heidi-- I would LOVE to test your recipes. I bake a lot (see blog note above), but have made many of your savory recipes, so I could do both. It is also my dream to publish a cookbook, so my ears always prick up when you write about your process. The second-to-last paragraph in your entry today is priceless! It made me laugh out loud because I can SO relate to the painful process of writing when you have such high expectations. Looking forward to the book! Best to you...


sooooo in for testing, and super pumper for the finished product !!!


Heidi - This post is the best example I've ever read (or seen!) that perfectly describes the balance between work flow and creative process. Bravo to you for all the incredible talent you pour onto each page. I wish you much success with the new book and am happy to be a tester whenever you need one!

Tracey Ryder

I would love to be involved in the testing process. My cooking style is very similar to yours, down to the paper folder filled with scraps of paper. Best of luck with the new book!

Holly E

While I absolutely love your site, the recipes, the beautiful photos, one thing I really enjoy is reading through the comments & linking to the blogs of your other readers. Two hours can get away from me in no time!


What an amazing labor of love!!! I love your blog, recipes and writing and look forward to owning your new cookbook! Each time I read a new blog of yours, it is comforting both in words and images. You obviously have enormous talent -- so thank you for sharing that with us.

Judy Gal

Love learning about the writing process! Thank you for sharing. Your recipes are always a treat and I can't wait for your new book. You've even made my husband excited about eating vegetarian.

Betsy Metcalf

Very excited for the new book, and would definitely love to test any recipes. Thanks for sharing your cookbook process!

Megan @ food-ography

I'm pretty pumped for your new book and all of the natural recipes I'll have the opportunity to try and pass along in my new recipe section. Best wishes to you in this journey, what a thrill ride!

Niki @ Spilled Ingredients

Definitely love to test any of your recipes.. bring it on!


Thanks for giving us a glimpse of "the process." Know that all your hard work is not in vain...I love your recipes, writing, and cookbook! Oh, and count me in for recipe testing!


I think you can easily see how so many of your goals for this new cookbook are already being met through your loyal followers here! I admire your approach to your cookbook; it's all heart, all 'natural' and nothing other words, it's all you! I battle with a family who is not as 'adventurous' an eater as I am, but I know when I want to slip in something extraordinarily healthy and tasty, I come here..and it works! So I would not make a very good test cook. However, my expertise would be in the area of light copy editing and proofreading. I'm but an email away! Thank you for taking us along for the ride~!

Trish in MO

Comments are closed.

Apologies, comments are closed.

More Recipes

Popular Ingredients

Use of this site constitutes acceptance of its User Agreement and Privacy Policy.

101 Cookbooks is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Any clickable link to on the site is an affiliate link.