Seeking a Publisher
of
Literary Works
 

for

Here's How I Don't Cook
A Real Life Recipe for True, Long-Lasting Love

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Represented by Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary Management

At first glance, you might be tempted to think Here’s How I Don’t Cook is  a book of recipes, some that no gourmet cook worth their natural sea salt would want to try. It is, but it is more.  Recipes are accompanied by stories of events (or vice versa) that kept a foodie from cooking. Some are stories of one woman’s rebellion against what she considered the repression of women, some about her own submission to the requirements of dealing with a family illness, and some about how her unusual family background sculpted a modern woman against all odds. Slowly it evolves into a story about loyalty, love, and what marriage really means.

 
Manuscript's Impact:

[After rereading] once again I've decided Here's How I Don't Cook is my favorite memoir. I know the impact is certain. I have this notion that the same people who shop Crate & Barrel, World Market, and Home Store might get a kick out of your down home recipes. You connect with simplicity in a way Martha Stewart never dared! Somewhere, about the time I realized I've read this manuscript probably 10 times, I was filled with that same sense of awe again, like when I eat kiwi fruit. I know what I'm in for, but there's this underlying sweetness that knocks me off my feet." ~ Terrie Wolf, Agent, AKA Literary Management, LLC
 

 

A Peek at the 50-Year Love Story

How It All Started

Prologue

First Chapter
What Lance Shops for Rots

A Favorite Recipe from
Here's How I Don't Cook

Carolyn's Awards

Carolyn's Books

 

How It All Started

A few years ago on one of the rare occasions my coping mechanisms weren’t working well, I was forcing myself to feel grateful that I could get away for a few hours to be on campus doing one of the things I love to do. Teach. It was an all day seminar and I hadn’t been away from the house in months because of my husband’s illness. It was a beautiful fall day. I invited anyone in my class who was interested to join me at LuValle Commons for lunch in the sunshine. In the sculpture garden, the sycamores were dropping a few leaves bigger than my husband’s outstretched hand. The liquid ambers were beginning to change to rust or gold depending on individual whim (those two trees are about the only trees in Southern California that lose their leaves or change color). I could smell the hamburgers grilling. The sun was warm. Several students joined me. Life was good.

 

One of my students mentioned that they had writers block. I suggested taking a few days off from novel writing to write in their journal instead. Then I heard myself expounding on how inspirational journaling is and how healing. It occurred to me I hadn’t been following my own advice.

 

As I drove home, I stopped at an In ‘n Out Burger on Sunset and began writing on one of their napkins. That journal-entry-on-a-paper-napkin ended up becoming Here’s How I Don’t Cook, certainly a departure from anything I have written before. And, in some ways, a departure from most anything I am aware of in the literary world, not in its parts, but in the way the parts are combined. The only term than I can think of that fits it is “post modernism,” that ungainly moniker for cross genres. It feels way too literary, not nearly funny or human enough.

 

Those first scribblings were a bit of rant on how trapped I felt, how I just wanted out, all as I was paradoxically reveling in the creamy sweetness of a Neapolitan shake available only for those In ‘n Outers who know enough to ask for it. By the time I had written enough to make a book (though that certainly didn’t enter my mind at first), what I was seeing in it was a love story.

 

Here’s How I Don’t Cook is a book of recipes, some that no gourmet cook worth their natural sea salt would want to try. They are accompanied by stories of events that kept a foodie like me from cooking. Some are stories of my rebellion against what I considered the repression of women, some about my submission to the requirements of dealing with a family illness, and some about how my unusual family background sculpted a modern woman against all odds. Slowly (and with the humor I tend to use to stay sane!), it evolves into a story about loyalty, love, and what marriage really means.

 

So, here is the elevator pitch!

When a writer returns to her journal after a long spell of isolation caring for a husband suffering from clinical depression and related illnesses, she begins to understand her love-hate relationship with food, how her culture and dysfunctional family shaped her, and that she doesn’t want to chuck it all—including her husband—after  all.


Prologue

            Life is like your tile counter top, slick, pristine, and Cloroxed on the surface. It's the stuff that's collected in the grout that tells on you, the gunk you pry up with the tip of a steak knife or shoo from the cracks with an old toothbrush that counts. It isn't organized and it isn't neat. It may smell all sanitized from the bleach but if you look closely, there are the remnants, the way you work them and they work you. It’s the fun part of cleaning a counter.

            Of course you always try not to breathe while you're cleaning. That chlorine couldn't be good for your lungs, might even stunt the brain. So you hold your breath, dig and polish, rush for the door to take a deep breath of fresh air and repeat. The process, you think, is effective but something sticks and you realize that you like to clean a lot more than you ever realized and that the reasons why you hate to cook may save your sanity if you can only put them together, and not in the proper order. So, may I present here is how I don't like to cook.

 


What Lance shops for rots.

My cooking urges—few—are discouraged by pantry and cooler elves and the leftovers from Lance's shopping sprees at Whole Foods. Horizon natural milk wets its pants on the middle shelf leaving residue that peels from acrylic like sunburned skin. Unidentified veggies leave something in the crisper akin to the cracked platelets of mudflats.

Mudflats are my cue. The fridge needs cleaning. That's when I make soup. Everything has begun to look like crêpe paper. Carrots slightly limp from the top shelf instead of the crisper, celery that's grown new, pale green sprouts in a dark corner. There are crinkles around the potato’s eyes, too. That's from one shelf only. Cumin and red pepper spice up the mix in the pot so no one will notice that nothing is fresh.

Of course, the whole refrigerator may need wiping down with baking soda or something stronger but one shelf at a time is all I can stand to do.

Or maybe my family does notice that the soup isn't fresh. My soup is sometimes served with left-over popcorn from the movies. They're like fluffy croutons, my attempt at creativity. But after the first meal of soup, the rest of it begins to evaporate in the refrigerator. What's the word that gourmet cooks use? Reduce. Yes, soup reduced to dry cakes in the bottom of the pan. There must be some reason the leftovers don't get warmed up. . . .

 

Lance doesn't shop the way I would so, I tell him, I don't know what do to with the food he buys. A very convenient excuse it is. I know it. He knows it. He nods. But then, after he has put his supplements in front of mine and stuffed the new plastic bags full of snow peas into the crisper on top of the two that haven't been eaten (obviously so the ones he bought earlier will mean I have to clean the Fridge), he ambles by my office door. I'm polishing a precious iambic and he says, You gonna make a salad?

When he puts the groceries away he throws away the plastic bags we need to pick up dog poop, so when we get low on bags, sometimes I do the shopping. It's better than picking up old turds with a paper towel. Once I've shopped, I have excuse for not cooking, so I may do just that. Well, not cook. I may make a salad.

My daughter Erika, says, Mom makes very good salads. It's the best she can do to conjure up a compliment.

Actually, I don't make a salad. I rotate and toss. I let three big salad bowls take turns. Two in the dishwasher, one being used. I rotate the blueberries that Lance buys too many of the same way, try to use them before they've grown beards, wonder if they last too long it's because they've been irradiated.

Lance's nutritionist says we're supposed to rotate his foods so I can't feed him blueberries two days in a row. Because I'm thrifty, there are days when I'm grateful for irradiation, others when I think I may be poisoning myself and this man I've been married to for forty-eight years. I think it's forty eight. Let's see. 1957, or was it 1958 to . . . . And, oh, I try to use all the spinach before the small leaves collapse—slimy—onto the larger ones.

Lance has hung computer-generated lists on our cupboard doors. They tell us what he can eat and what he can't. It's amazing how I have them memorized considering I never cook. The foods with red bar graphs next to them are no-nos. Yellow are the acceptable, the green ones are a go—just not too often or they'll come out red on the next test.

I usually do these salads for lunch, my cooking prowess then exhausted for the day.

Let's go to a movie, I say.

Then it becomes a tossup between eating and out and eating popcorn. The Laemmle in Pasadena has a senior special on Wednesdays. $4 for a ticket. A Diet Coke and popcorn was $3.75 last week. This week it costs $4. I saw a movie here years ago, set in the South of France. With beautiful Johnny Depp and a candy shop full of people who liked the sweet smell of Bergamot-tinged chocolate—black, if possible—the looks of hand-dipped swirls. Wondering if they liked to cook or if they'd been deprived of good food when they were young. Thinking of Lance when he was young, tall, thin, expressive eyes.

Lance lost so much weight he's about the same size as he was then and that worries me. It's not natural for women or men to carry the same weight they did when they were twenty. Erika, the fashionable one in the family, tells me the experts say you should let the hips round a bit so the cheeks—the ones on our faces, not our butts—don't sink and shrivel from diminishing collagen and no body fat. I don't think I am in any danger of hollow cheeks. In either place. That our daughter is now 40 is disconcerting enough for me without hearing her worry about aging.

I read that each of us wastes 130 pounds of food a year. That's like throwing my whole body away, give or take a few pounds. I can't help wonder how they measured what I put down my Dispose-All.

After the movie, Lance says, We'll need to eat fast. My hypoglycemia is kicking in.

He has stashed precooked artichokes, quinoa and barley in the fridge. They're some of the foods marked green on that chart of his.

We pass McCormick and Schmick on Holly Street. Before Lance got sick we learned about their lobster Mondays. He thought he'd like to try that. Lobster isn't graded green on that chart. It's a bright red entry. I look the other away. His profile in November's early dusk, sharp and strong. You wouldn't know he's sick to look at him.

Do you have the pork chops thawed, I ask.

I think about the days when, if I'd offer to cook, he'd say, How about El Charro. It wasn't a question. He knew the answer. But it wasn't always so. I used to surprise him. It is perhaps our second date. I am trailing after him–all of my eighteen-year-old self–up the stairs of the Tribune where we worked. He needs to check on the night ads before we go to a movie.

What's your favorite album, he asks.

I can only think of Ferde Grofé and the single "I'm My Own Grandpa" from my childhood. Dad plays the piano. Our family doesn't spend much money on albums and I none at all. I think fast. A friend has just introduced me to some Hawaiian sounds. I have never heard anything like them before.

Martin Denny, I say.

For a while, I thought I'd never live that down. Now he never mentions it. On maybe our fourth date, he asks me what my favorite drink is. What could I say, Milk? I had been to a fraternity party. They served a pinkish drink that didn't burn going down.

Sloe Gin, I say.

Hey, I was raised in Utah. Drinking isn't a big pastime there. I think sloe is slow and means it won't make you drunk very fast, especially since it tastes more like punch. Lance at least knows it has a reputation of speak easies and hard kick.

One of these days, I'll insist on cooking. That will surprise him. Actually, I guess what I'd really like is a little attention. Just about any little bit apart from a session in the bedroom would do.


A Favorite Recipe
from
Here's How I Don't Cook

Some of the recipes in Here’s How I Don’t Cook recall cookbooks that are uniquely regional. Scattered recipes come from my father’s family. His was a polygamist heritage and those down-to-earth recipes are—actually—quite good. One is the tear-producing mustard pickles made with pickling onions. Another is Mormon Funeral Potatoes. These are incidental and quite different from the usual “New England” or “Southern Fare” that is usually dished up in cookbooks. Utah is, I fear, rarely thought of as a place that fosters distinct cuisine or gourmet cooking. Entertaining, yes, but food for the Julia Child crowd? Not a chance!  But Funeral Potatoes are my favorite because they are part of my DNA, just as my love of genealogy is part of what informs my writing:

Mormon Funeral Potatoes

I admit I have never made these potatoes. But I've eaten a lot of them. In Utah tales are told of people who trail after hearses to join families they never met at funeral get-togethers for people they never knew in order to get a serving of funeral potatoes. The recipes vary slightly. I copied this one and simplified it thinking I might someday make them. That was probably somewhere around 1970.

Ingredients

6 cups diced potatoes

1 can (10 ¾ oz.) condensed Campbell's cream of chicken soup (I'd use cream of mushroom or cream of celery now that I am a vegetarian.)

1/2 of the soup can full of milk

1 cup sour cream

1 cup extra sharp Kraft cheddar cheese, grated

1/4 cup grated onion (optional). I know I would only chop it fine. None of that grating of onions for me—if I did it all.

salt and pepper to taste

3 Tbsp butter, melted

3/4 cup corn flake crumbs

 

Directions

Cook fresh potatoes (some of us might cheat with thawed frozen potatoes). Slice into a 9x13 Pyrex cake/casserole-type pan. Combine soup, milk, sour cream, cheese, and onion and salt and pepper to taste. For more moisture, add more milk. Mix well. Spread sauce over potatoes.

Combine melted butter with corn flake crumbs. Sprinkle over casserole. Bake uncovered at 350 F for 30-45 minutes or until hot and bubbly.


Carolyn's Publishing, Marketing, and Business
Credentials at a Glance

Please see "Published Works Almanac" on this site for a long list of works
published in journals and anthologies.
Journalism/Freelance Author Business Entrepreneur
  • Good Housekeeping Magazine
  • Eleanor Lambert Publicity (fashion)
  • Salt Lake Tribune
  • Pasadena Star News
  • Glendale News-Press
    (an LA Times affiliate)
  • Oakpark News (Oakpark, Ill.)
  • Home Decor Buyer (trade)
  • LA Gift Mart Buyer (trade)
  • Gift Shop Magazine (trade)
  • Romance Writers of America
  • And, as they say, others
  • The Frugal Book Promoter
  • The Frugal Editor
  • The Great First Impression Book Proposal
  • Great Little Editing Tips for Writers
  • Tracings (poetry)
  • Imperfect Echoes (poetry)
  • Cherished Pulse (poetry)
  • Imagining (poetry)
  • She Wore Emerald Then (poetry)
  • Blooming Red (poetry)
  • Deeper into the Pond (poetry)
  • Sublime Planet (poetry)
  • Harkening (short stories)
  • This Is the Place (novel)
  • Your Blog, Your Business
  • Frugal and Focused Tweeting
  • A Retailer's Guide to In-Store Promotion
  • Founder and operator of Gallery Decor and Carlan's
  • Santa Anita Race Track Gift Store

Teaching

Recent media releases.

 


Buy Links for Carolyn's Books

Great Fiction
Purchase THIS IS THE PLACE
and
HARKENING at Amazon in their new and used feature.
Both of these books are out of print. They are available only on Amazon's New and Used feature for about $1.

Great Poetry
Purchase TRACINGS (Finishing Line Press) at Amazon.
IMPERFECT ECHOES: Writing Truth and Justice with Capital Letters,
lie and oppression with Small

Give the gift of poetry with a chapbook from Magdalena Ball's
and
My Celebration Series

CHERISHED PULSE: Unconventional Love Poetry
IMAGINING THE FUTURE: Ruminations on Fathers and Other Masculine Apparitions
SHE WORE EMERALD THEN: Reflections on Motherhood
BLOOMING RED: Christmas Poetry for the Rational
DEEPER INTO THE POND: Celebration of Femininity
SUBLIME PLANET: Celebrating Earth and the Universe
 

HowToDoItFrugally Series for Writers
Purchase THE FRUGAL BOOK PROMOTER,
THE FRUGAL EDITOR
Second Edition
GREAT LITTLE LAST MINUTE EDITING TIPS FOR WRITERS
GREAT FIRST-IMPRESSION BOOK PROPOSALS
HOW TO GET GREAT BOOK REVIEWS FRUGALLY AND ETHICALLY

Survive and Thrive Series of HowToDoItFrugally Books for Retailers
A RETAILER'S GUIDE TO FRUGAL IN-STORE PROMOTION
FRUGAL AND FOCUSED TWEETING FOR RETAILERS
YOUR BLOG, YOUR BUSINESS

Most of Carolyn's books are also available for the Kindle reader.
Did you know that with the Free app, Kindle can be adapted to any reader--even your PC!

"Careers that are not fed die as readily as
any living organism given no sustenance." 
~
Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Studio photography by Uriah Carr
3 Dimensional Book Cover Images by iFOGO
Logo by Lloyd King

To subscribe to Carolyn's FREE online newsletter send an e-mail.

Learn more about Carolyn's newsletter and blog.

Read past issues of Carolyn's Newsletter.

 

Frugal E-Book Tip

Kindle E-Books Aren't
Just for Kindle Anymore

Did you know that Amazon’s Kindle e-books are a low-cost/no-cost way to access books even if you don’t have a dedicated Kindle reader? You can read Kindle's e-books on smartphones, desktop computers and any e-device in between. You can even store the books on the Amazon cloud.

~ Quote from Diana Schneidman, author and marketer



Subscribe to
Carolyn Howard-Johnson's Sharing with Writers Newsletter

and get a FREE copy of
Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips for Writers

"I have been a professional writer 40 years, and am also a tenured full professor of journalism. Carolyn's Sharing with Writers newsletter is  most useful for me--and for my students. I emphasize to them that while research is 90% of writing, and the actual writing is about 10%, there's another 100% out there called promotion. Carolyn shows numerous ways to get the message to the mass media."
~Walter Brasch, author and educator


Find Carolyn on the Web

  writers retailers

Carolyn's Blogs

Sharing with Writers
All things publishing with
an emphasis on book
promotion. Named to
Writer's Digest
101 Best Website list.


The New Book Review
Great way for readers, authors, reviewers and publicists to get more
mileage out of
a great review.


The Frugal Editor Blog
This is the Frugal, Smart
and Tuned-In Editor blog.
Covers editing, grammar, formatting and more.
Get the answers you need.



Published Works Almanac



Carolyn's Awards

Awards for Carolyn's Books, Blogs and More

The New Book Review
Named to
Online Universities'

101 Book Blogs
You Need to Read

Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites
for
Sharing with Writers blog.

 


Best Book Award for The Frugal Book Promoter (2004) and The Frugal Editor (2008) and the Second Edition of The Frugal Book Promoter (2011).

 

Reader Views Literary Award for The Frugal Editor

New Generation Award for Marketing and Finalist for The Frugal Editor

Book Publicists of Southern California's Irwin Award

Military Writers Award of Excellence for
Tracings, A Chapbook of Poetry.


A Retailer's Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotion wins author Military Writers Society of America's Author of the Month award for March, 2010

 

Gold Medal Award from Military Writers Society of America, 2010. MWSA also gave a nod to She Wore Emerald Then, a chapbook of poetry honoring mothers.

The Frugal Editor Named #! on Top Ten Editing Books list.

Finalist New Generation Book Awards 2012, The Frugal Book Promoter, Finalist 2010 The Frugal Editor,
Winner 2010 Marketing Campaign for the Frugal Editor


The Oxford Award
recognizes
the alumna who exemplifies the Delta Gamma precept of service to her community and who, through the years, devotes her talents to improve the quality of life around her.

The Frugal Book Promoter is runner-up in the how-to category for the Los Angeles Book Festival 2012 awards.

Glendale City Seal
Winner Diamond Award for Achievement in the Arts
Glendale California's Arts and Culture Commission and the City of Glendale Library.

And more than a dozen other awards for Carolyn's novel, short story collection and poetry. See the awards page on this site.


A Selection of Carolyn's Past Speaking Engagements

National Stationery Show May 17-20, 2009 Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, New York, NY Consider this a business essential.

Presenter 2009, 2010

Presenter, 2008, 09, 10, 11

Panel moderator, 2007

National Span College
presenter 2002

Fellows presenter, 2007, 08

Co-sponsor and presenter,
2007, 08, 09, 10, 11

University of Dayton Erma Bombeck Writers' Conference, 2006, 2008

Sisters in Crime,
Pasadena, 2009

On the Los Angeles Valley College Campus 2012, Rancho Library 2013,
Valley College Spring 2014

Wisconsin Regional Writers Association
Presenter, Keynote 2010

Book 'Em, NC,
Three Panels 2013


Presenter, 2013


Seminar Speaker, 2014


Keynote, 2013; 2014


Secrets of Great
Dialogue, 2015

 

Learn more about Carolyn's conferences.


Some Poetry is Memoir at Heart

Cover art by Vicki Thomas, Poetry by Magdalena Ball and Carolyn Howard-Johnson

"Cherished Pulse is full of poems that describe love from the eyes and hearts of young and old. We see love in its youthful stage, stirring the hearts of man and woman alike and tying a bond that even death cannot break. As we continue reading, we understand that love deepens into an awesome, but quiet joy as the couple grows older. These poems renew our faith in love as they remind us of our own experience with this most sought after emotion."
~ Lucille P Robinson for Alternative-Read.com

 

Third in the Celebration of Chapbooks with Magdalena Ball, Imagining the Future is written expressly for fathers "and other masculine apparitions."

She Wore Emerald Then is a book of Moods of Motherhood: thirty poems by award-winning poets Magdalena Ball and Carolyn Howard-Johnson, with original photography by May Lattanzio. A beautifully presented, tender and strikingly original gift book, ideal for Mother's Day or any day when you want to celebrate the notion of motherhood in its broadest sense.  Share this collection with someone you love.

More on Blooming Red: Christmas Poetry for the Rational on this Web site.

Sublime Planet is an e-chapbook and paperback published in the time-honored tradition of poets everywhere. This collection of ecologically oriented poems traverses a wide terrain, moving from the loss of species to the beauty of the natural world, from drought to the exploration of alternative planets. It's an exhilarating collection that breaks boundaries and leads the reader deep into the personal heart of perception. Released by award winning poets Carolyn Howard-Johnson and Magdalena Ball to celebrate Earth Day, this is a collection of poetry that weaves the personal with the universal. Photograpy by Ann Howley.

“Whatever your age these poems celebrating women will speak to you of times to look forward to or to remember. These are not poems to be read once. They will stay with you forever.” ~ Nancy Famolari, author.

Also by Carolyn:

Tracings is winner of the Military Society of America's Award of Excellence and named to the Compulsive Reader's Ten Best Reads of 2005

Imperfect Echoes is Carolyn's newest poetry book. Writing Truth and Justice with Capital Letters, lie and oppression with Small. 

Cover and interior art by Richard Conway Jackson
All proceeds go to Amnesty International


Proud to be Instrumental in Helping Other Poets

Poetry Mystique: A modern text edited by Suzanne Lummis with commentary from the editor.

Poems by selected students from Suzanne's many poetry classes.

 


Best New Writing 2013, 2015

My short story “Love Story” is included in 
Best New Writing 2013
and
"Dr. Pena's Lesson on
Culture" is included in

Best New Writing of 2015

Both are published by Hopewell Publications.


Home |  Literary Works |  Writers' Books |  Retailers' Books |  Writers' Resources |  Carolyn's Services |  Media Room |  Advertising |  Contact
copyright 2011 Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Recommended Web Design by BlogAid