Jerry James Stone, a frequent MNN contributor whose recipes make me salivate, recently published a cookbook, "Holidazed: A Cocktail Cookbook for Getting Lit on Christmas." Yes, yes, I know, Christmas was last week, but you just might want to get lit on New Year’s Eve, Groundhog Day, Flag Day or any old Tuesday night, and the recipes for traditional and original cocktails plus eats & treats (all vegetarian and vegan, by the way) are good year-round.
Jerry is the man behind the Cooking Stoned vegetarian/vegan recipe blog. His blog features short and simple gourmet recipes with plenty of how-tos, and instructional videos. Jerry gives his readers the same experience in print (and eBook) as he does on the blog with “Holidazed.” It’s more than just recipes. There’s a lot of incredibly useful how-to information in the book, all put together with writing that draws you in and gorgeous photography. Or, as Jerry calls it, food porn; as he puts it, there' so much food porn “you’re going to need a clean set of knickers.”
I loved this cookbook — with it’s food porn, and seasonal-ingredient inspired cocktail and food recipes, and naked lesbians (okay, just one naked lesbian) — so much that I asked Jerry to tell you a little about it in his own words and give us a few recommendations from the book for New Year’s Eve.
MNN: You went about getting this cookbook made in an unconventional way (which in a year or two no one will be calling unconventional). Why did you choose crowdfunding to finance the process? Would you do it again?
Jerry James Stone: It’s funny. Doing it the conventional way wasn’t even part of the decision. We just jumped in with, “Let’s do a Kickstarter.” I have quite a few published friends and none of them have sold me on the process. I knew with Kickstarter and a solid idea, we would get funded. Okay, I had some doubts but I was hopeful that we would get funded.
I would definitely do it again. In fact, I have already started working on book number two, which will be done via Kickstarter.
Reading 'Holidazed' was the most fun I’ve had reading a cookbook this year. How much fun was it to write the creative, slightly provocative, descriptions for your recipes?
That was part of the reason for Kickstarter; we wanted to create a book that was on point with the brand. And if you visit Cooking Stoned, it’s the same experience. We didn’t want someone saying, “No, you cannot put a naked lesbian in your book!” Because every cookbook should have a naked lesbian!
The book was a blast to create. First off, just developing the recipes … the uniqueness and off-the-wall nature made them so exciting. And I think our designer did an amazing job of capturing the offbeat culture of Cooking Stoned all while making it a pretty impressive cookbook.
Plus I had an excuse to drink for three months straight … #winning!
I love how you made the beginning of the book a mini bartending lesson with explanations on basics like how to shake or how to stir, graphics that show how many ounces you can squeeze out of a lime, and how to create infusions. Why was that important to you to add into your book?
The Cooking Stoned website is about teaching a man to fish. Well, whatever that analogy is for a vegetarian blog, but you see my point. With my recipes, I try to show people how they can explore a single ingredient beyond what is common. I wanted the same for the book.
I want readers to feel they can take the book, the information and the recipes and come up with their own. They have all the tools to start. To me, that is the difference between a good cookbook and a great one. A good one has fabulous recipes that always turn out; a great one teaches you to fish.
I’m curious about the process of creating cocktail recipes. How do you come up with an original recipe? Do you work alone or do you have help with the taste testing? How many tries does it usually take to get things right?
It depends... It is a lot like having an artist explain the process for creating a painting. I’m no van Gogh, but it’s still a creative process. Sometimes I start with a spirit and sometimes I start with figs. (Then there was that time when my stuffed Brussels recipe came to me in a dream. You never know!)
This time around, being my first book, I over-tested things. Unlike the blog, I couldn’t go back and fix it, so I was a bit anal about making it right the first time. I definitely had taste testers, too. When you create a drink that involves salt and celery juice, you want someone to check you, just in case you have a case of temporary crazies. Luckily, it was a winner and made it into the book.
Some of your cocktail recipes call for making infused spirits like fig and vanilla vodka or spiced butternut bourbon several days ahead of time. Once these are made how long will they keep? Do the fresh ingredients in the alcohol give them a shorter shelf life than straight alcohol?
I suggest using infusions within a few months, six months at most. They will last longer but they can change depending on the ingredient.
Plus, the whole point of infusions is to capture what is in season. In a handful of months, you’ll have the same ingredients again, right?
New Year’s Eve is in a couple of days. The entire book is very festive, but pick two drinks and two treats from the book that you think are musts for someone’s New Year’s Eve festivities.
It’s New Year’s Eve and the last thing you want to do is carry around some large plate of food. Keep those hands free for booze! I’d definitely make the Apple & Cheddar Sliders. They are tasty and a fun way to go veggie this NYE. Also, the Stuffed Brussels are a treat. Even Brussels haters love them. So it is a great way to introduce people to more veggies.
The Bloody Old Fashioned is a wonderful holiday drink. It just tastes like Christmas time and it’s easy to make. If you really want to capture the season, and have some time, the Wine Poached Pear Martini is like Christmas in a cup. Plus it’s kinda sexy with that purple tint.
You can find out how to get your own copy of “Holidazed” on Jerry’s Cooking Stoned blog. At the moment, the print version is sold out, but the Kindle version is available to download immediately. Jerry told me he should have more print versions of "Holidazed" by mid-January, right in time for Valentine's Day preparations. There's an original cocktail in the book called The Love Grenade that you'll definitely want to have on hand for that holiday.
Check out more of Jerry’s recipes on MNN:
- Curry and Maple Sweet Potato Soup (Vegan)
- Burnt-Honey Gnocchi in Gorgonzola Sauce
- Citrus-Bourbon Braised Carrots
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