Belinda Hulin Presents The Keepsake Cookbook
Readers, this week I have a serious gift for you. We’re not going to talk about industrialized companies or pet grooming or massage companies – none of those slightly mundane topics. Today we are going to talk about what we ALL love…food.
One of my favorite memories will always be of my grandmother. This is a woman who could not just cook, she could supply her family with foods that only the gods and goddesses were ever granted. And the desserts? Don’t get me started. Unfortunately, at the time I lost my grandmother I was not acquainted with Belinda Hulin – and I certainly wish I had been.
Belinda Hulin is the creator behind The Keepsake Cookbook. Not only will readers and fans learn about the mastery of cookbook recipes, they will also learn how to collect and keep the recipes and the memories that surrounded the greatest meals and moments of their lives.
Recipes have long been a way for family members to come together. From sitting around and talking over coffee and cookies in the kitchen, to the full-blown family meals where everyone congregated on the holidays to catch up on old times and check in with one another – feasts and family go hand-in-hand.
There was a recipe of my grandmother’s for orange coconut cookies once, a secret recipe that only the family could know. Within that recipe was a snapshot; a Kodak picture that captured the people, places and the time period when that lovely lady brought happiness into our family’s life. In the case of any family recipe, just reading the instructions and warming up the oven can evoke images of true celebrations, and with The Keepsake Cookbook, Ms. Hulin has discovered a way for all of these memories to ‘gel’ together in an heirloom that should be treasured.
Providing easy-to-use, step-by-step instructions for collecting oral and written recipes, as well as photographs and other memorabilia from your family or special occasions that you would always like to remember, Ms. Hulin shows how all of this can occur. Then, she shows readers how to organize all of these memories into a cookbook in a format that can be used and shared by everyone. In addition, this lovely author offers advice on capturing family or group history, including how to interview relatives and friends regarding their memories about the recipe or gathering that you’re adding to your book. From offering basic recipe times to tips and measurements, The Keepsake Cookbook can turn casual instructions into fully realized recipes.
It’s no surprise that such a ‘cool’ item came from the mind of Belinda Hulin. Born into a South Louisiana Cajun family, she grew up in New Orleans. And, quite frankly, before she could even walk she was balanced on her mother’s hip stirring in pots of gumbo, etouffée and sauce piquant. Therefore, it’s not a stretch that once she began to turn to the direction of writing she became focused on food.
The Keepsake Cookbook is certainly not her first foray into writing. Ms. Hulin has had quite a long career focusing her tales on food and entertaining for newspapers, magazines and websites. Some of the books she’s authored include: Roux Memories: A Cajun-Creole Love Story with Recipes; Knack Chinese Cooking; The Everything Fondue Party Book; The Everything Pizza Cookbook; and, The Everything Soup, Stew and Chili Cookbook.
And now, From Pantry to Published, is going to offer “The 2-Day Legacy Cookbook Workshop” for all of us who are interested in bringing back the memories and extremely good food from the past. If you’ve ever imagined writing and designing your own cookbook – on March 13th and 14th at the Casa Marina Hotel in Jacksonville Beach, Florida – celebrity cookbook authors, the resident food photographer and a nationally recognized cookbook publisher are all coming together to have an exciting and entertaining event. Attendees will learn from experts the ‘How-To’s’ of getting started on their own project while being a part of the luxurious ambience of a historic oceanfront hotel and feeding on Chef Aaron Webb’s award-winning New Beach Cuisine.
A long list of fantastic professionals will lead everyone through the exciting world of developing a legacy, or commercial cookbook. Belinda Hulin will be a huge part of this incredible workshop, providing the ‘backbone’ of what attendees are trying to accomplish. She will talk about everything from your table to your history, and the very real importance of preserving culinary traditions. She will teach you how to gather all the elements that are required to make the perfect cookbook/scrapbook – from stories to photos to timelines that will end up allowing you to create a true work of art.
What is really thrilling is the fact that Ms. Hulin took time out of her very busy world to answer some questions that readers would like to know about the worlds of cooking and writing. So, without further ‘yapping’ on my part, I present to you, Belinda Hulin.
I know you grew up in one of the ultimate food capitals of our world – New Orleans. Can you tell our readers a little bit about the Cajun Kitchen? Such as the foods, luscious scents, etc.?
The Cajun kitchen originated outside New Orleans, in the small towns and rural areas to the south and west of the city. New Orleans was the capital of Creole cooking; both cuisines combine French, African, Spanish-Caribbean and Native American culinary influences. In New Orleans you also get Italian and German influences. Creole is Cajun cooking’s city cousin, with a more complicated blend of spices—thyme, sage, bay leaves—and with tomatoes appearing in more dishes. Traditionally, Cajun is country cooking with an emphasis on seasonal ingredients. However, Cajun cooking is increasingly visible in New Orleans’ restaurants and, today, chefs tend to pull from both traditions. Now, walk into any South Louisiana home when supper is being prepared and you’re likely to be seduced by the irresistible scent of onions, peppers, celery and garlic being sautéed in a bit of oil in a heavy pan. No matter what goes into the pot after that—meat, seafood, vegetables—that aromatic scent piques your interest.
I know we’re sharing memories today, and mine happens to be of my grandmother and her cooking. Who do you remember most vividly when it comes to being in the kitchen?
My mother. Happily she’s still cooking and whenever I visit—which is often—I take my place next to her in the kitchen chopping and stirring. I have vivid memories of being in the kitchen with both of my grandmothers, but my mom taught me everything I needed to know about life while we were cooking together. I didn’t even realize that she’d taught me to cook until I was on my own. When I was growing up she never said, “Let me teach you to cook.” Instead, she said, “Come stir in that pot and tell about your day at school.” That’s how I learned, and I’m still learning about both life and cooking from her.
Scrapbooking has become a huge national hobby over the past few years. Is that where you began your ‘idea’ by putting recipes together with stories or tales from your life?
No, actually. I wrote Roux Memories: A Cajun-Creole Love Story with Recipes—which is my memoir cookbook—after Hurricane Katrina. My mother’s house flooded, and in the midst of mucking out all the destroyed furniture, mementos and fixtures, I found Mom’s recipe box, safe on a high stair step. I had already written several cookbooks by that time, but I took that as a sign that I needed to write my family cookbook. While I was writing Roux Memories, people kept coming up to me and saying “I want to do that” or “I wish my mother had done that.” I realized that people wanted to capture their culinary heritage, but they just didn’t know where to start. So, I began The Keepsake Cookbook: Gathering Delicious Memories One Recipe at a Time as a guide for anyone to write his or her memoir cookbook.
Other than the Cajun foods, is there a particular sector of recipes that you feel just as deeply about, such as French or Italian cooking? I guess…your second best, so to speak?
I’ve written cookbooks on fondue, pizza, soups, stews and chilies, and Chinese food, in addition to Cajun/Creole, plus I’ve worked as a food editor for a daily newspaper. With every project, occasion or article, I become immersed in the cuisine I’m writing about, researching and testing recipes and talking to knowledgeable people. Plus, wherever I’ve lived I’ve embraced the local cuisine. That’s added Italian, Pennsylvania Dutch, German, Eastern European, basic Southern and Tex-Mex dishes to my repertoire. So, my “second” favorite really depends on what I’m doing at the moment.
I will be speaking to readers about the “From Pantry to Published” convention coming up very soon, can you speak a little about what your role or focal point will be for the attendees?
My workshop session will focus on memoir and keepsake cookbooks. I’m really passionate about encouraging people to write their family culinary history, because cooking is very much an oral tradition and I fear we’re losing important dishes and information with each generation. A family’s repertoire is influenced by heritage, by geography, by available ingredients and personal preferences. That means each family has a unique set of dishes, and those dishes deserve to be recorded.
Is it possible to be a ‘good’ cookbook editor without the organizational skills necessary to make sure that all your ‘ducks are in a row,’ so to speak? Does your writing, etc. help people less organized be able to put together a keepsake such as the ones you have?
My primary message is, “You can do this!” The Keepsake Cookbook gives everything needed for anyone to put together a blueprint upon which to build a cookbook. That said, if the project seems daunting, just start small. A holiday desserts cookbook with 25 recipes, pictures from holiday gatherings, and small notes about customs or things that happened one year or another, is very manageable and perfectly lovely. Plus, it can be the beginning of something bigger—just add categories.
I know you work as an Instructional Designer at Florida State. Could you explain a bit more about this particular field to our readers?
Instructional design encompasses a wide range of activities. The essence of the job is to find the best way to present specific educational material, whether the plan is to teach the material face-to-face, online, or in some combination. At FSCJ, I work with subject matter experts to create courses—including books and an online component—for college students. It’s fascinating and I get to work with a lot of brilliant and talented people.
I have to ask…is there a specific dish that is your absolute favorite?
Yes! My mother’s seafood gumbo is my absolute favorite dish. It’s made with a dark roux and is filled with shrimp, crawfish, crabmeat and oysters. My own crawfish etouffée
is a close second.
And, dessert-wise, is there any special ’treat’ that you continue to make over and over that you learned growing up?
Once I learned to make my mother’s pecan pie—which is the same as her mother’s pecan pie—it became my standard Thanksgiving dessert. I love it, but I have to say my favorite probably is homemade ice cream. Strawberry, peach, chocolate, vanilla…it really doesn’t matter what flavor. I think of it as a summer comfort food.
And please let us know of any other ‘projects’ that are in the works for your line of cookbooks?
Right now I’m trying to encourage others to write their cookbooks, through my Keepsake book and participating in workshops like, From Pantry to Published. I’m also working on a web-based cooking site that I’m hoping to debut soon!
There you have it, readers. Frankly, I not only want to attend the workshop in March, but I am most definitely going to be purchasing The Keepsake Cookbook. And, you see? Talking about pecan pie, homemade ice cream, love in the kitchen, and memories is a true gift!
Until Next Time, Everybody.
Purchase The Keepsake Cookbook at:
220 First St.
Neptune Beach, FL, 32266
Barnes & Noble;
Contact Belinda Hulin at:
For Information and WORKSHOP Reservations, contact:
Leigh Cort @ (904) 806-3613; or,