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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

5 Questions with Lisa Fain: author of The Homesick Texan Cookbook

So.  You may have noticed a little thing I've been hosting for the past three weeks called The Homesick Texan Cookbook Spotlight & Cook-Off.   Along with 19 other bloggers, I have been highlighting, cooking, and downright swooning over the recipes of Lisa Fain, The Homesick Texan.  This seventh-generation Texan started blogging back in September of 2005 as a way to share the cuisine that she loved and missed since she traded the wide open spaces of Texas for the bustle and skyscrapers of New York.  In the introduction to her newly released cookbook of the same name, Fain says she missed the variety of foods she could find in her home state, and one of the reasons she cooks is "so that [she] can feel closer to home."  This spirit seems to flow effortlessly onto the pages and 125+ recipes that embody them.  While I don't want to give too much away right now because I have a review coming up later in the week, I will say what is completely obvious if you've read my other posts in this series: I am enamored by this cookbook!  Beautiful, heartfelt writing, stunning photos, and best of all- amazing food.

 I am a extremely excited and grateful that Lisa was able to sit down (or perhaps she was standing...of that I can't be sure) to answer a few questions for me in the midst of celebrating the release of her new cookbook.  Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
Me:  As a food blogger, I find myself wondering if it was difficult for you to set recipes aside as "for the book", as opposed to something you wanted to blog about?  Or are there a few that made their way into both the book and the blog?

Lisa:  Because I’d been blogging about Texas food for a while, I knew that I couldn’t have a Texas cookbook without including some iconic Texan dishes—such as chicken-fried steak, chili and breakfast tacos. These had already been on the blog but I knew they had to be in the book as well. Once I began working on the book, however, I decided that anything that went on the blog would not be in the book and vice versa. I wanted the book to have a lot of new recipes so longtime readers would find value in it. But I will admit that when I was developing recipes for the book, it was difficult to keep them away from the blog because I just couldn’t wait to share them with everyone!

Me: Which did you find more difficult: the process of writing the cookbook or the process of testing the recipes?

Lisa:  Both parts of the process have their challenges. I’d say that when I was testing recipes, I’d think that writing was easier. But when I sat down to write the stories and head notes, I wished I were back in the kitchen cooking. The grass is always greener on the other side!

Me:  Do you have a "no questions asked, hand-down" favorite meal/dish/food?  Did it make its way into the book?  And/or, if it's hard to pick just one (I know it is for me), can you name a favorite dish in the cookbook?

Lisa:  It’s really hard for me to choose an absolute favorite, much like you can’t choose your favorite child. But yes, I love every recipe in the book, and whether they’re new or old, they are all part of my regular cooking rotation.

Me:  I love a good cookbook...and I have plenty of shelves and boxes full to prove it.  But as I stated before, I have a "working" bookshelf that holds some tried and true favorites that never get stuffed into boxes for any period of time.  Do you have any personal favorite cookbooks?  Ones that would (or do) stay on your "working" bookshelf?

Lisa:  My working bookshelf includes The Joy of Cooking, The Flavor Bible, Ratio, and a ton of community and Junior League cookbooks from all over the state of Texas. I also have large files of old handwritten family recipes that I refer to for inspiration.

Me:  Do you still foresee time for blogging and/or are there other exciting things in store for Homesick Texan fans out there?

Lisa:  Blogging is at the heart of my working life and I don’t foresee giving that up. I love the camaraderie you have with your readers and find that the instant gratification and back and forth keeps you motivated and makes you work harder. For now, besides blogging, my plan is to do another book. As for anything else, I’ll keep you posted!

Thank you, Lisa- I am so looking forward to it!  Lisa's book was released on September 13th (one week ago today, actually).  If you want a preview, please check out The Homesick Texan Cookbook Spotlight & Cook-Off where you will find opinions of myself and other bloggers on the recipes we've made so far  and watch for links to individual reviews of the book trickling in throughout the week, as well.

*This post is part of The Homesick Texan Cookbook Spotlight and Cook-Off sponsored by Hyperion and hosted (right here!) at girlichef*
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Would you like to comment?

  1. Great interview Heather. You asked all of the questions I wanted answers to. Especially the "do you or don't you" put a recipe on the blog as well as in the cookbook. I personally would find that decision a difficult one and hard to know what readers want in that respect.

    I've enjoyed all of the recipes you and the others have made from the cookbook and know it will be a winner. Just the name alone makes me want to buy it.

  2. Good Morning Heather,
    This is a great interview. Now that I have been in the book for several weeks, you made me feel like I was sitting right there with the two of you, great job! Thanks for a great post and hope you are having a good day!
    Miz Helen

  3. Great interview!! I love that she added new recipes to the cookbook. I have had the greattest time on this spolight!!

  4. I've been following the Homesick Texan for as long as I've been following blogs in general. I have really enjoyed the spotlight the various blogs have given Lisa and the release of her book. I can't wait to get my hands on a copy to put on my working shelf. This was an awesome interview! Thanks for sharing it!

  5. Fantastic interview! For me this has been fun following you because I come from Northern Ontario Canada; I have never been to Texas. With you blog, I am learning so much and being a foodie; I want to learn and try this great(new) food. Thanks.

  6. Awesome interview heather! You asked all of my questions! especially the do you/don't you put it on the blog question...that's something I've always wondered.

  7. I just got my copy the other day (after practically sleeping by the mailbox) and couldn't wait to make something. I've been drooling over all the great posts from the cookbook. Since my menu for the week was planned, I started with a dessert--the arroz con leche. Has anyone else made this? I had to throw it out. It had a pleasant flavor, but never thickened and was like rice soup. I'd love to hear if anyone else tried this recipe. I followed it to the letter and wonder if this was how it was supposed to be.

  8. Wonderful interview Heather--I loved the questions you asked. I always like to hear what is on someone's "working" cookbook list too. Can't wait to see her next book.

  9. Great interview Heather! Lisa sounds very down to earth, and her recipes look really exciting.