Lifelong Roman dishes up love of cooking with new book

Published Jan 8, 2017 at 9:00am

Life-long Roman Holly Amidon has weaved in a lifetime of memories and love for cooking into her newly released first book, “A Lifetime of Good Eats.”

Amidon learned how to cook at a very young age. Throughout the years, she has built up a repertoire of recipes, from her early cooking days to regionally inspired dishes and more complicated culinary offerings. In “A Lifetime of Good Eats,” published by LifeRich Publishing, the author presents a compilation of the comfort foods that she has prepared for others numerous times over the past 30 years.

Amidon tells the story of her life and her relationship with food in the cookbook. 

“I have always loved to cook,” Amidon said.  “I started as a preteen and haven’t ever really stopped. My parents were both big influences on me as we always had lovely family dinners with lots of good food and interesting conversation. My mom taught me the fundamentals and then later on, my dad showed me the ropes of gourmet cooking.”

Describing that the world has become a “foodie nation,” Amidon said she thinks cookbooks will continue to be a terrific resource for people who enjoy honing their kitchen abilities and sharing their food with others.  Through the route of self-publishing, Amidon was able to make that happen.

“Many times over the years I thought it would be fun to put all my favorite recipes together and create a bound collection for my family and friends.  It wasn’t until Thanksgiving time of 2015 when I began to seriously research self-publishing and found that I liked the idea of having complete control over my text and design,” Amidon said.  “I committed fully to the project in February of last year when I handed over all my hourly wages and tips from helping my brother-in-law out at his bistro and wine bar. I had literally been stashing the bills away in my bedside drawer to use for start-up money.  There was no looking back now.”

A unique feature of Amidon’s cookbook is how it relates the recipes to some special person or time in the author’s life and how it incorporates those stories with food. Also included is a guide to food preparation.  

“I spent hundreds of hours doing test kitchens of my recipes and documenting every ingredient I used and every step I took in the preparation of my foods,” the author said. “I then tied each recipe to a special person or event in my life, and began to weave tales around the recipes to help readers understand the importance or affection I attach to the foods that I make.”

She said, “The fun really began when my friend, Karen Barnes, who is an incredibly talented artist and photographer, agreed to help me in my venture. She came to my house for five or six lunches and two or three dinners to place the dishes that I had prepared in the proper light and also in aesthetically pleasing venues so as to capture the freshness, colors, and textures of the food. This is where the project advanced to a whole new level. We were both very pleased with the results.”

Amidon submitted all her text and photos to LifeRich Publishing in July. The next phase of the project entailed much back-and-forth communication between the cook and publisher as to recipe and photo placement on the page, overall design, corrections and adjustments. The publisher did not proofread or do any editing.  Amidon said it was up to her, Barnes and Amidon’s husband, Joel, to perform those daunting tasks, and hopes that they got it right. The finished product went “live” just before Thanksgiving. 

“I believe that my caring, easy going personality resonates in the recipe vignettes,” Amidon said. “My approach to life and loved ones is joyous and open. Cooking and entertaining is one of the ways that I can share that happiness.”

Amidon said there isn’t a food she doesn’t like to eat, or cook. An alumnus of Hamilton College, Amidon has travelled extensively, sampling dishes from around the globe, but finds herself most at home with the comfort foods of her youth.

Using fresh ingredients and recipes steeped in tradition, Amidon said she creates meals that are meant to be shared. She loves to cook for family and friends, but has also forayed into the restaurant world at various times of her life.

“Whether it is an intimate dinner for two or a party for 50, my food makes people happy,” she said.

As for publishing her first book, “It is amazing to look back and see how much got accomplished in what seems like a very short time,” Amidon said.  “I have begun work on my second cookbook, which is essentially all written in my head.  I just need to go through the paces of the test kitchen and the time at the computer. I recently signed up for an intensive photography class at Munson Williams Proctor School of Art in Utica, which includes instruction on the use of Photoshop.”

“My hope is to be able to take my own food pictures,” she said. “The learning curve on this project just expanded as I will need a new computer and camera.  Mine are both old and slow.  The good news is that I can use these skills again on book No. 3. I still have a lot to share!”

Amidon’s book can be found on Amizon.com, and locally at Brenda’s Natural Foods.