Publish or Perish

By Linda J.P. Mahdesian '82 / November / December 1998
November 22nd, 2007
Take one senior, add a dose of missionary zeal, fold in some entrepreneurial spirit, stir vigorously, and you've got a cookbook called Freddie's Cooking with Family and Friends, compiled and published by Fredericka Wilson '99. Filled with 171 recipes, ranging from skillet herb-roasted chicken to Moroccan pork soup, the book is the latest testament to the idea that nothing fires up resourcefulness like a salad of student loans.

Whenever possible over the last two years, Wilson has served as a Christian missionary with Teenmania, a program that encourages young people to serve in short-term missionary projects throughout the United States and abroad. The problem is that missionary work and student loans tend to run up a bit of a debt.

An epiphany about how to deal with this came to Wilson one day while she was working part-time at the Gate,a campus snack bar, and a woman walked in with a cookbook she was selling to raise money for her daughter's school. The woman directed Wilson to the Web site of Cookbook Publishers, a company that helps fund-raisers publish their own anthologies of recipes, and she's been going full tilt ever since.

"I'm working backward in some sense," Wilson says. "I'm trying to get a distributor, but with the cookbook I've created a business in order to self-publish it. I have a friend who wants to publish her poetry, so I'm going to publish her book, and another friend in Florida has an anthology she wants me to publish."

To collect recipes for her own book, Wilson e-mailed friends and relatives, and solicited ideas from her friends and co-workers. "People were very generous," she says. "They sent my e-mails to friends, who sent them to friends. I got two recipes from Nebraska and one from Wisconsin, all from people I never met." A Japanese student who lives near Wilson in Woolley Hall gave her a recipe for Gyu-Don, a stir-fry beef-and-onion dish served over rice. Another student passed on a recipe for Badischer Kirschplotzer (a cake containing the cherry liqueur Kirschwasser) from her mother in Germany. "I had to ask my friend to translate it into English, and we had to change all the metrics to cups and teaspoons," Wilson says.

Of course, some people - Wilson's mother, for instance - wanted to hang on to their best cooking secrets. Mom was willing to hand over some recipes, "but she didn't give me the ones I wanted her to give me," says Wilson. "But that's okay, I'll put them in the next book."

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Related Issue
November / December 1998