It’s hard to think of anything that’s more amazing or more comforting than a hot bowl of soup on a cold, bone-chilling day. It warms your body, and it sure as hell warms your soul. And, that’s exactly what Ali Rakowski of Stamford thought when she put together a brand new cookbook, Bowls of Love, that features 49 soup recipes.
While creating a cookbook of that length is a feat by itself, how Ali put the cookbook together is another thing entirely. She reached out to 49 of her closest friends and asked them to send bowls to her. As they began to roll in, she admired each bowl’s unique qualities. Those unique qualities would then translate over into 49 different recipes that have a story about their sender worked in. The other focus of Bowls of Love is keeping each recipe paleo-friendly. While that might scare off some people, it shouldn’t. Essentially, you’re focusing in on real, authentic, and down-to-earth ingredients that are also free of gluten and dairy.
You can get dip into her book at local book stores and her site starting December 1, and she also has book signings going on in the area like at Westport Farmers’ Market on 12/6 from 10-2. Her book is selling for $39.99, but if you enter in code HOLIDAY15 you’ll get 15% off and if you buy 3 or more books you can get 20% off with BULK20. For more information, you can check out her blog at Intersection Coaching or tweet her.
So, let’s stick a spoon in this one and get the scoop about what inspired Ali to write this book, her love of soup, her love of all things seasonal, and the joys and pains of being an author.
Where did the idea for your cookbook come from?
I started a Paleo food blog back in October 2012 when I was living up in Boston next door to SOWA (my favorite farmers market in the Northeast). I was working from home at the time and was constantly experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen. A childhood friend of mine, A.J. Walkley, who is an accomplished author herself, reached out to me and asked if I ever considered turning my blog into a cookbook. It had always been a dream of mine to consolidate, print, and share my recipes with friends and family, but I never imagined I would create a full cookbook. I started brainstorming the topic, structure, and focus for the book, and within weeks I was pitching to a publishing company.
Why did you focus on just soup?
To me, soup is the quintessential comfort food and warms from the inside out. A main theme in Bowls of Love is the use of cooking and sharing healthy food as a means to show and give love. Soup is the easiest way to portray that message because everyone can relate to getting a bowl of homemade soup from a loved one when they are sick, cold, tired, or in need of a little TLC. My best friend Mallory and I were on a call brainstorming about the book, and we came up with the broader idea of Bowls of Love. I decided to reach out to 49 of the most special people in my life and request a bowl from them. From Nashville to Paris and everywhere in between, bowls were arriving at my apartment daily. I crafted a seasonal soup recipe for each bowl and drafted a story about the person it came from. Each recipe was then photographed in its special bowl and dedicated to the respective person.
Why is eating seasonal food so important?
There are so many benefits to eating seasonal food ranging from the selfish to the selfless. First off, seasonal food tastes better. By purchasing your seasonal food locally, you are eating the food as close to its natural source as possible which leaves less time for shipping and chilling which cause moisture loss and affects flavor profiles. Second, seasonal eating can save you a lot of money. Buying a bunch of tomatoes in peak season in August from your local farmer’s market should save you a good amount of money compared to buying imported tomatoes in February that have been shipped from around the globe. Third, variety is the spice of life, and eating different foods each season enhances that. You are less likely to get sick of what you are eating, and you are constantly providing your body with varied nutrients. Fourth, seasonal diets support our environment by reducing gas, pollution, and your overall carbon footprint. Fifth, eating in line with the seasons will help connect you to your food, its original source, and the roots of the eating experience. Eating fresh, juicy berries in the summer, biting into a crisp fall apple, and roasting perfectly sweet winter squash all align you to a holistic lifestyle that focuses on giving your body what is naturally available around you so you are more connected to your environment. Lastly, seasonal diets help support small and local businesses which is always an incredible way to invest in your local community.
What does it feel like to see an actual hard copy of your book and feel it in your hands?
The feeling is hard to explain, but as my future mother-in-law said, it is as close as anything to holding your own baby. The amount of time, energy, emotion, and vulnerability that went into the book are beyond measure, and seeing the final product blew me away. The book itself is beautiful, but more importantly, the message it contains is universal. Paleo or not, the book contains healthy recipes focused on eating clean, real food and encourages a kitchen lifestyle that builds relationships, health, and love in your home. The physical book represents the leap of faith I took investing in myself, my dreams, and my ability to touch the lives of others. That is truly priceless.
What were some difficult parts of creating your new book?
The cookbook creation process was full of challenges. At first, I never considered myself a “writer,” so creating all of the content and writing 49 personalized stories was a huge undertaking. My previous writings were significantly more private, so it was a very vulnerable experience sharing my ideas, recipes, and personal stories with the world. Once the content was written, I had the enormous task of cooking all of the recipes, strategically rearranging my fridge about 500 times to fit it all, plan all of the photo shoots, and style all of my recipes. Luckily I had a fantastic photographer to work with, but the photo shoots were incredibly time-consuming and physically taxing.
All in all, the most difficult part of the process was when my original publisher and I ran into issues. My very organized plan that had previously been 100% on schedule was impacted, and I began to get very concerned about the final product of my book. I went through a couple of months facing some very difficult business decisions, and I realized I had to start fresh and work with a new publisher. The entire process was a massive learning experience as a new business owner, and I gained many life lessons that I will take with me to all future projects.