Who do you test your recipes on? Friends and family? At some point, do they get sick of slow cooker dishes or are they good sports?
PPG: I test some of the recipes, but not nearly all of them. We test hundreds, sometimes thousands, for one cookbook. We have a group of testers who test for us, and we ask them to prepare the food at home—because that’s where the users of the cookbook will be making the recipes. We give the testers careful instructions so that they pay close attention to the ingredients and procedure to make sure it all works. We ask that they share the dish they’ve made with friends and family members. We want to hear a broad range of responses to each dish before including its recipe in the cookbook.
Because the full responsibility of testing each and every recipe doesn’t rest on me, I haven’t worn out my family yet! They’re usually game to try when I do test—thankfully.
When you are writing a cookbook, how many recipes will you test on a weekly basis?
PPG: Please see my explanation above. The exact number I test varies with each cookbook. I spend a great deal of time reading all of the recipes that we receive, and then evaluating the testers’ comments and results. My biggest job is to finally choose which recipes should go into the books.
Are you well known in Lancaster as The Crock Pot/Slow Cooker lady? Do people expect you to bring the best dishes to potlucks?
PPG: I am sometimes called the Fix-It and Forget-It Woman! Just last Sunday our church had a potluck lunch, and one person yelled to me while we were in line for food—“Okay, everybody, that’s Phyllis’ dish. You’ll want to have some of that.” Bless her sweet heart! It was kind of cute and kind of embarrassing!
Have you made any real stinkers/terrible dishes? Please share your disasters!
PPG: I think of two kinds of duds I’ve made—ones with meat that was completely dried out. The other are recipes with too much liquid, which can dilute the flavor and make the dish seem thin and tasteless.
[amazonify]156148704X[/amazonify]What prompted you to write a slow cooker cookbook for kids?
PPG: Most of our slow-cooker recipes are quite simple to make. With a little adult guidance, kids can make many of them. And with more and more families trying to eat healthfully, and to prepare their own meals rather than grabbing fast food or pick-up food at the deli, I thought, why not have the kids learn to feel at home in the kitchen? If they help to prepare “real” food, rather than just snacks or desserts, they’ll be more interested in eating the food they’ve made. So we chose 50 recipes that include many main dishes, prepared them and photographed the finished dishes. We re-wrote the recipes so that a child with little or no kitchen experience could make the dishes. I want kids to succeed in the kitchen—and to make good, basic food—and that’s what I set out to do with the Fix-It and Forget-It Kids’ Cookbook.
How many slow cookers do you personally own?
PPG: I have two at home—and they get a good workout!
Would you consider writing a cookbook that was not slow cooker based, or is this your favorite way of cooking?
PPG: I have done a whole other series of cookbooks with stove-top and oven recipes. We call it a “cousin” series to the Fix-It and Forget-It books; they’re the Fix-It and Enjoy-It Cookbooks, and there are 4 of them in the series. I figured that no one wants to use a slow cooker every night of the week—but most of us are still short on time–and confidence in the kitchen—so I wanted to offer quick and easy-to-prepare recipes for cooking on the stove and in the oven. These books are wonderful collections, too. In addition, I’ve done another half dozen cookbooks—several from our local farmers market, and some related to Amish and Mennonite cooking traditions.
After coming up with 700 recipes for the first Fix It and Forget It, how in the world did you find 600 for the Holiday book? Where do you find your cooking inspiration?
PPG: We gather recipes from a whole list of contributors who we know are good cooks. They are from all across the country—and they have fabulous recipes. So I have not created these recipes; they come from many wonderful cooks who have served the recipes to their families and friends—and have polished them through the years.
My inspiration for cooking comes from these people and their recipes. And I read cooking magazines and cookbooks by others all the time. It’s one of my most fun ways to relax!
Can you tell us your favorite cookbooks (other than your own) and why? Do you have a really large personal cookbook collection?
PPG: I have tons of cookbooks. And I have boxes of recipes I’ve torn from magazines and newspapers! I am always sure I will make all of these recipes someday! One of my favorite chefs is Ina Garten. I really enjoy reading and using the Barefoot Contessa cookbooks—and watching her cooking shows.