Makings of a Book / Work

Behind the Scenes of The Backyard Fire Cookbook

Behind the scenes of The Backyard Fire Cookbook

It’s been a little over two months since the release of The Backyard Fire Cookbook, and summer is in full swing around here. For us, that means lazy days on the river and lakes, the ever-present smell of sunscreen in the air, and the savory, smoky scent of barbecue and bonfires outside our door.

I’ve been having a lot of fun revisiting the recipes in my book as we plan our weekly grocery shopping and prepare for camping trips. (We’ve actually been making them more in camp than at home, so this is a book that also travels well!)

A huge hit with the hubby is the Korean Grilled Chicken (page 169), which is often accompanied by Easy Homemade Kimchi (page 159) — they’re also crowd pleasers if you’re stumped on what to bring to a potluck. (We even keep a couple bags of pre-marinated chicken in the freezer so we don’t have to think about dinner when the fridge is empty.)

Korean grilled chicken

As for me, current favorites are the Seared Rib-Eye Steaks with Herbed Board Sauce (page 73) served with Charred Beefsteak Tomatoes with Basil and Burrata (page 53). They are so quick and so easy to make despite looking and tasting very gourmet… a true weeknight meal!

Seared rib-eye steaks with herbed board sauce
Seared beefsteak tomato with burrata

And with all the ripe, juicy peaches in season right now, I have my eye on firing up a couple of Peach and Prosciutto Planked Pizzas (page 201) for brunch soon. (You know, one of those long, leisurely weekend brunches that start at noon and continue into dinners with friends.)

Plank-grilled peach and prosciutto pizza

While organizing stacks of books for shipping this week (by the way, did you know you can now buy a personally signed copy from my online store right here?), I couldn’t help but reminisce on the crazy busy summer we had last year while writing, developing, testing, and shooting The Backyard Fire Cookbook.

Before embarking on the first book I ever published (back in 2014 with The CSA Cookbook), I was always curious how a cookbook was made. I loved getting a first-hand look at photo shoots, being amused by food stylists’ favorite tricks (shaving cream instead of whipped cream, blow-torching a chicken instead of actually roasting it), and reading about other cookbook authors’ experiences.

The making of The Backyard Fire Cookbook

I loved learning what went on behind the scenes of a cookbook from start to finish, who was involved, and how much it all cost.

And to answer a question I’m frequently asked, the budget for ingredients, tools, and props comes directly out of my author advance. When you consider the amount of food we cook and consume in the course of a book being made, that means all those trips to Costco, supermarkets, and specialty markets add up quickly!

Want to know exactly what we used and how much of it? Keep reading!

Grilled cucumber pickles

Behind the Scenes of The Backyard Fire Cookbook

Amount of time spent writing the introduction, recipe notes, and general content: 3 weeks (this was the hardest part of the book, and honestly a total blur in the process because I always leave it down to the wire)

Amount of time spent developing, testing, and shooting recipes: 3 months

Amount of time spent editing the manuscript: 3 weeks with the copyeditor plus 3 weeks with the project manager

Number of recipes cut during editing due to size constraints: 3

Number of near disasters that involved a toddler: One day, while Will and I were distracted with our photo shoot, Gemma stole a stick of butter from the kitchen counter and proceeded to “paint” all over the TV in our living room with it! We discovered it later that afternoon with the butter half-melted on our media console. Oh man… lesson learned. Haha!

Amount of Morton’s Coarse Kosher Salt used: 1 1/2 pounds

Amount of Spectrum Organic Olive Oil Cooking Spray used: 3 (5-ounce) cans

Amount of Tillamook Sweet Cream Salted Butter used: 4 1/2 pounds

Amount of Kamado Joe Big Block XL Hardwood Lump Charcoal (my favorite brand) used: 150 pounds

Amount of hardwood used: 3 large armfuls of assorted fruitwood purchased from a local wood-fired pizza restaurant (because no store in Bend, Oregon, sold hardwood for cooking, believe it or not — it’s all pine around here)

Number of fire pits and grills we built, bought, or borrowed for the book: 5

Number of local markets we regularly shopped for ingredients: 6

Number of recipes shot per day: 4 to 6

Number of days spent shooting recipes: 14

Number of days spent shooting the cover: 1

Cavemean steak cooked on the coals

Most expensive recipe developed: Peppercorn-Crusted Caveman Steak with Horseradish Cream (we splurged on grass-fed porterhouse steaks from a local butcher shop, and each steak was almost $75… it was one recipe we definitely did not want to overcook!)

Most cost-effective recipe developed: Cedar-Planked Tomatoes Stuffed with Mushrooms and Gruyere (we grew the tomatoes on our deck last summer)

Most interesting location used during shooting: Our friend’s cabin on the Middle Fork Flathead River in West Glacier, Montana (we had a working vacation there!)

Total time in production from contract signing to publication day: 14 months

Is there anything else you’ve been curious about in the cookbook publishing process? Ask away!

The Backyard Fire Cookbook was a true labor of love and I am immensely proud of how beautifully it turned out, thanks in no small part to my handsome photographer (and husband) Will Taylor, as well as the top-notch team at Quarto Publishing.

I hope you’ll enjoy grilling from it as much as I did writing it!

A look behind the scenes of The Backyard Fire Cookbook
Buy The Backyard Fire Cookbook

The Backyard Fire Cookbook is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository (for non-USA readers — they offer free international shipping!), Books A Million, Indigo (for Canadian readers), or your local independent bookshop. Signed copies can be ordered from my online store. Buy it now!

And if you’ve cooked from the book, I’d love to see or hear how it turned out. Tag @gardenbetty on your social feeds, and please leave a review on Amazon if you’re so inclined!

Thank you so much for supporting this and all of my books. Here’s to good food, great friends, and delicious drinks around a fire all summer long!

More Updates on The Backyard Fire Cookbook

The Backyard Fire Cookbook Is Here! Hooray!
A Sneak Peek of The Backyard Fire Cookbook
The Making of The Backyard Fire Cookbook Cover
A New Book is Cookin’

About Author

I'm a plant lover, passionate road-tripper, and cookbook author whose expert advice and bestselling books have been featured in TIME, Outside, HGTV, and Food & Wine. The No-Waste Vegetable Cookbook is my latest book. Garden Betty is where I write about modern homesteading, farm-to-table cooking, and outdoor adventuring—all that encompass a life well-lived outdoors. After all, the secret to a good life is... Read more »

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