A very special announcement…(spoiler: I’m publishing a book!)
As you can imagine, I spend a lot of time with cookbooks. The writing life may be a solitary one, but in the presence of a well-built library, a writer hardly feels alone. When I lived on my own in San Francisco for a year to go to culinary school, the house I rented belonged to the owner of my cooking school (Mary Risley of Tante Marie’s Cooking School). My eyes popped out of my head when I first arrived and discovered walls and walls of cookbooks, a collection amassed over many years. Treasures like signed first editions of Jacques Pepin’s La Technique and La Méthode were on every shelf.
If getting to go to culinary school wasn’t enough of a thrill, that cookbook-laden home was icing on the cake, and I came to feel I was among friends whenever I stepped through the door.
Books have been my companions for a good long time, and I started thinking I would like to write one (or two or three) when I was in college. The day Doug Thorpe, my beloved freshman English professor, handed out my essay to the class to read (he was demonstrating my awful first draft, and my passable final draft…), something ignited in me. That something, I realize now, was the key that would unlock the drive, the ambition, and the fruition of the path ahead. The key? Discovery of my vocation, and belief that I could, and would, write words that expressed something of value, and that others might just be willing to read. Words that would be, in a word, art.
I took my study of literature as far as I could reasonably take it, through a master’s degree and the start of a doctorate. But then I started to feel antsy, as though I was doing someone else’s work, and not my own. I moved on, and while I worked over the next many years in Chicago. The bulk of my days, were dedicated to the work that paid the bills and a big-city lifestyle. It was good work, work I valued.
But then I started to feel antsy, as though I was doing someone else’s work, and not my own…. Thank goodness for our inner voices, the parts of ourselves that reach up and grab us by the lapels, telling us what we really need to know about ourselves. That antsy-ness got me to San Francisco, to culinary school, back to Michigan and Little Traverse Bay and the little writing room and kitchen on Main Street where my blog, Rose Water & Orange Blossoms, was born.
Here I’m surrounded by my growing collection of cookbooks, some favorites of which we cook from here. Because as much as I love reading my cookbooks, I also love cooking from them.
I’m so happy to let you know that soon I’ll be adding my own cookbook to the shelf (and hopefully your shelf too!), a Lebanese cookbook—the one so many of you have been asking for, the one that is going to share the food and culture we love in a most special way:
Rose Water & Orange Blossoms: Fresh and Classic Recipes from my Lebanese Kitchen
Published by Running Press, an imprint of Perseus Books
The book will be filled with, well, fresh and classic Lebanese recipes, but also the gorgeous photos we love and the well-told stories that so often begin and end in the kitchen. Read more about the book and the writing process in an interview I did with the Harbor Light in Harbor Springs (thanks to my friends there for their terrific enthusiasm!).
Your companionship along the way has meant so much–many of you tested recipes for the book, a huge, ginormous help. You, the community here, are the greatest, and without you none of this would be possible. I consider this book very much ours. I hug each of you with gratitude and flowers.
The publishing process is long—the book will be out in spring 2015—but the manuscript-writing process is short, and there is much to do in the coming months. The timing matters a lot less, though, than the work itself, which is good work, work that is really more like play, and above all…work that is not someone else’s, but my own.
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I'm so glad you're here! You'll find among these pages the fresh and classic Lebanese recipes we can't get enough of! My mission is to share my tried + true recipes -- and to help our Lebanese food-loving community keep these culinary traditions alive and on the table. What recipes are you looking for? Let me know!
Warmest congratulations! I can’t wait to have a copy on my kitchen counter.
Thank you very much, my friend!
Congratulations on your cookbook! I know it will be a gem, and I am happy to test recipes. I love Lebanese food, but haven’t much experience cooking it, aside from humus, tabouleh, spinach pie, and lemon chicken breasts.
Thank you Susan! So much Lebanese goodness to discover!
My mom and I love your blog!! I would love to test your recipes too!! My mom came over from Lebanon when she was 20 and we cook off your blog all the time. My grandama cooked from her head and heart and I tried to watch her and write it down and I come close but your blog helps me figure out what I missed.
Wow, this is s special Stephanie! I will love having you test recipes. My warm regards to you and your mom!
Congratulations, Maureen — you are undertaking a tremendous challenge and I know you are up to it. If I can be of help in “testing recipes,” count me in.
Good luck on this endeavor,
Gena, many many thanks to you! I’ve got you down!
Congratulations, I was hoping you would publish a cook book.
Maureen I can’t wait ti read and cook your recipes.
Thank you Julia!
Oh good, thank you Anna!
Ah, wonderful news for you and for all of us! I would love to test ANY recipe that you come up with!
That is great Mary Anne, thank you!
Great News! I don’t post often, but I’m a happy blog follower from Traverse City. I’d be very excited to help you test some of your recipes before publication. How exciting!
Hello to you in beautiful TC! I’ve got you down, thank you!
Congratulations Maureen on your Cookbook.
You write with such fluidity and fluency that i find reading your work easy and pleasant. I liked your play
on “antsy”. I’m surprised you’re not announcing a regular book to boot. Are you working on one?
You almost freaked me out when, for a split second, I thought you were getting MARRIED!
Please don’t give the Bachelors here on the thread a fright like that again…
You and your family should be, must be very proud. Although i dont know you well, I’m proud of you. We’re all proud of you!
Thank you so much for your kind thoughts and words Michael (you are funny!!). Your pride and enthusiasm are received with joy!
I want one !
Thank you Michelle!
The news we’ve been waiting for. The news we knew would come. Cheers to you and this book-to-be!
Ahhh, means so much from you Tara! Thank you thank you!
Congratulations! I love it when I hear my favorite bloggers are publishing a cookbook! Would be honored to assist with recipe testing.
That’s great Barbara, thank you!
This is wonderful news, Maureen! Can’t wait!
Many thanks Marci!
I enjoy reading your blog and would be interested in testing some of your recipes.
Wonderful, you’re on! Thank you!
Congrats Maureen! I would love to test out some recipes!
That’s great Beatrice, thank you!
Cheers Maureen! I am so happy for you and can’t wait to buy your cookbook! xo
Cheers and thank you Michele! Miss you!
Congratulations, Maureen! I am so excited for you, and for all of us who will now get to have your cookbook on our shelves. Looking forward to trying out your delicious recipes!!
Many thanks to you Alexis!
So wishes do come true ! Your emails are cherished , your photos are masterpieces and your gift of writing is full of symbolism, a graceful description of so much respectful admiration for any theme you choose…
you are that author of a coffee table special edition!
I would not squeeze your long awaited book between my walls-filling collection of cook books.
Blessings to enjoy creating
That is absolutely beautiful Barbara–I’m so touched! Thank you!
Maureen……I WANT THE VERY FIRST COPY!!! (signed by YOU, of course!) xoxo, your GrapeVine friend!
Thank you so much my grapevine friend!!!
Wowwwww! I am positively thrilled for you — I can only imagine how excited you must be to make a dream come true! My very best wishes to you, Maureen!
Dear, dear Jane, thanks so much!
This is just wonderful news. You are an artist and I am always grateful to see your entries. Cannot wait to own your creation. I am so impressed and admire your journey’s progress so, so much. Happy to help whenever you want us (Michael and I) to try out a recipe. It would be a privilege Maureen. XOXO
What kindness and friendship–thank you Susan! You are an inspiration!
Oh! Oh! Pick me! Pick me! [hand in air, jumping, shouting]
So happy and excited for you, Maureen.
Perfect, cousin, thank you!
Your prose is engaging. Your recipes are unique and accessible. Your photography is evocative. This will be a fantastic book. I’ll gladly help test recipes!
Thank you thank you Greg!
Put me down for three copies. Please try to keep things as authentic as possible.
Would love to do some test cooking for you, but keep in mind where I’m located it’s hard to get specialty ingredients.
Wonderful Roger, thank you!
Congratulations, Maureen. I would be happy to test a few of your (delicious) recipes!
Great Lynda, thank you!
Maureen, your excitement and enthusiasm is contagious. We love your style and the warmth of your blog. Your recipes and stories stir more than food, they stir the best memories of our mothers, grandmothers and family. I’m already estimating the number of copies I’ll order(approximately a dozen, so far),
If you have a category of testers headed, “If he can do it, anyone can,” put me in, coach. God bless.
Thank you so very much, Kamell!
Congratulations, dear cousin! Wonderful news and a great result from all the very hard work you’ve done. I’m proud of you. Can’t wait to have a copy of my own. xoxo
Love you, thank you Anne!
What great news!!!! I love your blog, and look forward to your book!
Thank you Michaela!
Congratulations on the book Maureen. I’m happy to see that you are following your dream. I look forward to owning a copy!
Linda, how nice to hear from you–thanks a million and hope all is well with you!
Brava Maureen! I’m happy for you and me: I will be part of this by owning your wonderful cookbook.
Tonight is the annual volunteer dinner at Mary Risley’s and we will toast you and your to-be-published cookbook. A life of value, art, you are there: antsy by antsy. Big hugs
Jeanne, my special friend, thank you! Hugs and kisses to you and to our beloved SF!
Congratulations, Mabrouk, dear Maureen!
I would love to buy a copy of your book and would be delighted to test any of your delicious recipes in my corner of the Middle East!! Please keep us posted, and all the best to you.
Thank you Fiona very much!
Have you thought about posting on the Deir Mimas facebook page for really authentic test cooks? That would really be a different twist that you could use to publicize the book. Not much more authentic than those still living in our Grandparents home town.
Great idea Roger! You’re always full of those! Thank you–
How exciting, Maureen. I so look forward to owning a hard copy of the recipes and remembrances that your delightful blog regularly delivers. And oh yes, always happy to volunteer to test recipes for you. Congratulations.
Thank you Shallini!
I ditto all 23 comments …. It is about time…..sounds like you have lots and lots of test tasters. I would be one too, if u make anything while in Naples….but surly when I get back to Petoskey.
Having gone through the experience, it is tedious but genuinely rewarding.
Congratulations from your “Kibbee n Spice” cousin….
You are a gem Janet, and paved the way with your wonderful book! It will be a great help to have you test recipes, thank you!
This is wonderful news. We (my family and me) have loved your blog and recipes (and your beautiful photograps, of course).
I’m sure we will be thrilled and honoured to try your recipes and give you whatever feedback we can. This is going to be such a delight!
I can’t wait to have your book in my hands (and I dream of a Spanish version to it, also: there are so many Lebanese families in Latin America).
Carlos, what a great note, thank you so much! I will be thrilled to have you and your family test the recipes. And someday I’d love to know more about the Lebanese in Latin America…
I am so excited and happy for you…I would love to help you any way I can…Please count on me to test your recipes as well.
Congratulations!!! Cannot wait to read and buy your cookbook!!! I think of my mom every time you post pictures and recipies of our delicious cuisine!!!! EXCITING!!!
Susie, you are right there with me on this, and I thank you so much!
Wonderful Marian, thank you–it will be terrific to have you testing!
I am so thrilled for you and glad that you got ‘antsy’ enough to follow your vocation! I really look forward to reading it!
Thank you Josephine!
Congratulations on the book! How exciting! I would love to test recipes for you as your bloc had inspired me to do more Lebanese cooking.
Oops excuse the typos; I am typing from my phone.
Great Jan, thank you!
We “met” through Hollye and I write a food memoir blog. I would be happy to test your recipes. Add me to the list! If you want to vet me as a tester, you can find me at thewaterissmiling.wordpress.com or http://www.facebook.com/TheWaterIsSmiling. 🙂 Congratulations!
How great to see you here, Cynthia, and to know our connection through the wonderful Hollye! I would be honored for you to test recipes, and will be in touch!
What an accomplishment! I’d love to be a recipe tester, to have my book club read your book, and to hook you up with my mother who works at Schuler’s to do a signing if you’re so inclined.
Gabrielle, how exciting! I would love to do a signing at Schuler’s when that time comes, thank you! And I will add you to the list of testers too!
I’ll take one! Better make that two. No, no, I’ll take ’em all.
Oh Bill, you are dear, thanks a million!
Great news Maureen!!!
If you would like a Spaniard in Lansing testing your recipes, count me in.
I would love a Spaniard, with her good taste, testing my recipes! Thank you Terri!
Congratulations Cousin, I am so happy to hear this news and can hardly wait to get. I know your entire family will be proud and it will be nice to own your cookbook seeing that most of us from Lansing are used to certain taste for our food, I do have Janet’s cookbook and a green covered cookbook from an Aunt in Charleston WV. I also know the pictures will be beautiful. I remember your Sitto’s food as a child as I never new my own Sitto’s. I can hardly wait.
You remember my Sitto’s food!! It was SO good, so very good. Thank you for all of your support and encouragement!
BIG congratulations, Maureen, and high time! My last book was with Running Press and it was a joy (are your working with Kristen Wiewora by any chance?). All the best, and looking forward to hearing about it along the way.
Jill, that’s great to hear about you and Running Press! Yes, I’m working with Kristen, and love her already!
congratulations, i feel confident you will bring the joy and warmth and of course good things to eat to your book that all of us enjoy in your blog.
That is so nice, thank you Nancy!
Congratulations! how wonderful! I hope you will blog about the process as well! Looking forward!
I sure will Nadine, thank you!
Congratulations Maureen – I will be one of the first to sign up for the new book. And I’d be honored to test any recipes – just say when. Your blog has been such an inspiration and I know that your book will be a huge success. Wishing you all the very best!
Brian, thank you for your kindness always! I’d be honored to have you test, and to cook with you when your kitchen is ready!
I’m late to the game reading this post, but I am so proud of you, Maureen! Not only did you write a killer proposal, but you got an agent and an offer so quickly. It’s a great start to a long process.
You are the proposal-writing guru, Dianne! Thank you so much for all of your help!
So happy for you…I knew this time would come. And I can’t wait to add this Lebanese cookbook to my shelf. Sign me up for any recipe testing you need. Thrilled to help in any way…and Walid would love to be a taste tester. All the best to you!
Janet, you’re the best! Thank you!
I am so thrilled and delighted that we’ll all get to tuck you into our beloved bookshelves. What a huge treat we have in store!
Cheryl, thanks so much for all of your encouragement!
Congratulations, Maureen! I’ve been enjoying your blog and look forward to cooking from your soon-to-be published book! If I can help you in any way, please let me know.
Helen, you are dear–thank you very much!
Yay congratulations. I cant wait to get this cookbook. 🙂
Congratulations. We are can’t wait! Hope to see you soon!
Anne, thanks a million! Hope to see you soon too!
I can’t wait! They will be Christmas presents in 2015 for everyone I know that likes to cook!
How special! Thank you!
Wonderful News! I don’t commentoften, but I follow your blog regularly. I’d be very happy to help you test some of the recipes from the book. Is it only for people who have a blog?
I’d love to have your input testing recipes, Navya, thank you!
I’m pretty sure it will be awesome if you wrote it! Can’t wait to get it on my shelf!
Thank you Margy!
Rock On Maureen! We became friends at a Cook Book writing class! Can’t wait for it!
Thank you dear Bridget!
Congratulations! This is my kind if cooking — I’m happy to test recipes.
Terrific, thank you Gayle!
I am so excited for you!!!!!!!!!!!!! I know it will fill a real need, Can’t wait to read it.Hope it will be full of your great photos. Love you,
Thank you Aunt Peg!
Yayyyy congrats Maureen! I am just so so soooo happy for you! I wish you the best of luck along the way!
And I totally many to help out and test recipes! 🙂
Thank you Henna!!
Maureen , as one of your avid readers I will be happy to help testing recipes . Just make the book an extension of your blog. Well done. We feel we’ve been on the journey with you.. Alf mabrook.
Thank you so much Paul!
I would be happy to test the recipes 🙂
Wonderful, thank you!
This is most welcome news……congrats! I have been following you for quite awhile now, though not commenting often (just shy I guess). I have been going through your archives whenever I had questions about dishes I remembered and was trying to resurrect from memory, (because no one ever wrote anything down, and I trusted them to be around forever!). You have helped me on so many occasions and revived many special moments with family and dear friends. I am so looking forward to having your book on my shelf and in my hands; books are special friends, and, as much as I love the convenience and expanded opportunity of the Internet, they can never be replaced.
A couple of my cousins have recently asked me to share whatever I know and we plan to get together for some cooking sessions…..my favorite way to cook! I would like to offer any help in recipe testing that you might need…..it would be so much fun!
Best of luck…..
Merry, that is beautiful! Thank you!
hi Maureen, I’ve been obsessed with your blog. My mom’s cousin wrote The Lebanese Kitchen. My heart jumped a few times when I saw you posted it. THANK YOU!
Rita, how special!! Thank you so much and please give my warmest regards to your family and to Salma!
ps: i can’t wait to have your book
Dear Maureen–your news is a dream come true! Love when that happens. Enjoy every moment of this wonderful journey! Zoe
Maureen, I love your blog and your writing is a work of art. I’m looking forward to your book and trying your recipes!
Thank you so very much Yasmin! That means a lot!
Greatly anticipating your cookbook……..I would even fly down there to taste test your recipes…..ha ha.
I am also Lebanese and from Lansing. Our families probably knew each other. I just recently became aware of your blog and look forward to following it. My 2 daughters and I love to cook Lebanese meals and I would be happy to help test recipes. Look forward to your cookbook.
A Lansing friend–thank you Mary Jo! And thank you for offering to test recipes…we’ve just finished up with it but I will put you on my list for future reference, with many thanks.