by Lynn Kerrigan (1996)
(Editor's Note: Lynn Kerrigan is one of those behind-the-scene dynamos who, like the rest of us online, have bridged the gap between food and computers. She publishes the Culinary Sleuth newsletter and has authored several guides on food publications and home-based businesses.)
At last count, my research uncovered 194 American made food/cooking related periodicals including magazines, newsletters and journals. This issue of the electronic Gourmet Guide spotlights culinary newsletters—an American phenomenon much like the ever popular non-profit community cookbooks published by organizations that, by necessity, bypass powerful New York publishers.
Home grown, home made, self published culinary newsletters receive little or no media attention. Most operate on shoestring budgets and three-digit subscriber bases out of a love of cooking, writing or both. Yet they offer cooking enthusiasts something their slick distant cousins (culinary magazines) never can or will. Simple wisdom, friendly warmth and a "come sit at my kitchen table" attitude.
You won't see full page ads for shiny cars or Madison Avenue packaged makeup samples here. There are usually no ads at all. They run the gamut from friendly recipe sharing publications to glossy, photo illustrated affairs penned by one of America's foremost food writers (Edward Behr—The Art of Eating). The editors include a husband/wife team of professional chefs (The Brackens—Cook's Corner), successful weight loss experts (JoAnna Lund—Healthy Exchanges), a middle America based homemaker (Avis Hulvey—Cook's Notebook), registered dietitian (Karen Lux—Healthy Weigh) and a highly literate food historian (Sandy Oliver—Food History News). A few feature provocative essays worth the price of admission alone. Some are simple affairs with the author/artist's whimsical drawings (Karyl Bannister—Cook & Tell). A few are visually beautiful productions illustrated with vintage graphics and using a thoughtfully selected grade of paper. (Catherine Vodrey—Convivium). One thing they share is the devotion and mission of their editors: To publish a stellar product for cooks.
Some newsletters launched as a result of a particular problem the editor encountered, tackled and conquered. For example when Sandra Leonard learned she had celiac sprue she didn't slink off to bed for a good, 'poor me' cry. Instead she set out to learn everything she could about the disease, which bars its victims from eating gluten (flour) based foods. Then she went about discovering where she could buy specialty products, developed recipes that darn near rivaled their flour based counterparts and launched The Gluten Free Baker, a bimonthly newsletter.
Marilyn Helton's life shattered the year her mother died and she lost a breast via cancer. She took her grief and directed it into excess energy to publish the beautiful, full color bimonthly newsletter, Cinnamon Hearts, dedicated to healthy lifestyles through nutritious food for body and soul.
Ferris Robinson's world veered unexpectedly when her 34 year old husband suffered a heart attack and went under the surgeon's knife for open heart surgery. Heeding the doctor's advice, Ferris scurried around collecting and developing cholesterol free, fat free recipes to serve to her food loving mate. She knew two things. The recipes had to taste real good and they had to keep her husband alive. As a result of her dedication, her husband's cholesterol dropped 130 points. In the process, Gorgeless Gourmet, a monthly newsletter filled with delicious fat free recipes, was born.
JoAnna Lund's body closely resembled the Pillsbury Dough Boy's when she decided to lose weight for good. Sick of fad diets and yo-yo weight swings she created her own healthy recipes based on medical facts. Healthy Exchanges, a bimonthly newsletter (one of the few culinary related newsletters that are wildly successful) for people who want to eat well and eat right took flight.
Largely the publications these culinary artists extend to their readers offer innovative recipes, (many developed by the editors themselves), culinary resources, product information, cost cutting tips and fresh ideas to use in the kitchen, not to mention a darn good read. The prose and refreshing wit of Catherine Vodrey in her newsletter Convivium, A Decidedly Unstuffy Food and Cooking Letter and Sharon Parquette Nimitz through the pages of Cookspeak rival those of other, more famous names in the culinary and literary world.
Yet, for all their excellence of design, innovation and prose, they lack the one ingredient necessary for a business to thrive—sufficient income. These kitchen table entrepreneurs may not be as well versed in the art of marketing as they are with culinary expertise and therein is the reason many fail, closing their kitchens forever after only a year or two. The stalwarts who remain do so on a wing and a prayer and the steadfast loyalty of subscribers who stay with them, year after year after year.
Most notable among the oldsters is John Thorne's wildly wonderful, Simple Cooking. Fifteen years old and self-sustaining, John wouldn't dream of doing anything besides cooking and writing about cooking.
For a closer look at these newsletters I've included a select list for you to sample yourself. Their descriptions and subscription information can be found below. Most will gladly send you a sample of their wares, either freely or for a fee. Please let them know, too, that you found them on the electronic Gourmet Guide.
Click here for pictures of some of the other culinary newsletters. Note that this is a lengthy download on a slow connection.
Art of Eating
PO Box 242
Peacham, VT 05862
f Editor; Edward Behr
Quarterly. 16-22 pages. Subscription: $30. Historic, scientific food and wine essays by one of the finest food writers. Illustrated with photographs.
Asian Food bookery
Quarterly Exploration of Asian Foods & Foodways Everywhere
PO Box 15947
Seattle, WA 98115-0947
Editor: R W Lucky
Quarterly. $14 year. Sample: $3.50
Highly literate Asian food letter jewel. Reviews Asian cookbooks, excerpting recipes from each. Offers interviews, brief ruminations and Asian product news.
Baking with The American Harvest
1341 Ocean Ave # 526
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Editor: Cindy Mushet
Bimonthly. 12 pages. Subscription: $24. Sample $4.50. Celebrates the joy of baking, pastry & dessert in their many forms. Author/editor Cindy Mushet, a professional pastry chef, culinary instructor and writer creates a natural winner, meshing her extensive knowledge and love of baking with fine prose. Beautifully produced.
PO Box 578340
Modesto, CA 95357-8340
Editor: Marilyn Helton
Bimonthly. 12 pages. $18 year. Sample: $3. Full-color vintage illustrations decorate this lively, wholesome newsletter. Filled with tips to brighten your life and eat well. Includes a men's corner, kids cooking and gardening column.
Convivium, A Decidedly Unstuffy Food and Cooking Letter
PO Box 835
East Liverpool, OH 43920-5835
Editor: Catherine Vodrey
Bimonthly. 8 pages. $24 year. Sample: $4. Recipes highlighted with the editor's delightful anecdotes. Great recipes in a warm. lively style.
Cook & Tell
PO Box 363
West Southport, ME 04576
Editor: Karyl Bannister
10 times a year. $16. Sample: $3. Folksy letter with recipes, reader's hints and the editor's whimsical art. Philosophy is that food should be reasonably wholesome and taste good.
PO Box 50116
Irvine, CA 92619
Editor: Bill Bracken
Bimonthly. 8 pages. $18 year. Sample: $3. This husband/wife team of professional chefs shares their extensive knowledge and recipes with their reader. Billed as the newsletter for readers who love to cook. Well done. No puffery. Peerless culinary information from a couple of pros.
11216N 500 E.
Ossian, IN 46777-9728
Editor: Avis Hulvey
Bimonthly. 14 pages. $8.50 a year. Sample: $2. Homey, recipe sharing letter filled with the editor's original recipes, cookbook reviews and down home commentary.
2721 Church St.
Zachary, LA 70791
Editor: Mildred Camp
Quarterly. 32 pages. $12 year. Sample: $3. Two newsletters in one. Honest reviews of 30+ cookbooks in each issue plus over 100 recipes from the reviewed books.
Cookbook Collector's Exchange
PO Box 32369
San Jose, CA 95152-2369
Editor: Sue Erwin
Bimonthly. $15 year. Sample: $2. If you collect cookbooks, you need this newsletter. In it's 7th year, it offers a medium for the exchange of cookbooks, informative reviews plus historical articles, collector's profiles and other resources.
PO Box 155
Wallingford, VT 05773
Editor: Sharon Parquette Nimitz
Bimonthly. Subscription: $18. Sample: $4. A Seasonal Narrative with Recipes. Snippets of Vermont life tucked among recipes and resources. Witty, imaginative writing and recipes. A curl up read.
PO Box 194
Bryn Mawr, PA 19010-0194
Editor: Lynn Kerrigan
Quarterly. Subscription: $10. Sample: $2. Unusual, hard-to-define letter with extensive listing of free recipe offers, uncommon sources of culinary information, Supermarket Detective and Make Your Own Convenience Foods column plus hints on cashing in on your culinary skills.
Food History News
HCR 81, Box 354A
Isleboro, ME 04848
Editor: Sandra L Oliver
Quarterly. 10 pages. $12 year. Sample: $4. Dedicated to the three hundred years of American food history from the early 17th century through the 20th century. Unique forum for news, information and debate about the study and preparation of historic food.
For The Love of Food
RR 1, Box 445
Hudson, ME 04449
Editor: Sharon Hamel
Bimonthly. 12 pages. $15 a year. Sample for SASE. Devoted to healthy recipes, specifically the low fat variety. Publishes 20-30 recipes per issue. Features recipe makeovers, herbally speaking and gifts from the heart. Friendly format.
208 Oberon Trail
Lookout Mountain, GA 30750
Editor: Ferris Robinson
Monthly. 4 pages. $12 year. Featuring fat free or nearly fat free good tasting recipes. Nice looking and good eating equals great value.
PO Box 124
DeWitt, IA 52742-0124
Editor: Joanna M Lund
Monthly. 12 pages. Subscription: $22.50 year. Sample: $4. Plenty of low-fat, low sugar, low sodium recipes, tips on healthy living and advice on healthy lifestyles.
With The Passionate Gourmet
4260 E. Main St. Ste. 129
Ventura CA 93003
Editor: Gail Hobbs
Monthly. $12 year. Free sample for SASE. Simple and elegant recipes and ideas for hot romance on a budget.
989 Black Bear Rd.
Mauertown, VA 22644-9722
Editor: Elizabeth Cottrell
10 issues a year. Subscription: $14. sample: $2. A country kitchen newsletter with inspiring reflections on country life, taste tested recipes, cookbook reviews and more. Warm and comfy.
PO Box 88
Steuben, ME 04680-0088
Editor: John Thorne
Quarterly. 8 pages. $16 a year. Sample: $4. A quality food letter with recipes, thoughtful essays on food and cooking, food, book and product reviews. Highly regarded in the industry for good reason.
Word of Mouth: Food and The Written Word
PO Box 42568
Portland, OR 42568
Editor: Johan Mathiesen
Bimonthly. $18 year. Sample: $3. Recipes, coobook reviews, food facts, anecdotes and food history. The literary gem of the bunch. Editor is associated with Powell's Bookstore.
Text Copyright 1996 Lynn Kerrigan. No portion of this article may be reproduced for publication without express, written permission of the author.
Page Copyright © 1996—the electronic Gourmet Guide, Inc. All rights reserved.
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