Why this (yet another cookbook) Got Written

Ann Levy recognized that there was a whole generation of extremely bright and talented people who had mastered terribly complex subjects but had no idea how to do the most basic tasks in the kitchen. Ann was sure that as they had mastered computer programs and difficult subjects, they needed just a very little basic information on foods and techniques to master the ageless art of cooking.

Ann grew up in New York City and graduated from Barnard College before moving from the Big Apple to northern Vermont with her husband, James, and their infant daughter more than three decades ago. The change was immense and provided challenges totally unforeseen for the city dwellers. Surprisingly, there was no slower pace of life; travel and weather played much larger roles in the planning and carrying out of activities and time disappeared as rapidly as it had in the city.

Although cooking had always been an integral part of Ann's life as a necessary ingredient for good health, she now added organic gardening to the mix of activities that formed the basis of a healthy life. These activities were always in the background and rarely made it onto the list of scheduled events that dominate a household with growing children and parents personally and professionally involved in the community. In fact, it became quite the challenge to create healthy meals for a family continually on the go, and it became quite obvious that one could create a rat-race anywhere.

Years later it became clear to Ann that cooking from scratch is becoming something of a lost art. Convenience foods in the supermarket and take out meals from the deli or fast food restaurant combined with overloaded schedules to eliminate cooking as one of the necessary tools of life. It is so easy to open a package and pop it into the microwave; open several different packages and everyone's particular taste can be catered to. Why bother with the mess and tedium of cooking a meal that is eaten on the run and barely remembered. Cooking, like dance, is an art form that leaves no traces.

There are some very good reasons to cook from scratch, and as people become more health and diet conscious they are recognizing them. It is very difficult to improve one's diet without a basic knowledge of cooking, and often the task seems over-whelming when confronted with enormous cookbooks and very busy lives. Where does one begin to find the time to sit down and read, let alone follow the instructions in a 500 page cookbook?

She recognized her own lack of computer skills set her apart from that generation and felt she needed to rectify that to be a full participant in the larger society. She combined her desire to write the cookbook with her desire to learn to use a computer and her knowledge of cooking to create Acts of Living: A Cooking Journal for the Culinary Challenged. The result is a cookbook that focuses on basic good foods that are neither difficult nor time consuming to prepare. The format is clear and concise. It is not intimidating to even the most fearful of the culinary challenged. The message is that the recipes are there to be changed and adapted to suit particular tastes; the book is simply a guide and the individual cook makes it his or her own so that after a year no two copies of Acts of Living will look alike.

Ann's adventure in the worlds of cooking, writing, sketching, drawing, and computer use has produced a book that communicates her passion for cooking with those for whom cooking is as foreign as computers were to her.