When books don't represent the end, but the beginning

Cheryl Sternman RuleEver wonder what it's like to write a cookbook? Author Cheryl Sternman Rule provides her perspective of the writing process, and how the journey led her to create a new website. Cheryl's cookbook, Yogurt Culture: How to Make, Bake, Sip, and Chill the World's Creamiest, Healthiest Food, comes out on April 28.



One of the greatest pleasures of writing a cookbook is holding that book, that physical object, at the end of what can be a very long process.

Some authors - across many disciplines, not just food - spend a year, or many, drilling deeply into one topic. We amass endless notes, interview write-ups, travel diaries, and recipes inspired by people we've met along the way.  This collection of knowledge, of insight, informs our books, sure, but not all of it will make it into the final product. As with a feature film of predetermined (and often inflexible) length, some material invariably ends up on the cutting room floor.  We can say goodbye to it, I suppose, or we can find another way to tell those stories, to share that hard-won knowledge.

We can accept the book as the end of a journey, or re-imagine it as a beginning.

I'm extremely proud of my forthcoming cookbook, Yogurt Culture. I learned everything I could about yogurt and immersed myself deeply in the subject. I read financial documents and nutritional studies, visited yogurt shops and factories, spoke with scientists and academics, traveled abroad, and interviewed cooks from a variety of cultural backgrounds.

This process had both its intended consequence (it educated and informed me so I could write a really informed, inspiring book) but it had a surprising corollary outgrowth as well: At the end of the book process, I was left more interested in the topic than ever before. Some people get burnt out working on a single subject for so long, but for me, once my curiosity was piqued, it just kept growing.

I therefore launched a website called Team Yogurtas a living outlet, in some ways, not only for the content that couldn't fit within the confines of the print book, but also for all the new information I've amassed since and will continue to amass moving forward. Every day I learn something new about yogurt and the people who make it and eat it, and the site allows me to share this information in real time.

Team Yogurt

I've brought on a team of talented contributors who represent different points of view (culinary, visual, and otherwise) and who themselves are passionate about yogurt. And I'll welcome additional contributors over time. After all, I may be an expert, but I'm not the only one. The more of us who give voice to a single passion, the greater the benefit for those who love what we love.

On the site's new Facebook page, people from all over the world have already come to gather. Over time, I expect we'll swap stories, recipe ideas, and country-specific yogurt inspiration from our respective perches in far-flung lands.

The original end (the book) is now a beginning, and this beginning has no end in sight.

If you like yogurt, please join us. The circle's ever-widening.

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