Liz & Lisa's Book Club: Recipe For Disaster by Stacey Ballis

Recipe For Didaster by Stacey BallisMarch is here--so why is it still snowing?! Lucky for you, we have an amazing book by one of our favorite authors to cheer you up! Stacey Ballis' Recipe For Disaster is a delicious page turner from start to finish! Oh, and we have a copy for giveaway! Leave a comment here and you'll be entered to win. Contest  closes on March 8th at 8am PST.

The Scoop: To an outside observer, Anneke Stroudt is a mess—her shirts are stained, her fingernails stubby, her language colorful. But, despite her flaws, Anneke’s life is close to perfect. She has a beautiful historic house to restore and a loving fiancé who cooks like a dream.

Until Anneke’s charmed existence falls apart when she loses both her job and her future husband in one terrible day. In need of a new start, she packs up her disgruntled schnauzer and moves into her half-finished home, where she throws her pent-up frustration—and what little savings she has—into finishing the renovation.

But at the first step into the house’s overhaul, Anneke is sidetracked when she discovers a mysterious leather-bound book, long hidden away, filled with tempting recipes and steamy secrets from Gemma Ditmore-Smythe, the cook for the house’s original owners. Slowly, with the help of some delicious food and Gemma’s life lessons, Anneke begins to realize that, just like a flawless recipe, she’s been waiting for the right ingredients to cook up a perfect life all along…

Our thoughts: Sweet and Satisfying--a must read!

Liz & Lisa's Book Club: Recipe for Disaster by Stacey Ballis

stacey1. We can't help but wonder if there's a little (maybe a lot) of you in Anneke, in terms of the home renovation and the cooking. Tell us how fact meets fiction in Recipe For Disaster. 

There were two driving forces behind Recipe for Disaster.  The first was absolutely the fact that my husband and I are a year and a half into a three year renovation project to convert our 1907 graystone three-flat into a single family home, and we are living in it while under construction, so my days are very much informed by the magic and wonder of renovating an old home.  And the second was that I had written seven books in a row where my heroines ranged from fantastically skilled home cooks to actual trained chefs and restaurateurs, so while I did want to stay in the foodie fiction arena, I thought it was time to have someone learning how to cook out of necessity, instead of already being a passionate chef type.  I felt very much that Anneke’s journey was going to be about her figuring out what she needed to do to feed herself literally and figuratively, so taking her from a takeout and microwave frozen packaged foods girl to a competent enough cook that she can get meals on the table for herself was a fun and very different way of writing for me.

2. Speaking of renovations, how did you juggle making over your home, which you affectionately refer to as "the castle" while also writing a book? Seriously. We are in awe here. 

It’s a juggle every day!  We are living on the first floor while they are working on the basement and second floor, so I am sandwiched between the construction.  The good part is that having contractors here all the time means that when I am testing recipes, there are plenty of mouths available for the results!  It is an ongoing process, we are about half-way thru, and there are days when it is too noisy to work here, so I escape to the family weekend place, or use those days for life maintenance.  Our team is great about giving us the schedule for the upcoming week the Friday before, so I have a sense of how disruptive it will be and can plan out my days accordingly.

3. Since 2010, you've been writing foodie fiction, which we love! What made you turn in this direction?

I think all of my books could easily fall into this category, even the ones without recipe sections in the back. Food and Chicago have always been the extra characters in my novels, as well as my life!  But adding the recipe sections beginning with Good Enough to Eat was simple.  That novel is the story of a woman who loses half her body weight through diet and exercise, and also loses her husband in the process.  She runs a healthy gourmet take-out café.  As a plus-sized woman who wants to be healthy, but also as a passionate home cook, I have always needed to create recipes that satisfy my foodie side while addressing my need for health.  Especially when it comes to comfort foods, which we all need access to in our lives. Being able to create the paired recipes for that book, one regular and one healthy version of each, was a great exercise for me, and I felt like my readers would want access to those recipes.  It is one thing to read that a character creates a guiltless version of mashed potatoes (that are actual potatoes and not cauliflower) that is also delicious, it is easier to believe it when you can try the actual recipe yourself!   The recipe section for that one was very well received, so now it is just a part of my process.

4. You also recently released Big Delicious Life: Stacey Ballis's Most Awesome Recipes. It begs the question: which is the most awesome?

I actually think they are all pretty awesome, and with 150 recipes, including the “lost” recipes for dishes mentioned in the novels but not published for space considerations, it has something for everyone.  But my desert island recipe is my godmother’s banana cake with chocolate frosting, which she graciously allowed me to share with the world, and while it isn’t one of my originals, it is the one thing I hope is part of my last meal on earth!

5. What's up next for you?

I am currently at work on my next novel, Wedding Girl, which will be out in May 2016, about a pastry chef who is left at the altar, and ends up losing her fine dining job in the aftermath.  She has to move in with her elderly grandmother, and takes a job in a small rundown neighborhood bakery while working off the debt she accrued for her perfect wedding-that-wasn’t.  It is my homage to the wonderful black and white romantic comedies of the 1930s and 40s, and is a spin on the movie The Shop Around the Corner, which also inspired You’ve Got Mail. I am just finishing a new cookbook with a good friend, called Cooking for You:  Wellness in the Kitchen.

Thanks, Stacey!