Although Elisabeth Bailey has written three cookbooks, meal preparation at her Lunenburg home is a shared family experience. Son Charlie, turning 14, and husband, John Frauzel, each make dinner two nights a week. One night they eat out.
She needs the extra help. Bailey writes a weekly cooking column for LighthouseNOW/Progress Bulletin and works full-time for the Nova Scotia Health Authority. And her new cook book, The Make-Ahead Sauce Solution, was released in mid-October by Storey Publishing of North Adams, Mass.
With this cookbook, "I intended to end the struggle to make imaginative weeknight meals when you're worn out at the end of the work day. With a few of these sauces stashed away in meal-size portions stacked sideways in a shoe box in the freezer, a flavourful dinner can be put together in minutes," Bailey said.
By using the method put forward in Bailey's cookbook "you cook two or three times a week and then have choices for home-cooked meals every night."
Storey Publishing is known for its books on gardening, home reference, crafts, cooking, beer and wine, nature, animals, horses, building, farming, homesteading, and mind/body/spirit.
Bailey often teams up friend Niki Jabbour, gardening expert and bestselling author from Tantallon, to hold how-to classes on growing nutritious vegetables all year round, along with their preparation and cooking.
"Niki thought my idea for a make-ahead sauce cookbook was a good one and she introduced me to her editors at Storey."
Bailey sent an outline and a sample chapter and a contract came her way, she said. It all began when she pitched a cookbook on apple recipes at The Word on the Street Halifax Book and Magazine Festival.
"I won the contest for the best pitch but the (Nimbus) publishers didn't want a cookbook on apples, but on a wider topic." It turned out to be A Taste of the Maritimes.
She now has two regional cookbooks, A Taste of the Maritimes (2011),and Maritime Fresh (2013), both published by Nimbus. Born in Galesburg, Ill., just over three hours west of Chicago, Bailey is the daughter of a history professor and primary school teacher and trained for the Unitarian Universalist ministry. In 2002, she moved to Lunenburg with her husband from Oxford, N.S., and has become well-known locally as a chef and caterer and for teaching classes on gardening, cooking, and preserving.
From chimichurri to teriyaki, sauces make meals special, Bailey said. Bland chicken breasts, plain pasta, baked potatoes or even sandwiches are transformed into memorable dishes with the addition of sauce.
The Make-Ahead Sauce Solution features 61 flavour-packed recipes for sauces that freeze beautifully and make home cooking easy. "I like to write for regular people, use ingredients that everyone knows and that really don't need food processor. A stick blender works just as well."
They run the gamut from traditional sausage ragu to Thai peanut, Gorgonzola chive butter, all-American barbecue, coconut lemon, Parmesan leek, cheesy cashew garlic, and Meyer lemon spinach. Every recipe is accompanied by a quick-reference chart showing the best base combinations of proteins and vegetables.
The sauces can be thinned out to a soup or used as a condiment, Bailey said.
Bailey usually swings by the Lunenburg Farmers' Market early on Thursdays before making her way to work to take in the sights, breathe in the smells and enjoy a taste of a glorious autumn harvest in Nova Scotia's South Shore.
A large, shiny red Wolf River apple from the market (an old-time apple that makes the best pies) brightens her desk at the Fishermen's Memorial Hospital. "It's from Valerie Tanner's orchard, Fitch Lake Farm at Conquerall Mills," Bailey explains. "I couldn't resist. It cost $1."
Bailey loves everything about locally grown, quality food and thinking and writing about food is what consumes her outside of her job as the Nova Scotia Health Authority's co-ordinator for community health boards in Queens and Shelburne counties and, on an interim basis, for Lunenburg County as well.
What's next? The plan is to take the time to enjoy promoting the 200-page book talking to fellow cooks about the recipes in The Make-Ahead Sauce Solution. "I love talking to people about what they do in the kitchen and what they like to do in the kitchen."