About Lisa

April 20, 2011

I received a yellow Betty Crocker oven on my 7th birthday. I made cookies, cakes, and brownies with stunning constancy until the 40-watt bulb powering my confection-creating device finally blew. My mom took me by the hand into her kitchen and that was IT. Once there (according to me), I promptly took over. I spent my school years making Sunday-morning omelets to order, baked goods in every configuration, pastas, pizza, pretzels, you-name-it.

I’ve spent most of my professional life as a cookbook publisher, editor, and writer for Weldon Owen Inc., working on titles for Williams-Sonoma. As a Managing Editor and Associate Publisher there, I developed and managed several series of cookbooks including The Kitchen Library, Lifestyles, Cookware, Outdoors, and Seasonal Celebration, as well as Casual Cuisines of the World for Sunset Books. I managed every aspect of cookbook editorial (from recipe list development to finding and hiring writers, copy editors, proofreaders, etc.), as well as all visual aspects (photographers, food and prop stylists, etc.). I loved my job and, until I had kids, didn’t think I’d ever want to do anything else. In fact, since those first moments with my childhood oven, I’ve always been involved in some type of culinary pursuit. My first job out of college was for a small supermarket-checkout magazine called Good Food. I’ve also worked in food pr, food tv, food writing, and culinary instruction.

When I decided to stay at home and work (very) part-time after my second child (of three) was born, I found that not one of those jobs (nor the professional program at Tante Marie’s Cooking School) quite prepared me for the sheer volume in food preparation required of full-time parenthood. Even when you love to cook, it can be difficult to keep it feeling fresh and (dare I say it?) fun.

For me, it helps that I still like to cook like a kid — quick, simple, and with lots of short cuts along the way. Of course, my focus is healthier now than when I was young and my approach a bit more sophisticated, but I never (never say never!) prepare dishes I don’t think my own kids will eat. It also helps that we live in Sonoma where family cooking is casual, usually an outdoor affair, and supported by fortunate access to fresh, local ingredients. As for most people, my cooking style is defined as much by who I am as where I live.

About Sonoma Family Cook

Sonoma Family Cook is my notebook for ways  to make preparing family meals and eating together more pleasure than pain. We (that’s my 3 kids and husband, Doug) have found that if I keep it simple and use great ingredients, my dishes usually taste pretty good. And, I have found that if keeping it simple doesn’t take too long (which of course it doesn’t), then I get to keep my sanity and enjoy the process. It’s a win-win situation. I’ve included several of the recipes that have been published in my books, but most of the ones you’ll find here are the type of seasonally-inspired, family-friendly dishes I like to cook at home. All have been created by me.

Since we’re also in constant search of adventure, I’ve also added some great spots in Sonoma where we like to enjoy our portable favorites once we’ve made them. Sonoma is BIG on picnic-ing. I’m also planning to share a series of wine country field trips — to bee keepers, chicken coops, backyard pizza ovens – where we can all learn something about local ingredients and techniques.

As with motherhood, and life in general, this is a work in progress. Cooking to please an entire family is a pretty tricky form of alchemy. Let me know what works for you. Together, we can keep it fresh.


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