As visiting Santa Fe is my Labor Day weekend tradition, so is visiting award-winning cookbook author Cheryl Alters Jamison while there. I was especially eager to see her this year, as her newest cookbook, "Texas Slow Cooker," was due to hit bookstores Oct. 1.
The book wasn't the easiest for Jamison to complete. Her co-author and husband, Bill, fell ill with cancer just after they got the assignment.
"We had agreed to the book before we knew that Bill was sick in the fall of 2014," she said. "But we hadn't done anything on it. He passed away in March of 2015."
Bill had been her co-author for 16 cookbooks, mostly on barbecue and Texas-style cooking. Their cookbooks have won James Beard awards four times and have sold more than 2 million copies.
"It was a good six months before I even thought of working again," Jamison said. "I tried in earnest in December but mostly just sat and stared. Finally, in January 2016, I just willed myself to start writing, anything, in any potential chapter. I finally got myself in gear and zipped through it, turning it in at the end of May that year."
As with previous cookbooks, she has retained the high Jamison standard of recipe testing and, for this book, equipment testing. The proof is in the pre-publication sales.
"I can't believe it - the first print run has sold out," she said. "I'm having a hard time finding enough books to use during my book-signing tour, which starts in a few weeks."
She will sign books at Hooked on Books, 12 E. Bijou St, the evening of Nov. 10. Details to come.
In the meantime, I'll explore the 125 recipes for her Lone Star State favorites as the weather starts to cool. Nothing's better than coming home to the smell of dinner simmering. I have a couple of slow cookers, but I'm tempted to check out one Jamison wrote about in the review copy of her cookbook.
"If I were going to buy a single slow cooker today, it would likely be the 6-quart Crock-Pot Smart Slow Cooker with WeMo, which retails for about $130," she said. "WeMo refers to the cooker's Wi-Fi connected smartphone app, allowing the busy cook to adjust the cooking time or temperature when on the go."
Well-stocked with semi-dried red chili and roasted green pods, I'm ready to try Jamison's recipes for stacked red chile enchiladas and pork green chile stew. A recipe for Margarita Cheesecake also got my attention.
"It's a fail-proof way to make cheesecake," she said. "You'll never have the top crack using the slow cooker."
In addition to writing excellent cookbooks, Jamison has been food editor for New Mexico Magazine for many years, contributed to programs on national television and hosts a radio show featuring celebrity chefs. She lives outside of Santa Fe, where she raises a flock of chickens. Visit excitedaboutfood.com to find Jamison's food blog, videos and recipes.