Sherry Vernon Discusses her New Book, A Pinch & A Dash: Touches of Gourmet to Elevate the Everyday

Sherry Vernon Discusses her New Book, A Pinch & A Dash: Touches of Gourmet to Elevate the Everyday

By Skyler Adams

Sherry VernonMSHE Community member, Sherry Vernon, has had a busy few months starting a new grad program, working full-time in Northwestern’s Office of Alumni Relations and Development on the Weinberg College Major Gifts team, and publishing her first book. Inspired by her father, Sherry created a cookbook to “elevate the everyday.” Sherry says her book is for everyone, whether you’re a recent graduate, a busy parent, or an empty nester. Her goal was to put together recipes that will eliminate the hurdles that stand in the way of making good food.

Sherry stopped by the MSHE office to talk about growing up and seeing her father cook, her inspiration for writing the book, and of course, how to purchase a copy.

Skyler Adams: Thank you for meeting with me!

Sherry Vernon: Thanks for chatting!

Skyler Adams: So, let’s discuss the book. When did you start cooking?

Sherry Vernon: My father was a professional chef. That meant that growing up I was surrounded by good food, but he wasn’t usually around to teach me how to cook. I didn’t start cooking much until high school, and not seriously until college.

Skyler Adams: So, why do you love to cook?

Sherry Vernon: It runs in my blood – I’m sure I got it from my father. He died in 2009, and after that cooking became therapeutic to me. Working in the kitchen makes me feel like I’m part of something bigger than myself. I’m lucky that Dad’s friends took me under their wing and expanded my cooking knowledge.

Skyler Adams: And what made you write this book?

Sherry Vernon: I think 2016 was rough on all of us, myself included. I am someone who functions best when I have a passion project that keeps me busy and gives me a creative way to learn new things. Friends of mine had asked me to write a cookbook for a while, and I always ignored them because I didn’t think anyone would read it. But, at the end of 2016 I realized a cookbook was exactly what I needed, regardless of how it would be received. It gave me a chance to get back into design, which I have experience with, as well as a chance to explore food photography. And, of course an outlet for my new recipes.

Skyler Adams: What was the most memorable part of this process?

Sherry Vernon: What was the most memorable part of this process?

Sherry Vernon: Throughout this year I’ve had some incredible experiences where multiple people – people I’m close to and others who I had lost touch with – reached out to me and said, “Watching you decide to do something with your passion has really inspired me. I like to [write plays, record songs, etc.] but have never shown anyone because I always assumed that my work didn’t matter. Seeing you take something you love and decide to put it out into the world for no other reason than that you want to gives me hope, and I actually showed my work to someone for the first time because of that.” I was not expecting that in the slightest, and that has meant the world to me.

Skyler Adams: What would you say the hardest part of this process has been?

Sherry Vernon: Letting the book go. I spent this year crafting and constantly changing the book. And getting a chance to design again has been amazing. When I actually had to let it go and submit the manuscript, I definitely had a rough few days. But, I reminded myself my goal is to help people see that cooking is a form of self-empowerment and doesn’t have to be time-consuming or daunting; and that will only happen if I let go so that the book can do its job.

“Working in the kitchen makes me feel like I’m part of something bigger than myself. I’m lucky that Dad’s friends took me under their wing and expanded my cooking knowledge.”

Skyler Adams: It sounds like you wrote this book in a way that it would be helpful to almost anyone. Why do you think this book would be helpful for graduate students?

Sherry Vernon: Everyone in this program is crazy busy, whether we’re parents, working an internship or full-time job, or applying to jobs. But, we aren’t going to be successful unless we keep ourselves happy and fed…

Skyler Adams: Yes! I struggle with that…

Sherry Vernon: I know! A lot of people believe that cooking good food has to be daunting and time-consuming. This book explains that that’s not true. There are 33 recipes in here, mostly for lunches and dinners, but with some breakfasts and desserts as well, that are meant for people like us who don’t have time, money, or in some cases, skill to cook fancy things, yet still deserve satisfying food. Most of the recipes in here are meant to be made in advance. There are lots of perfect portable lunches and quick dinners, and even great breakfasts that can be reheated on a weekday morning. The book also includes tips and tricks along the way. My hope is that it gives people the confidence to adapt recipes, get adventurous, and create their own ideal meals.

Skyler Adams: What are your favorite recipes in the book?

Sherry Vernon: I love the sweet potato fritters with tzatziki sauce and the blackberry sage pork chops. The breakfast hash is a staple for me. And, the “better than crack pie” is always a hit. I have so many favorites.

Skyler Adams: Alright, the most important question – if people are interested, how can they order the book?

Sherry Vernon: There are two ways: first, you can order online [you can use this link]. If you go to Blurb.com and search “A Pinch & A Dash” it will be the first book to show up. You can order starting December 1st! The other way to get a copy is directly from me. I recommend this option so that there isn’t a shipping fee. You can email me at sherryvernon2015@u.northwestern.edu and we can work out payment. Books are $13.99 each.

Skyler Adams: Well, thank you for sharing this with us. I am excited to give a couple of these recipes a try!

Sherry Vernon: Thank you!

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