Sherry Vernon Discusses New Cookbook

Sherry Vernon Discusses New Cookbook

By Skyler Adams

Sherry VernonSherry Vernon, who is pursuing her master's degree in the Higher Education Administration and Policy program (MSHE), has published a cookbook called A Pinch & A Dash: Touches of Gourmet to Elevate the Everyday.

Inspired by her late father, a professional chef, Vernon's book includes recipes that she hopes eliminate the hurdles that stand in the way of making good food.

Vernon, who also works full time in Northwestern Univesity's Office of Alumni Relations and Development, says her book is for everyone, whether you’re a recent graduate, a busy parent, or an empty nester.  She recently 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.

When did you start cooking?

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.

Why do you love to cook?

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.

What made you write this book?

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.

What was the most memorable part of this process?

Throughout this year I’ve had some incredible experiences where people I’m close to and others who I had lost touch with reached out and said, 'Watching you decide to do something with your passion has really inspired me. Seeing you take something you love and 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.

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

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.

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?

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

Yes! I struggle with that…

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, 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.

What are your favorite recipes in the book?

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.

If people are interested, how can they order the book?

You can order online, or email me at and we can work out payment. Books are $13.99 each.

Thank you for sharing this with us. I am excited to give a couple of these recipes a try!

Thank you!

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