History in Books


Creating the history of the featured natural resources in the recipes of The Big Sky Bounty Cookbook was one of my favorite parts of its authorship. I researched through thousands of archived historical photographs from the Montana Historical Society along with dozens of county and regional historic societies to find the selected images. With so many images, you would have thought this would have been a relatively easy process, but it wasn't. There was a story with every image I found, studied, pondered its view point for the book, and tried to envision its placement and relationship with the recipes to accompany. As I selected images and aligned them with the best fitting recipes, I began further research on the text to weave the images, recipes and history together. What came next completely immersed me into another layer of the writing process, and rekindled my love for digging deep into research and surrounding myself with what I love. I found myself sitting on the floor cross-legged, rummaging through book after book at our local library, and it absolutely fueled my creativity and hopeful angle for the history component of the cookbook. After a couple of hours, still sitting on the library floor with books falling off each other as they circled around me and I continued depleting a stack of sticky notes, I finally left with two grocery sacks filled with history books. I combed through the pages of every book, noting different places to reference, with my trusty sticky notes, and pondering the information I found and how to best utilize it. While I enjoy having digital reading medias, I am still one for holding a book and reading through its word filled pages and take the time to slowly sift through the plethora of knowledge laying in front before me. Having, holding and folding over these books pages truly opened up another level of the creative process for me. I've gotten extremely complacent with the internet, and whenever I want to research anything I jump to my phone or laptop and 'google' it. Then I find credible sources and link over link I page through the reads. However, combing through these books made me realize how much I was missing, especially with the history, when I wasn't also actively seeking out and using books as a reference. Thankfully, I had these books at my fingertips, and found all the text, history, and stories I was looking for through the compilation of books, and not solely through the internet's history base. Which for the level of the cookbook I was craving to incorporate, this rich layer found in the depth of these history books was just what I was looking for to fill its color-filled recipe rich pages with snippets of Montana's history and stories of old.

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© 2018 by Jean Petersen

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