Inspiration often comes from reflecting on those things that bring us the most pleasure and joy, and for local author Courtney Hill that’s no exception. Her love for vintage cookbooks, vinyl records and everything mid-century have inspired her journey in writing Homemade: The American Family Cookbook.
Hill says “I have a large collection of vintage cookbooks that were the inspiration for the look and feel of my cookbook. Thrifting and antiquing are some of my favorite things to do, and all the dishes photographed in the cookbook were found on my adventures.”
As a busy mom of twins, Hill recognizes that in today’s hurry-scurry world, sitting down around the kitchen table as a family may seem like a luxury, but she believes the family meal is a meaningful vestige of the past worth bringing back as often as possible, and one that doesn’t have to be overwhelming.
“My goal is to encourage people to cook more at home. I’d love for the book to spark a movement of bringing back the family meal - it’s very doable and doesn’t have to be overly complicated,” she says.
Hill has been nurturing her culinary dream for years. A former Family and Consumer Sciences teacher staying home with newborn twins in 2015, she started a cooking blog as a creative outlet. The blogging experience led to the desire to eventually turn the entries into a cookbook, and when Covid hit in 2020, the time was right.
“During the uncertainty of the moment and mandatory time at home, I had renewed inspiration to publish the cookbook. When our production studio had to shut down in the spring of 2020, my husband and I had some time to shoot the first vintage style photo. From that first photo, I could see my long awaited vision coming to life and I knew it was going to be amazing.”
Amazing things take time though, and the publishing process took almost two years from that initial photo shoot. Hill says “I learned that any dream worth having is worth fighting for; there were many hurdles to overcome with the self/hybrid publishing process. God was with us though, providing money in unexpected places and through encouragement and perseverance when I hit obstacles.”
With the cookbook in print and available online through major retailers like Amazon, Target and WalMart, Hill has now been working to expand her circle of influence through social media, vendor fairs, decorating events and baking custom cakes and cookies through her business, Courtney’s Cookies & Cakes KC.
Juggling multiple responsibilities as wife, mom, and CFO of a local production studio, all while cultivating her dreams, requires commitment and time management skills, but Hill embraces each role with vigor.
“I feel one of my strengths is time management. It’s how I can get so much done, especially when it comes to meal planning. Of course, some weeks are crazy and I don’t cook every night, but I love my family, I love teaching, and I love spending time with them cooking and teaching them how to cook.”
She and husband Ryan hope their kids may eventually follow in their footsteps. “They love to be in the kitchen with me. My daughter loves to make elaborate tiny foods, and my son helps me bake. Down the road, we plan to have them cook our family meal once a week,” she says.
Among her favorite receipts from the cookbook are the fried chicken meal, the plum good chicken, and the soups. “I make the fried chicken meal at least a couple times a month. It’s pretty fast and tastes so good!”
For more information or to purchase the cookbook, visit https://cookhomemade.net
Leek Mushroom Cream Sauce
5–6 button mushrooms, sliced
1 leek, sliced
2 tbs. butter
2 tbs. flour
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp. salt
1. Sauté mushrooms and leeks in 2 tbs. butter over medium heat until soft, then set aside.
3. In a saucepan, melt 2 tbs. butter and stir in flour to form a roux. Let the roux cook for 1 minute or so to remove any floury taste.
4.To make a basic white sauce: add milk, salt, and stir. Allow it to thicken. Add the mushrooms and leeks, and allow sauce to thicken a little more.
5. Serve over nicely cooked steak and enjoy!
2 quarts apple cider
2 cups pineapple juice
2 cups orange juice
3/4 cup lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick, broken
1 tsp whole cloves
Simmer all ingredients in large stock pot for 10 min, remove cinnamon stick and cloves, serve warm.