This is not an apple tart – The Garum Factory slims down.


Apple Tart-9834


This past week Jody made two apple tarts.  I photographed them and, despite their differences in sugar and salt, thought they were both delicious.  Jody did not.  “You know,” she said. “Neither of these is as good as the sheet pan apple tart.”  She was referring to this.   “We should just republish it and tell everyone what happened.  People like it when you’re honest about not getting things perfect.”  Mm-hmm.  In principle, I agree with this, but I sensed a tremor in the force.  “Maybe,” she continued, “we need to think about what we’re doing.”  Not a tremor.  A quake.   A 7.4 on the Uh-Oh Seismometer.  

If you’ve been there, you’ll know exactly what kind of Uh-oh I’m talking about, the one where Imminent Change is striding about your house, clanging garbage can lids together while shouting, “You’ve got com-pan-nee!”

We started this blog over three years ago, at the suggestion of our literary agent, who had just unsuccessfully tried to sell our latest book proposal.  Our agent, who claimed to have loved the proposal, had received a positive, nay, excited, round of initial feedback from editors, high-powered publishing panjandrums all.  And then, er… nothing.  No one bid on it.   The cookbook biz is, to put it generously, not a warm and fuzzy place these days for cooks and writers without tv shows or restaurants of less than tractor-trailer PR throw-weight.  There are notable exceptions, of course.  The OTTOLENGHI books come to mind, as does the magisterial ART OF FERMENTATION by Sandor Katz.  I could mention a dozen others.  And that’s the problem, a dozen others.  The glory days of a thousand flowers cookbook publishing seem to be drawing to a close, just as a thousand other blossoms open on the web.  The solution?  Start a blog, attract a group of like-minded followers, then write another book proposal, touting your thousands of followers.

Excusez-moi, a blog?  But – insert spluttering protest – we are not bloggers (We-air-nut-blug-airs!).  We are “industry,” restaurant people.  Yeah, well, shut up and get on with it.  And so we did.  All except for the proposal part, which I’ll address in a sec.  Blogging, I humbly acknowledge – bow, scrape, bow – has introduced us to a realm of people we never knew existed – literate, accomplished online lovers of food and cooking, not all of whom – surprise – go to restaurants.  As the voice of The Garum Factory and its primary interlocutor I feel as though I’ve gotten to know some of you quite well.  We’ve met some of you in person.  With many of you, should I find myself stranded in your city (Tokyo, Dublin, Rome, Oklahoma City, Manhattan, Gourmandistan) I would not hesitate to ask if I could crash on your couch, especially if we could cook a meal together first.  And I would expect you to call me should the same fate befall you.  The blog has provided Jody and me a way of working together (initially risky, but great in the end), while giving us heaps of followers (we love you, thank you).  We’ve even received nibbles from publishers (Are you guys putting a proposal together?  Love to see it.  Ever in the city?  Thought about a book?  Let’s meet.  ADORE your food and the pictures are GORGEOUS – call me.)  And, my obsession with food photography has led to this whole other side gig of food and restaurant work.

But the blog has outgrown us.  The thing is, we both love blogging days, but we can’t indulge in them in the way we have, not while we’re doing other stuff that puts bottarga next to the butter.  We could gin the blog up into a paying proposition (advertising, brand endorsements, affiliate-marketing, etc.).  Or we could write a proposal for a full-blown cookbook or… we could consider something in between.  We have some ideas for alternatives to traditional full-length cookbooks.  But we need some time to thrash them out.  While we do that, we’re going to put The Garum Factory on a diet, slimming down to a post a month until we figure out who’s making all that racket with the garbage can lids.

We will continue doing what we’re doing, just less frequently.  In the meantime, we’d love to hear your ideas.  Is anyone out there interested in, say, short-form cookbooks?  Small books of 15 – 20 recipes focused around a single theme or ingredient.  Epub or real paper? Is there a favorite region (e.g. Provence, Puglia) or style of cooking you’d like to see highlighted?  While you’re mulling this over, you might click on the link for the Lazy Man’s Sheet Pan Apple Tart.  The guy who took the pictures wasn’t a sophisticated photographer, but he’s gotten better, and the tart is still a winner.  Enjoy.  Ken

Apple Tart-2858


65 thoughts

  1. Really interesting post Jody and Ken and as you know I love reading your posts and seeing your blog grow as I think we started around the same time. I for one will be sad to not see your weekly posts but I guess I will learn to live with a monthly post. Don’t forget us though. Similar to yourselves, in time, I will be looking to go down the well trodden cookbook path – I need to get my ducks in a row first though ;o). From a personal perspective I love paper books over ebooks. I like to hold it, flick though the pages, admire the food photography (there has to be a photo with every recipe) and get inspired with great sounding recipes. I have a pile that I read when I am in bed and I am sure I am not alone in this habit! Agreed there are a lot of cookbooks out there, but I think there are fewer that really stand out and make a lasting impression. Bite sized books sound good. Interesting recipes around fish would be good – say 40 recipes that we actually want to cook and taste the wonderful flavours? I think the average person cooks 7 recipes and from any given cookbook I reckon most people cook max 3 recipes from it. Let’s change that habit. Anyway food for thought. If you ever want to talk offline but online do shoot me an email to and btw if you both are ever in London you must look me up. It would be great to meet at some point. We can have a good cooking session all together. My hub is also really into cooking and eating so it would fun. best Torie

    • Thank you, Torie. Both for the kind words and for taking the time to marshall your thoughts about books. I think you’re right about the number of recipes that people cook from books – or the number of recipes, in any event, that they cook more than once. I’d say that I buy at least half of my cookbooks as ebooks these days, mainly because I can prop my iPad on the counter, and blow up the text or a picture if I want/need too. Also, unlike a laptop, which no one wants to bring into a kitchen, people use iPads there all the time, although I think that iPad use (mostly) maps over demographics – the younger you are the more likely it is that you’ll use an iPad while cooking. One side benefit of stepping back from our posting schedule is that now I’ll get a chance to try all of your recipes for curry and lentils I’ve been pinning, but haven’t gotten to yet. I will, of course, continue to follow you. Ken

    • Hi, Derya–I’m so sorry. It was time… and we will continue posting, just not as frequently, although I have a few ideas bouncing around my head about the occasional photo post/essay on Friday mornings. We’ll see. In the meantime, it will make our time together all that much more precious. :-) Ken

  2. Hi Jody, Ken,
    Naturally, I am disappointed to read this. However, I m not surprised. From my own standpoint, I earn nothing from the food industry. I spend my days running our communications company. The cooking, photographing, writing and commenting being a source of distraction and fun. I have had a number of encouragements from various people allied to the book trade who say I should write ‘that book’. It would be a big commitment for me and probably one that would cost me time and money. I have a horror of self publishing and ending up with a garage full of my own, unsaleable books. I would love to do something successful, but, without the risk to my delicate ego and even more delicate wallet.

    I will continue to cogitate where to next for myself, as you do likewise. I plan to keep up my weekly schedule for the moment and will look forward to your monthly posts.

    One final note, the couch is yours, whenever you are next in Dublin.

    Best to you both,

    ps: Lovely pie.

    • HI, Conor–Oh, that garage full of books! What an appropriate Halloween comment! I’m uncertain yet about whether we’d go it completely alone or not. There are several publishers who do small books, and the possibility of doing a larger one isn’t off the table – it’s more a matter of figuring out whether Jody would be able to carve enough time out of an already busy schedule for the kind of relentless commitment that a large book would entail. We’ll see. People are trying to convince us to do a biking trip in Ireland. Should that transpire, you can be sure I’ll be in touch about a meet-up. I will of course continue to follow and comment on your culinary adventures, with humorous ripostes as necessary. Ken

      • I would love to welcome you here. Would you consider perhaps utilising some of the huge ‘content’ you already have? Your writing is top drawer and i don’t need to tell you how good the photography and the originality of recipes are. I would love to see the book (assuming a ‘friends and family’ discount).

      • The “previous content” issue is a delicate one. Despite the urgings of several friends who say they’d pay money for a book that just contained “the best of TGF” publishers aren’t inclined that way. I think the rule-of-thumb is 10% max. Ken

  3. So sorry to hear you’re slimming down the blog, though of course completely understand why. Cookbook publishing is indeed a minefield but I’m surprised to hear you haven’t got one off the ground, given your combined talents. Re the format, much as I love blogs, I’d always go for a hard copy cookbook, suitably stained and splashed with food. Good luck with it, whatever you decide to do. Linda x

  4. I am so sorry to hear about this, but having just started my own blog completely understand the need to take a step back and allow yourself the time to think about next steps. Your photographs, recipes and writing are inspiring and I know that you will carry all of that into a future cookbook. I have especially enjoyed the armchair travel I get to do when you post about your bike trips and the food you enjoy in those locations and the inspirational dishes you make at home. That is a book, or at least a chapter, I would find interesting and would distinguish you from most of the other books out there which have chapters according to course. The possibilities are endless and I wish you both well. Glad I still get to see what you are doing once a month!

    • Thank you, Valerie. And I’m enormously pleased to hear that you like hearing about (and seeing pictures of) our biking adventures. Your suggestion about dishes from the road is one of the options we’re considering, especially since the food is often so simple. Good luck with your own blogging efforts and thanks for taking the time to comment. Ken

  5. I also would like to add my couch (actually a bed in a lovely guest apartment) to your list of strandedness couches. And also small cookbooks around a particular theme would be a great idea, and saleable I imagine – on paper tho, i cannot get my head around a ecookbook , (how does one scroll down with a batter covered finger!). Have fun.Glad you are busy. I am sure your intermittent posts will still be lovely. c

    • Hi, Cecilia–As I mentioned to Torie, above, lots of people (including us) use iPads in those circumstances. Jody’s is often writing, editing a recipe on either her iPad or her laptop (shudder) while she’s testing it (which can be a bit of a pain if the final recipe includes/excludes something that I’m photographing in the moment). But I completely understand. Also, there’s the pleasure of a physical object in a book, which is distinctly absent in an ebook. Our future posts will have the virtue of being considered ahead of time, always good. I will continue to follow your adventures on the farm. Ken

  6. I’m a big Rialto/Jody fan, have enjoyed and rigged visits over the years while kids – ours and others’ – were nearby. And a few with no such pretext. I came to the Garum Factory rather late in your run, but have thoroughly enjoyed the experience, the food, the photography, and your ‘voices’. It feels like chatting about adventurous home cooking with particularly knowledgeable and literate friends. I’ve wondered how you-all managed to fit it all into your lives. But you’ve been a most welcome addition to my in-box, and to our table. I look forward to as many posts as you find time for. And hope you’ll consider that our house is your house if you have occasion to visit Chicagoland. And hope that you do.

    • Hi, Sharon–A couple came into Rialto last summer and at the end of their meal asked to speak with Jody. They had, they explained, been coming from California to Rialto for 8 years, as first one and then another of their children went to college in the area. As their youngest was about to graduate, and not planning on living in the city, they explained it was unlikely they’d be back in the near future and they simply wanted to express how much pleasure they’d gotten out of their visits. You are clearly not alone. Thank you for your appreciation of Rialto and of the blog. This has been a wonderful experience for us–and we trust it will continue to be, even if not quite so frequent. Who knows, we could end up in Chicago someday. Ken

  7. Well, then, add Friday mornings to the list of things that just won’t be the same… But time marches on, as they say, and we look forward to seeing what you come up with next. I, too, like the idea of short-form cookbooks, like, for example what the Canal House folks do. I’m still ambivalent about e-cookbooks. We’ll gladly stamp your passport whenever you’re in the region and there’s even a comfy guest room here in our capital. ;)

    • Ah, well, nothing stands still, does it? Let’s just say that 3 Fridays out of 4 won’t be the same. I love the Canal House books – for a cook and photographer team there couldn’t be a sweeter deal. They publish a photo of what they ate that day and then collect all the recipes and photos into a book 1 or 2 times a years. We just can’t cook that often. We’ll figure something else out. In the meantime, I’m hoping to find time to begin cooking some of everyone else’s food, Gourmandistan’s included. Please give me a shout if you end up back in the area. Ken

  8. Well,I completely understand, but will miss your posts, which are to me like mini books with pictures. I don’t understand how it’s so difficult to get another book idea sold when you’ve already got a successful one out, and the fact that your wife is a chef and owns restaurants. And so many bloggers have cookbooks out now – I see them at Anthropologie – they’re heavy on the artistic photos, but lacking in everything else, in my humble opionion. But life is a priority. I just had a grandbaby and have been wondering about my blogging situation. I’m a bit impulsive and over-zealous, and treat blogging like a job with deadlines, just because that’s my nature. Which is funny, because no one is putting a gun to my head saying “get that sweet potato pasta posted now.” And I have no agenda. I’m with you on all of the ads, I know no one will throw money at me because of the blog, and I have no secret cookbook desire.

    • Hi, Mimi–We haven’t been trying to sell a cookbook, not since our last proposal 5 years ago. (The blog is only 3.5 years old but I was doing some other editorial things between one event and the other.) And at the time, if someone had asked, “Will you be photographing the food?” I would have laughed out loud. So, it’s not as though we’ve been hopelessly shopping a book idea about while we’ve been blogging. We’ve just been concentrating on blogging. And pretty much enjoying, while knowing at the same time that at some point there was going to have to be a reckoning. Ken

  9. sorry, somehow that got posted before I was finished. I can understand that you had a motivation for starting the blog, which makes total sense, because social media is a powerful force. So I hope all of your hard work ends up paying off, so to speak. I’m old-fashioned, so I just like traditional cookbooks, and I do like photos of every dish, which Ottolenghi doesn’t do. It doesn’t have to be a food stylist set-up, just a photo. And speaking of age, at 58, I’ve spent the last ten years simplifying my life. The blog is good for me because I get my favorite dishes printed, and it will be a good resource for my girls after I die. If they are still cooking. But life is all about priorities, and they change. I fully believe that life needs to be lived and enoyed. I fortunately am not working, certainly not as a chef, and not trying to get a cookbook published. I wish I could help. And, I have a whole guest wing if you make it this way…

    • If we make it to Oklahoma (not inconceivable, I really want to do a cross-country road trip with a camera) I’ll be sure to give you plenty of notice. Really nice observation about your own blog – which I also enjoy reading – concerning your kids. There are MANY things my paternal grandmother cooked that I wished someone had preserved, especially since we could only visit her a couple of times a year. This is just the next step for us. I expect that you and I will continue to exchanging comments one way or the other regardless of the frequency of our posts in the future, and thank you for your many many comments over these past three. Ken

  10. The weekly post will be missed more by the people I forward them to as I have been an old fan since I met you,Jody, 30 years ago at Seasons!!! Whatever you and Ken decide to do will be fabulous…

  11. I’m one of those who looks forward to Friday mornings. I’ve admired your consistency and commitment, and to be truthful, have been in awe of it, since I can’t say the same for myself. The level of care, the number of photos, the quality of your work is very high, and I wondered to myself, how DO they do it? As you know, I have cut way back on posts, and after a tedious re-design of my site, am still unable to commit to once a week, so I get it. Of COURSE I will miss the weekly entries: it’s been a way to keep up with you guys, since we don’t get to see each other often. That’s the nature of our lives, isn’t it? I will be looking forward to what comes next from you two. And no shame in blog fatigue–it’s a huge time indulgence, as you say.

    We’ll have to have a long conversation about the short form e-books. I tried it last year (a free issu fall recipe round-up.) It was a lot of fun and a lot of work. Our children read and watch almost everything on line, so I think therein lies the market–but I agree that I love holding a book and writing notes in the margin and studying the photos. No easy answer to that question.

    Hope to see you soon on this site….happy trails!!

    • Hi, Sally–Nice remake of your own website. Let’s meet for a drink and exchange details. I think by dialing things back a bit, this part of our cooking lives will actually become a bit easier, even as demands elsewhere fill in the time. Also looking to spending at least a few months cooking other people’s food that I haven’t had the time to get to in the recent past. Ken

  12. Oh Geeeez. Okay. Thanks for everything. So much for my weekly assignments. Just as an aside, this IS my favorite cookbook and my favorite source for new words Mr. Ken! Enjoy a bit of a less hectic schedule.

    • Hi, Guys!–We missed you in Sardinia! Thank you for all of generous supportive comments thus far (you WILL continue making them, right?). We’re just shifting some of our energies into less transitory arenas. I’ll be happy to post a weekly list of arcane vocabulary for fans who need to know just exactly what Miss Flight was carrying when Dickens describes her in BLEAK HOUSE as clutching a “reticule of ‘her documents.” Ken

  13. I’m at your blog several times a month, and while I haven’t worked up the courage to make the recipes yet, I’m glad to know they’ll still be out there when I need them. I definitely understand about the time commitment. Ya’ll put in a lot of effort each week for a post, from the recipe to the photos to the writing. That’s hard work, even if you love it, and balancing that with your paying gigs is no easy feat. That said, I do hope that the work you put in here pays off financially through some kind of book deal down the road, in whatever format makes the most sense. May the right publishing people see your work and understand what a talent and practice it is to cook, write, and photograph well!

    • What??!! You haven’t made the recipes yet??!! Gwynne, surely you jest. There are so many here that would seem to fall easily within your purview, even with a vegetarian orientation. I know that you’re often a no fuss-no muss kind of cook, but I think, just to cite one example, that you’d love the carrot-ginger soup. Or the recent bucatini recipe. I’ll expect a progress report. But we’re not going away, just speaking up less often. I trust you’ll tell us when the novel is finished. Ken

  14. Oh, can’t wait to be next month for your next post. My couch is yours if you ever decide to come and bike in Le Nord (which is really flat, and you seem to enjoy hilly landscapes and the sunny Sud better…). Or we could just meet for coffee-lunch-drinks-dinner next time you are in Paree; that would be nice. What I enjoy most with blogging is getting to know people who cook differently, for different reasons, have a different background, and yet put so much effort and energy into sharing what they love doing (writing, photographing, cooking…). I already have too many cookbooks, but then I really enjoy your recipes, so perhaps a selection of your personal favorites (from the blog or not) or something focusing on a few specific ingredients you like best would be fun. Bonne continuation!

    • Darya–I so enjoy your posts, for the alternating pleasures of French (our daughter is currently at the Sorbonne for a few months to learn French) and your peregrinations into Iranian culture and cuisine. There is also this wonderful eat-this-with-this French quality about some of your recipes that recall me to my younger self and his responses on first encountering it as a student. Your food has always struck me a highly polished and I’m looking forward to getting a chance to cooking and eating more of it. If I find myself in Paris I’ll give definitely give you a call. Email me particulars – I may be there at Christmas. Ken

  15. First, I love the way you write, Ken. I like the way you foreshadowed what was coming. Secondly, I completely understand. This blog is a wealth of knowledge and I’ve learned so much by reading you guys, cooking you guys and looking at the photos. I’m a better cook for having read you. You guys are kind of like Ottolenghi in that he has his Telegraph articles, the restaurants and the cookbooks. I think you could do another traditional style cookbook, with beautiful photos and stories, just like you do here, with a focus on the ingredients and regions that you love (Italy and France with a twist of Middle East). Use your food photos, vacation photos and your genuine voice. I agree with another commenter that THIS is one of my favorite cookbooks. But I always did wonder how you guys found time to do it. I’m glad you’ll at least still be checking in. Like you, I had no idea there was this whole online community of literate, professional people all over the world who have a deep interest in food. Lovely apple tart by the way. AND…I WILL be taking you up on your offer. We’ll be coming to your table at least either in the restaurants or your doorstep. And when you come visit Brooklyn, y’all are certainly welcome to squeeze into my tiny Manhattan kitchen or we can meet up at someone else’s table! See you soon. I actually had a similar experience with a couple of recipes not turning out well, by the way. It feels disingenuous to put it up if you’re not in love with it. See you soon. -A

    • Hi, Amanda–I’m glad this has been so much use to you. I hope to continue being so, one way or another, in the future. I wish that just doing what we were doing was putting bread on the table, and not just roses in our hearts. Your posts and pictures are a treat, made all the more evocative by the frame of your solitary window, and remarkable in light of how little equipment you use. Really lovely. But this isn’t the end – only a Prosperian transformation. I will call about drinks or a meet-up in Brooklyn when next headed that way. Ken

  16. I’ll miss your more regular posts, but exciting things are afoot, it sounds! I love the idea of a short-form cookbook focusing on one ingredient, or one region.

  17. insertion of tears here…. I look forward to your blog every Friday morning and I forward it on to my other foodie friends. You will be missed, but I understand, you need to do what is best…. :'( GOOD LUCK!!!

  18. Ken,
    Wonderful words from all ours – but mostly your – fans. It should make you feel great. Let’€™s start talking about that first book!

    Jody Adams
    Harvard Square,1 Bennett Street,Cambridge, MA 02138, 617.661.5050
    [][] I’m riding in the []

  19. 100% agree with ChiliandMint about the tactile rewards of a cookbook in real form. Blogs are my ecookbooks, and yours, while I’ve been late to the party and a very silent guest, has been one of my favorites. I’m glad you are simply slimming down and not checking out completely. Best of luck, and thanks for all the apple tarts.

    • “…and thanks for all the apple tarts.” Do I detect an echo of Douglas Adams? Thanks for the vote for physical books. Nice to hear people still value the printed page. And we still will be around, just a tad less frequently. Ken

  20. Ken and Jody, totally understand your decision, but like the rest of your fans will miss the every-Friday morning post. It always stretches my culinary mind. I feel like I know you already, but would love raise a glass and share a tourtière if you’re in Providence. And when your book comes out, I will be thrilled to have it grace my nightstand. And kitchen counter. I’m rooting for you!

  21. K&J,
    I support your decision and often wondered how you managed to crank out a weekly entry. Once a month is plenty for this fan. There is enough history and variety gracing your previous posts to keep most food fan followers busy for half the year. You cover a pretty broad swath of the culinary landscape such that I don’t see an obvious void needing attention. More cowbell! … and thanks for all your wonderful entries these past several years.

  22. Like all of the previous posts, your blog has become a Friday morning ritual and so many of the recipes are now favorites! ( and of course the great photos and writing) I am glad you are just slimming down and the monthly ( or whenever ) posts will be even more special. I love the idea of short regional books… Years ago I used have regional books from Time that I liked when I was first learning to cook things other than recipes from my family…. Of course the trick is making it worth your time and energy. Thanks for all the great posts so far from one of your biggest fans!

    • Hi, BA–Thanks for following along, both on the blog and on the rides. We both like the idea of short theme-driven books… and you’re not the first reader to fondly recall those TIME-LIFE cookbooks. Not to worry about the posts – there will be more coming. Ken

  23. I’m relatively new to your blog and it’s so interesting to read about how you got here. I really enjoy your writing style and I look forward to seeing where you go from here!

  24. Well, I am really sorry to hear that you are cutting back on GF. I am a huge fan of your blog and can spend hours pouring over your photos, writing and recipes, but I totally understand. This is a very time consuming activity, to say the least, and you two sound like you have a lot on the go. As far as eBooks versus paper? Hands down, paper! Cookbooks grace almost every table and desk in my home. I love the feel of paper in my hands and being able to locate a recipe quickly even if my devices aren’t charged. I love being able to write in the margins and make notations about about ingredients and whom I served the dish to. eBooks, in my opinion, just don’t cut it when it comes to cookbooks. I can best imagine your sumptuous photos and recipes in a giant paper cookbook. I prefer big ones with many recipes to choose from, rather than the smaller ones.
    Well, best wishes for your new endeavours, and I look forward to the inspiration of your monthly posts!

    • I agree with everything you said about cookbooks. On the other hand, I had to donate 5,000 books just to make some space in our condo. And I’m the kind of reader who has the bad habit of keeping about 5 -10 things going at once. So a Kindle and an iPad come into play. I also like using an iPad in the kitchen – it’s scrollable, relatively impervious, and easily searchable. Nevertheless, I think the wind is increasingly bending us toward physical books. Thanks for the kind words about the blog – if it could just be our job, believe me, it would be. Ken

  25. Hello Jody and Ken. I’m sorry you’ve slimmed down because I love your blog and it feels like catching up with friends (who are also scholars and gourmands). But I’m glad you will still be blogging and it will be fun to have the monthly updates. And if you’re ever in London, please let us know. There is a guest room and a kitchen for you here. Sophie

    • Thank you, Sophie. How generous! It looks like we stopped just in time. We have a new post coming up, but I’ve been unable to get any photos out of my camera on to my computer since I upgraded to Yosemite. Computer wizards are working on it as we speak. Don’t upgrade! (if you have a Mac.) Ken

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