When Molly Jo Realy was unemployed for two years and had zero money, sometimes she had to cook dinners with little taste, making her nostalgic for a home-cooked meal to share with her daughter, Hannah.
Realy, who now works for Kathy D. Hopkins Insurance Agency in Hesperia, started creating new recipes and changing up ones that had been handed down to her by her mother, calling them "unemployment recipes" when she cooked a meal that didn't cost much to make.
"My daughter didn't have to suffer … if I was out looking for work," said Realy, who would leave "Slow Cooker Ratatouille" cooking all day so the two could eat together in the evening.
So "The Unemployment Cookbook" was compiled containing recipes for people who were watching their money but wanted to "put good food on the table," according to Realy. The book also offers quotes, author notes to change up recipes, room under each recipe for notes that suit each cook's tastes and a few pages to add original recipes to the book.
Recipes are "thrown together easily" with ingredients already in the kitchen or easy to find, nothing "exotic" needed, said Danny O'Rourke, a childhood friend who lives in Michigan. His favorite recipe is kielbasa and bean soup.
Jaye Cherry, who met Realy on Facebook, said she likes the way the spiral bound cookbook lays flat and finds the recipes "cheap, easy and filling."
"We're all broke. (Let's) figure out how we can eat," said Cherry, who likes the potato leek soup recipe.
"If I can overcome poverty, we can overcome," said Realy, who will donate 10 percent of her book sales to the community.
"Simple and easy for someone who doesn't like to cook," said Julie Hendricks, Realy's close friend of 18 years. She has two copies of the cookbook; the extra one belongs to her 12-year-old daughter, Padme, who wants to be a chef.
With her first edition almost sold out, Realy's trying to publish a second edition, which will have more recipes, more pages for notes, new quotes and two copies of international measurement charts so that one can be removed from the book, making it approximately 150 pages. Since it's self-published, funding is a difficult task, prompting her to start a project through the website Kickstarter.com.
Kickstarter helps artists and creative people get backers for projects, according to Realy. Participants can help financially back a project for as little as $1. Pledging $15 or more gets backers a copy of the cookbook and their name on a thank you page. Those who pledge higher amounts will get the cookbook and other extras that change depending on how much they pledge.
Kickstarter is an "all or nothing" website. If "The Unemployment Cookbook" meets its $5,000 goal, then it will get funded and preorders will be filled; if it doesn't, backers won't get charged.
For now, the first edition can be purchased at NewInklingsPress.com until sold out.
The "Unemployment Cookbook" is self-published by New Inklings Press. The group's logo — a frog on top of a jar of spilled ink — honors Realy's favorite uncle, Roger Jolicoeur, whose logo also had a frog. The name pays homage to the writer's group The Inklings, of which J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were members, said Realy.
Realy practices her true passion, writing, on her blog, "Frankly, My Dear" at www.FranklyMyDearMoJo.com.
"Why do I write? Because I can't not write," said Realy who writes every day.
Hannah enjoys the blog posts about times she and her mom have spent together, specifically referencing posts Invisible Person in a Sea of People: Robin H. and the 99-Cent Sin, when they shared food with a homeless man named Robin.
Next up for Realy is a nine-book series with her writing partner, Megan Holbrook. Their writing styles compliment each other well, with Realy good at being descriptive and Holbrook "compelling with dialogue," Realy said. The first book in the series should be completed by June 2013.