HALIFAX — Two million sales and 15 years after their first cookbook, the Podleski sisters are back with their combination of healthy recipes and gentle humour.
(“When Grandma nagged you to eat your beans, she wasn’t just being an old fart.”)
“The Looneyspoons Collection” includes 325 recipes, a combination of new dishes and revised versions of favourites from Janet and Greta Podleski’s first three volumes, “Looneyspoons,” “Crazy Plates” and “Eat, Shrink and Be Merry.”
“We took our first two cookbooks out of print about four years ago … because we felt they were too outdated,” Greta said. “They were written in the ’90s, when everything was about fat being evil, and get fat out of your diet and fat’s going to kill you.
“That’s what all the experts were saying. Everything was low fat, fat-free and we were uncomfortable with that message. The bookstores got upset with us because we took them out of print even though they sold well, but for us it wasn’t about the money; we just didn’t like that message.
“There were still very popular recipes in those books, so we’ve brought them back for 2011 with better carbs, more fibre. People weren’t talking about good carbs and bad carbs in the ’90s or good fats and bad fats.”
Both sisters were in Halifax for a one-day media blitz recently. “The Looneyspoons Collection” became an immediate bestseller when it launched last month, selling out its initial run of 75,000 copies in two weeks. It is selling faster than any of their earlier works.
“I think launching it around the Christmas season was a very smart idea because people have been telling us they’re buying five or six copies to give to friends as gifts,” Janet said.
The last time the Podleskis were in town, Greta sliced her thumb open while pitting an avocado during a TV appearance, which required four stitches. While the sisters were writing the new book, she badly injured her knee while slicing an onion.
“I don’t even know how that happened,” she said. “I think I just had a bit of a bum knee to begin with, didn’t realize how bad it was, and then one day I was working in my kitchen, as I do every day. I must have turned my leg the wrong way. The kneecap popped right out of its socket.
“Within an hour, it was the size of a bowling ball and five days later I had surgery, which put me on crutches for 6 1/2 weeks, right in the middle of our cookbook writing project.”
Greta’s role is to develop the sisters’ recipes but after surgery, she couldn’t drive to the store, push a shopping cart or even stand at the stove, so three of their other sisters pitched in to help her finish the project.
“So I could sit there with my laptop and my recipes, and dictate to them what to do,” she recalled. “They would cook and slice and dice and do all the dishes. Without them, we wouldn’t have finished the book.”
Janet, a registered holistic nutritionist, does the writing, including “the nutrition tidbits.” The two collaborate on recipe names and the humour in the book.
“We took the ’Looneyspoons’ and ’Crazy Plates’ most popular recipes that needed to be revamped and we revised those,” Janet said. “There’s probably close to a hundred new recipes in the new book, so it’s a good mix.
“We wanted to include a lot of new stuff, and there’s stuff from our television show, a lot of current things like gluten-free recipes.
“We’ve had a lot of diabetics write to us over the years, so we wanted to give them the type of food they’re requesting as well. Sugar is the big villain that people know about nowadays, and back then nobody focused on it, so the recipes in this book have less sugar, less salt.”