Carol Frey's favorite things to do are laugh and cook. So recently, the Norcross native and novice author penned a pair of cookbooks to prove those two activities aren't mutually exclusive.
"I want cooking to be fun," Frey said. "I want people to be able to laugh while they're in the kitchen."
The author got the idea for her first effort - "You Know You Gotta Feed 'Em, So Have You Considered Cooking?" -when her children - for whom she'd so enjoyed making homemade meals - left the homestead.
"All of a sudden," Frey said, "boom, my kids are all grown up and they're gone, and I'm like, 'Well, now what do I do? Who do I get to tell how to cook?'"
Thus, the book became a quick way for Frey to jot down all her top recipes before she forgot them altogether.
"It has a lot of basic instructions about how to cook this and how to cook that," she said, "and how to separate eggs, or how to fold things."
In a serendipitous bit of luck, Frey's publisher found the original draft of "Cooking" far too long, with almost enough content to fill another book. So that's what Frey decided to do, crafting a second, Southern-flavored tome titled "The Grits Shall Rise Again."
"There are a lot of things to cook on the grill," she said of "Grits," "and biscuits and iced tea, and things that you think of when you think of the South, and sittin' on the porch and kickin' back and havin' fun."
By her own estimation, Frey has been cooking "forever."
"Well, not forever," she corrected herself. "I haven't been alive forever, just almost."
Frey's mom gave her free reign in the kitchen, even as a little girl.
"I loved cooking since the time I was in elementary school," she said.
In fact, many of the recipes in Frey's books are from that era.
"Caveman food," she joked.
Some are cherished old chestnuts she's inherited from friends and family. Others she devised herself.
"It's a collection of my favorites," she said.
Frey admitted that before she became published, her writing experience was limited to the stories she would relate to relatives via letters slipped inside family Christmas cards.
"I've been writing for about five years, Christmas cards not withstanding," she said.
She described her style as "pretty much the same way that I talk.
"What I consider my writing, basically, is humor writing," Frey said. "It's not just cookbooks. They're sort of like humor books that are filled with good recipes and cooking tips."
Frey said both books share basically the same format, content-wise: That is, sprinkled into each recipe are funny instructions, and each surrounding chapter is filled with things like personal anecdotes and musings on topics such as Southern sports fans.
"The point of that book," she said, "well, both of them really, is to encourage people to try out new things and to have fun in the kitchen. I hope to encourage people to have incentive to cook instead of eating out all the time, which is easy to do because in our fast-paced society, it's a lot easier to grab something than it is to cook."
Frey wanted people to realize that "it's not so difficult, and it can really be fun."
SideBar: 10 Rules For Cooking
1. Have fun.
2. Try something new. You might like it.
3. If you don't like it, don't try it again.
4. It's a recipe, not a law.
5. When things don't go as planned, you've made a revision, not a mistake.
6. If your recipe doesn't look like the picture in the cookbook, rip the picture out of the book.
7. Next time, buy a cookbook with no pictures.
8. If it doesn't taste good, give it to the dog.
9. If the dog won't eat it, get a new dog.
10. If all else fails, call for take-out.