But I’ve been on a cookbook-buying moratorium. There were just too many for my tiny kitchen. That is, until recently, when Jackson Hole Foodie Annie Fenn mentioned that I had to read Ripe. And she gave me a copy! So it’s not like I was buying one.
Plus, Ripe was photographed by former Jackson resident Paulette Phlipot, so I now consider it required reading. Though Phlipot is now living in Sun Valley, she still has ties to the area. She is the founding photo editor of Teton Family Magazine and still travels to the Tetons frequently. You may also know her name from her other cookbook, A Taste of Wyoming.
We caught up on the phone Friday, and Phlipot, 41, told me all about the process of putting Ripe together with author/recipe developer Cheryl Sternman Rule.
The book grew from her desire to photograph fruits and vegetables “for their pure simplicity,” she said. “Ripe is totally different in that included me from the very beginning,” Phlipot said. “It’s not my book or her book, but our book.”
You know what I didn’t know? Lots of times, in cookbook creation, a photography team is brought in at the end of the writing process. People come in and cook all the recipes, they style the food and then they shoot the products during a week or two.
Not with Ripe.
Phlipot and Rule, who lives in San Jose, Calif., first met in New Orleans in 2008 to discuss the project. Writing a proposal for an agent and publisher took nearly a year. Then, the real work began. Just to give an idea how long it took, Phlipot was six weeks pregnant with her second child when she shot the first photo. When Ripe was officially released in April, that child was 18 months.
The book is now on its sixth printing. In addition to book stores and Amazon.com, you can also find it in Anthropologie, which pretty much puts Ripe in a category all its own. I’d call the category “the life many women dream of living.”
What makes Ripe so different is that it’s organized by color, not season. Each vegetable or fruit is accompanied by a story and suggested, “simple uses” for said product. Then, there’s a recipe. It’s simple and beautiful and easy.
“We wanted to break the mold of a cookbook,” Phlipot said. “We wanted this not just to be a cookbook but also to be a coffee table book.”
Photos were shot in her Sun Valley studio and kitchen and in Rule’s home in California. The duo sourced produce when it was in season from area farms for online, year-round farmers markets.
“The biggest challenge working on this book was the photos,” Phlipot said. “Because we had to shoot things in season, we couldn’t just pound out the book in a week or two. We had to wait until persimmons were around and for the mangoes to ripen.”
And when selecting her subjects, Phlipot said she didn’t necessarily pick the most perfect one. “I like to work with what I have,” she said. “I find the beauty in each piece.”
She is her own food stylist and doesn’t use anything to manipulate the food except for maybe a spritz of water here and there.
“I don’t do artificial things,” she said. “I like people to be able to eat the food after I shoot it.”
The ultimate goal is to make people stop and think a littl more about fruits and vegetables. “We want to encourage people to eat more fruits and vegetables.”
And this book is so pretty, that it really will make you want to cook your way through it. But fair warning: That may take you a full year.