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ISSUE 121 VOL 10 PUBLISHED 12/7/2007

Authors present works

By Elizabeth Mitchell
Staff Writer
and Nicole Smith
Contributing Writer

Friday, December 7, 2007

As many visitors flocked to St. Olaf for Christmas Festival this past weekend, the campus was full of other events as well. Among them was a series of several book-signing events in the St. Olaf Bookstore.

The first book signing, on Friday evening, welcomed Minnesota authors Kathryn Strand Koutsky and Linda Koutsky who signed copies of their new book, "Minnesota State Fair: An Illustrated History," as well as their two previous books, "Minnesota Eats Out" and "Minnesota Vacation Days."

The Koutskys, a mother and daughter, say that each book they've written has led to the next. "The research for Minnesota Eats Out, the dishes and recipes, sort of led to Vacation Days, and then we saw that a lot of people went on their vacations to the state fair," they said,which in turn led to "Minnesota State Fair."

Another factor, the Koutskys said, was that the two oldest state fair buildings, the fine arts and progress buildings, had their 100th anniversaries this year, and so they were asked to write the book as well.

To write the book, the Koutskys said that they did a vast amount of research. "They have a lot of archive. . . There are books made of the fair every year, and we read a lot of those," Koutsky said. Other resources included boxes full of photos and glass negatives, which they used gloves to sort through.

Anne L. Burckhardt, former writer for the Star Tribune Taste section and former "Betty Crocker Cookbook" editor, signed her new book "Hot Dish Heaven: Classic Casseroles from Midwest Kitchens" on Sunday and shared insight into her love of writing and cooking.

"Hot Dish Heaven" is a cookbook with recipes for casseroles, busy days, potlucks, church suppers, side dishes and desserts.

Not only does the book include recipes for tater tot hot dish, ruben bake, and scalloped potatoes, but each recipe is prefaced by a personal touch or story from the author. Burckhardt said that friends and family, including her first year college roommate, contributed many ideas to the cookbook. The book is a compilation of recipes from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s with modern updates that take mom's old cooking and make it accessible for today.

While signing books, Burckhardt shared some of her personal stories with participants. On Nov. 10, 2006, Burckhardt said, she found out that her book had made The New York Times book review "Christmas Roundup." Later that same day, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Now in remission, Burckhardt is glad to continue writing even though it meant coming out of retirement.

When asked why she enjoys cooking so much her answer was succinct: "Its a nurturing thing. Feeding people is a really important motif in my life. It's a way of showing caring," she said.

Burckhardt also said that she has no favorite recipe, as they are "all fast, all easy. I love them all." However, she did show a preference for the seafood lasagna.

Bookstore director David Schlosser helped organize the book signings. "It has to be the right confluence of events," he said about choosing a specific author. "The right audience needs to be on campus."

For this reason, he said, the bookstore tries to schedule authors in accordance to the most likely audience.

"During Christmas Fest, for example, the authors are authors that we feel our alumni will enjoy, and might skew more toward an older audience than at other times."

During big events like Christmas Fest, Schlosser noted, there are also more choices. "Events this large do get authors contacting the bookstore requesting signings, whereas much of the year, guests must be sought out."

Schlosser said that other big times for book signings are Homecoming and Celebration Weekend, big sporting events and various events promoted by different academic departments, all of which bring in outside audiences and interesting authors.

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