Cincinnati’s Cookin’

Cincinnati’s Cookin’

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Cincy Chic: Your cookbook, "Cincinnati’s Cookin!" focuses on Cincinnati’s unique recipes, yet you’ve lived all over. How did you decide to write this book?
Joy Pierson: I love to cook and bake and I’m constantly sharing food with others. Most people think cooking is intimidating so I found myself sharing recipes, tips and techniques, and samples.

Everywhere I have lived, I’ve been a regular customer at local public and farmers’ markets, including the Eastern Market in Washington, DC; Short North Market in Columbus, OH; and the Soulard Market in St. Louis, MO. I’m a huge fan of Findlay Market and shop there at least once a week.

About two years ago, I thought about writing a Findlay Market cookbook, but then decided that was too restrictive because I wanted to add recipes that were "Cincinnati" focused. So, I changed the idea to a Cincinnati cookbook with local favorites like Goetta and Cincinnati Style Chili. I’m proud of the creative twists to those local favorites like Oktoberfest Goetta "Reuben" Dip and my brother Matt’s Skyline Chili Lasagna.

Cincy Chic: Were you always interested in cooking/becoming a cookbook author?
Pierson: Not at all … if you told me 20 years ago that I would publish a cookbook, I would have laughed out loud. My twin sister, Joan, was a great cook and I was intimidated by her skills. My cooking skills were basic at best – I made spaghetti from a box of pasta and jar of sauce. In the book, I admit to mistakes and lessons learned like making a cherry pie with the sour cherries and wheat flour. It was disgusting but my Dad ate a whole piece.
Over the years, I experimented with all kinds of cooking, learning from friends and neighbors, and have gotten very comfortable in the kitchen. Now, I cook and bake for therapy and enjoy every minute.

Elizabeth-InStory.gif Cincy Chic: You’re a big proponent of Findlay Market. Why is the market so important to you?
Pierson: Like I mentioned, I’ve been a fan of public and farmers’ markets where ever I live. But Findlay Market is home. I grew up here and moved away for 16 years. My parent’s were friends with Sal Tedesco and we would occasionally shop at Tedesco’s Produce at the Market. When I moved back to Cincinnati, I became a regular customer and friends with the next generation of the Tedesco family.

Nowadays, I love to shop at the Market, visit with the vendors, share tips and recipes, have a beer outside or enjoy wine tastings at Market Wines, and I buy as much as I can from the local vendors. I’ve worked in local government throughout the US and I have always supported local businesses. In fact, I am proud that I can count on two hands the number of times I’ve shopped at Walmart. ☺ I hate that downtowns and neighborhood business districts have contracted. I love to bring new people to the Market, share seasonal foods and special events and introduce them to the wonderful vendors down there.
Cincy Chic: Are all of the recipes in the book your own, or did you glean them from different sources?
Pierson: Many of the recipes are from my kitchen, but this is definitely a collection from many cooks. I have 14 siblings and most of them, or their spouses, contributed recipes for the cookbook. Many friends and Findlay Market vendors shared recipes too. All of the recipes include short stories – memories related to the recipes or the cooks. Many recipes came from special events like a Grilled Cheese "Throwdown" and Alumni Father Daughter Dance Dinner. I have friends who don’t even cook who bought the book for the stories. It’s nice when friends now tell me they want to meet some of my family in the stories, and feel like they now know me better.

Cincy Chic: There are vegetarian options in the book. Are they unique recipes, or are they vegetarian options of Cincinnati classics?
Pierson: There are lots of vegetarian options in the cookbook which are pretty standard fare. For main dishes, try Baked Ziti Casserole, Broccoli Pie, Grilled Cheese, Veggie Kabobs, Veggie Stuffed Peppers and Zucchini and Herb Pasta. Twelve of the 13 salads are meatless and all 13 side dishes are also meatless. For soups, try Cream of Potato, Roasted Red Pepper and Carrot Soup, and Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup. Five of the starters are vegetarian options. Try the Apples with Caramel Dip, Deviled Eggs, Double Tomato Bruschetta, Mango and Black Bean Salsa, and Spinach and Artichoke Dip.

My niece Nikki Pierson Mayhew shared the Vegan Cincinnati Style Chili recipe for the cookbook. It’s made with lentils, tomato paste and Cincinnati Style Chili mix. It’s so delicious and very healthy. We love using this chili in my brother Matt’s Skyline Chili Lasagna, but that recipe is loaded with cheese so it’s no longer vegan.

Cincy Chic: What’s next on your horizon?
Pierson: I saved some recipes for a second edition that will be focused on seasonal foods. I want to include holiday menu items, as well as recipes that feature local seasonal foods. Publishing Cincinnati’s Cookin! gave me confidence to follow my other passions, too. I’ve been working for over 9 years helping inmates and their families, and am writing a book about these experiences. I’m also taking the LSAT in December and exploring law school. I’d love to work with the Innocence Project at UC’s law school and use the skills and experiences from the past 9+ years.