Our New Book Announcement is Forking Good!

After several people we know and love told us that we really should be watching NBC’s The Good Place, Stephen and I finally made time for it. We loved it and rewatched it with the kids in time for Season 3 to begin.

For those of you who are not yet familiar, the show begins with Eleanor Shellstrop, who wakes up dead one day, welcomed into “the Good Place” as a reward for living such a good life. She is given her dream home, a heavenly neighborhood, and a soulmate. The only problem is that Eleanor realizes there has been a terrible mistake. She is the wrong Eleanor Shellstrop. They think she was a noble, self-sacrificing activist. The truth is, she lived a selfish, morally questionable life.

Realizing that she does not deserve to be in the Good Place, Eleanor convinces her soulmate, Chidi Anagonye, a moral philosopher, to help her learn how to become a good person and hopefully earn her spot in the Good Place…so that she does not have to suffer an eternity of torture in the Bad Place. The show follows Eleanor and her new squad of dead friends as they try to navigate the experience of afterlife living in the Good Place.

The cast of ‘‘The Good Place,’’ from left: Manny Jacinto, Jameela Jamil, Ted Danson, D’Arcy Carden, William Jackson Harper and Kristen Bell. Jeff Minton for The New York Times
The cast of ‘‘The Good Place,’’ from left: Manny Jacinto, Jameela Jamil, Ted Danson, D’Arcy Carden, William Jackson Harper and Kristen Bell. Jeff Minton for The New York Times

The show has a big heart and a smart (and not mean-spirited!) sense of humor that is often peppered with puns, and not just clever puns…but clever food puns.

Those of you who know me, know that I love food—preparing it, sharing it, and savoring it. In many ways, food IS my philosophy. (Another blog post on that soon.)

Those of you who know Stephen, know that the part of his brain that makes puns (just like the part of his brain that makes up song lyrics à la “Weird Al” Yankovic in perfect melody to match almost any situation) never stops working. Never. Puns are as central to his worldview as food is to mine.

One morning after watching a particularly funny The Good Place episode, Stephen and I were driving to work, and Stephen was making puns (as he does) inspired by the show. I groaned but joined in, and we tossed around several philosophy-pun-inspired recipe titles for food that fans of The Good Place would probably appreciate..

The light turned red, and we looked at each other and knew we had to pitch it to Quirk Books, our Geek Parenting publisher, because if a fan cookbook inspired by the show didn’t already exist, we needed to write it. We spent the weekend brainstorming, pitched it, and Forking Good was born.

This appeared in today’s Publisher’s Lunch:

The Good Place creator Michael Schur does a brilliant job of creating a vivid world and lovable, flawed characters. We intend for our cookbook to be a love letter to the show—to food, to puns, and to philosophy.

The show loves its characters, and so we grow to care about them too. Through three seasons, we cheer them on to become better, and perhaps along the way, it get us thinking about how we can also become better people too.

In a really wonderful New York Times story from last October, Schur is quoted saying, “We’ll keep trying as long as we can. We’ll keep trying. No one is perfect. No one will ever win the race to be the best person. It’s impossible. But, especially since starting this show, I just think everyone should try harder. Including me.”

Schur cites writer David Foster Wallace as a personal inspiration in several podcasts and interviews. he frequently references the following quote from a 1993 interview with Wallace. After reading it, I’ve printed it out and keep it posted nearby my writing space:

Look, man, we’d probably most of us agree that these are dark times, and stupid ones, but do we need fiction that does nothing but dramatize how dark and stupid everything is? In dark times, the definition of good art would seem to be art that locates and applies CPR to those elements of what’s human and magical that still live and glow despite the times’ darkness. Really good fiction could have as dark a worldview as it wished, but it’d find a way both to depict this world and to illuminate the possibilities for being alive and human in it.

We are so excited to bring you Forking Good with Quirk as our wonderful publisher (Just in time for Season 4!), and the whimsical art of Dingding Hu is going to be such a fun complement for our writing and recipes! We hope that you’ll watch the show, enjoy the book, make and share some recipes, and celebrate what’s human and magical in our world. Because no one knows what actually comes next; but right here and now, we have each other, and we can make art, we can make delicious food, we can make communities of people we love, we can make memories to cherish, and that’s what we want in our Good Place.

Finally Spring

Some months are so full they rush by in a blur. April 2013 was like that. After ICFA, there was a Spring roadtrip, followed by C2E2 and a wonderful meeting (resulting in an exciting announcement to be made in the near future). In between, there were family obligations, book club and school visits, beloved dead to be remembered, and deadlines to be met.

Then came May and finally Spring. Warm weather arrived, and with it the joy of open windows and fresh breezes that make a morning cup of coffee taste even better.

Yesterday was Ukrainian Easter (celebrated according to the Julian calendar).  We began our day with the traditional breakfast of eggs, rich egg bread, beets mixed with horseradish, “lamb” butter, cheese, ham and sausage. All of it was blessed in baskets adorned with embroidery on the afternoon before in the church parking lot. I love this tradition, probably because it’s tied to food, and the sharing of meals is so important to me and my family.


I remember our first Spring in Frankfurt, Germany, in 2003. I was able to find a small Ukrainian community that had services out of a Roman Catholic church. That year we blessed our basket in the courtyard alongside Ukrainians born in Germany and those recently from Ukraine. Our baskets were nearly the same, adorned with varying styles of Ukrainian embroidery.

Looking around, that was my first experience of how important community must have been for my grandparents transplanted to Chicago from Ukraine after WWII.  There is comfort is celebrating beloved traditions, even on foreign soil with people you do not know.

Food also helps us to connect–an ocean between us, on different land, we can still eat the same kind of foods, the same basic recipes, passed down from grandparents to parents to children and on and on.

Recipes are a lot like stories: they can be carried and shared; they can be written down or remembered; they vary from region to region, incorporating the influence of the land and people around them. Recipes also have the ability to transcend time and space, to connect us to those who have gone and to those who are yet to come. Like stories, they’re a little bit of magic. They provide us with opportunities to remember and reconnect.

Over the last decade, I have been slowly building up my recipes. I’m not very organized and I’ve never scrapbooked, but this thing I have somehow kept up. I don’t usually print them out, choosing instead to write each recipe on a card, adding notes, crossing things out as I adapt a dish.

It’s always been important to me. My box of recipes is one of the few things that has travelled around the world with me. Maybe it’s because I see it as a sister activity to writing and storytelling? Maybe it’s because I hope that someday those recipes will provide my children and grandchildren with a window into my life–the treasured meals I have been able to share with them and other people I hold dear. Maybe it’s because writing a recipe down feels like preserving a little of the magic.

If you have ever shared a meal with me, I thank you.

If you’ve ever given me a recipe, rest assured that it is treasured.

If you’d like to share a recipe, I would be honored to add it to my collection. 



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