Theresa Carle-Sanders and Diana Gabaldon enjoy a glass of wine in Scottsdale, Arizona, after signing 1,100 copies of Carle-Sanders' new cookbook. "Outlander Kitchen: The Official Outlander Companion Cookbook." Gabaldon, author of the wildly popular "Outlander" series, wrote the foreword for the book. PHOTO COURTESY THERESA CARLE-SANDERS Copyright - RYAN PARRA
Suffering from "Droughtlander?"
Not to worry.
Fans of author Diana Gabaldon and her wildly popular time-traveling "Outlander" series can now re-create the tastes of 18th century Scottish Highlands to 1960s Boston at home. Theresa Carle-Sanders' new cookbook, "Outlander Kitchen: The Official Outlander Companion Cookbook," was published last month to rave reviews. It's currently an Amazon best-seller.
The cookbook includes a foreword by Gabaldon as well as excerpts from her novels to introduce most of the recipes, followed by Carle-Sanders' witty descriptions, such as this one for The MacKenzies' Millionaire's Shortbread:
"The base layer, of course is 100 percent Scottish, and delicious all on its own. Add caramel and chocolate and you've got a three-layered treat so sweet it can set brother against brother faster than the Jacobites' gold."
Don't get the reference? You'll have to read the first book in the series. But even if you've never heard of "Outlander," you can still enjoy Carle-Sanders' enticing recipes.
Carle-Sanders, who lives on an island between Vancouver and Victoria in Canada, is not just a fan, she's a bona fide chef. The book includes plenty of tips and lessons, making each recipe very doable, as well as lots of tempting photos.
And just like Gabaldon's books, the recipes span generations, countries and continents, from "Roger and Bree's Pizza" to "Bangers and Mash with Slow-Cooked Onion Gravy" to "Almond Squirts," an almond meringue adapted from an 18th century Scottish cookbook.
Carle-Sanders first discovered "Outlander" in 2001 after quitting a very stressful job.
"I wandered the shelves of a bookstore on my first job-free day until I came across a black and red paperback with a gold clock on the cover," she says. "After reading a summary of Claire's Highland adventure on the back cover, I bought it and dove headfirst into the story to temporarily escape the overwhelming reality of my own life at the time."
Since then, she's read and reread all eight books in the series. But it wasn't until six years ago that she combined her love of cooking with her love for the books.
During a walk in the woods with her dog, she thought up a recipe for Pigeon Rolls with Truffles (chicken, mushrooms and bacon wrapped in pastry). The recipe was created with a scene from "Voyager" in mind, the third book in the series.
"By the time I got home, I had the recipe written in my head, and an idea for an Outlander-themed post on my food blog at the time, Island Vittles. I sent an email explaining my idea and requesting permission to post an excerpt to Diana's Canadian publicist that afternoon."
She heard from Gabaldon the next day, giving Carle-Sanders her blessing. The post was a hit, especially after Gabaldon shared it on her own blog.
Another themed recipe followed a few months later, and not long after that, Carle-Sanders was discussing the possibility of a cookbook with Gabaldon. Her main concern, however, was that there might not be a big enough audience, despite Gabaldon's millions of fans. To test the waters, she started OutlanderKitchen.com in October 2011.
"I posted at least a recipe a week for two years on Outlander Kitchen, and was thrilled when Starz announced the TV adaptation of 'Outlander' in 2013. I traveled down to San Diego Comic Con to see an advance premiere of the show in the summer of 2014, where I met Starz's manager of social media outside the theater after the showing."
Carle-Sanders wrote a few suggested menus for the TV premiere, as well as a themed recipe for each episode in the first season, all of which Starz shared on Facebook and Twitter. Her followers grew by the thousands, she says, sometimes in a single day.
Just over a year ago, she signed a contract with Penguin Random House for "Outlander Kitchen: The Official Outlander Companion Cookbook." It went on sale June 14.
The cookbook features a wide variety of recipes, from basics to main dishes, desserts and drinks. Several are adaptations from 18th century dishes, which Carle-Sanders says is much easier than attempting to adapt 21st century palates to 18th century recipes, such as the Drunken Mock Turtle Soup, a much anticipated recipe from ascene in "Voyager."
"Turtle is not an accessible ingredient for many of us here in the 21st century, and 19th century recipes for mock turtle soup include pig's trotters (feet), sheep's head and a few internal organs," says Carle-Sanders. "After much experimentation, and a few failures, I came up with my version of the soup using oxtail, Vietnamese fish sauce and a combination of ingredients from the historical versions of turtle soup from New Orleans and Philadelphia. It's basically mock turtle pho, and contains an entire bottle of sherry."
Carle-Sanders has met Gabaldon several times, but the most recent get-together in Arizona had to be the most special.
"I have met Diana a few times in person. It's always a pleasure. She's a very gracious, generous person."
Carle-Sanders was also lucky enough to meet a member of the cast of "Outlander" a couple weeks ago in northwest North Carolina at "The Gathering on the Ridge," where she's taught a "Cook Your Own Outlander Lunch" class for the past two years.
"Graham (McTavish, who plays Dougal) was a very special guest this year, and I was very lucky to have dinner with him one night. He is a genuine, down-to-earth man with a great sense of humor."