When most people are sleeping, dreaming of tropical locations or having nightmares Rhonda dreams of food. Waking up to jot down ideas for the next time she gets into her kitchen. A genuine foodie at heart, who loves to cook for her family and friends, she finally decided that all the recipes that have been floating around in her head or jotted down in notebooks needed to be pulled together and become cookbooks that she could share with others.
Recently I had the pleasure of speaking with Rhonda Plumhoff author of “Effortless Weekday Meals” her newest cookbook. Rhonda is known for her delicious and scrumptious meals in now 7 cookbooks. I myself have tried quite a few of these recipes and I have to say her recipes are delectable, fun and easy to dish up…
So let's sit down around the table to enjoy our favorite recipes and the get to know Rhonda. It will be a mouth watering experience. Bon Appetit!
Q: Who or what is your inspiration for cooking and writing cookbooks?
Rhonda: About 2 years ago I started all of this as a gift to my daughter Amelia. She inspires me to never give up. I really never thought much would come from the cookbooks.
Q: From where do your recipes originate?
Rhonda: Recipes come to me at the strangest times, during dreams, while I am in the shower and while walking through the grocery stores. My brain never shuts off. You will find note pads in every room of the house with recipes scribbled on them. I even keep bathtub crayons in my shower for when recipes just won't wait.
Q: You have 7 cookbooks out. How did you come up with your ideas for your books?
Rhonda: I'm a pumpkin and chocolate junkie so the pumpkin has always been there. I've been writing and creating pumpkin recipes since I was 6. "Generations of Love" was for my aunt. She had always wanted to pull family recipes together. "Muffin Mayhem" and "Ladle Full of Love" were for my children. "Effortless Weekday Meals" was started as a College project for students on a fixed income. "Literary Chocolate" is different. When I read a book and fall in love with a character, my brain relates them to chocolate and recipes come from that.
Q: I thoroughly enjoyed your cookbook "Literary Chocolate". How did the idea come about to name dishes after characters from books?
Rhonda: It's actually funny. The first time I wrote a recipe for a character I didn't even realize that I was doing it. I had fallen madly in love with H.P. Mallory's Knightly Vander, and felt the need to name a recipe after him. I had met H.P. and she inspired me to release my first book. She told me I would never know if I didn't try. As a thank you I wanted to add Knightly's recipe to my new chocolate book. One morning at breakfast I asked my husband "How do I dedicate one recipe in a book to a character and not have people think I am crazy." He suggested, since I had so many characters that I loved, why not create a whole book of chocolate recipes based on characters and name it Literary Chocolate. Something snapped and there was no stopping me. I was like a woman out of control. I really thought I would have a hard time selling the authors on the idea but they were all excited too. I wound up with too many characters for one book. So it looked like I would need to write a book 2.
Q: The food in your books looks and taste delicious. Do you cook these for your family?
Rhonda: Every recipe gets tested on my family and friends first. Some of the recipes I've been cooking for years, some I tweaked to fit the book I was working on. But you can say my family is very well fed.
Q: Do you enjoy cooking?
Rhonda: I love cooking more than anything (well except maybe reading). It's how I deal with stress and show my artistic side. I'm not sure what I would do if I couldn't cook.
Q: How did the vision for your newest cookbook, "Effortless Weekday Meals", become a reality?
Rhonda: It was supposed to be 3 or 4 recipes for our local community college to use for a class on budgeting. They wanted to show students that they could eat healthy and save money while trying to keep them away from fast food and learning to budget their money. At the same time I had full time working mothers who were asking for quick and easy meals they could make after work, that their kids would eat. The 2 kind of merged into one book.
Q: What is your favorite recipe and why?
Rhonda: Wow that's a hard one. It's like asking which child is my favorite. I guess it would depend on which book I'm currently working on. I love anything and everything pumpkin. But in the last couple of months I've created 2 new recipes for the new Literary Chocolate book that I absolutely love. One is for Kris Tualla and it's based on an Old Norwegian chocolate cake recipe. I modernized it and added a special kick to it just for Kris. Second is a chocolate mushroom steak for Morgan Kearns. I love this recipe. I think we've eaten it about 4 times since I first created it.
Q: What do you do when you are not writing?
Rhonda: That's easy. I read. I love to read and meet new authors. Reading takes me to my happy place where anything is possible.
Q: Will we be seeing more books from you in the future?
Rhonda: I will have 2 books in the works now that if all goes well should be out in the next 2 months. Erotic Treats should be out in the next few weeks and it is a totally new concept for me. Several authors have written erotic short stories to go with my recipes. I'm so excited. I 'm also working on Literary Chocolate, a Second Helping, which I hope will be out by the end of October. This will give me 9 books in a little over a year's time. Not bad.
Q: Are the recipes in your books reflection of the food you ate while growing up?
Rhonda: Oh no. I learned to cook by the time I was 6, out of desperation. What I cook now is nothing like what I ate as a child and my kids are grateful for that. I was lucky that by the time I was 13 my aunt had opened a restaurant. I spent every day from the ages of 13-20 learning from some amazing cooks.
Q: Where are you from?
Rhonda: California. I've lived my whole life here. But I'm looking forward to relocating to the south in the next year.
Q: Did you grow up in a family who cooked together?
Rhonda: In some ways yes, though not in my immediate family; except during Christmas time. I do come from a huge family and we had a lot of family gatherings (and I mean a lot). The women in my family are amazing cooks and I learned a lot from them
Q: What are your holiday meals like?
Rhonda: It changes from year to year depending on my moods, but there is always a lot of food. I start cooking about a week before any major holiday. We usually have a huge breakfast, snacks and baked goods throughout the day and a huge dinner and of course desserts. Each of my kids has a holiday where they get to pick the main courses. I never quite know what to expect but I love that they're not afraid to try new things.
Q: What are you reading now?
Rhonda: I'm currently in the middle of 2 books, Rose Pressey's How to Date a Demon and Janet Evanovich's Wicked Business.
Q: Who's your favorite author and why?
Rhonda: Favorite authors, is a little harder because I have too many, so bear with me and I'll give you a few. Morgan Kearns; she writes realistic characters that you can't help falling in love with. Deena Remiels Brethen series; her angels stole my heart. Kris Tulla made me rethink historical romance. H.P. Mallory flat out makes me laugh and her characters feel like friends. H.T. Knight his story writing just keeps getting better and better. JR Ward; god I love those BDB characters. I'm so addicted that I may need a self-help group when the series comes to an end.
Q: What book would you recommend and why?
Rhonda: I would highly recommend books by any of these authors. But this is only a small dip in the pool of my favorites. I can proudly say I read over 500 books last year and I'm close to 300 this year, so as you can imagine the list is quite extensive.
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