On Saturday, June 28, The Next Page Books & Nosh in Frisco will welcome six independent Colorado authors to the bookstore to talk about their work and share their stories. The event is free and open to the public.
“The local authors are so enthusiastic about their books and about speaking one on one with the people who are interested in their books that there’s just a great vibe when they are here,” said Lisa Holenko, of The Next Page. “Customers are really happy to meet them and to get to ask them some questions, and that’s just a lot of fun.”
The featured writers are “Cookies in the Clouds” author and Frisco resident Vera Dawson; “Speed Vegan” and “Paleo Vegan: Plant Based Primal Recipes” author Alan Roettinger, of Palmer Lake near Colorado Springs; Breckenridge author and historian Bill Fountain, who penned “Chasing the Dream: The Search for Gold Upper Swan River Valley, French Gulch”; Stan Moore, of Golden, who wrote “Over the Dam”; the “Pack-n-Go Girls” adventure series author Janelle Diller, of Colorado Springs; and Arvada writer Michelle Rodenburg, who created the children’s books “Colorado Creatures,” “Twelve Days of Autumn in Colorado” and “Twelve Days of Winter in Colorado.”
Both Dawson and Roettinger will be sharing food samples from their cookbooks, and Diller will raffle off a “Pack-n-Go Girls” purse. From food to history to adventure, this group of authors has something for readers of all ages, and the event will help introduce the writers to their fans in Summit County.
“It gives them a venue to get their books more into the public eye and to appeal to the local people who are really interested in what they are offering,” Holenko said.
Read on to learn a bit more about a few of these authors and their books.
Eating like a cave man and a bird at the same time might seem like a contradiction. But to chef and author Alan Roettinger, these ancient ways of grazing are healthier — and easier — than you might think. Roettinger said unifying these topics in his new co-authored book, “Paleo Vegan: Plant Based Primal Recipes,” wasn’t really a stretch.
“It’s very simple,” said Roettinger, who published “Speed Vegan” in 2010. “Where the two diets intersect, there is common ground. Both vegans and paleos will eat fresh, whole, organic, local, diverse non-animal foods, except for grains and legumes.”
Roettinger and foodie Ellen Jones worked together to develop inventive combinations of vegan and paleo ideals for the book. Roettinger said that the paleo diet is based on the idea that during the Old Stone Age, humans ate food that was appropriate for their species, obtained by hunting and gathering. Jones and Roettinger encourage readers to cultivate their own gardens to make choosing nutritious produce easier.
“It’s thrilling to see it sprout, grow and mature, and it’s unbelievably delightful to harvest it and to eat something that just an hour or two ago was growing outside your own home,” Roettinger said.
Roettinger believes that by listening to the body, people can determine what foods they should eat. His vegan lifestyle, which he adopted about six years ago for health reasons, has encouraged him to be more in tune with balancing his food and his body.
“I stopped eating animal products after I wrote ‘Speed Vegan’ for a number of reasons, but primarily for health,” Roettinger said. “I experienced dramatic benefits almost immediately; my sinuses cleared up virtually overnight, mental clarity improved, and I have much more energy. I like to say I feel like I did when I was 40, but in fact, I feel better than I did then in some ways.”
Teacher turned author
Michelle Rodenburg illustrated children’s books are for everyone, but the reading level is around third or fourth grade, she said. The books are meant to inspire a love of reading at a young age.
“In the back of the books, there’s information for teachers or parents or grandparents to help teach their children the love of reading,” she said.
Aside from their focus on Colorado — teaching about 14ers, mountain critters and the changing seasons — the books are special because of the illustrations.
“I think that the two illustrators, Eric Fronapfel and Amy Fitzgerald, are very, very talented people,” Rodenburg said. “And although I knew I wanted to write books for children, I knew I didn’t have the ability to illustrate them. Without the two illustrators that I’m working with, my books would not be doing as well as they are.”
In addition to captivating illustrations, a few of Rodenburg’s books are also accompanied by musical CDs to further engage young readers.
“‘Colorado Creatures’ has a CD, and every animal is shaped like its letter, but also every animal has its own voice,” she said. “The voices are Colorado young adults, and they sing in various personalities, so every animal has its voice, and I know that the kids love that.”
All of the contributors to Rodenburg’s books are Colorado residents, from the illustrators to the music directors to the singers who voice the characters on her CDs. The author said the mere fact of living in Colorado provides inspiration for her books.
“Just being in Colorado — the weather is beautiful, you can be out in nature all the time, looking at the wildlife — and that’s what inspires me,” she said. “I think writing books for children about Colorado builds a love of Colorado. It gets them outside of their box. Some kids who are living in cities aren’t getting up into the mountains, and it opens the doors for them to see what Colorado has to offer.”
Baking at altitude
Local columnist and Colorado Mountain College culinary instructor Vera Dawson released her first cookbook, “Cookies in the Clouds,” earlier this year. The book contains creations from honey-pecan squares to traditional almond biscotti, and each recipe has been tested in her kitchen to ensure it works at Summit County altitudes.
“Above about 3,000 feet, but certainly at 8,000 feet and above, the air pressure changes and any combination of flour and a leavening agent, whether it’s baking soda or eggs, reacts differently,” she said. “Lack of air pressure, and extreme dryness, creates a whole different atmosphere and different reactions in baking, so that, more often than not, baking projects are less successful than they would be anywhere else.”
Often, making some significant changes in a recipe is necessary to get something close to what you had in mind, Dawson said, and she had fairly high standards for the outcomes of her baking projects.
“I knew what it was supposed to be like, so I did a lot of reading and just a lot of experimentation and took a lot of classes, but I never took a class at our altitude,” she said, adding that CMC, where she is now an instructor, is the first culinary institute she knows of above 6,000 feet.
The cookbook is a cross section of confections from Dawson’s newspaper columns, the classes she teaches at CMC and things she has baked but never presented in either format. It also includes high-altitude baking basics and other helpful hints to pursue this particular culinary art.
“To me, it is like doing a painting or quilting or other art projects and other art hobbies that people have,” she said. “It’s a wonderful outlet, I think. And then afterwards, you don’t have to give people mediocre paintings; you give them something delicious to eat.”
Bookworm of Edwards intern Leigh Horton contributed to this article.