It was a few years ago when Amy Matuza decided to write a book. She didn’t have big ideas, just a desire to give her recipes to her daughter who was soon going to university.
But she didn’t just write a cookbook. She wrote a memoir, a family history, an advice book, all mixed in with some of her family’s favorite recipes. His desire to write a book also coincided with a global pandemic. Now, after a few years, his book “Food for Thought” is finally out.
“I thought this would be a sneaky way to write a mom advice book and in a fun format,” Matuza said.
Each lesson in the book contains a recipe, tips and a story, she says.
While Matuza offers both tips and recipes in her book, she said recipes aren’t gourmet and tips aren’t law.
“It’s not my advice, it’s the lessons I learned,” Matuza said. “I’m not an expert in anything, it’s not my advice book, it’s stories and lessons learned from other people that I’ve found that have made my life richer and more complete.”
Matuza said the lessons are more for guidance than telling her daughter — or anyone else for that matter — what to do.
As for her recipes, Matuza said that although they are not extremely complicated, she and her family enjoy them.
“These are recipes I’ve served around my family’s dinner table for years,” Matuza said. “Because my daughter wanted them, I realized they’re usually cheap, they’re usually really easy to make.”
Recipes range from Stroganoff Meatballs to Roasted Chicken Dijon Asparagus with Stove Top Stuffing and Steamed Snow Peas.
To put together her lessons, Matuza has had a rather interesting career and life, working as a musician, lawyer and consultant.
Matuza began her adult career as a lawyer, a profession she said she didn’t really thrive in.
“I thought I wanted to be a litigator and save the planet,” Matuza said. “It was hard not to bring home some of the stuff I was doing and I just decided it wasn’t necessarily for me.”
But it wasn’t a waste of time, Matuza said.
“It gave me a really good experience,” Matuza said. “No education is a waste.”
Throughout this time, Matuza has also been a musician both professionally and casually.
“I played for weddings, I played in a rock band for a few years with friends, I played in church,” she said.
In between all of this, she raised three children and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.
Matuza said that although she understood that the writing process tended to take a while, she was surprised at how difficult the editing process was. Instead of hiring a professional for the editing, Matuza tackled it by enlisting the help of friends, family and colleagues.
“I tried to get a handful of different types of people with different life experiences, different ages,” Matuza said.
She said that included comments from her children, who she said didn’t hold a punch.
“It was very important for my children to ask these questions and have this input,” Matuza said. “You can ask someone who is going to throw softballs at you or you can ask someone who is going to challenge you.”
Matuza said the style of his book was conversational in such a way that his grammar editor quit.
“It’s me, it’s my voice,” Matuza said.
Matuza said it allowed her to deviate from the more professional style she had been forced to write with for much of her life.
“I did a lot of business writing and a lot of legal writing,” Matuza said. “It was sort of a throwback to my major days in English and my days of creative, more fun writing.”
The book is also inspired by Matuza’s love of journaling.
“I’ve always written stories,” Matuza said. “Just in my journals, not for anyone’s eyes.”
“I don’t remember not having written in some form,” Matuza said.
Matuza said she was able to follow through with the book by setting goals.
“For me with three kids and COVID and a spouse and another job in music, that wasn’t always going to happen,” Matuza said. “I practically tried to sit down three to four days a week, for two hours at a time and put my thoughts on a page.”
“I think it’s just about committing for now,” Matuza said. “It really takes discipline.”
But Matuza said she never got tired of writing both because she loved writing and because of who she was writing the book.
“It was like a labor of love for my children and my family,” Matuza said.
Matuza said her favorite lesson revolves around having a positive attitude.
“Where you are today someone might feel like it sucks and another person standing right next to you might think it’s the best day of their life,” Matuza said. “It’s not really what happens to you, but what you make of it.”