Jun. 23—It was a few years ago when Amy Matuza decided to write a book. She didn't have any grand ideas — simply a desire to give her recipes to her daughter who would be leaving for college soon.
But she didn't just write a recipe book. She wrote a memoir, a family history, an advice book, all mixed in with a few of her family's favorite recipes. Her desire to write a book also happened to coincide with a global pandemic. Now, after a couple of years, her book "Food for Thought" is finally out.
"I thought this would be a sneaky way to write a mom advice book and in a funny format," said Matuza.
Each lesson of the book contains a recipe, some advice and a story, she said.
While Matuza offers both advice and recipes in her book, she said the recipes are not gourmet and the advice isn't law.
"It's not my advice, it's the lessons that I have learned," said Matuza. "I am no expert in anything, this is not my advice book, these are stories and lessons learned from other people that I have found that made my life richer and fuller."
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 while they are not intensely complicated, she and her family enjoy them.
"These are recipes that I served around my family's dinner table for years," said Matuza. "Because my daughter wanted them I realized they were generally cheap, they are generally very easy to make."
The recipes range from Meatball Stroganoff with roasted asparagus to Dijon Chicken with Stove Top stuffing and steamed snap peas.
To gather 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 exactly flourish in.
"I thought I wanted to be a trial lawyer and save the planet," said Matuza. "It was hard to not take home some of the things that I was doing and I just decided that it wasn't necessarily for me."
But it wasn't a waste of time, said Matuza.
"It gave me some really good experience," said Matuza. "No education is a waste."
All the while though, Matuza has also been a musician both in a professional and casual capacity.
"I played for weddings, I played in a rock band for a couple years with some friends, I played at church," she said.
In between all that she has raised three kids and climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Matuza said while she understood that the writing process tends to take a while, she was surprised by how challenging the editing process was. Instead of hiring a professional to edit, Matuza tackled it by enlisting the help of friends, family and coworkers.
"I tried to get a smattering of different types of people with different life experiences, different ages," said Matuza.
She said this included getting feedback from her children, who according to her didn't hold any punches.
"It was most important that my kids asked those questions and had that input," Matuza said. "You can ask somebody who is going to throw you softballs or you can ask somebody who is going to challenge you."
Matuza said the style of her book is conversational in such a way that caused her grammar editor to quit.
"It's me, it's my voice," said Matuza.
Matuza said this allowed her to depart from the more professional style she had been forced to write with during much of her life.
"I have done a lot of business writing and a lot of legal writing," said Matuza. "This was kind of going back to my English major days and creative writing days and more fun."
The book also takes from Matuza's love of journaling.
"I have always written stories," said Matuza. "Just in my journals not for anybody's eyes."
"I don't ever remember not writing in some form," said Matuza.
Matuza said she was able to keep on track with the book by setting goals.
"For me with three kids and COVID and a spouse and another job in music that just wasn't always going to happen," said Matuza. "I pretty much tried to sit down three to four days a week, for two hours at a time and put down thoughts on a page."
"I think it is just making the commitment for the time," said Matuza. "It really just takes discipline."
But Matuza said she never got tired of the writing both because she loves writing and because of who she was writing the book for.
"It was like a labor of love for my children and family," said Matuza.
Matuza said her favorite lesson revolves around having a positive attitude.
"Where you are today someone may feel like it sucks and another person standing right next to you may think it is the best day of their life," said Matuza. "It is not really what happens to you but what you do with it."