I’m Just a Hog Smoker, Not Some Novelist - The Long Road to our New Cookbook
We figured most folks would never know how much work went into this cookbook, so we thought it might be helpful to hear from the man himself, Sam Jones, about what all went into the new book…
Writing a book is something I never dreamed I’d get the opportunity to do. Mainly because I didn’t think anyone would ever want to hear what I had to say! Smoking hogs is one of the greatest joys of my life, and I’m grateful this book gave me the opportunity to share that experience with y’all.
How It All Came About
Back in the summer of 2015, I went up to New York to participate in the Big Apple BBQ Block Party. I had dinner there with David Hale Smith of Inkwell Management and Daniel Vaughn, the barbecue editor of Texas Monthly. Over dinner, David pitched the idea that I should write a book. Even back in 2015, I remember asking him the same question: why would anyone buy a book that I wrote? Well, wouldn’t you know it in the coming year, he had several offers lined up.
In early 2017, we landed a publishing deal with Ten Speed Press and had a deadline set for September 2018. It seemed like we had years to get this done, but the old notion of “time flies” proved true. The only panic attack I’ve ever had in my life was when we were putting the finishing touches on the final draft in December 2018. I’m just a hog smoker, not some novelist.
Why Did You Want to Write a Book?
I never really had aspirations to write a book. Once the opportunity presented itself, though, I have to admit I got pretty excited. Skylight Inn has been written about for decades; although, sometimes the write-ups weren’t entirely accurate and other times my grandfather wasn’t shy about embellishing details.
So part of the excitement was that in my own words, I could set the record straight on a few things while sharing family recipes and the stories behind them.
What’s In the Book Besides Recipes?
Cooking whole hogs are often times shrouded in a mystique that can intimidate the layperson and lead to believe that you can’t do it unless you’ve been doing it for 50 years. But that isn’t true, and this book is designed to break down that intimidating barrier. Step by step, I’ll show you how to throw a whole hog shindig in your own backyard. There’s no mystery to it, just a lot of work. If you’ve ever been curious about smoking hogs, this book is a great place to start.
The book also includes stories about my family and the struggles they had for generations, as well as a few personal hardships I’ve encountered. Now, don’t think this is just one big sob story with some recipes—there are plenty of stories that’ll give you a good belly laugh, too. The best way I can describe it is with a quote from the book itself:
Take my granddaddy’s morning routine. He would get up at 6:30.
My grandmother would make coffee in a bubble-top pot. This makes no sense to me, but he poured coffee into a cup and set it on a saucer. He’d take the cup and saucer to the table, pick up the cup, and pour the coffee into a bowl. He’d blow on the coffee, let it cool, then drink it right out of the bowl. I have no idea why he had to mess up three dishes. He did it every day.
In this book, I want to tell my story. I want to tell my family’s story. I also intend to tell you when you can skip the cup and saucer and just go straight to the bowl.