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New cookbook whisks together recipes and taxes

Food columnist Susie Iventosch blends food, commentary, trivia
By: Gloria Young Home & Garden
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A local writer’s new cookbook is about more than creating delicious meals. It’s also food for thought. Columnist Susie Iventosch’s “Tax Bites & Tasty Morsels – Who’s Been Eating My Pie?” dishes up facts and figures about taxes along with her recipes. Iventosch, a Weimar resident and former editor of the Colfax Record, says her passion for revamping the tax code equals her passion for good food. “Combining the two has been a real joy,” she said recently. “I love to cook and share the recipes with everyone else.” The book includes 151 recipes — personal favorites along with dishes from friends and family. Some originate in Iventosch’s many trips abroad. “I’ve made every recipe except one,” she said. They’ve gotten the seal of approval from her husband and three children, too. Many of the recipes are versions of dishes that appeared in her columns — Iventosch wrote a weekly column in Home & Garden for several years and is still an occasional contributor. She also writes a biweekly column for a Bay Area publication. In fact, she discovered her love of cooking after she began writing about it, she said. For the book, she chose dishes that offer a fun way for people to try home cooking. “Most of the recipes are simple enough that people can easily prepare them on their own,” she said. From appetizers to dessert, each chapter of the book stirs in commentary and “tax bites” — tax code trivia from around the nation. For example, there’s Maine’s quahog tax on quahog clams at $1.20 per bushel, Nebraska’s double-corn tax and Utah’s nude tax. Iventosch began writing the book about two years ago. She spent an entire year doing research, in the process talking to tax experts and citizen groups in nearly all 50 states. “I wrote to every Department of Revenue for every state,” she said. “That’s where you find a lot of the wacky taxes.” How did she come up with the idea of combining food and taxes for the book? The two topics actually melded into one when she became a freelance writer and had to start deducting her own taxes to Uncle Sam, the state of California and Social Security. It amounted to more than 60 percent of her earnings, she said. “I had to pay 39.6 percent in federal and 10.3 percent for state, plus 15.3 percent for (Social Security),” she said. It didn’t leave much for her efforts. “If people were forced to sit down and write a check for their taxes monthly like any other bill, they would be angry,” she said. But Iventosch, who has a degree in cultural anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley, also cites an earlier work experience that ignited her interest in economics. As a writer for a global technology firm, she helped put out an annual economic index. “(The study looked at) 48 nations and I learned a lot about their economies,” she said. The whole journey putting the cookbook together has been an educational experience far beyond what she’s learned about taxes. Along the way, she discovered that getting a book published takes a lot of effort. Iventosch negotiated her book deal through a “print on demand” publisher, and arranged for it to be printed in China. She also did most of the editing and proofing tasks. “You learn a lot about the whole publishing process,” she said. “People who want to write a book need to know that all the work will be on them. Because it is all added costs.” Now that she’s dived into the publishing pool, Iventosch plans to concentrate on cooking, writing and publishing, she said. She already has 75 more recipes lined up for a second book that will again combine cooking with tax facts. It’s not that she’s against paying taxes, but she’d like to see the tax code reformed. “There should be a flat tax — 10 percent across the board with a certain level of exemption for those who really need it,” she said. Weimar resident Nancy Mosier says she likes the book because the recipes are simple yet gourmet. “And I especially like the tax bites that are coupled with each recipe,” she said. “It just gives you something to ponder as you’re preparing the dish and also something entertaining to talk about at the dinner table. She has a very fun and creative writing style that has helped to educate me on our absurd tax situation that is so unbelievable.” Iventosch’s book is for sale at several area stores and is available at her website taxbitesandtasty morsels.com and at amazon.com. She’s also making several book-signing appearances, including one on Saturday at the Colfax Library’s grand opening celebration. And, as she continues to track changes in the tax code, she’s sharing her discoveries in a blog she started recently on her website. ------------ “Tax Bites & Tasty Morsels” Book Signings • Colfax Library grand opening celebration Saturday, July 17, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., 2 Church St., Colfax (530) 346-8211 • Colfax Area Chamber of Commerce mixer, Friday, July 30, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Blue Cat Studios, 55 South Main St., Colfax (530) 346-7160 Where to purchase the book: • Newcastle Produce, 9230 Cypress St., Newcastle (916) 663-2016 •Auburn Home and Energy Center, 997 Nevada St., Auburn (530) 823.8508 •Sierra Market in Colfax, 575 South Auburn St., Colfax (530) 346-8338 •Colfax Area Chamber of Commerce, 99 South Railroad St., Colfax (530) 346-8888 •Fox Barrel Cider Tasting Room, 1213 South Auburn St., Colfax (530) 346-9699 And, the following websites: • taxbitesandtasty morsels.com • amazon.com