What's unique about the cookbook -- besides the photos of players in aprons and juggling peppers or avocados -- is that it was the idea of Lilly and bullpen catcher Corey Miller. They wanted to do something to help Dempster that was creative and fun, and also show their support for their teammate. It's all for a good cause -- and good taste.
The cookbook includes a variety of dishes, from Carlos Silva's Venezuelan arepas to baked ziti by Marlon Byrd's wife, Andrea. Players picked the recipes, and some are family favorites, such as Andrew Cashner's meatball dish from his Grandma Pat. Geovany Soto chose a Puerto Rican speciality, arroz con gandules.
Some players selected favorite dishes from some of Chicago's top restaurants, which also made donations to Dempster's foundation. Soto, for example, likes Harry Caray's chicken vesuvio, and Lee orders the parmesan crusted filet at Wildfire every time he dines there.
Lilly has two recipes. One is a chili from Stanley's restaurant in Chicago, while the other is a family tradition. His father taught him how to make "egg in a hole," which is simply cutting a hole in the middle of a piece of bread and frying an egg in it. Lilly plans on teaching his son, Theo, how to do it as well.
Besides picks from Banks, Jenkins and Sandberg, there's a Hall-of-Fame-worthy pork chop recipe from Billy Williams' wife, Shirley. The Ricketts family contributed their favorite sugar cookie recipe.
Cubs manager Lou Piniella's wife, Anita, chose a layered chicken salad that includes water chestnuts, Spanish peanuts, cucumbers, peas and curry. Anita had considered submitting a spinach recipe but confessed that Lou doesn't like spinach.
Each recipe comes with a story about the player and food. Byrd, for example, eats bacon, egg, and cheese on an English muffin with avocado every morning before a game. Dempster orders the grilled chicken parmesan from D'Agostino's restaurant before every start. Piniella said he likes to take advantage of the variety of restaurants in Chicago.
"If we're winning, I go out a little more," he said.
You'll discover some players don't cook much. Jeff Baker, for instance, can make anything that involves a microwave, and that's it. Kosuke Fukudome's interpreter Hiro Aoyama provided a ginger pork recipe he makes in Spring Training for the Japanese outfielder. But they all like to eat.
The cookbook also includes a history of food at Wrigley Field. Did you know, for instance, that vendors wore different colored caps to distinguish which food item they were hawking? Levy restaurants provides details on how to make the perfect hot dog. And, there's a little insight from the Cubs clubhouse attendants on what it takes to feed a 25-man roster of hungry Major Leaguers.
The book, edited by yours truly, will be sold at Wrigley Field and on Cubs.com for $16.95. It also will be available at 125 Jewel food stores in the Chicago area as well Meijer food stores plus Barnes & Noble and Borders bookstores. Some independents and other specialty shops around the Chicago area will carry it as well.