Ann Romney, former first lady of Mass-achusetts, wife to husband, Mitt, for 44 years, and mother of five with 21 grandchildren, certainly knows her way around the kitchen. Since cooking has long been a tradition in her family, and with five sons, she presented her daughters-in-law with an organized folder of recipes as each joined the family. Soon friends started asking for copies of the folder. She tells Show Daily, “It was my son Josh who had the idea for me to write a cookbook—that never would have occurred to me. He said, ‘Mom, you are well-known now, and you should just do your own cookbook,’ and I thought, ‘Okay, that sounds like fun.’ One thing led to another, and that’s how we started the whole project.”

What makes The Romney Family Table (Shadow Mountain, Oct.) different from other cookbooks is that it’s full of family anecdotes—some having to do with food, others just family stories that she wanted to share. Romney says, “There’s a real narrative I think people will enjoy, even if they’re not going to be using the recipes.” The book features recipes handed down from the author’s grandmothers and mother, others that she originated, and her own version of some basic recipes that she’s used for years.

But even avid cooks need to take a break. She describes how life changed when she and Mitt became empty nesters. “After my last son was going to college, my husband and I dropped him off at the airport. Mitt expected to see great big tears in my eyes, that I would be sobbing, and I looked at him and said, ‘You’ve just had your last home-cooked meal.’ ” She laughs and continues, “After all those years of feeling like I was a short-order cook, I felt liberated! But after a few months, I actually missed my own cooking. In the phase of life I’m in now, I only cook a couple of times a week, but when I do, I want to make it good and I want to bring the family together. I want to have the touch of love that brings everybody to the table.”

Romney is busy today with three BEA appearances. She’s at the Livestream stage at 11 a.m. for about 10 minutes. She signs galleys of The Romney Family Table at Table 1 in the Autographing Area, 1–2 p.m., and 2–3 p.m. she will be at the Shadow Mountain Booth (2338) for more autographs.