Monday, August 31, 2009

Re-writing recipes

Last night I managed to convert four recipe instructions into a format that could be easily understood. It wasn't as bad as I thought, although I do have to make the blueberry sauce for my pancakes so I know what quantities are needed. I tend to just add what I think is right to get the correct consistency and hey presto. Unfortunatley that does not wash when your writing a cook book, people want a baseline so they know how it should turn out.

During the process of re-writing the recipes my mind was drifting off as to how the book would look, so I wrote a rough plan of what I wanted on each page. I'm getting so excited to start inputting my recipes into the book and watching it  grow. I think I need to have a few days off work to really start inputing the recipes. It is not something you can rush. The computer package for designing the book takes a while for you to get your head around so I need to start playing and experimenting with themes and backgrounds. I always want to run before I can walk, so patience is the key.

Moving onto another subject. I have had some good feedback on the blog. My sister in law (although not quite married yet) has already put an order in for the book and thinks its a great idea and colleagues at work think the blog is awesome.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The plan so far

My first mission is to print out all my breakfast recipes which I plan to start this afternoon and re-write them , so they can be understood easily. At present the recipes instructions are all over the place and not quite making sense to anyone else but me. I have to make sure that the recipes turn out the same for everyone. I am having to experiment with my cinnamon rolls though. I am impressed with the taste and the simplicity of the recipe, however I can not seem to get them brown on the top once baked. I tried egg wash to no avail, so I asked advice from a friend who is a trained pastry chef, she suggested sprinkling them with sugar, so I am going to experiment. I am going to try brushing some of the rolls with butter and  sugar, some with sugar water and some with melted apricot jam and see which one turns out the best. I think Ian and I will be sick of the sight of cinnamon rolls although I'm sure the neighbors will enjoy them.

Today I also chose the style of book I will be using. I have decided to go for a large square (12 inch x 12 inch) with no set page layout. I have left this blank so I can create the whole look as I desire. I would like to have lots of pictures, so the reader can see what the dish is to look like, and I want lots of space for readers to add there own additions if required. I was thinking that I could have a page for the picture of the dish, followed by a page for the recipe with monologues being on a separate page.

Yesterday Ian bought a tripod for his camera, so more photos will be taken. My photo library definitely needs to expand especially if I am going to have to fill a book. I have a lot of work ahead of me. After re-writing the recipes I plan to write the monologues for the breakfast chapter and then begin to assemble the book.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Starting to write

Two posts in one day. I'm getting so excited. So I think I was a little hasty by posting my breakfast post but I think I'm ready to start writing the first installment for the book. I have a nice selection of breakfasts recipes and have been testing them out to ensure that they are easy to use and that the end product turns out delicious. Presently I'm waiting for my batter to rise to make cinnamon rolls. Making cooked or baked breakfasts always reminds me of my paternal grandmother, when ever we stayed at her house we always woke up to the smell of bacon frying and freshly buttered toast. My house too smells like that when we have a special breakfast and my thoughts always go to grandma and her one eyed Egyptians. A piece of fried bread with a fried egg sunk into the middle. I never knew why it was called a one eyed Egyptian though.

OK, so if I am going to start to write this book I need to know how it is going to get published and what the process is. After researching what my options were, self publishing versus a publishing house I decided to choose self publishing. I wanted the experience to be pleasant and free from stress. Am I asking too much?. I had my vision and motivation, surely that is all I needed? How naive, there is a lot more involvement than just that. After reading about publishing houses, you needed an editor and then an agent who would promote your book to the appropriate publishing house. The publishing house would then decide if they wanted to publish the book and then they would buy the rights from the writer and pays them royalties. It is then up to the publishing house as to how the book should be designed, packaged and sold. This lead me to think that there was more to this than meets the eye. Even though I have chosen self publishing I still need to have the book edited and the grammar checked but on the positive side I have full input in how the book is going to be designed, packaged and sold.

In England I used to work in a coffee shop at the weekends. It was such a breath of fresh air for me, it allowed me to chill out from all the stresses I received from working as a ward manager during the week. If you screwed up an order at the coffee shop it didn't matter, you just remade the order. If you screwed up as a nurse it did matter. Thats why I want to enjoy this experience and have as less stress as possible. This adventure is to be fun. Wish me luck....


Breakfast is one of the best meals for me. It can last for the longest time especially on the weekend when home is less busy. After a nice sleep in, there is nothing like having a lovely leisurely mid morning breakfast where time can be put into preparing the upcoming feast. In my house the first thing to go on is the coffee pot and after enjoying our first mug, my thoughts usually move onto what we can eat for breakfast. Eggs are abundant in Canada so they usually appear on our breakfast plate as an edible delight. They can be incorporated within a muffin or served scrambled, the list is endless. Ian and I often enjoy pancakes with syrup or fresh blueberries warmed through with a little sugar water and with a side of bacon these go down a treat. Any left over pancakes, which they tend not to be can be frozen. The same goes with the muffins.

Breakfast does not have to be complicated. My favorite breakfast is a toasted bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon sprinkled with capers and sweet red onion. Platters of fresh fruit are also common in our house and topped off with yogurt and granola, they make a light breakfast for a summers morning. A lazy day with a sumptuous breakfast is the best, you just can not beat it.

I like to keep food simple (especially breakfast) and let the ingredients speak for themselves. I don't want to mingle all the flavors together, so that your senses can not determine what is in the dish. I want your mouth to burst with flavor each time you eat one of my dishes, tasting every individual ingredient and with breakfast I think you need that. The breakfast recipes planned for my book will reflect this.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Blogging so far

Time to reflect on blogging. It is great!! At first I was a little apprehensive, not sure what to expect and how it all worked. I thought I would run out of ideas to write about, but that is not the case. It expands your mind and your thought process's, allowing a multitude of topics to be revealed. It keeps you motivated and excited about what you are planning to achieve. The hardest thing is not to jump ahead of yourself and with me that is easier said than done.

Ian spent all of last night correcting my grammar on the blog posts, hence the changes on the previous posts. I tend to write the way I say things which is often back to front and when that is mixed with excitement the English language is lost. As I have said before Ian loves photography, so he has a big part to play in the presentation of the book. Every time I make a culinary delight, the camera comes out and the food shows off.. The photos are excellent, in fact they are beyond excellent (maybe I'm a little biased), the food looks appetizing and makes me want to eat it.

Does it matter if no-one is viewing my blog? Yes, but  for the time being I am happy dedicating time to my own little world, my blog.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Cups, grams, pounds & ounces?  What does the world want?  My mother uses pounds & ounces and my sister uses grams. Surely it would be easier for everyone to all use the same. Maybe its tradition or simplicity that determines our choice.

England supposedly went metric about 30 years ago, with everything to be measured in grams and kilograms, Canadians too have been taught metric for the past 20 years however markets in both countries sell produce in pounds and ounces. I suppose its what we're comfortable with.

I prefer to use cup measurements and often convert recipes to these. I find it easier and you don't have to lug the huge baking scales out, although I'm sure, that modern day scales are now light and less cumbersome. It also allows me try out recipes on several occasions to ensure that they taste good every time. Thats how I came up with my Country muffins, I knew the batter could hold more ingredients so I threw in sultanas, more spices, rolled oats and lemon rind. They turned out wonderful and they are best enjoyed with a steaming mug of strong coffee.

So for the book my recipes will consist of cup measurements and the amounts of food items needed. As for my mother and sister I will have to purchase them some measurement cups.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A begining, middle and an end!!

I was always taught back in the day that every story had to have the above. Excellent I can do that. The dilemma, is how am I going to present the recipes? I don't fancy doing a Julia Child and categorizing the food, fish, meat, vegetables etc. It just wouldn't work. So I moved onto thinking about the seasons, spring, summer, autumn and winter. However living in Canada, now means I can get most foods all year round as it is imported from the USA and Mexico.

My next thought was breaking it down into meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner, desserts and extra's. Could I do that? Where am I going to fit in my potato salad and my orange with feta and mint? I decided to change extras to salads because I needed to have some organization as I like things to flow, so the thought of a cook book that has all meals jumbled up together worries me. Is the reader going to be able to flick through and find what they want with ease? Hopefully.  So I am going to stick with the meals.

Since committing myself to this adventure, my mind has been racing with new recipe ideas. Yesterday I was at the best market ever, Granville Island. Although popular with tourists, its my haven to lose myself and let my mind run free. I walk around the stalls forever admiring what is available. I love the deli's with there huge array of cheeses and stuffed vegetables. The fruit stands are always stacked high and the seafood is amazing. I like to watch the huge live crabs in the tanks fighting with the  lobsters. The best place to see live lobster, crab and oysters is at  'The Lobster Man'. He has huge holding tanks and sells to the local restaurants and public alike. He will also cook the crab and lobster for you so you don't have that unpleasant feeling of boiling a crustacean to death.

I was only going to the market to pick up vegetables for my tomato soup but got carried away and came back with a pound of squid tubes. On return home I made the best calamari. I sliced the squid and tossed them in seasoned flour before shallow frying them and drizzling them in fresh lemon juice. A nice big dollop of mayonnaise with cut pickles and capers were served alongside. Mmm mmm. I ate so much I couldn't eat my dinner, typical!!!

I am currently thinking about how to make a cheats cheesecake, swirled with homemade mint or toffee syrup.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Getting it out there..

OK, so I want my cookbook  to be a success. I want people to be interested in it, so how am I going to let them know about it?  Advertise, advertise, advertise!!!! Easier said than done. But done nevertheless.
At first I didn't know where to start. I toyed with the idea of a blog. I researched how to get  a book published, self published versus using publishing  house (that's another blog post in itself). I was becoming overwhelmed. So I took the bull by the horns and just went for it. The blog came first followed by  links on  my face book and emails to all my friends. Fliers were designed by my boyfriend and were dotted around book stores, coffee shops  and public libraries. Wherever there was a notice board a flier went up. They were even posted to my sister in England!!  I know that I will have to keep advertising through out the whole process  so  my thoughts are now heading to farmers markets and food fairs.

The  process has  been so exciting, but the hard work is yet to come. I keep dreaming  of  having a book  launch party for my family and friends. Guess what's mainly on  my mind? Which canapes  I can serve? Bruschetta with our home grown tomatoes, stuffed mushrooms, chicken satay with hot peanut sauce, baked brie, cold  meet platters, baked figs  with proscutto, the  list is endless. I'm  obsessed,  but I'm loving it

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Why is anyone going to think my recipes are any good? Why does anybody think anyone's recipes are any good? Its all about desirability. Everyone has different opinions on everything so why isn't food any different? I prefer starters to desserts whereas Ian prefers desserts.

OK, so I'm not a trained chef and have had no special training. The closest I have been to a professional kitchen is in a restaurants dining room. Mind you, I have had experience in a large kitchen. I worked as a kitchen assistant in a residential home as a teenager. It was the best place ever.I learnt so much there.My main role was the chief potato peeler and dish washer. The Sunday roast was my forte. The cook would roast the meat in the AGA and I would look after the roast potatoes. Those were the days. I always made sure the roast potatoes tasted awesome. A few extra spuds were peeled just for me.....

I like to use fresh food and food that is in season, food always tastes the best then. Sometimes I'll buy fruit or veg and won't have a clue what I'm making with it, that's when creativity comes in. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. You may think that not everyone has the time to get loads of fresh fruit and veg and it takes time to prepare... True it takes time to get the food and I'm quite partial to using packaged food, mainly pastry cases and dessert bases. This saves time so it balances out.

As I've said before, if I like a recipe and it works out well on a few occasions it goes into my recipe file. I once made a chocolate cake that looked perfect but when I cut into it the batter was raw. I made it the second and third time and it was perfect. I should have baked it in two seperate pans from the begining. I was being lazy!!

If my recipes appeal to your palate. Give them a try, that's all I can ask.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Where to start

"Believe in yourself" If you don't, how is anyone else supposed to. It also helps that I have a fantastic boyfriend who supports me. When I told him of my idea he thought it was great... We always live by a rule.. Life's for living go live it!!! Ian is a great photographer, so he has a mission to take all the pictures required for the book. Two talents rolled into one. What a great relationship...

At first I thought why do people want another cook book? There's TV channels dedicated to food and book store shelves stacked to the brim. After researching what was out there, I came to the opinion that there were many TV celebrity books and the themed books. I want my book to be about me, a non professional non trained cook, who makes great dishes whatever the theme. I want it to be interactive with the reader, so they can get to know what influences my food choices and how I feel about food. I want readers to write in the book, adding there variances to the recipes. What worked for them and what didn't!! A bit like a diary. I want it to be FUN. Many cookbooks I see in peoples kitchens are pristine, mine is designed for getting messed on. I'd rather it be used than just for show.

So in a way I'm selling me.... my personality alongside my favourite food.

I don't have a particular cooking theme. I like food from various regions. I was brought up in England in the late 70's, early 80's when food was becoming exciting. European and Asian influences were abundant. I always remember the meat and two veg dinners, but spaghetti bolognaise and sweet and sour pork were regulars.

Mum is an excellent cook, the older we got the more experimental she became in the kitchen. Mum, Steph and I often trade recipes or question what was in a dish that we had. Dad isn't too bad in the kitchen,but mum does the majority of the cooking. I remember once when mum was away, dad had made chicken and mushroom pie, that he was so proud of. He made the pastry from scratch and got me to slice the cold butter into the flour. Our hands were not allowed in that bowl at all!!! It turned out good.

I like my recipes to be simple but tasty. I don't like very heavy dishes, although I do have a fantastic beef stew that tastes divine with rosemary mashed potatoes. My recipes are adaptable, they can be used for lunch or dinner (Ian often takes leftovers for lunch the next day) and they can be dressed up for dinner parties or served rustic. Its all in the way it is presented. Presentation is key. Remember I LOVE TO COOK, but I also love everything that goes alongside planning, food prep and setting the table.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The idea

Ever since I can remember I always used to help mum in the kitchen. My sister and I had a Homepride man (a plastic model of a baker) which dis-asssembled into a bowl, strainer and utensils, so when mum was baking that always used to come out. I remember my sister playing happily hand whisking smarties in the bowl. It kept her quiet for the longest time. As we got older we used to help make the evening meal and prepare the salads etc... It was always fun in our kitchen...

This basic grounding, led me to where I am now. I love to plan for dinner parties and special meals. When I met my boyfriends family for the first time, the effort that went into the dinner was outstanding, but it all worked out so well. Asparagus with cured meats followed by Poussin in red wine sauce, dauphinoise potatoes, broccoli and finishing with a mandarin cheesecake. The cheesecake I had tried out on work friends the week before. It had gone down a treat. Although I was nervous about meeting the" in laws" the dinner spoke for itself and in a way gave me some support. Crazy I know.

More meals have been cooked and enjoyed... so I began to save my fail safe recipes. These recipes have been used over and over again. I like to be creative with my cooking so many recipes are interchangeable. My sausage jumbalaya can easily be turned into a paella with the addition of mussels and shrimp. It so easy...
I have an idea for a meal and then look for a recipe. I normally pick out a couple of recipes for the same dish and pick out which ingredients and flavourings I think will work to make the best dish. I'm always changing it to suit my tastes. If I'm happy with the dish and it works out well on a few occasions it goes into my recipe files.

This led me to think that I wanted to share my recipes, so I decided to write a book. I got my sister on board to add her fail safe recipes. We email each other and exchange recipes and then test them out. Her lamb kebabs rock, although my homemade tzatziki sauce failed miserably.But you never know until you try something....

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Welcome to THIS IS IT!!

Well hello.
I've finally done it, after toying with the idea I have a blog page. Whoop whoop!!

My blog is going to follow me on my journey of writing a cookbook. It will allow me to share my achievements and vent out any frustrations (which I'm sure there may be!!). I'm not much of a writer, but I have a passion for food. I LOVE IT.....The preparing of food, the cooking and eating of course.

Cooking enables me to relax. It doesn't answer back. Its fresh, exciting and adaptable. Once its gone, it gone. Time to make another dish!! It doesn't ask for any more. I say this with respect to other pressures in life..... With food you give yourself 100% and get a yummy reward in return. We all need food.