2 weeks went by after I pressed paused …. then 3 …. and a month later, here I am. Finally coming up for air to pop in and say hello, I’ve missed you!
Hello, hello! How are you? I’ve missed you! I’ve missed being here, writing to you!
What have I been doing for this past month, while I put posting new recipes hold? Just one thing:
Working on the cookbook!
The Cookbook Vortex
This cookbook writing business is all-consuming. At least, it is for me. I am living and breathing it, 24-7. It’s the first thing on my mind when I wake up, it’s the last thing I am thinking of when I go to bed.
It’s all I want to do! I just want to cook, write, research, experiment, brainstorm.
We’re calling it The Cookbook Vortex. An appropriate name for this phenomena, this thing that has sucked me up in a way I have never experienced before. I’ve been involved in large projects in my former corporate life. But nothing has ever pulled me in like this.
It’s a strange feeling! In a wonderful way. But also, a scary way. To think that I’ll be creating something that is enshrined in print forever*, that there is no chance to fix anything once it’s printed, demanding 100% accuracy above all else, not to mention aiming for a level of ridiculous deliciousness that will make you want to try every recipe in the book….
* Also, as my mother keeps reminding me, the photos of ME will also be enshrined in print forever…. hint, hint, get back onto that exercise bike!!🤯
You can’t be everything to everyone
I’m totally new to this cookbook writing business, but it was clear from the very beginning what the hardest thing would be – CHOOSING the recipes. Here on this website, there is no limitation to the number of recipes I can share over my lifetime.
But a cookbook? Factor in all sorts of things that publishers have to consider, like book size, paper quality, hard vs soft cover, all of which affect price – and this all means a limit on recipes. The initial 120 recipes proposed by my publisher, Pan Macmillan, went up to 200 (that was me being greedy) and just as of last week, has now been pulled back to 160 (or so).
Plus sides and all sorts of bonus extras. Again, just me being greedy. 😇
You can’t be everything to everyone. A wise reminder from my publisher to keep the cookbook focussed on the type of food that is the heart and soul of RecipeTin Eats. So wise, I have it written on sticky notes that I’ve left around the house as a constant reminder, to keep myself from panicking about this oppressive limit I have on the number of recipes I can include in the cookbook…😂 #Greedy!
Oh, and putting up sticky notes like this also helps keep me from fretting!
Your messages keep my spirits up!
That all said and done, telling you about how much I am enjoying making this cookbook, there are more days than I care to admit when I am overwhelmed. My family and friends are worried that I have set the bar too high, that I will never be happy.
My instant response – I SHOULD aim high. Because unlike this website, a cookbook is not free. If people are paying good money for it, I should work harder on it!
So yes. I am working too hard. The days are too long. I am working most weekends. Because I want to!
And though I try to maintain a totally-in-control-cheerful-face in front of my team, some days, I do lose my confidence. And on such days, I find great solace going back to read the supportive messages that you took the time to leave. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve done that! Sometimes, it is just the boost I need for a reset.
And of course, the suggestions and requests! We actually collated the feedback into usable data to help guide what recipes will be in the cookbook! (It’s the accountant in me, I just couldn’t resist).
So thank you, again, for taking the time to leave those messages. While it may have seemed small to you, it has made a big difference to me! ❤️
Sneak peek – behind the scenes!
And to wrap up this latest instalment in the Making of a Cookbook – a little peek behind the scenes of what’s been going down at RTE HQ! Unsurprisingly, lots and lots (and lots) of tasty food!
In fact, the cookbook master list shows that we’ve tried 94 recipes since we started the cookbook in early October. Many of which have been made multiple times.
Do the maths… that’s a A LOT of cooking!!! 😂
Plenty of successes, but also quite a few fails! Well, not fails. I have had a few completely inedible disasters, but mostly they are just deemed “not cookbook-worthy”, such as these:
In case you are wondering about the above dishes that look perfectly edible:
Vietnamese Coconut Caramel Fish – Achieving that perfect sauce you see is quite tricky. I struggled to replicate the results. Too risky! Ditched.
One Pot Chicken and Risotto – An attempt at a “dump and bake” no stir risotto. No good – unevenly cooked risotto under the chicken. Think it needs to start on the stove, like this recipe.
And as you might imagine, with lots of cooking comes lots of dirty dishes. So many dishes!!! I’ve taken to a system of using a large tub to keep dishes out of the way, and tackling them in big loads at a time. And strangely, all of a sudden, Dozer has taken an interest in helping with the washing up….😂
Also, a professional food photographer trial day!
I plan to do most of the photos for the cookbook but I won’t be able to manage them all due to the tight schedule we’re working towards and the sheer number of photos (yes, every recipe will have at least one photo!). So some of the photos will be done by a professional food photographer and food stylist.
Having never worked with a professional before, my publisher thought it would be best for me to see how a shoot day goes down. It’s not much different to how I do it myself really, except that his camera is worth 4 times mine, and the food stylist doesn’t jump up and down with elation when the quesadilla is cut open to reveal the perfect cheese ooze.
RecipeTin Meals, going strong!
And, in other news, an update on RecipeTin Meals (RTM)! This is my philanthropic arm where we make homemade meals to provide to the vulnerable in Sydney. I started it during the most recent COVID Lockdowns in Sydney in August 2021. I have a full time Chef and Kitchenhand who work in the RTM commercial kitchen in Kings Cross, Sydney city, making meals which are distributed 6 days a week.
We’ve spent the last few months ironing out day-to-day operational issues and things are smooth sailing these days. Meal output has increased to at least 150 per day PLUS desserts most days! That 2 people can produce so much in one day constantly amazes me.
I get a kick out of seeing my recipes cooked at huge scale!! (PS I share the RTM weekly meal plan on Instagram Stories each week. You can just make it for 5, instead of 150 😉)
Acceptance of donations, pending!
And to those of you who were so kind as to inquire about how you might support RTM, thank you for asking! We are still yet to receive our official charitable entity status that will allow me to legally receive donations. So for now, the proceeds from this website continue to fund RTM, which is exactly how I intended it to be from the outset.
To me, the sense of responsibility I feel to ensure that 150 meals go out every day is too great to risk reliance on uncertain external funding. I wanted to establish a baseline that I knew I could support by myself. And from this, I plan to grow further hopefully with the support of the community, the government and generous corporates (oh boy do I plan to hit up corporates next year! 😂)
Pressing pause until January 2022
And so, with that much longer than anticipated update (I told you, I’ve missed chatting to you!) it probably comes as no surprise to you when I say that I do not see myself sharing new recipes until the end of January 2022 which is when my manuscript is due to my Publisher. I literally cannot fit it in – at least, not without compromising the cookbook which isn’t even a remote possibility.
So, bear with me! I will pop in every now and then to let you know how I’m getting on. And I plan to breath new life into recipes I shared in the earlier years that you may have never come across by bringing them to the homepage.
I also have you covered for the holiday season! Not new recipes, but I have ideas for other ways to enjoy the holiday feasting session with you!
A complete fabrication
I was going to sign off with this photo, leaving you with this image of serene happiness as I tick off another successful recipe. But actually, it’s a complete fabrication…….
THIS is how I really react to a successful recipe:
You know that saying about food so good, it makes you do a happy dance?
There’s been a lot of happy dancing around these parts!
Stay well! I WILL get back to sharing new recipes in early 2022 once my cookbook manuscript is submitted. 100% promise, pinky swear! – Nagi x
Life of Dozer
What would a cookbook update be without an update on the Life of Dozer?? 😂
Dozer is, as you may have guessed, giddy with excitement at the increased volume of food surrounding him at all times. Very, very good food at that!!
Life outside of the kitchen also remains pretty good for Life of Dozer. Regular beach sessions…
…and there was the RecipeTin Melbourne Cup Yakitori BBQ party… (he won best dressed by stealing my fascinator)
Project Manager Dozer is also a regular on the construction site that was once home, and apparently will once again be my home in a mere 7 days!!! Hard to imagine, looking at these photos which were taken on the weekend! (I have total faith in my builders. It WILL happen!)
I’m also happy to report that Jeff, the local who lives at the dog park, cruised through COVID Lockdowns just fine. He remains as one of the regular RTE official taste testers, and Dozer is still totally shameless, begging for a taste of the very food I gave Jeff not 2 minutes ago!
However, I am sad to report that all that extra taste testing Dozer’s been doing lately has been going straight to his rump. The vet has advised that he’s carrying a little COVID pudge that needs to be budged.
Don’t worry Dozer. You still look great, just a little curvier! 😂