Sunday, July 30, 2006

Request for Recipes!!

Since this is all about writing a cookbook, I have been asked if there are recipes on my blog? The answer is no, so far. But since I am going to be collecting recipes from family in Sicily, I will only get some recipes online in September. But in the meantime I think I will start a secondary mini project and that is of collecting recipes from my freinds who come from all ends of the planet. So to all my lovely friends around the globe please send me your recipes and I will post them on this site. Who knows maybe they will be in a seperate cookbook?!

(my sis and my fave brother-in-law with their home made pizza- yum, yum!)

So I will write a mini list of the people and countries that I hope to get recipes from:

  • Rana -Lebanon
  • Bun/Mads/Janet -New Zealand
  • Nat/DL/JLo -Britain
  • Jen -China
  • Clara/Alex/Lara/Paolo /Susan/Anamaria/Juizy & all my Italian friends-Italy
  • Johan-Sweden
  • Hellen-Greece
  • Kshama/Deepika - India
  • Victor -Nigeria
  • Julie -Croatia
  • Mish/Bettina -Denmark
  • Jono/Tanya -South Africa
  • Barbara-Netherlands
  • Alex/PGuy -Canada/Halifax
  • Emilie -Canada/French-Canadian

and you send them to me will post them!


Saturday, July 29, 2006

When was the last time you peeled a potato?

Was working on my cookbook today and after doing lots of reading of other cookbooks and thinking of food I decided to get to the kitchen to make dinner.

I had a load of potatoes that were going a bit off and didn't want to leave the house on a lazy Saturday to get something at the grocery store. I decided to use the potatoes, carrots and sweet potatoes to make a large potato salad with onions and beans and artichokes (this was all that was in the house! v.sad non?)

As I was peeling the potatoes that were in their last stages of their life, I thought about when the last time I peeled potatoes was? Or for that fact when I peeled a large bag like I was doing now. a) Why and when did I buy that bag of potatoes and b) Would I really peel all of those potatoes? We live in a weird world of freshly washed, pre-cut, pre peeled fruit and veg. which I try to stay away from so I guess that answers why I bought those, as my mother would say I had 'good intentions...' I always remember her peeling potatoes and always preparing fresh fruit and veg. and now I think that is a rare sight, esp in London, I never go to my friends' houses and see them peeling anything?

Anyhow as I couldn't fathom walking all the way to durty old Tesco and then lug whatever bad food they have from their 'express' store back to the flat I decided to save these potatoes. I would boil them and make some sort of potato dinner. As I was working on this task I looked out my window to see if anyone else was in their kitchen cooking and guess what the answer was....well have a look at the picture below. This picture is what I can see from my flat and each of the kitchens - count 'em -6 were empty!

Does anyone cook on a Saturday night? In my neighbourhood I think the answer is no. Unless they are very Mediterranean and eat v.late...or maybe everyone was at the Tesco getting petrol and pizza or maybe they were just eating take out, eating out or in their bedrooms having a late afternoon frolic??!

Would love to know you last peeled potatoes or made dinner at home on a Saturday night? (this question is mainly for Londoners and non-marrieds)

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Cookbook Inspiration?
What is the inspiration for this cookbook you may ask? Well it began when I was born and someone who along with my mother nurtured me like her own, with songs, love, food and warmth. That is my lovely and dearest grandmother who along with my parents raised me to be who I am today. My grandmother was born in Sicily in 1912 and only left this world a few months ago in March 2006.

She lived a completely fantastic 93 years and was sick so few times they could be counted on one hand. I attribute this to her healthy lifestyle, her close knit family, her daily exercise(she walked 4km a day) and her zest for life (she always had a funny poem, story or tale to tell!). She had an interesting and tough life but always managed to persevere and do it with a smile and a positive attitude.

Her healthy lifestyle was one of note, she never ate processed food and made all of her own foods incl. pasta, tomato sauce, bread and more! (It was delicious) She lived with our family and every day when we would come home there would be a warm plate of what she had made for lunch. So instead of an after school snack of crisps or other junk food - my sister and I were lucky enough to have a warm plate of soup, pasta, small piece of meat and vegetables, fresh pizza or sometimes just a little piece of freshly made desert. What a treat!

Entering her kitchen was always an interesting thing. These are the things you could find throughout the year:
-Large pieces of freshly rolled dough waiting to be cut into fresh pasta
-Fresh pasta hanging from large sticks or kitchen chairs
-A bubbling stove with pots of home made strawberry jam
-Fresh bread cooling
-Large amounts of vegetables that needed to be cleaned and peeled or prepared for freezing.
-Or lovely deserts that were off limits as they were to be saved for an upcoming wedding or party……you could always sneak one away if you were quick enough to escape the wooden spoon

My grandmother was always busy in the kitchen and turned the simplest dishes into the most delightful things with only a handful of spices in her cupboard. I can only remember salt, pepper, oregano, fresh mint, basil, rosemary and paprika in her recipes.

When my dearest grandmother passed away this spring there were some coveted recipes that were not written down and passed on to a generation of grandchildren that most likely make less home made meals than ready made ones. I try to never eat processed food -but it is not always easy to come home and make a fresh pizza - I am guilty of buying boxed items too!

This cookbook will visit my grandmother's town in Sicily and her daughters who now live in Canada. In Sicily my grandmother raised her 4 brothers after her mother passed away when she was only 15. This meant that she had to feed 5 hungry males each day - 4 brothers and her father. She managed to do well –as her father lived a healthy life into his 90s and her brothers are all in their 80s and 90s and one is still riding his bike around town! (bless their genes)

Her life was her family and her cooking was her life. This book will try to capture some of her favourite recipes, her staple recipes, her treats and other recipes from family members in Sicily and in Canada.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

So you want to write a cook book?

After much reading and research using the internet but mainly the bible for writers ‘Writers and Artists’ Yearbook, 2006’ here are the conclusions I have come to: (Writers and Artists’ Yearbook is recommended by the Writers’ Guild, and myself and can be found at any book shop for £13.99 –get it!)

  • Writing a cook book is a lot of work –so don’t try unless you can allocate a lot of personal time to this project (I have found that unless the social life commitments are cut down the cook book is not going anywhere!)

  • Writing a cookbook takes a lot of dedication and determination (you have to keep going and there is a lot to do – my next task is to start the creation of labels for approx 100pages of listings for publishers and agents –all names and addresses need to be manually input into Excel from the ‘bible’ (any volunteers for some inputting of data?). After that I need to write a covering letter for each, yes there will be some duplication, but will try and tailor some to specific people which takes time and research….lots of Googling publishing houses and agents.
  • Your initial pitch letter and proposal are the most important –make sure they are clear in describing what you are writing (e.g. theme, style, look and feel), who you are, why you are in a good position to write it and who your cookbook will be targeted at –which audience will buy it? It is easy to write a pitch letter but how do you differentiate yours from apparently the hundreds that authors and publishers receive each day!

Any Suggestions?? They will be greatly rewarded - I will cook you a meal from the Sicilian selection.

  • There will be several rejection letters from agents and publishers so keep trying
    Hmmm…accepting lots of rejection??

This will not an easy thing but as George Bernard Shaw says:

‘A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent in doing nothing.’

Sunday, July 23, 2006

If they can put a man on the moon, surely the U.K. can get better fruit and veg?

So my main question and beef with living in the U.K. is where is all the good food that you can get by crossing that little thing called the Channel or by hopping on a flight for less than two hours and being in the land of mouth watering food?

I spent a weekend in Sardinia a few weeks ago and was so happy with being able to eat an abundance of fresh (not warped, shrunken, bruised, watery, bland or completely genetically modified –tasting) fruit, vegetables and non-processed food. (sorry, pic from Sicily trip last year). I actually saw warped zucchini, & eggplant (aubergines for the Brits) in the markets and strawberries and peaches that were not perfect. We bought some from a vendor and they tasted delicious. I think our perfect fruit and veg is so far beyond natural it all just tastes cruncy and watery.

How can they put a man on the moon and not be able to transport these items from our neighboring countries (Italy, France and Spain)?? We import coffee from Colombia, lamb from New Zealand, apples from South Africa and other things from the moon and beyond?! There are very few places in London to get a proper Italian meal and the only two that I can think of and name at this moment are Al Volo opposite Spitafileds Market and Dino’s cafĂ© on Charlotte Place in Fitzrovia. They have authentic Italian food. They both have great pasta, pizzas, pastas, coffees and the most amazing fresh Italian bread can be found at Dino’s – proper Italian style. They also both have the softest and most delicious foccaccia. Anyone have any other London favorites please do post?!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Research Trip Progress
So flights are booked and research trip is being planned. To coincide with my Sicily visit I will be attending a family wedding! Should be lots of food and good times. Will be staying with family and be getting the inside scoop (eating gelato too!) on some delicious meals and the methods by which they are made. What to wear to the wedding? What gift to bring? and more questions on how to go about conducting proper research are the questions to be answered.

Monday, July 10, 2006

All action
Well the time to stop talking and start working has come. All from a wish to have a family icon's cooking again, something that will never happen as the loss of a dear grandmother means that the home made food filled with love, pure ingredients and passion will no longer be shared. So what to do? Try and record these loving recipes by people of similar status, a grandmother in Italy of a cousin, ladies in a small Sicilian village, a loving mother, aunt and more. So the journey begins.... missing the passion and love that come from home cooking and trying to record it, of course taste it and see where the adventure lies in trying to write a cook book!