Recipes And Stories Unblogged
July 3, 2008
Me, holding the papers and my pen: Are you in? Things are about to get a little weird-er.
Him, looking over the contract one last time: Yes, I am in.
Me: allright...there I sign...
Him: ugh...does this mean you are going to be baking even more desserts? Will I still get to eat them?
Me: yes, but now there might be a scoring card attached to them!!
The picture above sort of speaks for itself and I admit that I already told a hand full of you because 1/ I could not hold it anymore and 2/ if you write me the "what are you up to?" email, I can't possibly say "nothing" and post that a couple of weeks ago I signed my name at the bottom of a publishing contract for a cookbook.
Yep...100 recipes, 100 stories and 100 reasons to get you baking! 100 recipes (metric and US) never blogged about, well, except for a hand full that I have already posted but wanted to work on, specials created for work, desserts I came up with while working on others for the blog, wonderful recipes inherited from my grandmother,.etc...All are rooted in my French background but most had to be adapted to what I found when I settled in the States, whether it be ingredients, methods or traditions. I am baking, styling the food, taking the pictures and telling you a story along the way. I hope you understand if the updates here slow down here and there and why I might be commenting a little less then before, just know that I am reading, salivating, laughing and crying along with you.
How did this all come to be? Well, I did not wake up one morning to find a "we want to publish you" email. It was rather a combination of events and relationships formed that finally brought that "you are our priority" email in my mailbox one morning....I first started this blog as a place to write about my passion for desserts and to have my family and friends read to keep me accountable. To say that I never thought of what cool things could come out of writing Tartelette (another happening I'll share in a couple of weeks) would be insulting your intelligence. But writing my own cookbook? I would have probably checked my temperature first. Like a craft or a child, the blog grew, and all because of you. By your visits, your comments and your emails, you implicitly also said "I am in" and one of the results stands in front of you today. I owe a lot of this to your support and your readership. I also know that if you want something in life, you have got to make it happen. So before I become even more absent or the best ghost commenter out there, at least you know why. I am baking you a whole of good things!
When my friend Hannah was about to release her own book, her publisher emailed me wanting to know if I wanted an advance copy for review. I like Alisa from the very first emails we exchanged. I liked her tone, her sensibility and I was very very impressed with the way she was handling Hannah's book release. I thought "Wow! If I were writing a book, I sure would want her to be my publisher". Then I realised that I had tons of questions about book and recipe writing and we started to talk about them and a few weeks later, she encouraged me to write a proposal and she would look it over and if not their publishing house, at least she could give me a couple of pointers. Well, I guess I did an ok job because after many months (that's another thing folks....unless you hook up a typewriter to your brain, whisk away 24/7, and take pictures like a mad one, it takes a lot of time and energy), they did send that "We are in" email....and the next 8 months are going to be bu-sy, bu-sy!!
The book is strongly related to the pictures of my grandparents above. I grew up with a spatula in one hand and an egg in the other, sitting on the kitchen counter by my grandmother, whisking and folding under her guidance. She distilled her love for desserts one recipe at a time, always careful to make me smell and taste, never afraid to let me destroy a cake because I would learn something no matter what. A couple of years after her death, my grandfather handed me her recipe boxes, all our family favorites, right there. I picked one of my favorites, set a stool by the counter top for my niece Lea, and that afternoon we made Grandma's Madeleines. I repeated the steps she taught me with Lea, I let her stir and fold, I let her butter the molds and spill the batter. It filled me up with such sadness and love at the same time. We proudly served them to my grandfather who exclaimed "I always told her she should organize them in some sort of book....but she always did what she wanted anyways..."
I flew home with the boxes in my carry on. I read them over and over on the plane, closing my eyes at each one. I could hear her voice, I could see my mom sitting at the table with her tea while I would emerge from the kitchen carrying a freshly baked flourless cake or a batch of cream puffs. Grandma would make me wait, she'd set up the table with freshly cleaned linens, a pretty plate and then she would go pick a spoon from her collection and hand it to me "go on, go ahead, you can have it now". Baking does not end in the kitchen, it starts in your mind, carries down through your fingertips and passes on to your nose, your eyes and ends at the table....in your mouth.
Once home, I put them in the front of my other recipe binders and once or twice a week I would work through them, edit the quantities, the ingredients, to work with the time, the economy, what I had available here, enhance, reduce, balance. For me a recipe is never final , it always a work in progress. I don't pretend to reinvent the pastry wheel, I like to work with things that most everybody can find and that will make you head to the kitchen without thinking twice whether you can do it. Of course you can! It's not rocket science...otherwise I would not be here today! I am always trying to bring a little extra, to give you as many tips and tricks as possible (so far Tanna liked them!) so there is more than grandma's tried and true going in the book. Because of her teachings and passion for food, I ended up doing this as a profession, and a hobby, and a favor, and teaching others....so much so that as I grew into this craft the more I found myself coming up with other recipes. I dare not say they will turn your world upside down, but I think they will nudge novices into tying on that apron a little tighter and try and seasoned bakers to come relax with me with a recipe, a story and a cup of tea. Title?
C'est Sweet: A baked narrative...
Oh gosh...is somebody still reading? There will be cake this weekend...Promise!