I know, I know, I’ve been a little quiet here on Sixburnersue, but I promise I have a good excuse. It isn’t just that the farm work has kept me really hopping. I’ve had, well, a little something else to occupy the rest of my “free” time—developing recipes for a new book.
But wait, before you get all ants-in-your-pants-when-can-I-get-one excited…(which of course I am just assuming you will be!), this new cookbook won’t be released until the spring of 2017. But my deadline is in less than four months. That’s why I haven’t even brought it up until now, since it is usually hard for folks to wrap their heads around the way this whole publishing thing works. It takes at least a year for the editing, design, layout, printing…and then the advance marketing to happen once you turn a manuscript in.
But do hold on tight, because this is gonna be a really good one. I am absolutely over the moon that the book will be published by Roost Books, an imprint of Shambhala Publications (which I have long admired) and the creator of some of the best looking (and tasting!) cookbooks I’ve seen in the last few years. In fact, Roost just published my fellow islander-cook Sarah Waldman’s first cookbook, Little Bites, and it is smashing. Roost also published the award-winning At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen by Amy Chaplin, and La Tartine Gourmande, by Beatrice Peltre, among others. I am lucky to have a great editor there, and you can’t have a great book without a good editor.
So what’s the book about? “Do tell, do tell!” you say. Well, you know I would have to kill you if I did that. I can tell you that it is a great evolution of my vegetable cooking—from veggies on the side of the plate (Fast, Fresh & Green) to veggies in the middle of the plate (The Fresh & Green Table) to veggies across the seasons (Fresh From the Farm) and now…And now…well, veggies as the driving force in my diet. That’s right (gasp!), in January I transitioned practically seamlessly to a vegetarian diet.
I’m not a big label person, and I also can’t predict the future, so I wouldn’t absolutely say that I will be a 100-percent Vegetarian for the rest of my life. But other than one or two good pieces of fish that have come my way, I’ve not had any meat in 10 months. (I do, of course, still eat eggs). (So technically, I am a pescatarian!) My reasons and thinking on all this are enough to fill another blog and then some, so I will just leave you with this very simple and completely personal concept—I just stopped wanting meat. (This hash’t happened yet with sugar or chocolate.)
But don’t worry, if you know me and my cooking, you’ll know that this new book is still going to be about flavor and technique and enjoying cooking. (And lots of strategy and tips…and, well, okay, I must stop before I give it away.) No fake food or contrived recipes.
And I have to tell you the best part—amazing photos! Roost hired Randi Baird (at right), a very talented and versatile photographer who also happens to be a foodie and a veggie lover (and a Vineyarder!). She and I have worked together on food stories on and off over the years, and we are having a total blast creating the look and feel of the photos for this book. Randi’s been shooting vegetables at the farm over the summer—some really stunning shots that I so wish I could show you (teaser above)—and we just completed our first week of shooting finished food shots for the book.
The week of shooting reminded me of the many, many shoots I was present for while I was editor of Fine Cooking, and just like then, this week I had some very nice people to work with, including Randi’s assistant Mary Shea (who took these photos), and my super-cook friend Amy Miller (with me in shots below) who made practically all the food for the photos, while I fussed with the props (and eventually “styled” the food on the plate. And yes, I have that curious concentrating “susie frown” on my face in every photo that Mary took!).
We have another shoot coming up in a few weeks, which is why I wanted to tell you about the book now; then we’ll be able to show you some production action on Instagram during the next shoot.
No matter how you look at it, the most important part of a cookbook, of course, is the recipes. Developing them is not as easy as you might think—which is why I’m most grateful to have my best friend Eliza Peter cross-testing the recipes again—I can’t believe she said yes for a fourth time around! We are over the halfway mark at this point, but wow, still a lot to go in a short amount of time.
There’ll be much more to tell you about the book as the months go by (and do they—so quickly!) but it was time I fessed up about why I haven’t been keeping up with my blogs.
(Veggie basket photo by Randi Baird. All others below by Mary Shea.)