So, the book is done.
After many months of cooking all day and editing/writing until the wee hours, I can finally say it's all done. It's funny, before I started I was under no illusion as to how much work it would involve, for most cookbooks there is a whole team of people pulling it together, the author, the photographer, the stylist etc, but with mine I was all three (I vividly remember reading Aran's words when she had finished her manuscript and her saying how there were times when she had been so stressed and busy she could barely breath). But I would never have known how full on it would be, mentally. Writing a blog post is easy, I just write. If people like it- they do, if they don't- it doesn't bother me, after all I'm not forcing anyone to read and people can always just move on if they don't like what I do, no biggy. But with a physical book, it's different or as Heidi so perfectly described "It's just an entirely different world of expectations, with all hopes tied into a single grand gesture". Naturally I wanted everything to be perfect, I am a Virgo after all. Not only do I want people to love my recipes as much as I do, but I also want them to work and my photos to shine, enticing people to want to cook. Heck, I spent so many nights stressing out about the photos, knowing exactly how I wanted them to look but just not quite knowing how to achieve it, ya know? (I had never edited photos pre-book deal, so it's been a steep learning curve let me tell you!). But now that it's all done I can say I've done the best that I can do, yes there will always be things that I will look back on and think I could have done better, but overall I'm super proud of what I have achieved and I just hope you all love it as much as I do.
As my mind played tricks on me telling me what I was doing was not good enough it was the words of Heidi and these honest words from Tara that kept me sain, reminding me that all us creatives go through it, that horrible waste-of-time, good-for-nothing self-doubt.
Just know, I spend a certain amount of time talking myself out of the trees~ Heidi Swanson
In the first few weeks of working on this book I was in such a state that I swear every time I tried to think about where to begin I had a near panic attack, it was my friend Grace who snapped me out of it after I told her about that little negative gremlin who liked to sit on my left shoulder and shout abuse at me throughout the day. "Give him the middle finger", she said. So I did, well as best as I could. Sadly I don't think we can ever get rid of those gremlins completely, but we can sure do our best to muffle their voices eh?
Anyhow, enough of that talk. What I really wanted to say is that I'm back. It may take me a few weeks to get my brain back into gear after so many months of intense cooking/writing/creating, but I have to say it feels nice knowing this will be my only food focus for the next little while...
I'd been hoping I'd have some time to highlight persimmons before their brief season came to an end. See, we adore persimmons in this house and planting a couple of trees will be one of the first priorities when we eventually move back to NZ and get our little piece of land happening. We usually just eat them straight-up, peeled and eaten like an apple or sliced and savoured bite by bite, however I thought their mellow flavour and gentle sweetness would also work wonders in a lovely fresh salad. So I experimented.
Our garden has been so neglected over the last 6 or so months, but much to my surprise there's still a little bit out there to pick, totally by fluke it would seem. Our courgette (zucchini) and eggplant (aubergine) which pretty much died in Perth's intense summer heat, have somehow hung on just long enough to make it to the cooler months and are now flourishing, pumping out slender courgettes and deep purple eggplants every few days, even now that we are heading into the winter months. Little frilly green lettuce and rocket (arugula) are growing up everywhere from seeds that dropped after the last season and it was these that inspired today's salad. This is the kind of salad that is a great place to start and seriously feel free to take it whichever way you please. I'm thinking a little finely shaved Parmesan or pecorino would work amazingly if you tolerate either of these. I used almonds for a little crunch, but had I been really thinking I would have used the lightly toasted hazelnuts I had sitting on the bench from another recipe I've been testing (duh!). I've also listed a couple of ideas to try below, if you can't get your hands on fennel bulbs too. xx
persimmon, fennel + rocket (arugula) salad
1/2 large fennel bulb, frilly tops reserved
a good handful rocket leaves, washed and spun dry
a good handful of lettuce leaves (whatever kind you like), washed and spun dry
2 tablespoons lightly toasted sliced almonds*
1/4 cup (60ml) extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Peel the persimmon and finely slice into rounds using a mandolin, alternatively use a very sharp knife to slice into segments. Shave the fennel using a mandolin or sharp knife, reserving some of the frilly tops and roughly chop these to add to the salad too.
Whisk cider vinegar, mustard and honey together in a small bowl, while still whisking drizzle in olive oil in a steady stream. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
To serve, place alternating layers of salad greens, shaved fennel and persimmon into two bowls, scatter with toasted almonds and drizzle over just enough salad dressing to coat the leaves. Serve immediately. Store any leftover dressing in a screw-top glass jar in the fridge for up to 1 week.