belinda jeffery's news and events
Well, what to say about this month! It has flown by at an alarming pace, and I seem to have spent most of that time either glued to my computer trying to finish my manuscript, or cooking non-stop for my final book shoot. No peace for the wicked, as my mum used to say! There has certainly been no chance to come up for air. And now I have only a week (two at the most) to tie up all the threads and bring this, my seventh book, together.
The funny thing is that I find every book, and the way I write it, is quite different. There are a few common points – the shoots, the research, and the cooking - but beyond that, they have each taken a different path to the finishing post.
I wrote my first book in 2000, and in my naivety about publishing, had actually written and photographed most of it before approaching a publisher – it was a miracle it ever made the book shelves! (But I’m pleased to say that I am still with my same, lovely publisher to this day.) My second book came hot on the heels of the first, and it flowed well – I had a clear vision of what I wanted it to be like, and the same brilliant photographer, Rodney Weidland, (who is a dear friend), to shoot it. Much to our delight, it went on to win the very prestigious James Beard Award for Photography in New York. With book number three, Mix & Bake, another award winner, we had moved away from the city to our home on the far north coast of NSW, and this book was a struggle to write. I was still trying to settle in here; Rodney was toing and froing from Sydney to do the photography; the bulk of the writing and shooting happened during a scorching hot, humid summer, where chocolate and icing melted into blobs as soon as you looked sideways at them; pastry slumped in my hands; and the only way we could get any shots was to do them at the crack of dawn before it got too hot. I remember having to keep a towel by my keyboard so I could mop myself off every so often as sweat prickled on my skin, and my fingers stuck to the keyboard.
By the time my fourth book, The Country Cookbook, (which has just been re-released in a gorgeous soft cover edition) came along, things were much more settled. I loved having the opportunity to not only write recipes, but to also write about our life in the country. It was a joyful book for me on so many levels, and I still feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to write it. But it was not entirely plain sailing. The final chapters were written on a laptop on my bed, because my lower leg was in plaster and had to be kept raised, as I managed to sever a tendon in my ankle when a rather large glass jar and I had a slight disagreement!
Desserts came next, and to my surprise, I struggled with it. I love baking and cooking desserts, but I found it hard to get this book right. I lost confidence as I wrangled with finding a good balance of recipes; the look of the book how we wanted it; and the recipe writing to flow. It ended up being a really lovely book, but it took quite a big toll. Fortunately, the follow-up to this book, Utterly Delicious Simple Food, which was published late, last year, was easier. I found doing a more general book suited me better, and I really enjoyed writing it. Rodney and I had fun with the photography; the recipe writing came together well, and it fell into place easily (well, relatively speaking!). I’m pleased to report it’s going well…phew.
And this manuscript I’m working on now - perhaps it would be best to ask me when it’s done and dusted! It hasn’t been easy, but in some ways I think it’s one of the best books I’ve done. Still, time will tell, and on that note, I should get back to it, as there is still plenty to do!
But before I go, one thing I have done to keep myself sane this past month is a little spot of baking. It has nothing to do with the my work, and everything to do with having a wee bit of down-time - and something delicious to eat into the bargain. I’ve obviously needed comfort food, as I’ve made at least 5 batches of date scones so far (and counting!). So there are no prizes for guessing what this month’s recipe is…my all-time favourite Fluffy Date & Buttermilk Scones.
To see more of what I’m up to, you can follow me on Instagram.
Upcoming events and news
I have firmed up a hands-on cooking class at Helen Nott’s terrific PepperTree Kitchen in Lismore on Wednesday 22nd July from 9.30am – 1.30pm. If you would like to find out more about the class, you can do so at www.peppertreekitchen.com.au and click on the link to their classes.
I also have a class at the Accoutrement Cooking School in Sydney on Tuesday 14th July at 6.30pm. I would love to think that I see you there. If you would like to find out more about the class, you can do so at www.accoutrement.com.au
On Wednesday 26th August, I shall be teaching at Kitchen to Table in Yamba. Details are yet to be confirmed, but will soon be up on their website, www.kitchentotable.com.au
I’m really chuffed to be returning to the wonderful Agrarian Kitchen cooking school in Tasmania in November 2015 to teach two baking classes on Friday 20th and Saturday the 21st. This brilliant cooking school has a holistic paddock-to-plate philosophy that informs everything they do. Their website is really lovely and I highly recommend a visit...I rather suspect that, like me, you will be hooked once you read it! www.theagrariankitchen.com
I was recently on Channel 7’s The Morning Show, making Asparagus and Goat’s Cheese Tarts …if you’re interested in watching the segment, follow this link… http://au.tv.yahoo.com/video/watch/25322696/springtime-asparagus-tarts/
My favourite charity
Just A Drop - www.justadrop.org
My lovely sister-in-law, Fiona Jeffery, started this international water aid charity in 1998 when she learnt that less than $2 can deliver clean water to a child for up to 10 years. From this knowledge, and her passion and commitment, Just a Drop was born, based on the premise that if people can be encouraged to give a little then collectively we can make a huge difference. I’m so proud of all she has achieved over the years and encourage you to visit the site and see the fantastic work they do.
Favourite websites & blogs