By now, some of you may be wondering Why would someone write a cookbook during a global pandemic? And why is it vegan?? How do you even stay motivated? Believe me, I've been asking myself these questions since the moment I started. Yet here I am, with a printed, beautiful, vegan cookbook that I could not be more proud of. (Get yours here!)
It all started with a loaf of banana bread...
Yes. A loaf (or multiple loaves) of banana bread. And some pumpkin. And maybe some muffins here and there.
It really began when I quit my full time job just prior to COVID hitting the United States (great timing, I know). Once quarantine was in full force and after I applied to what seemed like 600 jobs, I decided to take a break from the search and relocate temporarily to Seattle, Washington to hangout with my boyfriend and his family. What I thought was a temporary trip shortly turned into a permanent move, and I am proud to say that I am now a Washingtonian!
Anyway, when I first came to Seattle, I had loads of free time. Time to explore the beautiful forests of Washington, cycle around Mercer Island, trail run, eat Thai takeout, take neighborhood walks, and more importantly, bake numerous loaves of banana bread.
For some reason I never really got into the whole sourdough trend of quarantine, so this banana bread became my quarantine sourdough starter. If there were ever any bananas on the counter that were about to be too ripe during the first 2-3 weeks of quarantine, I would immediately set them aside and leave a polite note saying "Nobody touch these – banana bread is coming".
More often than not, there were ripe bananas on the counter. Which meant more banana bread.
There were at least 4 loaves made a week – with each loaf not lasting more than 2 days. I always thought it was so funny how the loaf pan would just sit there halfway covered with plastic wrap with a knife sitting in the pan for anyone who so dared to cut themselves another slice as they passed by. If the knife were not there it might have lasted longer but since there was a designated loaf knife so conveniently placed inside of the pan, it removed the initial chore of getting out a new knife just to have to wash it again. Long story short, we ate the loaves, and we ate them fast.
Banana bread #5 (this time with coconut+
Banana bread #7...?
Pumpkin bread loaf #12...?
After we got burnt out on banana bread, I switched to pumpkin bread. After the pumpkin bread was sent out of the rotation, I moved back to bananas and banana pancakes. And the cycle went on... Until finally we all realized that we couldn't continue to eat banana bread every day for months at a time because let's be honest, as much as we all love banana bread, it's probably not the best thing to consume frequently in large amounts.
I've always loved cooking and been passionate about food, health, and wellness, but as I spent more time in the kitchen experimenting with vegan recipes and finding ingredients that I liked to work with, I began to think How can I turn my love for food, health, and wellness into a "side hustle"? Sure enough, as I started to share my recipes more (in the Hollister's kitchen - thank you Robbi & Wayne), I was encouraged by my friends to put together a cookbook. I have always wanted to write a cookbook or at least design a book, and what's funny is that "Write a Cookbook" was the first thing on my 2020 New Years resolution list. Although this was something that I have always wanted to do, I doubted myself and thought, That's a ridiculous idea... how would I even do that? I can't do that...
As a "test run" I created a cookbook for Nette Nette (Scout's aunt, aka Barrie Harper) as a birthday gift. Half of the book was family recipes from her family and the other half was new vegan recipes that I thought she would enjoy Something Old and Something New (this ended up being the title).
I had the book printed by an online service and 3 days later it was in my hands! After creating this and showing it to several people, I received even more positive feedback and urges to write my own cookbook.
This is when I took the leap of faith and dove head first into the world of cookbook writing. From the months of May 2020 to November 2020, I was in the kitchen at least 3 times a day testing, photographing, or writing some kind of recipe. I can confidently tell you that this is the MOST cooking I have ever done. Most of the recipes in my cookbook are recipes that either I grew up eating or ate a lot of when I began to cook for myself. So I began testing, sharing, and more importantly EATING my way through all of these recipes to perfect them. The process was extremely messy but was an incredible learning experience for me because I learned SO much about the process of recipe development/testing/writing, food photography, book production, and so much more.
From May to November I was testing, eating, and cooking all of the recipes you will find in my cookbook. The most frequent recipes being pizza, Thai green curry, tacos, breakfast burritos, enchiladas, and of course, banana bread. While some recipes only took one or two tries to finalize, others took 4-6 tries because they were much more technical and complicated to make (My eggplant enchiladas and Mac and cheese being a couple of them).
Once I finalized a majority of the recipes, I started to photograph them.
Unfortunately, I did not have access to a photo studio and/or professional lights but thankfully a friend of mine had some studio lights he wasn't using at the time and was kind enough to let me borrow them! (Thanks, Blake!) I created my "studio" in our bedroom downstairs. I ordered vinyl backdrops from clubbackdrops.com (their backdrops are AWESOME and perfect for food photography because you can easily wipe them down if any food is spilled on them - AND they're gorgeous). I grabbed a short table from outside, placed my backdrops on top, set up my tripod and lights, and voila! I had a studio!
(the studio moved around quite a bit as you can tell)
I finished photographing my recipes about a month prior to sending my files off to the printer. It was rather rushed but I am happy to say that I got them all done and am so happy with the results. I never had any proper "training" in food photography per say and I got most of my experience through playing around with my camera, looking at LOTS of cookbooks, and watching Food Photography videos on YouTube to see how other professionals achieved their final product.
The name of the cookbook was actually one of the very last steps. I had such a hard time settling on a name that was authentic to me AND the recipes that I created. Over the course of the cookbook journey, I found myself saying "I'M HUNGRY" more often than not because the process of cooking for hours, creating a beautiful dish, photographing it, all while having to wait to eat it definitely made me hungry. Also, I just really like food and more often than not I am hungry and let's be honest, I could always eat.
Long story short - writing a cookbook is a PROCESS especially if you are doing it on your own. I definitely want to write another cookbook (and plan on it) but as of now, I am working on marketing my current cookbook, spending more time experimenting with vegan recipes for fun, making more video content (subscribe to my channel!), and creating more content for you all to enjoy!
Want to work with me? Let's chat!