Monday, January 25, 2010

Salutations (lifted from "Charlotte's Web")

I'm truly not one to blog. My husband and I often discuss the discomfort of publicizing our personal thoughts. I mean.....who would want to read about what we think? It's bad enough that our friends have to hear me out all the time, let alone have to read about my opinions.

But times have changed and somehow, I am "forced" to. In this day and age, cookbook writing is a competitive field. I have been told that while e-books will probably kill off paper novels as we know them, printed cookbooks still thrive because it's food porn (hopefully a lot more wholesome too). Yet, one can no longer shop around a manuscript while remaining a nobody. Even Julia Child took ten years before she had her first cookbook published. I will need to build a resume of sorts - cook for others to try, write articles, demonstrate, blog.....I have no illusions of becoming the next Julie Powell, Orangette or Pioneer Woman but I have indeed seen the end results. And I've studied this industry long enough through talking to professionals, to know that it takes harder work before I can eventually publish this book. Yes, I would love to contribute to Saveur, or the Peranakan Association magazine, but blogging will have to do for now. As my daughter says..."Practice makes progress"....in this case, in journalistic sense.

I hesitated blogging for the longest time. I'm not tech-savvy and I have two kids' schedule to juggle. But time is running out before the phrase "I'm working on a cookbook" gets too old. In fact, I'm so elated about actually blogging right now that I should go out and buy myself a nice handbag....Hermes, no less. (Do get used to my stream of consciousness...)

This personal project began in the summer of 2001. I had just quit my marketing job at Citibank and found a lot more time in my hands. My friend Gloria suggested that I spend the summer with my parents. After all, I had lived away from Singapore for the past nine years and a longer vacation with them would be good. At the same time, I decided to compile all my favorite recipes from my mother. All the good stuff one would miss when away from home. I told her that I would type them up nicely for the family, especially for her granddaughters. I had only started gathering photocopies of circa 1964 recipes, designed a ninth grade cover for the homemade book when my mother became seriously ill. My mother was in hospital for three months and died in November 2001.

I never got to finish the family project with my mother and saddest of all, never got to ask her the questions. The "Why do you do this?", "How did this turn out this way?" types of questions, not forgetting the cooking secrets she kept close to her chest and never wrote down for posterity.

The project took a backburner while we all grieved and I went soul searching about what to do next after getting my MBA in 2003. With a baby due soon after graduating, it made sense to resume the project. I could work on completing the cookbook while also being a stay at home mom (or as my friends back home like to think....be a taitai...so not true.)

I will abruptly end here. I have fifteen minutes before my favorite yoga class.
But here's the long and short of it all. Yes, I have finally completed the manuscript. I will go into the gory details later.
Yet, I've danced all along about how to wrap up the recipe testing phase, edit, etc. And let's not go into the food photography. And behind the scene is a lovely lovely publisher friend who has been patiently waiting for the past five years!

The blog is to discipline me to reach the goal. The old relatives I interviewed are fading off and it would be terribly sad if no one lives to see the fruition of what is a labor of love to my mother and her generation of friends.
The blog will document what has taken place, musings about what goes right or wrong in the kitchen, the digression to cookbooks, restaurants and just musings about life in general....like running off to yoga while I should be in the kitchen watching over the agar agar simmering for three hours.

Indonesia in Amsterdam

For years, my daughter had wanted to visit Amsterdam. We were cautioned by friends that parts of the city - particularly Dam Square - m...