Checking In!

Call off the search! I’m still here and still kicking! I know it’s been a while but hey as any blogger will know there is always at least some point where you would much rather scratch your eyes out than write a blog post.  More importantly though I’m back and I have found my food blogging mojo again.  I suppose I should let you know what’s been going on behind the scenes since my last post nearly 2 months ago!  The major project which has taken up so much of my time has been the new book which I’ve been working on full time since mid October.  It was one the tighter deadlines I’ve had for a book to date, but in some ways the pressure was a good thing, it meant far less faffing about and creating up imaginary tasks which were of course far more important than finishing the book.  Between October and the end of November I was chained to a desk writing the 100 recipes that make up my third book, which was nicely broken up with some intensive recipe testing in the middle.  I have to admit that although cooking that sort of volume of varied food in quick succession can turn the whole process into a bit of a blur, I did manage to structure the days so they had a nice pace of writing half the day and then pottering around the kitchen tinkering with recipe measurements before dinner.

Through the end of November and start of December I shot the images for the book with Sofie who was on prop duty, and my Aunt Erica who meticulously cooked and styled all the food (and let us take over her kitchen with props and wooden boards!).  The photography part of the creation of cookbooks has to be my absolute favourite next to dreaming up the recipes.  There is so much to think of, from what plate the dish will be served on, how it will look on the plate, the props around it, the colours, the light, to the angle of the camera.  It can be a little bit daunting when there is 80 recipes to photograph so quickly back to back, but the feeling of achievement after a shoot like that is just amazing.  The first thing I did once we were finished was print them all out and stick them up on the wall.  It’s a great reminder of all the hard work!

Christmas was spent in Sweden and of course we had lots of fun recording the Christmas special in Stockholm and then up in the north at the ice hotel.  Thinking back to that now it feels like a million years ago! The filming all happened in such a whirlwind that we were already home before I could catch my breath.  Christmas itself was spent with Sofie’s family and we had some really great traditional Swedish Christmas food, meatballs included, just in case you were wondering.  We arrived back home on the 27th of December and the following day started straight into a 60 recipe photoshoot for a client, so after three days into that it almost felt like Christmas hadn’t happened at all!

I have been talking about traveling in Asia for as long as I can remember and I knew we had a few weeks free before filming was due to start on the second series of Kitchen Hero so we took the chance and about 2 weeks into 2012 we were booked on a flight to Bangkok and with nothing booked while we were there, apart from one hotel, we were off!  One the cookbooks I would have taught myself to cook from was an Asian Cooking encyclopedia which my granny gave me for a birthday when I was in my teens.  I used to pick out recipes on the weekends and head into the Asian market in Dublin to pick up ingredients and cook through them week after week.  Ever since then it’s always been a dream to travel there, nowhere specifically mind you, just anywhere in Asia would do!  We spent 2 weeks in Thailand and just over 2 weeks in Vietnam and it was a total culture shock, yes there were things that were familiar but in so many ways it was mind blowing experience.  Specifically the trip to the north of Vietnam was when we were really forced to reconsider all realms of normality when it came to the ingredients they were using. Dog being a perfect example!

I’m going to write a few detailed blog posts about our travels so I don’t want to spoil it all until then so for the moment this post is just to say I’m back and ready for a very exciting year!  When we arrived back I was welcomed by a big bulging jiffy pack of spreads from the new book which needed to be carefully read through before it went off to print last week.  It’s a really exciting stage of the process and it’s when you begin to see it all coming together!  We are starting the filming for the new TV series next week so this week is being spent gearing up to that, with a big long to-do list before the crew arrives in on Sunday afternoon to invade the kitchen and living room for the next 3 weeks.  We will record the cooking parts first and separately to any of the content out and about, which is a good way to do it because we can then really focus on the food looking good.  My aim is to blog each day during filming with at least a few photos of what we get up to, so fingers crossed I’ll find the time!

For now, it’s great to be back and especially back blogging!

Donal x