You know what happens with food bloggers who suddenly blog a lot less or go MIA? They are either having a baby or they are writing a cookbook. In my case, it was the latter although having laboured over it all these months, it does feel like I just had a new baby!
Hot off the press and officially launched today at KK Women's and Children's Hospital! Read on for more details.
Mid last year, KK Women's and Children's Hospital asked if I wanted to work with them on an antenatal cookbook, as part of their 155th Anniversary celebrations. Of course I said yes - are you kidding me? - because it would be so awesome to be published and do my bit for a worthy cause. You see, this is a charity cookbook. All proceeds from its sales go towards helping the needy patients of KKH Health Endowment Fund. Who on earth turns down a collaboration like that? Immediately, I put my name down and work began.
Now, writing a cookbook was truly an eye-opener, but having 2 clinical dietitians as co-authors only made the experience even more interesting.
Over several weekends, I had hospital dietitians and staff come over to my kitchen so that we could test and taste the dishes together. As the dietitians needed to make nutritional analyses on the recipes, every ingredient - even a clove of garlic - had to be weighed to the last decigram. Sometimes, they went one step further and weighed the ingredients with/without skin and before/after cooking. It was both fascinating and painful to watch.
My kitchen, my 'lab': (L) Now you know - 3 cloves of unpeeled garlic weigh 25g; (R) Adding one grain of barley at a time to get the perfect number. All this meticulous prep work before cooking!
And me? I cooked and cooked. At the end of the day, when my back threatened to give way, I knew I was not cut out to be a lady iron chef. No, siree. On average, we were on our feet for 7 straight hours without a break. How we did it is still beyond me, but I attribute it to wonderful team spirit. It was a pleasure working alongside those lovely ladies.
Oh yes, the washing up. You have no idea how fast the dirty pots, pans and plates piled up by the minute. We'd take turns to clean up and dispose the trash, and then proceed to evaluate the recipes. Afterward, it was the entire weigh-prep-cook-taste-clean-evaluate process all over again ... greasy hair and all. Nope, we hardly channeled our inner Nigella while we were at it.
Once the recipes were tested, I was on to the second phase - styling and photography. This turned out to be the most challenging part of all. I had 35 dishes to shoot, and being a full-time mum meant I had to work around my children's schedules. As such, my window of good, strong light was very small. Throw in the fickle weather at that time, and I ended up having to re-cook and re-shoot many dishes. Exasperating, that was!
And so it was a mad rush every single day, weekends included, trying to get my photos done. Blog? No way. Looking back, it must have been hilarious for my kids to see their frazzled mother at work - dashing in and out of the kitchen with hot food, arranging and re-arranging the tableware, climbing onto a tall stool with a camera dangling around her neck (the neighbours across can stare, I don't care!). Yesterday, when my daughter pored over my book, she remarked, "Oh my, I actually remember the days you shot these dishes!" Yup, so do I, darling. Every single one.
When we eventually came to the third phase - layout and content editing - I was all pumped up again. I knew it was the homestretch and I could not wait to see the finished product. In fact, for so many months that I had been working on the book, I did not see it taking shape ... until I was handed the draft copy. It was a surreal moment to say the least, not unlike the first time you see your baby's ultrasound pictures. I took a moment to let it all sink in.
And here we are today, with the cookbook in my hands. It's hard to believe all the months of work have finally come to fruition. What a ride it has been!
Here is a sneak peek of some of the dishes in the book:
Healthy and delicious are not mutually exclusive! The recipes may have the expectant mother in mind (specifically, to increase the intakes of certain vitamins and minerals required during pregnancy), but certainly, anyone who wants to cook healthy, delicious everyday meals can totally do with a cookbook like this.
This cookbook is officially launched and goes on sale today at KKH's 2-day public forum titled "Parenthood - an amazing journey". Each copy is priced at S$20 (if purchased directly at KKH’s Patient Education Centre, Admissions Office and Retail Pharmacy) and $25 at major bookstores (available by the end of July). As I mentioned, all proceeds go towards helping the needy patients of KKH Health Endowment Fund, so please support this charitable cause.
TO PURCHASE YOUR COPY VIA KKH, PLEASE CLICK HERE.
Last but not least, I want to thank some people who helped make this cookbook happen.
To KKH: Thank you for letting me be part of this meaningful project. It is nothing short of an honour and privilege, and I feel very grateful for this opportunity. Special thanks to Team Cookbook - Vincent, Xian Hui, Jaffri, Christine and Nehal.
To my wonderful bunch of close friends: Your constant stream of encouraging words made all the difference. Thank you for being more excited than I am!
To my blog readers: Thank you for supporting The Little Teochew through the past 4 years.
To Brad: Of all people, you helped me the most on this journey, and I thank you for your friendship and generosity.
To my precious family: Truly, everything is nothing if I did not have you to share this with.
And to my beloved Daddy: Wherever you are, know that you still continue to inspire the ones you left behind. I hope I gave you something to smile about today.