Cooking does not have to be a speed sport

Had a slightly frantic hour this evening because I’d promised to make and drop-off dinner for 16-20 for a non-profit thing, and I meant to start cooking at 3, but was in the groove on writing and lost track of time, so it was almost 4 by the time I started, and I was supposed to drop it off at 5:15, and all the chicken was frozen so I set it thawing in the microwave and made the veg. poriyal (yams and cauliflower, new combo, good), then checked, chicken still mostly frozen, set it to thawing some more, put the rice on (mixed red rice and basmati with butter, cashews, and sultanas), then sautéed some onions with cinnamon and cumin seed and mustard seed, etc. for the chicken and let those keep cooking on low, then made the kale sambol (kale, onion, coconut, lime juice, chopped tomatoes, salt, sugar; I was a little short on lime juice, but it was okay), and finally the chicken was thawed enough, so with twenty-five minutes to go, there was some speed chopping and frying and sautéing and covering with a lid to make sure it was definitely cooked through (because worse than being late would be serving people undercooked chicken!!!), and dumping in a can of coconut milk and somehow it all got done in time and packed up and I added some naan and samosas and a few bags of leftover Halloween chocolates from the freezer because I had completely failed to provide dessert, gah —

— and THEN I couldn’t find my damn keys for ten minutes, so I was late after all, and panicking a bit because I had originally planned to make lentils too, and just ran out of time and WHAT IF THERE WASN’T ENOUGH FOOD???

I dropped it all off full of apologies and told the staffers that they should just order more food if they needed to and I would pay for it. But they assured me that it would be plenty, and even were kind enough to drop a note just now to reassure me that there had been plenty; enough that their clients could even pack up some leftovers. So okay then.




Bittersweet chocolate, pistachio, sultana, and rose

One more floral bark for the road; now that the roses have started blooming, expect ALL the rose recipes — Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate, pistachio, sultanas, and rose. Luscious, with the slight bitterness of the chocolate balancing the sweetness of the sultanas, and that salty pistachio nuttiness….mmm…

When you’re trying to put the pieces of bark in a container for freezing (for a party to come), and you find that you keep surreptitiously eating them (they’re just *little* bits, not worth packing up, right?), you know it’s good.

A lesson in publishing

In the interests of documenting the setbacks as well as the successes, we had a rough time with the cookbook last week. It was honestly pretty upsetting, and mostly my own fault, I think. I had one sleepless night, and a few very awkward conversations that I had to push myself to actually have (I wish I were less conflict-averse).

What happened was that I’d hired someone to do interior layout for the books, but he’d thought I was just hiring a formatter. Once we started working, and the e-mails started going back and forth, there was a lot of my wanting him to do things that he said would be too hard or too time-consuming, beyond the scope of what he did.

I did actually say in our original e-mail exchange that I wanted someone who could do beautiful design, rather than just someone who would run the file through a conversion program like Vellum (which I’ve done myself), but apparently something got lost in translation.

The short version is that we managed to get books formatted sufficiently that we could, in a bit of a mad rush, get rather ugly ARCs out to the book reviewers that we’d set up a blog tour with for late June. It hurt my soul to send those books out, but hopefully the reviewers will focus on the writing and recipes and not the aesthetics of the book.

What does that mean for now? Well, he and I have parted ways, and I’m out $1500 — which, once I looked around more thoroughly, I realized really wasn’t near enough for professional interior design for three versions of the book. If I’d done more research, I would’ve known that his bid was much too low, and I might’ve asked more questions about what exactly he was planning to do.

I am trying to treat all of this as a lesson in publishing, and thinking that if I’d paid $1500 for a course in how-to-publish and what-not-to-do, that would’ve been not unreasonable. Still. Ouch. I’ve now contracted with someone else (my cover designer, whose work I love) to do the actual design for the print books, at fair market rates, and have just sent him the files.

So that’s going to eat up…well, probably all of the immediate Kickstarter ‘profits,’ plus maybe a bit more, which is a bit painful. But I can still afford to do a print run for the hardcover, which gives me hope of some profit down the line, if more people actually buy the book.

Probably not a print run for the paperback (just POD), but I wasn’t sure I was going to do that anyway, because at least for the Kickstarter, a lot more folks were interested in the hardcover with its lovely color photos. Which kind of surprised me, given the higher cost of the hardcover, but I guess most budget-minded folks get the ebook, and the ones who go for print are more likely to be willing to spend a bit more for a beautiful object.

Anyway, live and learn. Now I go look at Pamudu Tennakoon‘s lovely pen and ink illustrations, and let her know if I have any revision requests, and then have her upload them to Google Drive to share with my designers.

Oh, and for the ebook, Jed is going to take a stab at the design and layout, which is very kind of him; he says he’s thinking of it as good practice for his own burgeoning Constellation Press, rather than just a favor for me. I’ll take it either way, gratefully.

If it ends up too time-consuming for him, though, I’ll either do it myself — I think I have the basic skills for what I want — or hire someone else. Whew.

I’ve slipped the delivery deadline a bit, as a result of all this — I had originally hoped to have books by mid-June, but that’s clearly not happening. Aiming for July 1 now; we’ll see.

Publishing beautiful, professional books is expensive.

And not easy!