Why did I decide to start a blog? Perhaps it is time to elaborate a little..
I used to co-own a little coffee shop with a talented (and highly motivated!) lady, my best friend, Kate Berry. It is a time in my life that I will forever look back on with pride and delight. It was an accomplishment I thought I would never be able to achieve, and probably would never have, if it weren’t for the optimism and motivation of my friend Kate. Not that I was incapable, but let me tell you, it is amazing how much your own negativity and pessimism can stop you from doing the things you want in life.
Switch Board, our little cafe, was tiny. In fact I find it very hard to believe that there would be a smaller cafe anywhere in the whole world. There was a rumour going around that the space was formed from an old broom closet beneath a staircase. This is untrue, but it gives you an indication of just how small the shop actually was.
Alas, our menu was not big. We were impelled to form a menu of the upmost quality. Better to have a handful of amazing meals on offer, than a large menu full of hits and misses. Besides, with the thousands of other cafes in town, we needed to give our customers a reason to return to ours.
We needed to be creative and super efficient.
Customers and passers by would marvel at the food we could create under such conditions.
We had a little cult following, and amongst them, made ourselves some lifelong friends.
When we sold a couple of years later, one particular customer, who had become a dear friend of mine, was very saddened. She lamented the loss of her favourite lunches. The ‘Heart Breaker’ was definitely the most revered, but was dead simple to prepare once you knew how. In fact, everything on our menu had to be very user friendly – we only had a sandwich press, a slow cooker, and an electric pan!
To quell her anxiety, I offered to write all the (vegetarian) recipes down for her. You didn’t need to be savvy in the kitchen, they really were so basic – The Heart Breaker, Buffalo Mozzarella and Chilli Bruchetta, Soft-Boiled Eggs with Miso Soldiers, Housemade Natural Muesli, there were quite a few pages already. At my new job, I was required to make a soup special each week, so a few soups got added to the list. It was like a little handwritten zine. And because I am a total perfectionist, as described in my last post, I had to make this booklet a complete work of art. I began to illustrate each recipe and even gave the ‘zine’ a name; Eat This!
I have always had my friends and family members hound me for recipes. Can I have that recipe for that soup you made that time? Or, remember that dessert you brought to my house, could you give me the recipe for that one please? I noticed that there were a number of recurrent ones mentioned. Some of them were in my little booklet! Perhaps I could print a few copies and give them to my friends? Subsequently, I was encouraged to take the project a little more seriously. My friends loved my little zine and were certain it would be popular, so I was convinced to try to get a publisher on board. This has turned out to be a rather laborious and soul destroying task!
I knew the process could take half a lifetime. I thought the idea of starting a blog as a little database for my recipes could work in the interim, whilst I was chipping away at my book. At least that way I could point my friends in that direction when they needed a recipe.
After being rejected from a publisher for being too niche, and hearing not a word from the other two I sent my draft to, I decided to abandon the idea of a book and began to concentrate more on this blog instead. I deliberated a while, and concluded perhaps it is a wiser idea to not allow pessimism and negativity stand in the way of a potential accomplishment. It may very well turn out to be an achievement that I’ll be proud to look back on, much like Switch Board. This time I do not have a business partner, all the motivation and optimism required to see the project through has to come from within me.
What a challenge – talk about personal growth!
The title of my blog, Eat This My Friend, is taken from the illustrated cookbook I am still working on. I am halfway through.
This next recipe is from my book, which I might even finish one day.
Tomato, Roast Capsicum + Quinoa Soup
- 1 red onion, diced
- big glug of olive oil
- 2 red capsicums
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 bottle of tomato passata
- 1/2 cup quinoa, thoroughly rinsed and drained (red looks the prettiest)
- 1 large handful basil leaves, roughly chopped
- salt and pepper
- optional; freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
- Preheat your oven to 220 degrees C.
- Place the capsicum on a sheet of foil and place in the oven. Leave for 20 mins to half an hour, until the skin has blackened in patches. Remove from oven and leave to cool. Once cooled, remove the core, seeds and skin, and roughly chop, relatively small. Set aside.
- While the capsicum in roasting, pop a large pot over medium heat and fry the onion with some olive oil and a pinch of salt. When translucent, add the garlic and fry again briefly for a minute. Add the bottle of passata, fill the empty bottle with water and add this too, along with a teaspoon of salt. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for a while, say 20 minutes or so.
- Add the rinsed and drained quinoa and chopped roasted capsicum. Cook for a further 15 minutes or until the quinoa is cooked through. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as necessary. Sometimes I add a splash of balsamic for extra depth of flavour, or a spoonful of honey to sweeten things up a bit.
- Stir through the chopped basil and ladle into bowls.
Like most soups, it is even better the next day.
Enough for 4-6 serves