Cooking my Cookbook
Updated: Sep 8, 2022
In response to a challenging life change, a natural disaster and a global pandemic, here's about my recovery cooking project, and it is called "Snowy Foodie".
I love to eat local, grow food and enjoy cooking at home with seasonal ingredients. By revisiting old traditions and discovering a new culture, I have found my niche. Still-life food photography and book design are all prior skills that got me started. Writing in a second language is quite challenging but it helps to improve my English. As an enthusiastic "home-cook, developing delicious, unique and accurate recipes was a learning curve. It is possible by doing constant research, exploration and testing. Self-investment is needed as much as curiosity, patience and authenticity. A recipe can take more than a year to be ready because often I have to wait until the next season to re-test. I am a little bit of a perfectionist as well... so I would never post a recipe that I am not sure about. Designing a cookbook is the dream of many graphic designers-photographers passionate about gastronomy. As the chances of being hired by publishing studios are pretty low when living far from the cities, I decided to self-produce my own cookbook! I started with a blog that helped me to develop a voice, style and content. Is that a crazy idea? Yes, it is, and very time-consuming. But on the bright side, living in the middle of an agricultural region with a four seasons growing climate is the best place to be creative with food and I just love it!
Food compositions • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2019-21
In the Snowy Valleys region where we live, every town has gastronomic features to offer. Since I started my home business, I’ve met many lovely locals that taught me a lot. After having meals here and there, taking cooking workshops, reading books and meeting featured chefs-authors invited to local events (Paul West, Marc Olive, Sophie Hansen), the essence of Australian cuisine was somewhat revealed to me. I still have heaps to discover and taste, but the person I was when I moved downunder in 2015 has since gained valuable knowledge in this field. Being the only one of my culture and language expatriated in this region is not always easy but experiencing this gastronomic adventure as no one else does is an absolute privilege. All work presented on Snowy Foodie is at this stage self-produced and terroir (local) ingredients have been chosen voluntarily because I honestly love the product. All blog article stories are genuine and pictures made with real and fresh food that my husband and I are not wasting.
Extraordinary terroir produce • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2020-2021
Since living in Australia, bush and boreal indigenous flavours have piqued my curiosity and revisiting French Canadian ancestral cuisine is a great way to beat homesickness. Distance is a powerful thing, it really brings you closer and changes all perspectives of what used to be ordinary. Traditional things like "Cabane à Sucre" (maple shack), the "Épluchettes" corn on cob parties, New Year's "Tourtières du jour de l'an", the old "Poutines" snack bars, and so much more are now missing in my life. Still, I have learned to appreciate them better than ever. I have been digging up some memories and reading more history which kept me connected to my native culture. I grew up in country towns of the Appalachian region but lived for years in Montreal, one of the most vibrant and foodie cities I know in Canada. So, from there to Batlow then Tumbarumba, I went through a huge "re-adaptation" and this is when I started to learn further about slow food and cooking from scratch. Creating recipes combining Québec and Australian food culture, and sharing what I learn from each of them has then become a mission!
Québec trad food made in Australia • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2018-20
My other favourite mission is growing fruits and veggies, learning to cook new kinds of meals with the harvest and making preserves. This territory is where I feel the most inventive as I create with the fresh organic produce that comes out in season. Sometimes you get more than you would expect and have to get busy finding ways not to waste anything. To keep a balanced diet and not get overwhelmed in the kitchen, cultivating enough for what you need is the key. If you grow a market garden or have a big family to feed, that is another thing. My husband and I are both busy creatives freelancers with no kids so backyard gardening with smaller crops is just perfect. Having backyard chooks and a compost pile is a good way not to waste the scraps or failed experiments (yes that can happen developing recipes!). Our Australian family grows food on a larger scale and while my side of the family lives overseas, we luckily have local friends and neighbours who love swapping extra produce. So for now, our beautiful quarter-acre yard is just what we need to grow fruit, veggies, and herbs, at the scale of our needs for two people, for food photography and for cooking projects!
Cooking the harvest • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2019-20
This project was incubating since the roller coaster of homesickness in this expat life began. It was both remedial and meaningful to me, and it feels the same today. It brings me comfort, purpose, acceptance of getting older and the appreciation of living in the present. I was first unsure if I had the guts to take this all out there in the blogosphere... But after a bushfire disaster where we nearly lost our home and minds, followed by a pandemic in the same year keeping me away from my family longer than ever, I found more courage and confidence. When you realise you’ve got only one life to live, nothing can stop you to do what you love to do. So I'm cooking this Snowy Foodie "blook", bit by bit, tasting it, capturing it and writing it. And hmm... that seems pretty good to me!