Cooking a “blook”
Updated: Jan 30
In response to a challenging life-change, a natural disaster and a global pandemic, here is 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 a new creative 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-chef, developing delicious, unique and accurate recipes is also a learning curve. It's 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'm a little bit of a perfectionist as well... Designing a food blog to become a book (let’s call this a "blook") is the dream of many graphic designers-photographers passionate about gastronomy. As the chances to be hired by publishing studios are pretty low when living far from the cities, I decided to self produce this all into a blog and see where that can lead. On the bright side, living in the middle of an agricultural region with a four seasons growing climate is the best place to be!
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 the 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 like 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. Sometimes I am given goodies to experiment with and in return I’ll share these generous people with some photos of their hard work and yield. I am open for sponsors in the near future, but swapping comes with smiles and good connections. All blog article stories are genuine and pictures made with real and fresh food.
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 but 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" but it’s only since living in the Snowys that I started to learn further about where the food comes from and to cook from scratch. Creating recipes combining Québec and Australian food culture, together and sharing what I learn from each place, is now one of my favourite missions!
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 but also sustainable as I'm cooking seasonal with healthy organic grown plants. I’m totally into edible gardening in a small space. I know that I could not deal with bigger market gardens at the moment as we both currently have many creative assignments that helps promote the region. I don't like to waste food but knowing my limits and taste for freshness, I prefer keeping things small for now. 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 at a larger scale and while my side of the family lives overseas, we luckily have local friends and neighbours that love to swap with us. So for now, our beautiful quarter acre yard is just what we need to grow fruit, veggies, herbs, at the scale of our needs for two people... plus some extras for sharing and experimenting.
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 once told I'd never be able to publish a cooking book as a non-chef or celebrity (which I have no intention to look at becoming) and would need to write a sensational blog with made-up stories to get attention from publishers. No, I'll keep being genuine if that is ok... 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 lockdown the same year, keeping me at physical distance from my family longer than ever, I found more courage and confidence. When you really realise you’ve got only one life to live, nothing can stop you. 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!