Thursday, October 20, 2011

Jane And The Daily Dinner

There is a universal, desperate plea every Mom knows: 
"What shall I cook today? Help!!!" 
Usually this happens when you stand in front of your open fridge and stare at what you have inside and could easily be turned into a meal, or when you sit down to write a grocery list (weekly nightmare stuff!), while the young ones are clinging to your leg and howling for food, and you, the frazzled cook, slap something together, anything, to stop the noise.
One day though, when exactly this happened to Jane Travers, serendipity took pity on her and guided her fingers to the computer, and instead of torturing her own brain for a recipe she had a stellar idea: ask twitter.
Within moments she had so many recipes for the chicken legs sitting in her fridge that she had the fabulous idea of putting together a cook book. Of course (OF COURSE!!!) it was immediately picked up by a publisher.

I'm happy and quite a bit proud to be included in Jane's blog hop to present her book "Tweet Treats". Here is the interview I did with her.

Congrats to you, Jane, and now sit down and write that novel you want to write, we are waiting for it!

1. What gave you the idea for this book?
It was a real lightbulb moment! I was standing in my kitchen on a miserable Thursday night in April 2010, staring at a packet of chicken thighs. It was already 6.30pm, everyone was starving and I couldn’t for the life of me think of what to cook with the chicken. In desperation I tweeted: 
“Any suggestions for what to do with a packet of chicken thighs? No dirty ones, please!”
Within a minute I had received 5 perfect little tweet-length recipes, and an idea struck me. I wondered how many twitter recipes I could collect; could I get enough to fill a book, and donate the royalties to charity? Within a couple of days I had a website up and running ( and was well on my way. 

2. Who was the first celebrity you approached, and why?
Tracy Chevalier, author of Girl With A Pearl Earring and others. She was fairly new to Twitter and hadn’t been mobbed with followers, so I thought there was a good chance that she might see me in her timeline – and she did. 

3. What was the recipe he/she gave you?
It’s a really nice recipe actually, for Pasta Puttanesca. I’ve tried it, it was lovely. 

4. Do you try out the recipes you get before you put them in the book?
Not all of them! It would be impossible, there are 1,000 recipes in the book. I’ve tried a good few though, and I’m pleased to report that there’s not a dud amongst them. In fact, quite a few of them have become new firm favourites in our house. 

5. Which is your favorite recipe?
Ooh, tough question! There are some that I think are great, because they come from people I really esteem (like Neil Gaiman!), then there are others that I’ve started making quite frequently. I really like feta, watermelon and mint salad by @SanyaV, golden syrup cookies by @Chiddle84 and banana bread by @mduffywriter

6. What is your personal favorite dish? And your favorite cake?
Probably Chicken a la King, but only when my mother makes it! I can never get it quite right myself. If I was on death row, it’d be my final meal. My favourite cake would be a really light Victoria Sponge with strawberries and cream, or else carrot cake. With cream cheese frosting. Oh god, I’m getting hungry now!

7. If you could go to any restaurant in the world for a romantic dinner, which one would it be? Who would you take?
It’s probably a bit twee, but I love the restaurant at the top of the Space Needle in Seattle. My husband and I first went there as a bit of a joke when we were on our honeymoon, and were surprised to really love it. If you book a table at dusk you can watch the whole city lighting up around you as the sun sets over Puget Sound. We’ve been there several times since, and our daughter loves it too. She spends her time passing notes to other diners around the outside of the revolving area. So, I suppose, I’d have to take my husband... But if he wasn’t available, maybe Neil Gaiman!

8. Coffee or tea?
Coffee! In the morning, anyway. It has to be black, and very strong – I’m a purist. For the rest of the day I drink tea, Earl Grey, also black. I’m really not keen on milk. 

9. What do you cook for Christmas dinner?
It depends. In my family we take turns to host dinner, between my mother, my sisters and I. If it’s my turn I roast a turkey with stuffing and all the trimmings, and the others will bring a dish each. If one of the others is hosting, I’ll usually make the trifle. 

10. Last question: Which food do you like least? 
Shellfish. No, beetroot. No, wasabi. No, marmite. No, probably shellfish actually... Ew, imagine shellfish with a marmite and wasabi dressing, over a salad of shredded beetroot? That’d be like a perfect storm of bad food!