Sunday, January 9, 2011

Those Three Little Words

“Author’s Clean Copy

Are those not the three most beautiful words an author can hear?! 

OK, “I Love You” is right up there. I grant you that.

But when you think about it, love is inextricably linked to writing and producing a book.
There is the passion and respect for the subject matter itself, for the featured protagonists – in my case the master chefs – along with their gardeners and/or farmers; the love of their culinary craft, the love of the art of the garden, the love of the Long Island landscape and sea-scape, the love of the project itself: the photography by Jennifer Calais Smith and my garden art renderings that both help tell this amazing story. 
And of course there is love for the editors and publishers who helped bring all this passion to the printed page. I love my Quayside, Voyageur Press editors: Kari and Michael.

I just received, via email attachment, the Author’s Clean Copy manuscript. All text and photo and art selection must be completed to go to the printer by February 1st deadline I was told.

It is nothing short of thrilling. 

As anyone who has ever had a book published, it’s common knowledge that the gestation process is very slow.
Glacial, in fact.

But not when you are in the thick of it: working on the book is almost an all-consuming effort.  There is the research, the interviewing, the writing…
The book is a lover that steals your heart – and your time…

But for now, just for a sweet, sweet interlude, I want to embrace this moment.
This manuscript.
I want to celebrate!

And to celebrate the addition of two men who have brought great joy to my life J

First, I honor the good fortune of having secured my number-one candidate to write the Foreword for the book.  I had solicited knowledgeable people for suggestions, but I knew I only had eyes for Brian Halweil.

My research and following of Brian’s work whispered to me he was the perfect fit to introduce you, the reader, to the special world of Long Island’s culinary artists and master chefs and to the farmers and fishermen and food artisans and to the astonishing LI landscape.  He is talented, smart, dedicated and is an advocate for food and hunger causes. I am in simpatico.
Brian is the Editor of Edible East End Magazine.

He is also a senior researcher and Co-Project Director for  “State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet” a seminal work from the Worldwatch Institute, Vision for a Sustainable World that reports on global hunger and agricultural issues.
To say it’s a must-read is an understatement.  This is real journalism, not repeat Tweets. 
It is a most important book. You will be enlightened – and moved… that “a child dies every six seconds” is an unbearable tragedy….

Please help support Brian and his colleague’s great work, including Danielle Nierenberg, 
Anna Lappé, Small Planet Institute and Stephanie Hanson, One Acre Fund.

Do attend this most important book launch for “Nurturing the Planet” Wednesday, January 12th at 10:00 AM in New York City at the WNYC Greene Space at 44 Charlton Street. 

I will be there, along with some guests.
Worldwatch is offering a sneak preview online, with a link to Chapter 1. 
But buy the book!  

The other man that came into my life recently is the photo editor and publisher from Voyageur Press, Michael Dregni. 

Michael is a New York Times best-selling author too. He’s written a number of acclaimed books including Harley and the chart-topping, “Gypsy Jazz: In Search of Django Reinhardt and The Soul of Gypsy Swing”

While Michael was a lucky strike extra for me, having been assigned by the publishing company, I couldn’t help feel a connection.
That is because there are a number of threads in my life that, taken together, make quite a nice cloth --or bridge to Michael’s work.
When I went to school in Switzerland, I spent the better part of one summer with my Danish boyfriend in Copenhagen where I worked in the Huset where a large part of the entertainment was American Jazz. I always felt Europeans are much more appreciative of our only – along with the Blues – truly American musical art form.  I helped the director there to write letter to many of the aging, black jazz musicians to get them to perform and to secure interviews for a book he hoped to publish about American Jazz. Michael was his name too, I recall, and he told me that due to the Red Scare and racism, too many of these talented musicians never got a chance to tell their story – and he knew they had a lot to contribute to the art world and to culture.

The next thread is my brother is a musician and plays a lot of terrific jazz.  Further, he arranged for the family to go and see Django Reinhardt when the famous musician performed at New York City’s iconic Tavern on the Green.  My beloved father, George, who died too soon on August 29th in 2008, thoroughly enjoyed the music and the talent of Django and frequently recalled the event with joy.  
And anything that made my father happy, was a bonded seal of approval for me…

And the last thread is that my husband owns and does love his Harley motorcycle. So the This Old Harley book Michael wrote and produced was the cherry on top of personal links…

You can see a full listing of Michael’s books and purchase here:

I am very superstitious. The fact that Brian and Michael had some pre-existing meaning to me, confirmed it was destiny.  A good sign that would bring good things.

Author’s Edit

I asked my husband to print out the manuscript.  Even though I will do the Author’s Edits in the Word document, I thought it would be kinda’ cool, somewhat easier and I daresay, decadent, to have the actual manuscript to hold and hug and work from. 
It is indeed. 
The only thing was, when I learned the clean copy is 176 pages, I told him to forget the paper copy.  “Too late,” he replied.

So now I have my jewel of a manuscript to touch and tote around and edit.
In front of the fire with the snow blowin’ like a snow globe outside, I can fantasize about the magical world of what I always thought a writer’s world could be like.
Even if it’s just for a few nights.  Even if it’s illusionary.  We all need our dreams…

Back in the world of kitchen, I did begin the cooking the book’s recipes provided by the chefs. 
I don’t know if I mentioned it previously, but the guidelines I gave to the chefs as to what kind of recipes to offer for the book were a Signature dish  - something they are known for – the menu item that customers will ask for time and again. That they will leave home for to eat. That they will introduce family and friends to, as in “You MUST have Chef’s ___!  Fill in the dish here…
The other guidelines were a family or cultural heritage recipe.  I was thinking perhaps the chef grew up with a grandmother or father’s stuffed cabbage or peach cobbler or stuffed ziti or…
Then there was a request for a seasonal recipe – and I emphasized it didn’t or shouldn’t be the default summer recipe.  It’s much more challenging to find a best of breed winter or early spring recipe.
And finally, if the chef could create a new, never-before recipe creation just for the book – that would be very special.
But ultimately, I told the chefs the recipes they were providing was their choice. 
I was so grateful and honored they were taking the time to do this..

I know I am already behind my planned schedule to prepare and cook a recipe from the book every week.  Maybe it was the holiday’s that set me back.
I’m trying.

For no real reason, except I so love their food – and the two of them --I started with the recipes from 18 Bay Restaurant’s Elizabeth Ronzetti and Adam Kopels. 

They are exciting and dedicated and curious chefs – always pushing the boundaries for taste, purity and fresh, local ingredients.

Their fabulous recipe entries for the book:
Signature: BBQ striped bass fin
Seasonal: Black bow tie pasta with local squid and guy lok
Family Heritage: Immaculata’s stuffed peppers  (How cute is this?!)
New: Roasted razor clams with Chinese long beans and fresh chilies

Last week I make the BBQ striped bass fin.  We have a formidable Breville√í panini cooker we got from Williams-Sonoma last year and it BBQ’s too! 
It’s a great cooking tool and I should use it more often. 
It’s like the front line of Notre Dame’s “Fighting Irish”: solid and consistent.

The striped bass was delicious. By the time it got to the table. 
Both Maria – my garden design client who is a fabulous cook – and who graciously agreed to be a cooking partner in this culinary trial adventure, had some real fun with the fish….
The striped bass fin was by turns an exotic yet simple dish to prepare.  I love the juxtaposition. 
The culinary crossroads were never tastier…

Stay tuned for next entry.
I made Immaculata’s stuffed peppers tonight.

Cheers and bon appetit!

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