Jaden Hair & The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook
The month of November brought us Jaden Hair’s freshman cookbook. Some will know Jaden from T.V. food segments, others, from her popular blog SteamyKitchen.com, but whether you are familiar with her food or not, there has never been a better time than now, to check out her creations, via the Steamy Kitchen Cookbook 101 Asian Recipes Simple Enough For Tonight’s Dinner.
Jaden’s writing style maintains the casual mood of a good blog, her dishes are never overly complicated, they are flavorful and well photographed. The book is furnished with techniques and tips, in short The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook does not dissapoint.
I got the chance to chat with Jaden as she toured the East Coast, this is how it went…
G.C. - I was reading your blog, you seem so refreshingly excited about the release of your cookbook, tell us about that?
J.H. - My comments on my blog regarding my cookbook are just how I feel. I am the kind of person that lives in the moment. If I think it - I share it, I am thrilled with my book and I cant help sharing!
G.C. - When you started writing SteamyKitchen.com did you foresee a cookbook down the line?
J.H. - Not immediately, I first started the blog for myself and for the students that would come to my cooking classes. Three months into writing SteamyKitchen.com I realized that this would be a cool job. I found my way into many forms of media, newspapers, TV., after about six month I started a book proposal, the book took two years.
G.C. - Are many of the recipes spawned from the site or are they all new?
J.H. - 25% are the best of from the blog, they have been updated and re photographed. Readers of SteamyKitchen.com helped out, I put out a call for recipe testers, I had 200 volunteers! The remaining recipes are family favorites, and ones influenced by my mother’s cooking.
G.C. – Many of the recipes have a real healthy tone to them, was that an intentional focus.
J.H. – No not really, it is just the way I cook. I have two children so I try to keep my food healthy for myself and for my kids, that does not work for every dish but when I can I keep it that way.
G.C. - Food and family clearly intertwines in your book. We all talk about our mother’s cooking and what we crave when we go back to the nest, but what does your mum want to eat when she stays with you?
J.H. - She does not really come to my home for my food, she comes to see her grandchildren, she also does all the cooking when she stays! I think this is awesome as my children will have those lovely food memories of the grandmother’s food. We don’t cook together, two “type A” personalities don’t do well together over a stove.
G.C. – When she does eat your food, is she critical?
J.H. - All the time! In my book, the recipe for crispy egg rolls uses pork, as soon as she saw the recipe she called me to criticize - she uses chicken.
G.C. - What about your boys, what are they going to be heading home for in years to come?
J.H. - It’s gonna be fried rice, fire cracker shrimp, spring rolls, and ribs…
G.C. - I love the fact that you photographed the dishes and then ate them after, what did your publisher make of the idea of you shooting the pics?
J.H. - They rejected the idea to begin with, so for six months I practiced and practiced. I would send them pictures, they would print, review and critique. They were very supportive of the idea and then finally I got to the point where they felt my photography was good enough to publish. If you can shoot good pics, you can really effect the production costs of your book, sometimes the photographer makes more money than the author…
G.C. - Can you give the chefs out there a couple of photography tips?
J.H. - Use natural light whenever possible - it brings the food to life. Buy a decent DSLR camera, invest $1000 and you will have the tools for the job. I also had an assistant help with some of the pictures – my five year old son! I needed someone to push the button for the shots where I was demonstrating a technique, I could not do both at the same time so I got the picture set up and then bribed him with candy to push the button on command!
G.C. – Speaking of techniques you feature a bunch in the book. I had never seen ginger being peeled with a spoon, have I been living under a rock?
J.H. - Well with ginger the skin is so thin sometimes I just scrape it other times I don’t even peel it, I just grate it on a microplane I have been doing this for the past couple of years.
G.C. – So I guess the answer was yes, I have been living under a rock!
To buy a copy of The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook online, click here.