When the rise in popularity of her blog Carrotsticks and Cravings on social media turned into hot demand for a cookbook, Terri-Anne Leske seized the opportunity and took on the project with gusto. We caught up with the self-published author and busy mum of three at her beautiful East Coast home (and in the kitchen, no less!), just after the successful launch of her first book, My Creative Kitchen.
Congratulations on your book! Tell us how your journey with food began.
It’s been an amazing experience. It all started while I was growing up. My mum is a great cook, and I remember helping her with weekly dinner parties and functions, and being in the kitchen with her learning new things. I grew up in a small country town where we used to eat fresh, healthy vegetables from the garden and go diving to catch seafood – all of which definitely helped to form my appreciation for unprocessed, wholesome food and getting creative in the kitchen. I also love how food brings people together and creates traditions. All this has been part of the inspiration behind My Creative Kitchen.
And how did all that develop into this project (or, as some might say, your fourth baby!)?
About three years ago when my twins were still very young, we’d just moved to Singapore and were meeting new people and entertaining a lot at home. After noticing my passion, a friend suggested I start a blog, and in the end I did just that.
At first, it was just a hobby to share recipes I was creating with friends and family so they could make them too. From that point, it grew organically through word of mouth and social media, and I kept getting requests for a book. I do love a good cookbook, but I hardly ever follow recipes – I tend to take an idea and just go with my instincts. For that reason, the recipes in the book have involved a lot of trial and error to get the ingredients and measurements just right.
When I decided to produce the book, I had a very clear vision of the end product. I wanted it to have a variety of dishes from breakfasts to mains and sweets, and they had to be simple enough for anyone to follow. There’s nothing I love more than spending a whole day in the kitchen cooking complex recipes for dinner parties, but I know that’s because I’m passionate about it and it’s not for everyone! I was also adamant about taking all the images of the food myself, and designing the layout.
The visuals are really beautiful – and are making us hungry.
Thank you! I’m really happy with the result. It’s been a long process and a lot of hard work, especially juggling three young kids along the way, but seeing the final thing has made it all worthwhile – it feels like an extension of myself.
How did you stay motivated throughout the whole creative process?
One word: coffee! It was a crazy time in my life where I didn’t really come up for air for about six months, and I had to be very organised in trying to get everything done. I wanted to launch the book before Christmas 2015, so I set myself very tight deadlines, and thankfully I got there in the end. I took all of my photos in the morning when my twins were at school, and some days I was making three to five recipes a day! Each of the photos needed to be taken up to four times, because I was trying to get the perfect picture. I think once you set your mind to a project and are passionate about it, you run off the adrenaline, too.
Read the full interview in LIV January issue, out now with every purchase of Expat Living Singapore.