Today’s Steeped’s one month birthday (I wonder if people celebrate books like babies and count the months after cookery conception?) A friend of mine has been posting photos to show how his baby is growing, juxtaposing her next to a gigantic Hello Kitty! doll. To think, one day she will dwarf that kitty. To think, I exercised an amazing amount of self-control and bypassed visiting the Hello Kitty! art exhibit at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles today. It’s been an unforgettable month and I am collecting the moments like patches to stitch into my memory and into this blog in snack bites. To celebrate one month and counting, I’ve got some exciting news. We just added a feature to the Steeped book website: a printable food allergy guide designed like Steeped and to serve as a companion to the cookbook.
Quite a few people in my life abide by diets that vary dramatically. When I first began working on Steeped, I knew that I wanted the book to encourage creating an inviting table where everyone could pull up a chair and feel like a special guest and where no one would feel left out. This is my hope for you– that whether you avoid gluten or have a close friend who does, that the food allergy guide can help you navigate the recipes in the book. We focused on the top eight food allergens and I was thrilled to partner with a food allergy blogger friend who served as my extra set of copyediting eyes. So, grab your copy of Steeped and head over to download the guide to tuck into your cookbook.
The park was flush with people. Across the street, a fountain bubbled and gargled water while a throng of men in kilts lolled on the sidewalk outside of a bus burping exhaust. It was a Saturday in New York and the sunshine sparkled as a reminder that spring had arrived. My hand had shot into the air several times as taxis began nearing. Though I don’t live in Manhattan, we seem to have an understanding between us like old friends that pick up conversations on pause. At last, one yellow cab veered toward me and in I crawled, directing the car toward the Upper East Side. At first, we began the kind of banter between strangers- talk of the weather, then talk of good food, and finally, questions about what a Californian was doing in New York. As the driver heard about the book tour adventure I had begun, our conversation turned to tea and cooking.
We agreed that he could easily make tea-infused yogurt. We agreed that if he took Lex all the way to Park, he could make it to the bookstore where I still thrill at the idea of asking for my book by name, and the delight of surprise when they hear I’m the author. I feel like a flower delivery girl in the guise of a tinkering tea cook because they smile. They congratulate me. I feel like we are complicit in some delicious enterprise of book-making and book-selling. I ask them if I can take their photograph and most of the time they comply with wide grins and Instagram handles at the ready.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that the efficient way to descend on the stores I had scrawled on a piece of hotel paper, all polka-dotted up and down the east and west sides of Manhattan would be best done in a car. I had mapped out my route and described the opportunity to the driver, Mike. We struck a deal and set off to the next bookstore. Between bookstores, we began painting between the lines. He had arrived from Poland at the age of 19 to attend college and graduate. All of his family, except for an aunt in Jersey, were still in Poland. He never saw the temporary job of cab driving lasting as long as it had. He had decided to give up bread and pizza for a month to try and adopt better eating habits. We talked about piroshki and namely my friend Casey’s book that is coming out with unbridled pierogi love for him to check out once he emerges from his no carb-cocoon. We rattled on about the Scottish parade and the sea of kilts that had foisted us from Bryant Square Park. He asked about cooking with tea. He detailed the kind of tea he likes to drink (Brisk. Black. No sugar. No milk.) and he laughed with me when I described a madcap excursion on our route for me to finally nab one of the Matcha Cortados that have been making me swoon on Instagram. He handed me a $20 outside of Chalait and told me to pick a tea for him. Out I came with two bright green drinks. I may have sidled up to the bar and sipped the cortado while waiting for the iced matcha lattes. When in the West Village…
Back in the cab, we sucked down our green tea lattes and he declared that it was good. As the end of our voyage approached, we discussed a pick-up time to dispatch me with my five bags of groceries and suitcase of books to SoHo for a private cooking with tea class.
Here’s what still sits with me in the quiet room of my heart where I wrap cherished things in cream-colored tissue. Mike sent a friend to Eataly to buy my book the evening that we met. The next day, I signed it to his cousin and her fiancé. On the way to JFK while the sky was still dark and the pigeons slept, he told me he had decided to try and get a different job, one that employed his degree in public health. He said he had been driving the cab for too long and hearing my story inspired him to make some changes he had been putting off. And, as the cab pulled up to the airport’s curb, he told me he might have to get a matcha latte later that day.
On the eve before school started, my eyelids would flap open not to be easily closed. Try as I might to shut them, excitement coursed through my body and anticipation kept the thoughts bumping along like trams hooked into an electrical current. Have you ever experienced that kind of sensation before?
Steeped: Recipes Infused with Tea is officially available! It’s been a week since my first book, Steeped: Recipes Infused with Tea has been out in stores. For days leading up to its launch, I was in a suspended state of anticipation that is now the fuel of excitement keeping me moving from one city to the next.
While attending a conference and selling books in Minneapolis, I shared a cab with three women from Washington, DC. The next day they surprised me and bought three books. In New York City, I befriended a cab driver who asked his friend to buy my book so I could sign and dedicate it. On a Sunday afternoon, women from all over New York gathered to learn how to cook with tea before we settled in for a supper they had all a hand in making, as we all contributed to a conversation that cut past icebreakers to talk about what it looks like to live a life of meaning and purpose.
People are getting steeped. It’s an exhilarating feeling to know people are inviting the recipes I worked on fervently onto their table. It’s exciting to hear people mention they are emboldened by the idea that tea can provide a path of looking for everyday opportunities to celebrate and the discovery of how tea can imbue its flavors into familiar foods.
On Instagram, photos are popping up of that bright and shiny pink and orange cover that a friend described as her favorite colors, as a sunset and that I liken to a beautiful sari. I am humbled and thrilled to see the glee and enthusiasm on Facebook. If you are getting steeped, I would love to join you for the ride by tagging your photos or tweets with #steepedbook.
The book tour has begun and I consider my life enriched by the people who have opened up their lives for a book about cooking with tea and crafting a life you want to live. While Minneapolis, St. Paul, and New York were the starting points, the journey is far from being over. I’m posting new events in my weekly newsletters and also on the book website, so head there if you want to see where I’m headed and join the cooking with tea adventure.
Thank you for welcoming this labor of love into your kitchen. Thank you to the booksellers and their cheerful staff for welcoming Steeped onto their bookshelves. Thank you for coming to a book signing and sharing your story with me even as you are about to embark on mine and make it your own. Teatime can be anytime we make room to invite it into our lives, right? Thanks for getting steeped.
It just fell on me like the last rays of sunlight licking the dusty spots on my window that in one week my little book that could will be making its way into the world. I think that’s cause for celebration. Or yoga breathing. This past weekend, I had the chance to introduce it to my peers in the food community. I didn’t know what to expect but have been so incredibly grateful for the way Steeped: Recipes Infused with Tea is being embraced. My suitcase is still packed from one trip and I can tell it’s contemplating the next one, wondering if the deck of clothes will get shuffled in and out for a game of book tour solitaire. Except, it will be anything but solitary.
I am so looking forward to meeting you in person: the tea drinker who finds comfort in a cup. The poet whose lone bulb burns brightly into the quiet hours of night. The reader. The gaggle of girlfriends. The moms. The cooks. The lovers. The travelers. Those ravenous for cultural intersections. Those looking for connection. Telling people I am an author both makes me gasp a little bit inside and grin as wide as the state of Tennessee. The act of teatime and conversation about cooking with tea brings people together. I love a good party. And soon, we will celebrate, you and I.
Stay tuned for the book tour dates to go live. Until then, mark your calendar for a #SteepedBook Cooking with Tea twitter party on Monday, April 6 at 5p PST / 8p EST. If you’ve never attended a twitter party before but have a twitter account, leave me a comment, and I’ll be happy to sketch out how simple it is to participate. Are you ready to get steeped? I’ll keep the teapot warm.
In 2014, something happened in Chicago at the IACP 2014 conference that set tradition on edge: a self-published cookbook won the cookbook of the year award. The author, a lanky man with salt and pepper hair and the widest grin you can possibly imagine set his mast toward the front of the room and sailed on, surprised! So full of glee! John McReynolds, the culinary director for Stone Edge Farm accepted the award on behalf of the Sonoma winery and ever so briefly mentioned the journey that brought them to self-publish their stunning coffee table cookbook full of photos and recipes that might just make you want to head to Sonoma for a long weekend. I caught up with him between sessions, curious to hear more, especially after I found this beauty of a poem written by Phil Coturri, the viticulturist at Stone Edge Farm (and a bit of a legend in Sonoma County for his dedication to organic farming) printed in the cookbook. Seeing poetry incorporated into cookbooks is something that makes me endlessly happy and hopeful that more opportunities might arise for culinary and literary cross-pollination.
In “Terroir,” like the grapevines flanking the sides of highway 101 in Sonoma, I appreciate Coturri’s use of concrete poetry, letting the form guide the eye as it curls toward a long line or dips into an abbreviated one, all shoots and tendrils. Terroir reverberates throughout the poem almost as a mantra as if saying it often reminds the reader and writer that “we don’t control it / we guide it / to an expression of flavor.” When talking to people about tea and notably, terroir, often it is described akin to wine. The place, climate, and condition of the soil all seeps into the final cup, showing how terroir extends beyond the vine. What this bit of wine poetry does well is instruct the reader into the nuances that make up terroir as if we too might join Coturri on a hot Sonoma afternoon in October during crush, as if our eyes might alight upon the grapevines differently. With responsibility. As if they are a gift to be nurtured. As if the domain of terroir expands beyond the vineyard into our own lives, asking where does the alchemy need to begin?
What’s cooking, good looking? If you said tea, you are so right! Namely, a Cooking with Tea kit giveaway valued at $200. Read on below… or click on the orange link above to go directly to the cooking with tea giveaway page and enter for a chance to win.
Here’s the skinny: Preorder Steeped during March 16 – April 5 for a chance to win 1 of 3 Cooking with Tea giveaway kits. And let me tell you, the goods are good. I’m talking 19 items from brands you know and love, including, and in no particular order: Circulon, ForLife, OXO, Mighty Leaf Tea, Choice Organic Teas, Steven Smith Teamaker, Silk Road Teas, Numi Tea, ITO EN, Lotus Foods, Bob’s Red Mill, California Olive Ranch, and Straus Family Creamery.
I’m thrilled to have partnered with these companies to put together a cooking with tea kit full of the essential tools and ingredients to stock your pantry and make cooking with tea easy and approachable once your copy of Steeped arrives. I’m grateful for the participation of each brand listed above and during the giveaway will share ideas on Instagram.com/ anneliesz of how they make my tea-riddled kitchen cook! Share the love–Pin the picture above. Share the giveaway with your tea-drinking friends. If you’ve already ordered a copy of Steeped for yourself, preorder a copy for a friend or family member (have I mentioned it would make a superb Mother’s Day gift?).
In my book, everybody should win, so everyone in the U.S. who enters the giveaway during the dates above wins free tea pouch samples, courtesy of Mighty Leaf Tea. I wouldn’t be where I am without you and have packed together these Cooking with Tea Kits to make cooking with tea a cinch in your kitchen. Click the link below for rules and details. The 3 winners will be announced at the #SteepedBook Cooking with Tea twitter party on April 6 at 5p PST. Good luck!