A Little Spring Cleaning

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Hi hi! I'm writing today for no other reason than I've been missing you guys and this space and wanted to keep you updated on everything that's been going on in the Piece of Cake kitchen and beyond, lest you think I've been trapped under something heavy. Of course there's the business of that behemoth called cookbook number three, which, if you've been following on Twitter or Facebook, you've heard about plenty already. Sometimes I share actual details specific to the book, other times I just reveal personal neuroses:

In any case, I am officially in the homestretch of creating this third title, all baking and sweet treat making with natural, unrefined, and lower-refined sugars. No white sugar, no corn syrup. Basically a complete 180 from my first book, which ran completely on the white stuff. But for me, baking is about playing with all kinds of ingredients and every type of sugar, and it turns out that stepping away from the usual suspects can make all kinds of delicious things happen.

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I recently just wrapped up a week-long-and-change shoot with the phenomenal photography team at Leigh Beisch's studio, the creative machine that helped with the images for my first two books. When it comes to cookbooks, Leigh and I (plus art director/prop guru Sara Slavin) are like Oprah and Gayle (which might make Sara the Steadman, but that's not a good comparison at all, so I might have to rethink that metaphor).

Some authors bounce around with photographers as they write cookbooks, but for me, this fit is just too good to mess with. Her studio kitchen is homey and cozy, and allows me to make and style the food in an environment that just feels right. This time around, with the volume of shots and great variety of recipes, I was smart to bring on my good friend and culinary genius Christine Gallary, who you will be seeing much more of on the food-related internets in her new role as Food and Cooking Editor for The Kitchn. Yay, Christine! I knew you when.

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With the images locked down and the written material in draft mode, I'm now down to the business of slicing and dicing my own work, and shaping the manuscript so I can deliver something to my editor that won't make me look like a raving lunatic. It's kind of miraculous, really, the way that having the photographs complete really makes the work of the past ten-plus months seem REAL, much more so than a bunch of little files saved on a laptop. Once this manuscript-writing season is complete, we'll move onto many editing rounds with the team at HarperCollins, which is a job in itself. But the manuscript and the photos are the Big Thing. Getting over that particular finish line is always exhilarating and completely horrifying. Putting any creative work out into the world tends to feel that way, but the sheer volume of this particular kind of work makes it all the more terrifying. But I'm ready. Basically. And ready to get back to this space more often with new material for you guys. So there's that.

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Some other announcements, and then I'll get back to my pages (so many pages!):

*This afternoon, I'll be making an appearance on chef Ryan Scott's radio show, Cooking with Ryan Scott, sometime during the 4:00 hour on KGO Radio here in San Francisco. We'll be out live at the Second Harvest Food Bank supporting their wonderful work. If you don't know Ryan, he's kind of everywhere doing everything food-related. His name might be Ryan SCOTT, but he's really more like the Ryan SEACREST...of food. You get the idea. You can find a link to the show and podcast here.

*I've started a new hosting gig as the host of Cooking Light (as in the magazine!), for a fun new outlet called Portico TV. If you have a smart TV or Roku, you can find episodes there, or watch online at portico.tv, by clicking the Cooking Light logo. I groom on the regular for this gig, people!

*And I've saved the bigger, definitely crazier news for last. Several months ago, I was having a bit of a YOLO moment, and agreed to compete on a food competition show on national television. So you can catch me competing on Rewrapped on Monday, May 19th at 8pm ET/PT, on Food Network! I know. I KNOW. Let's all hold hands and see how this turns out.

In the meantime, I just wanted to say thanks for hanging in there with me, and being patient with me while I get my act together and get ready to spend more time here starting next month. See you soon!

Paparazzi photos from the book shoot courtesy of James Ellerker and Leigh Beisch studio.

NewsShauna Sever