After a career in the art world, both as a professor and a gallerist, I moved with my husband and daughter from New York City to London in 2005. Since then I have written a blog called "Kristen in London," partly about our lives and adventures - school, work, theatre, travel - and partly about the delicious food I cook and we eat. All my creative instincts from the art world turned into a passion for food: shopping for ingredients, cooking and most importantly, feeding the people I love, every night at 7:30.
Then one evening, our teenage daughter Avery brought a camera into the kitchen as I was cooking, and captured an image much more magical than anything I could create. Our collaboration was born: food made beautiful, and beautifully photographed.
Avery and I have written a cookbook, "Tonight at 7:30: One Family's Life at the Table," with over 100 unique recipes by me and full-color photographs by Avery.
We live in London during the school months and at our little Connecticut house, Red Gate Farm, in the summers. Because of this, about half the recipes are comforting, slow-cooking dishes that are like giving yourself a hug - think chicken meatballs braised in a sour cream and paprika sauce - and about half are quick and simple recipes that are more like a day at the beach - picture a picnic table loaded with steamed Maine lobsters and crabcakes. There is something for everyone.
It's been great having this project to work on together. It's not easy for mothers and daughters to find something they both love, and having a project in common is a fantastic way to celebrate the teenage years.
My blog readers and Facebook friends are always asking me for ideas of recipes to cook for family, for friends. Since I'm not a professional cook, I know how important it is not to cut corners on instructions. I've worked hard to make sure my recipes work, and now my friends have tested these recipes for me with great success. I couldn't be more pleased.
Now, my readers and friends will have all the recipes they love in one place, beautifully illustrated by Avery to give them inspiration. Avery and I have greatly enjoyed the hours (and now years!) we've spent together on this book, and we feel sure you will love cooking with it.
We know that sometimes you'll be hungry for a delicious bowl of Tom Yum soup...
And sometimes nothing will do but a tiny chocolate chip cheesecake, all to yourself.
There is something for everyone in our cookbook, and you'll find yourself hungry and inspired to cook, as you leaf through it.
We need your help to make "Tonight at 7:30" a reality. We are aiming for a first-edition print run of 1,000 copies, on lovely thick paper with with a hand-sewn spine. It will be a substantial square book with a velvety feel and integrated flaps that you can use as bookmarks for a favorite recipe or two.
The book right now is completely written, fully illustrated and designed, ready to print at the click of a button.
Something as beautiful as this book doesn't happen without a lot of specialist assistance. We couldn't have come this far without the support of my husband and Avery's dad, John Curran, who addressed every one of our technical and logistical questions, day after day. Orlando Murrin and Sam Goldsmith, friends from a 2008 Arvon Foundation food-writing course, worked tirelessly to make sure my writing makes sense (although they're not to blame if it doesn't!).
Our graphic designer Briony Hartley of Goldust Design is a joy to work with and was unbelievably patient with me and my endless edits. We are indebted as well to Daisy Chandley who created the original artwork that appears below the title of each recipe, and to Los Angeles genius Daniel Ahearn who composed the beautiful music that plays in our video above (thank you to Lexie Morehead for her portrait of Daniel below).
Salvatore Grimaldi worked his hair-styling magic on the day of our Kickstarter video shoot, and Malcolm Louis of Two Peas in a Pod greengrocers graciously let us film a portion of the video at his shop, which is our family's beloved neighborhood source for fruit and veg.
There wouldn't be a video without the brilliant work of documentary film-makers Chloe White and Will Pepys-Davies of Whalebone Films; we are very grateful. Vincent Keith brought his friendship and his talent to our still portraits for this page and for the book, and we love him and the photographs.
It's important to tell you that if we raise more money than we need to publish "Tonight at 7:30," the profits will be divided between our two chosen charities, "Home-Start UK," a social work organisation that I work for, and "Kitezh," a Russian orphanage where Avery has volunteered. We feel very strongly about these charities and will be really pleased if our book's success can benefit them.
With your help, "Tonight at 7:30" will be in many cooks' hands very soon, and we look forward to hearing from every single one of you, our supporters!
Risks and challenges
The biggest challenge for us with "Tonight at 7:30" will be managing distribution around the world. Because we are fortunate enough to live in London during the school months, and then spend summers in Connecticut, this means our readers - and potential cooks! - live all over the planet. Getting special rewards like signed copies and "Tonight at 7:30 aprons" to our supporters quickly and inexpensively will require a great deal of thought, planning and organization together with our printers, shippers, warehousing solutions and fulfillment services. We will spend the money needed to make this process as efficient as possible, but we're not kidding ourselves that it will be easy. I have learned a lot in the past three months about what it takes to produce a cookbook! By investing in such great people at every stage of the process, I have immense faith in the loveliness of the book itself. My wish is that the distribution to you will be lovely as well, but it's a bit of an unknown. We have every hope and expectation that things will go as planned, but we've never done this before, and we will be deeply grateful for your understanding and support.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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