We started with the recipes. They’re a part of who we are. They’re always just existed in our world. They’re cooked into our memories, and baked into our soul. On St Helena someone will suggest a pot of Plo for a family day out or a party, and you just know how to make it. Everyone will collectivity contribute the ingredients, someone nominates themselves cook, and then everyone digs in to a nice drop of Plo. Because of this collective community knowledge, we soon realised that we’ve never actually even written any recipes down ourselves.

Fine-tuning Rock Cakes recipe

So, we started with the recipes. Out came old family recipes long forgotten at the back of cupboards, examined other cookbooks, interrogated family and friends to see what was different about the way they made something, and researched any St Helenian recipes we could find. Grabbing our pots, pans, bowls and tins, we jumped headfirst into the kitchen. Experimenting with beloved classics like Coconut Fingers, Plo, and Fishcakes first, we whipped up batch after batch. Really savouring the satisfying joy of getting a recipe right, and even the frustration of something not turning out as we hoped. Either way, we eat it all. And it was good!

Intoxicated by the task of deconstructing these recipes we’ve cooked all our life, working out what makes them special, fine-tuning instructions. We loved it!

Deciding that as a general rule, we had to make a recipe at least three times to ensure that it was as easy to follow as possible. In many cases we made it more than that. Our Fudge recipe took 15 attempts to get right. It turned out that Emma-Jane had written something down wrong, and Robin tried all the different methods he could think of to try make it work, eating a lot of toffee along the way, before we figured out the error. We’re committed to the idea that anyone, no manner how assured they are in the kitchen, is able to make Saint food by following one of our recipes.

Trying to work out the correct flavour for the recipe

Once we were confidence that a recipe was simple to make, and captured the true flavour of that Saint dish, we published and shared it on saintcooks.com. A rewarding antidote from those efforts was when a very old Saint friend shared with us, that they had never been quite able to make Coconut Fingers before following other recipes. Something would always go wrong with the cake, or it wouldn’t taste quite right. However, using our recipe they were able for the first time ever to make Coconut Fingers that tasted right. That it was easy to do, and they would be making them again.

After many long nights, numerous attempts and plenty of food consumed working out those initial classic St Helena recipes, we took a breath, and sat down to figure out what a truly authentic St Helena cookbook could be. One that could be the definitive book on Saint cuisine, celebrating how unique and special this food and its community are.

Now, of course, no cookbook would be complete without mouthwatering visuals to accompany the recipes. Each image needing to showcase the beauty of Saint food, from those close-up shots of velvety Boiled Pudding to creamy Cheese Straws.

So, thats next. Capturing all the necessary images for the cookbook, starting with these first few classics. There are also more recipes to test and finalise, which will need photographing as well. Alongside research, and design, there is still plenty to do, but we’re gotten started with our first steps.

Subscribe to stay tuned for more updates, behind-the-scenes sneak peeks, and maybe even a few teaser recipes along the way. Until then, keep the pots bubbling, the ovens preheated, and your appetite for adventure fully ignited.

See you later luvie!

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