author Annabel Langbein follows the rhythms of her New
Zealand garden in her latest cookbook, Through the Seasons. (EYB members in
Australia and New Zealand can enter our contest for a chance to win one of
three copies of the book.) She celebrates the timeless cycle of
growing, harvesting, cooking, and sharing food by highlighting
fresh ingredients from every season in simple, delicious
recipes. We asked Annabel to discuss her cookbook and its companion
television series, and to describe her food
This is your 21st cookbook. What's new and different
about this book?
This book follows the rhythm of the seasons in my garden, and is
a partner to my third TV series of the same name (screening 7pm
Saturday nights on TV One). Being my 21st book, it felt like a
coming of age when I was making it. I put layers and layers into
it, drawing on all the knowledge I have about plants and gardening
as well as my interest in sustainability, then transferring that to
the plate. The recipes are fresh and seasonal and draw on
influences from my travels all over the globe with a mix of
Mediterranean and Asian flavours. Also, subconsciously I ended up
making a lot of vegetarian food. The book mirrors the way we eat at
home and I think it's just the way we eat now - it's much
Why did you decide to theme this book "Through the
Living in Wanaka there is such a dramatic sense of seasonality -
but though the winters are cold and bare there is still an amazing
amount to eat in the garden. Being there and seeing the ebb and
flow of seasons makes you far more aware of how things grow and
what is ready when, and I wanted to show people how to work with
that, and help people to cook more resourcefully and more
What's your food philosophy?
For me it is about the way food connects us to nature and the
environment, to our own and other cultures and the world around us,
to family and friends as well as to our own creativity. In my own
life I have found that cooking is a way to feel grounded, and
bringing people together around the table is such a great way to
have fun and create a sense of belonging.
What is it about your recipes that makes people so
passionate about your books?
I want people to have a great experience when they cook with me,
so they can discover how easy it is to have fun in the kitchen and
feel empowered, rather than being daunted or finding it a chore. So
I spend a lot of time thinking how to make the process easier, and
more straightforward, working out any pitfalls as well as shortcuts
with the aim of making recipes that taste really good and are
usually pretty healthy, but are a snap to put together.
What are your favourite recipes in this
They are all favourites, and things I love to make - whether
something humble and honest and so inexpensive like the bulgur and
lentil kofte, or the freshest tuna nicose salad, or a buttery,
crisp honey mille-feuille packed with blueberries, it's food that
works for all sorts of different occasions as well as different
seasons. Throughout the book I have included "Through the Seasons"
recipes, with suggestions for substitutions depending on the
season. They're a really useful toolkit of recipes that you can
make with whatever fresh produce you have at hand.
You have sold more than two million books, won
numerous international awards and produced and starred in your own
television show. What has been your proudest
There have been lots of exciting moments, but I think one of the
highlights would have to be getting a letter from some refugees to
tell me that they had been so inspired by the show that they were
making gardens and cooking the food in the refugee camp. Being
useful, relevant and helping to create change - these are things
that make my spirit soar.
This new book is accompanied by a 13-part TV series.
How is the process of making TV different from making a
We shoot hours and hours of TV to get to 22 minutes of a
finished programme - it's so layered and there are so many things
to consider, especially the light. When you make a recipe for a
book, you think about it, write it down, get the ingredients and
then run it though its paces in the kitchen to get down to a
formula that is easy to follow and hopefully bulletproof. Take it
onto the screen and you need to shoot it from different angles and
show the different stages from different angles and make sure that
you don't have a greasy mark on your shirt. There are so many
people all doing different jobs - sound, light, camera... But it's
What made you decide to write cookery
My mother was a home sciences graduate, so some of my earliest
memories are of perching on a stool in the kitchen, watching her
cook and waiting to be given the beater to lick. I was a bit of a
hippy in my youth. I left home at 16 and spent at few years living
off the land, cooking over an open fire, trapping possums in the
Ureweras and jumping out of helicopters to recover live deer. And
all the time I was cooking from the Julia Child recipe book my
mother had given me when I was 14.
In my 20s I realised food was where I wanted to build my future
but I wasn't sure where to start, so I wrote to Julia Child, asking
for advice. When she wrote back I sold up the film catering
business I had established and headed for New York to study
culinary anthropology and nutrition. It got me thinking about how
food is a constant thread that brings people together and wondering
how I could share my skills and knowledge to empower others. I
began my writing career with a fortnightly food column in a
national magazine, then decided to create a book of some of my
columns. Instead of taking the project to an established publisher,
I designed, edited, published and distributed it myself, leading to
the creation of my multi-media company Annabel Langbein Media.
Twenty-one books later, the rest is history!
How can people find out more?
To find out about my book and TV series visit my
website or follow me on Facebook. To see videos from the
series subscribe to my YouTube Channel.