A Quirky Cooking Catch Up!

Tea time quirky cooking

It’s been a while since I sat down and had a good chat with you guys over a cuppa. If you don’t include the last recipe I posted, it’s been six months! So here I am, hiding away from the kids and sipping dandelion tea while I type a long overdue update.

If you’ve been following Quirky Cooking on Facebook and Instagram, I’m sure you know that things have been all sorts of crazy here for the last few months, so I hope you’ll forgive me for my blog absence. Here’s what’s been happening, for those of you who’ve missed any of it… 

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My cookbook, available from Thermomix in Australia. (This is the inside cover.)

The main reason for the craziness was the release of my Quirky Cooking Cookbook. My book had been in the works for a couple of years, and I’d tried to get book publishers interested but it was ‘too niche’, ‘too expensive to test’, ‘not gourmet enough’, and ‘too quirky’. (Yes, they actually said it was too quirky. I’m like, “Ummmm, that’s a problem??” lol!) So just when I was on the verge of giving up and reverting to my original idea of a few small ebooks, Thermomix in Australia called me and said they’d like to publish my book. So of course I said, “YES!!” And with their expert help we got it done in record time.

It was a whirlwind of late nights, early mornings, shopping, cooking, writing, recipe testing, flying to Perth with the kids for the food photoshoots, photoshoots here at home, proofs, corrections… so so much more work than I’d ever imagined, but I kept reminding myself it would be worth it. (And it was the kind of work I’d always dreamed of doing, so I was happy, even if a little sleep deprived!)

April

And finally it was done, and it was time for the media launch – April 29th in Sydney! I thought I might get a bit nervous, speaking in front of some of the big magazines and newspapers, but I loved it and it went really well. There was plenty of interest, and the first batch of cookbooks flew out the door and interviews were booked in. So exciting!

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Grace Mazur of Thermomix in Australia, and me, at the launch of my cookbook
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Quirky Cooking book launch!

And I also had my first podcast interview with Fouad Kassab of the Chic Pea Restaurant in Summer Hill, Sydney – and an amazing (and completely gluten free) dinner at his restaurant. Have a listen to our podcast (below), to learn about my story, a review of my book, and a good chat about eating gluten free for health and why we do it. [Note: Fouad has now closed the Chic Pea, but will be opening a new restaurant in Sydney soon!]

 Hunt Gather Spread Episode 1 – Interview with Jo Whitton, Quirky Cooking

Fouad Kassab of Chic Pea restaurant, and Jo Whitton of Quirky Cooking
Fouad Kassab of Chic Pea restaurant in Sydney, and me.

May

May 5th was the official launch date, and the book took off like a rocket from the moment it went on sale online. There were people waiting by their computers from midnight (yes, really!), ready to click ‘buy’ the moment it appeared on the Thermomix website. Within half an hour of the release, they’d crashed the site. Woo hoo!! (ha ha!) For two weeks, people lined up at the Thermomix office in Perth to get their books from the Quirky Cookbook Pop Up Shop. (I don’t mean the same people were still waiting in line for 2 weeks, just that the pop up shop was open for two weeks. In case you wondered.)

I was so happy and relieved that it was so well received. An author’s worst nightmare has got to be either no one wanting their book, or people buying it and hating it. Thankfully neither happened! There were about 15,000 books sold in the first month.

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Standing in line at the Quirky Cookbook Pop Up Shop, to get their cookbooks!

So I kind of thought that once my book was finished, I’d have a lot more time on my hands. Ummmm, no…. I suddenly had a zillion questions and messages and emails to answer, which was lovely, but very time consuming. I ended up having to switch off the private messages on my FB page because I was over 750 messages behind… Eeek. And then there were all the emails and phone calls and interviews and people dropping by to buy books and trips to the post office to send books overseas. I wanted to answer all the messages, and chat with everyone, but my family needed me to be a bit more present. So now I get a bit of help with all the messages when I’m too far behind. (Meet my PA here!) And I also started a Quirky Cooking Chat Group – it’s great to have a place to pop in and chat with you all, and there’s always someone around who can answer your questions, so if you haven’t joined, please do!

June

 I had my first week of Quirky Cooking seminar classes in Brisbane in June. First a morning tea with the Brisbane/Gold Coast Thermomix teams, with a Quirky cooking competition, some crazy photo booth photos, and some book signing… So much fun!

Thermomix South East Queensland branch
Morning tea with the South East Queensland Thermomix branch
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Plenty of craziness with the SE Qld Thermomix teams!

The Brisbane classes were big! I’d never spoken in front of 300 people at a time before, but I absolutely loved it, and amazingly didn’t even feel nervous! I loved meeting lots of my readers, and chatting about healthy eating, and I had lots of people comment that my recipes had really helped their families. That really does make it all worthwhile.

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Seminar classes in Brisbane

July

In July we had settled into our new home enough that I could begin my home cooking lessons again. I love teaching people how to change the way they eat, for health or allergy reasons, and one on one lessons or small group classes are something I really enjoy. You can get some more info about Quirky Cooking lessons or classes, here.

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Quirky Cooking lessons, in my home

In July I also flew down to Brisbane for the official opening of the new Thermomix branch office for Queensland, and another media launch for my book. 

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Speaking & cooking at the Thermomix office opening in Brisbane, with Grace Mazur

It was great to catch up with some fellow real-foodies and wellness ambassadors on this trip – Kim Morrison (Like Chocolate for Women), Grace Mazur (head of Thermomix Australia), Sarah ParkerClarke (Natural Earth Health Products), and Cyndi O’Meara (Changing Habits, Changing Lives).

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Kim Morrison, Grace Mazur, Sarah Clarke, me and Cyndi O’Meara

August

In August I flew down to Melbourne to speak at The Wellness Summit – so exciting… 600 people, hungry for healthy living inspiration, and lots of amazing speakers. If you ever get the chance to get along to one of these health summits, do it! Two whole days of being with like-minded people was a real buzz, and I learnt so much. And I loved speaking to such a receptive, ‘hungry for health’ crowd!

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Speaking at The Wellness Summit, Melbourne
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The speakers! Me, Kim Morrison, Carren Smith, Laurence Tham, Pete Evans, Brett Hill, Cyndi O’Meara, Damian Kristoff

Some of the speakers were a bit crazy though… ha ha!

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Brett from ‘That Paleo Show’ and I having a bit of fun… Thermie-heads!

September

 In late August/early September, our family travelled to the Northern Territory for a family wedding; then I helped cook at our church youth camp, and I began doing lots of recipe testing again. (Lots of new projects coming up, can’t tell about them yet, though!) And I flew down to Melbourne for the AusMumpreneur Awards and Conference, as I had been nominated in the Blog Awards, and the Rising Star AusMumpreneur categories. I won first prize in the blog category, and learnt heaps at the conference, and met some amazing business women as well.

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Winner of the AusMumpreneur Blog Award, 2014!

I also held a cooking class at Gewurzhaus cooking school in Melbourne while I was there, and had a ball! 

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Teaching a class at Gewurzhaus Cooking School, Melbourne

October

My good friend and health coach, Leah Follett, came to visit in October, and we began planning our podcast, all about our families’ GAPS journeys! “A Quirky Journey” will be released on The Wellness Couch on the 12th December, and is all about the bumpy road to good health, the whys and wherefores of GAPS and gut healing, healthy eating for families, the healing power of food, and more. We can’t wait to share it with you!! (See end of post for why we’re doing GAPS.)

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Podcast planning at the lake, while the kids fished!

 In October I also spoke at the Bloom Health and Wellbeing Expo in Cairns…

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Bloom Health and Wellbeing Expo, Cairns

cooked for The Organic Experience Food Tour (Christmas edition), with Leeandra of Love-Lee Cooking

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The Organic Experience Food Tour – Christmas lunch

spoke and cooked at Quirky Cooking seminar classes in Townsville and Toowoomba…

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Speaking at a Quirky seminar class in Townsville

and had a book signing and meet and greet at The Organic Pantry, Townsville! Busy month.

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Book signing at The Organic Pantry, Townsville

December

And suddenly it’s December, and time to put up the Christmas decorations, have the last class for the year, and get some GAPS-friendly meal planning done for the silly season! Phew.

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Time to put up the decorations!

Ups and Downs

So I know that all sounds very exciting, but in the midst of all the travelling and fun, we had a bit of a disaster at home with my son’s health, which is why we have started down the road of GAPS. It’s very hard to hold everything together – business, travelling, speaking, homeschooling, family life – when you have a very sick child. I know a lot of you have been through that yourselves, so you’ll know what I mean. It’s a bit of a long story, so I’ll keep it for a future post, and also for our podcast. But I’ll just say, life got pretty tough for our whole family over the past few months, and if it wasn’t for all the amazing support we had (and still have), I don’t know what we would’ve done. Thank you so much to all who have sent their best wishes and prayers for our son, he is doing so much better. In fact, he came with me to my cooking class in Townsville, recently, and got up and spoke in front of 150 people and won a lot of hearts! He’s come a long way in just a few months. I will share his story soon.

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Mr I speaking at my seminar class

During this time we also moved house; I was still working as a Thermomix consultant up to the start of October; I was homeschooling the kids; moving the blog over to a new site; and I was looking after Mr I, who needed me pretty constantly. It’s been a big year. 

So what next? Well, there’s lots of exciting stuff planned for Quirky Cooking in 2015, and I’m so looking forward to sharing the journey with you all! I must admit though, I’m really hoping to get a bit of a break over Christmas to just sit and ‘be’ and not have to go anywhere or do anything except cook. Ha ha!

Thanks for hanging around, guys – I really appreciate your support and encouragement over the past year – you are amazing. Hope to see you at future classes and seminars, and I’d love for you to share your cooking stories and photos over in my chat group and on my FB page . If you’d like to keep up with all the news, please subscribe to my newsletter! You’ll receive the link to my free FAQ’s ebook in your confirmation email, and I think you’ll find it very helpful.

Have a great holiday season, and I’ll be back very soon to post some Quirky Cooking Christmas Menu Ideas!

Happy cooking, love Jo xx 

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