Tell us about your cookbooks...
There are 2 main series of my vegetarian cookbooks, the difference is just one using vege meats and one without.
What is vege meat?
Vege meat is also called meat analogue, meat substitute, mock meat, faux meat, or imitation meat. It is made from tofu, soy protein, gluten, mushrooms, etc, or mix of them, and with flavours added to make the texture and taste like real meat.
You might think it is strange that why vegetarians would eat something 'fake'?
Well, vege meat is not purely for vegetarians. Sometimes, vege meat is for meat-eaters rather than vegetarians. For example, when having meals with meat-eaters, as vegetarians, you do not cook real meat but according to etiquette, you might not just cook vegetables, then vege meat can be a kind of substitute. And for some new vegetarians, who might not get used to eat vegetables only, then consuming vege meat might be helpful to them during the 'transaction period'.
So, you are vegetarian? When and why you become a vegetarian?
Yes, I am a vegetarian and there are several reasons. First of all, I have a weak stomach - I always have stomach-ache, my doctor suggests me to consume more vegetables and less meats - that's what I got used to for many years. And we have heard something like 'our Earth is sick' also for years already. In 2010, I have heard about 'Meat-Free Monday', I thought, as my diet was to consume vegetables more than meats, and if eating less meat can help supporting the environment protection, it's no harm to do so. Therefore, I started my 'Meat-Free Monday' and found that not just I am fine with no meat consumption and I am healthier. So, finally, I decide to become a vegetarian, and that's why almost all my cookbooks are vegetarian.
Other than the cookbooks focus on using vege meat, have you published other books?
Yes, I have totally 20 books published until now. Eighteen of them are cookbooks mainly in 2 series - 'Vegetarian' and 'Meat?-Not-Meat!', and one cookbook about cooking konnyaku, which is also called konjac, is high-fibre and almost zero-calories, so that it is a very popular diet food in Asia. And the remaining one is about hand
You only write cookbooks that using microwave oven, do you know how to cook in traditional way? Who is the audience for your cookbooks?
Yes, I do know how to cook using gas, but I still prefer using microwave oven – you can use microwave oven to steam, stew, braise, stir-fry, pan-fry, grill, roast, bake… Once you hear the sound 'ding' from your microwave oven, you know your meal is ready or you can proceed your next cooking step. And during the food is cooking in the microwave oven, you can work with other stuff, it helps to save my time.
And using microwave oven is only one of the cooking methods, learning how to cook with microwave oven doesn't need to give up one another. In fact, you can learn one more cooking method and utilize it to make your cooking easier and faster. So, there should have no limitation about who to read them, and I can think of lot of potential audience - the ones, who like to cook, who need to cook, who want to cook but don't know how to cook or no time to cook, etc. However, I would highly recommend my cookbooks to the people, who are beginners in cooking. As you know, to make people feeling interested and building confidence in something, first of all, this thing should be simple and easy to get success, and the recipes in my cookbooks would not fail them.
What compelled you to write your cookbooks?
After being a vegetarian, I have heard lot of people said that eating only vegetables is boring. However, vegetarian cuisine can be as tasteful as the other cuisines with meat. Therefore, I review my cooking notes that I jotted down before and convert them into microwave and vegetarian versions, such as using vege meat to replace real meat, and at the same time, I started creating my own and new vegetarian cooking notes. As the result, there become a kind of collection... then that's the beginning of my life in cookbook/recipe-writing.
What is your biggest challenge in writing your cookbooks?
Wow! Everything is the biggest challenge! First of all, time is one of them, we all only have 24 hours a day, but there are lot of other things needed to do, and writing cookbooks is really time-consuming. For example, when there are ideas coming up in your mind, you need to experience them, measure the amount of ingredients to be used, fine-tune the steps and write them into formal recipes. Sometimes, if you failed at the first time, then you might need to have adjustment and try again.
Also, presentation of my dishes is another biggest challenge. I only simply noted down the cooking steps before, but the pictures of my dishes are needed to be put in the cookbooks. Therefore, how to make the dishes look tasty and presentable is important, and the techniques in taking photographs are also required. I try to learn how to present the dishes and what angles to be taken can make the dishes look better by seeing the pictures in other cookbooks and food magazines. It is another time-consuming process, but when I look at the pictures and the dishes look good - that really makes me happy, and my hard-working isn't wasted!
What is your biggest challenge in self-publishing your cookbooks?
Doing marketing or promotion of my cookbooks. I think that's not just to me, but to all self-publishing authors. We all have no budget to hire professional marketing team to help us in marketing, so we need to do it by ourselves. Frankly, I am still learning and experiencing what are the good ways to do book marketing and promotion.
What is your biggest fear about writing your cookbooks?
No one likes them! Would you? ;)
What is the name of your cookbook that being published recently?
Microwave Cooking 20: Dozenth (12th) Vegetarian Cookbook.
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