I can't tell you how excited I am to be able to finally share my new book and TV series!
It's exactly a year since we started shooting the series – we had to race to catch the last of the snow for the sequence when I go dog-sledding on the hills above the Cardrona Valley.
It has taken more than a year to plan, shoot and edit the series because, as you've probably guessed from the title, Annabel Langbein The Free Range Cook: Through the Seasons, it traces an entire year of harvests in my lakeside Wanaka garden – and the meals I've made using those harvests.
Looking back now at the cycle of a whole year in the garden, it's a humbling demonstration of nature's extraordinary tenacity in renewing itself. When you're in the depths of winter it seems like the cycle of growth might never ever start again – and then suddenly it does.
One of my favourite parts of the series is the wonderful time-lapse sequences that demonstrate the ebb and flow of the seasons in my Wanaka garden, from the bareness of winter to spring's soft, fresh green growth, the abundance of summer harvests and then the rich, full palette of autumn as everything races to fruit and seed before the season is over.
As well as celebrating nature’s growing cycles and the rhythm of a year, I wanted the series and its accompanying cookbook to be useful and inspiring – whatever the weather is doing outside the window, and whatever seasonal fruit or veges happen to be in your fruit bowl or vegetable drawer. So I've included suggestions for adapting dishes to work at any time of year by substituting whatever fruit or veges you have to hand.
As usual, I had so many ideas they didn't all fit into the TV series, so I included all the extra recipes in the accompanying book. Altogether it’s got more than 200 recipes, many of which are naturally vegetarian and/or gluten free.
By combining seasonal harvests from my garden with a global pantry of flavours and my trademark Fridge Fixings I have created easy dishes that are big on flavour while, with a few indulgent exceptions, light on fat and sugar.
Plus in this book you’ll find more gardening content than ever before, thanks to the support I received from my friends at Tui Products. Check out my step-by-step projects for everything from growing microgreens to planting a wall garden.
In shooting the TV series I travelled to some of the most spectacular parts of New Zealand, meeting fascinating people who are as passionate about fresh artisan produce as I am and learning about everything from making chocolate to milking buffalo.
More than ever, I feel lucky to have had the chance to celebrate what it means to be a New Zealander. It’s been a welcome reminder of just how simple the things are that make a good life. At the end of the day it’s about friendship and sharing tables and living as close to the land as you can.
Annabel Langbein The Free Range Cook: Through the Seasons is available exclusively at PaperPlus stores until Friday 19 September 2014, then at all good book retailers throughout New Zealand.
It's available in Australia from Monday 22 September 2014 – or preorder now from ABC Online
The TV series screens in New Zealand on Saturday nights on TV One from mid-September – watch this space for details!
To view videos from the series, visit my YouTube channel.