Hello and thank you very much for visiting my site!
If you are a PR or want to work with me, you will find plenty of useful information on my PR queries page and I suggest you read that first., to save your and my time.
If you stumbled across my site and are simply curious to know more about me, read on – all shall be revealed below…
WHO AM I?
I am Jeanne Horak, born and raised in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. In another life, I passed my Bar exams and started practising as a criminal advocate; and I later lectured commercial law for eight of the happiest years of my working life. In 2000, my boyfriend (now ex-husband) developed itchy feet and a dream to work overseas and I decided to accompany him to London with the intention of staying a year. It’s now 20 years later and I am still in London, happier than ever, which just goes to show that life is what happens while you make other plans. I never returned to the world of legal academia (sorry mom, sorry dad!), but I still have a full time day-job in a City law firm in a knowledge management and training role.
When I am not at my day job, I am a food, wine and travel blogger; a freelance recipe developer; freelance writer who has written for various online and print publications including Crush, Food24 and Great British Chefs; and a speaker/trainer with many years of experience in lecturing a well as presenting seminars and hands-on workshops. I have spoken at a number of international blogging conferences, covering topics such as legal aspects of blogging; writing style and voice; recipe writing & editing; blogging for beginners; camera techniques; and post-processing. I am one of the founders and organisers of From Plate to Page, a food writing and photography workshop, where I taught food writing and photography; and one of the organisers of the South African Food and Wine Blogger Indaba conference.
5 RANDOM FACTOIDS ABOUT ME
- I take pictures every day, both with my Canon DSLR and with my Samsung phone camera.
- I have an unnatural ability to remember random and obscure song lyrics.
- I have an obsession verging on OCD about putting things in chronological order.
- I will choose savoury over sweet, and cats over dogs, every time.
- I would take the following 5 movies with me to a desert island (a well-equipped island with DVD players and aircon, obviously!): Out of Africa; Dirty Dancing; Point Break; Muriel’s Wedding; and A Fish Called Wanda.
SO, ABOUT THE BLOG…
I have been a writer in some form or another since I was ten years old – from journals to poems to fiction to non-fiction. I started this blog in May 2004 before blogging was “a thing” and all my friends thought the internet was where you met axe murderers. I had heard that a blog was a way to make your writing available to an international audience, for free, with no technical programming knowledge required – how could I refuse? I started out with no game plan and no marketing strategy in an age when social media was but a twinkle in Mark Zuckerberg’s eye. Sixteen years later, I love blogging as much as ever – it is the best creative outlet I could ever have dreamed of, and I would recommend everybody to try it once.
I love how food forms the backdrop to all the milestones in our lives – a wedding breakfast, a graduation dinner, a farewell cocktail party. It ties us to our past and our family with cords that can’t be broken. And even in a foreign land, you can recreate the favourite tastes of your childhood and take comfort from them. To me, the story of what I eat is the story of my life, and you will find plenty of stories to keep you amused on my blog. Let’s just say brevity is not my strong point. Food and travel make natural bedfellows and they are two things that I have been in love with since childhood. As teenager I once told my mom: “Our family’s only two extravagances are food and travel”. Nothing’s changed.
DOES COOKSISTER HAVE A COMMENTS POLICY?
As a general rule, I don’t interfere with comments, other than to remove anything spam-related or that is obviously a punt for some commercial enterprise. I welcome discussion in the comments and you can say what you like, but if you make a snotty remark, don’t be surprised if you get a snotty response. Also please bear in mind that this is my cyber home. I wouldn’t tolerate people coming into my house and being rude to me, and I won’t tolerate it here. Play nice. And don’t even think of saying anything racist, sexist, insulting of a particular religion or otherwise inflammatory – I will remove it so fast it will make your head spin. This is a food blog, not a soapbox for people with an axe to grind.
DOES COOKSISTER DO REVIEWS, PRESS RELEASES AND FREEBIES?
I do occasionally accept items or books for review, and I am happy to be invited to events or on press trips – please see my full review policy for details. A lot of fuss has been made about bloggers accepting freebies and how this makes us all a bunch of unethical sycophants whose opinions are not valid – I can’t get excited about this “debate”. All items received for free are fully disclosed and I retain full editorial control of all posts. Please feel free to read a few posts and make up your own mind about my ethics. Please do not send me press releases for items I have never used, recipes I have not made, or places I have never been, and then pester me asking whether I have published something about them on my blog yet. The answer is always going to be no. It isn’t going to happen. The same goes for guest posts – if I want you to guest post for me, I will invite you.
ANY ADVICE FOR NEWBIE FOOD BLOGGERS?
If you are a newbie blogger looking for advice, you are probably better off visiting the tremendously helpful posts by Delicious Days; David Lebovitz or sites like Tips for Food Bloggers, Food Blog Alliance or Blogger School which contain a wealth of information to answer your every blogging question. You are also free to ask me foodie questions, but few things enrage me more than spending my precious leisure time putting together a detailed answer to a recipe or restaurant query and then not even getting the courtesy of a simple “thank you” e-mail. I keep a record of all the reader questions that I have answered on my Cooksister FAQ page. Take a look – maybe I have answered your question already.
HOW CAN YOU CONTACT ME?
If you haven’t already found it elsewhere, my e-mail address is emailcooksister AT gmail DOT com. I love feedback and suggestions and try to answer all e-mails, even if it takes me a while. I also check my blog comments every day so please feel free to leave one – I love hearing from readers!
If you like my writing or photographs so much that you would like me to commission me to write or photograph something for you, please e-mail me – I am always happy to discuss projects and negotiate rates. Please do not write to me and ask me to provide you with free content because “the client does not have the budget to pay” and offer me “good exposure” instead of payment. The answer is no.
If you want to make sure you never miss another Cooksister post, please sign up to receive each new post direct to your inbox via e-mail. You are also most welcome to follow me on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube and Facebook.
AND BY THE WAY, WHAT IS A COOKSISTER?
A koeksister (pronounced “cooksister”) is a delicious plaited, deep-fried syrup-dipped pastry from (where else?) South Africa.
I tumbled on your site while googling for snoek fish. I enjoyed reading all about you, the site and what you do. What an incredible being you are!
I would like to know whether you know of any place here in the US where to get snook in any form. I am dying for it.
I live in California, originally from Windhoek, Namibia.
Please help. (The koeksisters make me drool)
I came across your website while reminiscing about snoek! My husband and I have many memories of South African recipes and food from our childhoods and former lives in Rhodesia and South Africa. Your very entertaing blogs and recipes have fired our imaginations to go back to the foods we remember so well. Thank you!
I cam across your site while looking for a New Year lunch starter recipe which would include smoked salmon. My choice fell on smoked salmon and avocado stacks. Hopefully it will turn out to be a good treat for my guests tomorrow. Keep it up. Good website with excellent recipes. Wish you an enjoyable New Year.
[email protected] says
Just came across your blog. Love it.
I too was born and raised in South Africa, lived in Paris, London, Copenhagen and Los Angeles. Now living my dream in Dordogne, France and running cookery lessons from my country kitchen as well as doing a food blog.
I really like your blog! Keep on traveling and writing 🙂
Andre Brink says
I just had to look up your blog. In the last week we have received two requests for traditional South African foods, mentioning your name, at my tour guiding business in Cape Town, South Africa. I am very impressed with you have achieved with this blog.
Personally I am a foodie. My taste is for artisan dining, organic and heirloom foods and recipes. In this I have an active interest in traditional South African cuisine.
And lastly. I thank you for the business that I get due to your efforts.
Hi Andre – you have made my week… no hang on, my month! Thank you for such a lovely comment. Sometimes it feels like you keep churning out this content and nobody is listening, but then I read something like this and it makes me so very happy that I have done my small bit to promote the cuisine of my country 🙂 I wish you all the best with the tour guiding business – the visitors must be LOVING the exchange rate :o)
Julie Mullan says
So envious that you live in London. Lived there for 25 years but now in Oz where two of my children emigrated. Not the same.
Gem Squashes: Thanks for the advice so far. How long do the seeds take to germinate.
Looks forward to advice. thanks Julie
Wow… you are such a good writer. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog. I just found your blog and wanted to know more about you. Go Africa. I was born in Nigeria but moved to Canada for studies and decided to stay.
I love your blog and your photos. Bravo.
Margaret Robinson says
I’ve read your food blog for, well it seems like forever, and love it. However, until today never read about you, the 4 weddings or anything else that was really personal. I so enjoyed the read. Thank you for having a post where it is indeed about the food and not a place to rant and rave about all things wrong with the world. It is a genuine pleasure to read your blog every week!
Michael Wilton-Cox says
Jeanne, I just came across your blogspot when looking for anything on Gem Squash and I am devastated! I have missed out on so much by not finding you earlier. I will try to make up for that now I have and will try some of your tempting recipes.
I am British but lived and worked in South Africa from 1971 to 1976 and still love the country. Only old age and health prevent me from travelling back there now, although have been on business trips a few times over the years. My eldest son was born in Florida just outside Jo’burg where my wife and I lived and worked (I was one of the expat engineers who helped put in the television transmitters and the TV studios when it all first started, and only left SA when the SABC realised they needed us no longer once on-air).
I love South African cooking/food and am lucky to have a small shop specialising in South African items in a nearby village, so can still get my biltong fix!
Thanks for an interesting blog, I will follow assiduously now.