Thursday, September 03, 2009

Shelley And Julia

I’m not a great cook. I can bake well, and have been known to bake way too much during times of stress…but as far as sautéing, braising, poaching, etc~it’s always kind of been beyond me.

That’s not to say I’ve been happy about that.

I collect cookbooks, read them at night like they're See's chocolates, and often go to sleep thinking about making a really great dinner. Sometimes I’ve experimented with my family. Actually, I’ve done this a lot. My kids used to grade me…as in, Mom, I’d give tonight’s dinner a C.

Gee. Thanks.

Anyway, a few years ago I picked up Julie Powell’s book, Julie and Julia and read it one rainy Sunday afternoon. I absolutely loved it. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the book, it follows Julie’s quest to make all of Julia Child’s recipes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking during one year. I loved Julie’s traumas with lobsters and her renewed fascination with butter. This past month, I went to see the movie, Julie and Julia. It was a delight!
Seeing that movie inspired me again. I went out and paid too much for a fancy pot, picked up one of my Julia Child cookbooks, The Way to Cook…and two Sundays ago made Julia Child’s French Onion Soup. It took me hours. I had to run to the store for brandy. I followed that recipe exactly. And, well, let me just say right here that the results were terrific.

Finally, after years of failed attempts, lots of C-rated soups, and more than a few packs of Alka-Seltzer, I made a terrific pot of soup. I smiled about that for days!

Have I tried anything else lately? Not really. But I’ve left my expensive pot on the stove top, just as a reminder that sometimes practice does make perfect. And that every once in a while, I can still earn an A for dinner.

Has anyone else seen that movie? Or finally made a dish…that after years of failure…turned out beautifully?



Laura Bradford said...

I just saw it Monday night. I LOVED the relationship between Julia and Paul (?). The way he jumped around on the porch with her when she finally got her "deal" got me misty-eyed. Beautiful.

Anyway, the one real kitchen disaster I remember was a birthday cake for my daughter. I made a stand-up Pooh cake. Only I used a cake with pudding in the mix and it didn't work. When I stood the pooh mold up, cake oozed out. I am proud to say I went back out, bought another mix, and made a second one. It came out great!

Anonymous said...

Years ago when I first got married I tried making fried chicken for my husband and brother. It was the most beautiful golden brown color you ever saw. Then they bit into it and it was bloody. Yuck. My mother informed me I cooked it too fast so even though it was beautiful on outside, it was uncooked on inside. I NEVER made fried chicken again. Baked it from there on out. Also it took me about 6 months to learn how to make gravy. I still to this day can't just throw things together to whip out gravy. I have to measure everything.

Linda Henderson

Shelley Galloway said...

Hi Laura!

I hope you're getting all moved in and will unpack soon!

Wow! on the Pooh cake! I've never mastered the art of cake decorating.

My daughter Lesley and I loved Julia and Paul in the movie, too.

Shelley Galloway said...

Hi Linda!

You made me smile! I bet that raw fried chicken did look beautiful!
I've done the same thing with pork tenderloin.


Leigh Duncan said...

I'm a pretty good cook, or at least, people tell me I am. But it didn't happen overnight. I was blessed with a grandmother who taught me to cook 'Southern' by letting me stand at her elbow as she canned and fixed huge meals on the farm. My mom taught me how they cooked in Boston. But it still took quite a few "C" dinners before I could fix a big meal without hyperventilating. Worst meal ever? Meatloaf that 'poured' from the pan. Eeewww.

Shelley Galloway said...

Hi Leigh!

I'm eewwwing right with you about the meatloaf! Ick! How fortunate you were to have two women in your life to take the time to teach you to cook.

Hope you get a chance to make something wonderful for this Labor Day weekend. I just made the pie crust for a French Silk Pie.


Heather Webber said...

I really want to see this movie! might have to drag my daughter to the theater this weekend.

I don't try many new recipes--need to fix that!

Megan Kelly said...

oooh. French Silk pie. Yummmm. I just saw this movie last night and loved it. Loved Paul and Eric too. Every time I looked at Stanley Tucci, I thought, you CAN'T be in Lovely Bones next. :( Anyway, hardest thing ever, IMO, is gravy. I can only make cranberry gravy after I've made the pork roast with cranberry sauce, and even then I have to measure.