Sunday, September 11, 2005

Julie /Julia obsession

So lately I have been more than a little obsessed with reading all the past blog entries (and yes, most of the comments) on the Julie/Julia Project blog, over at where the brilliant Julie Powell has chronicled her feat of cooking through Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" all in one year, taking many stops to discuss Spicy Thursdays (her break from French food which her husband cooks), the joy of Buffy, many vodka tonic drinks, subway rages, and just life in general. This woman has fully inspired me to take a deeper look at French cooking and not be so intimidated by foreign words, pate, or liver. In fact, I always liked liver, but have not had it in ages. Yum! Of course, I have a very definite feeling my husband would not be partaking, as I still can't get him to eat anything pickled, or olives or corned beef. Sigh. Well, at least now he loves mushrooms and is even eating fresh tomatoes with more acceptance. Soon, soon I will have him eating pickles! Of course, thanks so much to my mom, who brought the Julie/Julia project to my attention in the first place, without which I never would have discovered the joys of Better Than Bouillon or started to search for truffle flour for the day sometime in the future when I attempt some of the actual French recipes.

With an update, the pie dough was excellent, which means I finally have a pie dough winner from all my many recipe cards! Especially as I tend to get the craving to make pie when it's hot out (silly me!) and also overwork the dough just a tad, and this pie dough was nice and flaky, but tasted yummy and didn't fall completely apart. Otherwise, I tried to make the mini quiches by placing dough in the mini tart pans for the initial baking, but as the pans aren't very deep, I don't think they'll hold quiche filling very well. Instead, I made a large quiche in my 9.5 inch pie plate, a yummy onion-bacon-Gruyere quiche that turned out just right, if a tad too eggy. Next time, instead of 6 eggs I'll just use 3-4, and I think that will help.

And with the rest of the dough, I finally made an apple pie. Very yummy, even if the apples weren't as crisp as I'd like, so they kinda fell apart inside of the pie. But the dark rum caramel I made for sweetening the apples turned out well at least. And for dinner, Kyle made Portuguese Pork with Clams, which was quite yummy. On a side note, it took me trips to 5 stores before I finally found clams. Sad, as I live fairly near a beach of active clamming, or so Google informs me. So the solution...clam digging! Yes, apparently you can go clam digging, mussel hunting, and lobster diving all for free and in Southern California, as long as you obey standard rules to protect the species (ie not too tiny, not too much, etc). So once clamming season begins in November, I'm hauling myself, Kyle, and a picnic lunch up to a suitable beach for clam digging. It may be a day wasted in vain, but after paying a buck a clam for this recipe, I figure an afternoon of fun at the beach and free clams and mussels will be well worth my time.

And finally, in response to Kathleen. Yes, I do know who you are, as I believe you and myself are the only chemists my mom knows who also share an interest in food :) And as you mention it, I just returned Harold McGee's "On Food and Cooking" to the library, and it was a great read. More and more I am reading book about food, be it fiction, science, critiques, or cookbooks. I'm not sure why this fascination has risen so much over the past year or so, but I find that I do a great deal of cooking and baking. For example, last night I made a tasty red lentil soup, and roasted and peeled some chile peppers R had given us for later use so they wouldn't spoil, and grated zucchini for 4 loaves. Turns out I grated enough for 10 loaves, but at least I can freeze it. This morning, quite soon after getting up, I proceeded to make zucchini bread, which was worth it, and a bit later started my pot roast for dinner. Which actually, I was able to bake in my fancy new Dutch oven which I got from a genius potter named Dan McMullin who sells pieces and teaches classes at the UCSD Crafts Center. If it were not currently dirty, I would post a pic. Well, time for that later.

I must say, I like everything about cooking. Well, not everything. Not dishes, that's for sure, and not the mess I make when I'm done, which of course needs to be cleaned up for me to cook something else the next night. And everyone always says "But you have a dishwasher! It should be easy!" And to that I say, yes, it is, for the plates and glasses which are so not the problem but the pans! My God all the pans and ladles and pots and assorted items that need to be handwashed and invariably have some such thing stuck to them. I am convinced that anyone who thinks having a dishwasher should make doing the dishes painless obviously does not cook much, or else they would also face a sinkful of pots and pans and moan pitifully just like I do.

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