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Monday, February 15, 2010

Julia, Julie and Lisa




Is it possible to be in love with a pot?

In my case, yes. You may be wondering why on earth on a blog that has been dedicated entirely to writing, I am crooning about the ridiculously expensive Dutch oven I bought yesterday.

Bear with me. Somehow I will connect this to writing. But first I want to talk about cooking. And Valentine's Day. And the movie Julia and Julie.

Saturday was a busy, busy day for me. I cleaned. Then I went downtown to a gallery opening with my colleagues where a few of our fine students had work in a juried show. Then hubby and I went to IKEA and bought a new couch for the living room (at last) and a desk for my work area. SO, by the time he put on Julia and Julie, I was pooped and not all that engaged. But I loved the movie. And I fell in love with Julie Childs (well, with Meryl Streep as Julia Childs).

So on Sunday, when our plans to go out for a family Valentine's Day dinner seemed like not such a good idea because my daughter had a guitar recital scheduled from 6PM to 7:30 (yes, thank you Riverdale Y—great planning) I decided, all on my own to go Julia. I raced to Bed, Bath and Beyond and bought this magnificent red enameled beauty, eschewing other inferior (but cheaper) models. I knew that Julia would approve of my choice.

I came home laden with food, the Dutch oven and a potato ricer for making mashed potatoes and cooked up a storm. Roast chicken, garlic mashed potatoes and asparagus in cream, all from different JC recipes I found online. I slathered on the butter. And UGHHH. But it was amazing and the food VANISHED with no leftovers in a frantic eating frenzy.

Next Julia recipe, however, I am making modifications. OLIVE OIL. (sorry, Julia).

Okay. What's with me? Why did I love this movie so much? One reason was the lowly young writer, Julie Powell who gave herself a goal and stuck with it, despite the inconvenience. The other was the portrayal of Julia herself, a woman already in the autumn of her years, who stumbles on a consuming passion and does not back down. Both women found a way to persevere for the LOVE OF IT and not for the goals they would achieve. Sure, Julia wanted her cookbook published and Julie just wanted to write something someone would read. But what I took from this movie was the passion for the creating. And I want to write this way. For the love of it.

Then I thought..hmmm. I can do something fun that my family will love with food to thank them for putting up with MY all-consuming passion (writing) which often means they get dinner very late and not always Julia-quality.

So it was my Valentine's gift to the family for putting up with me, I guess. But it was also a tribute to women who strive to achieve and still put food on the table.

Why not enjoy all of it?

The nice benefit to this was as I was struggling to squeeze the potatoes through the ricer, my 14 year-old daughter came in and for possibly the first time in years, wanted to cook with me. I asked her if this was because of the movie and she admitted it was. Then we both discussed how movies (and books) can change and influence us. So it all came around full circle. And she did a smashing job on those potatoes!

42 comments:

  1. YAY for cooking!! I still have to see Julie and Julia. Shame on me for not seeing it haha.

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  2. Lisa, I'm not the cook in my house but that pot could give me incentive to try, lol! I have yet to see that movie but it is on my to watch list. Glad you had a nice V-day!

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  3. Hi Josh!!! You can try it out one of these days. And for shame..see that movie. Hugs!!!

    Thanks, Kerri. I'm the cook or we starve. I get inspired in little bursts. Usually, I just slap stuff together, except in the summer when the farm stands and barbecues go to my head.

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  4. Awww... Lisa I loved that movie! And I'm so envious of your new beauty, the dutch oven. I'm to cheap to buy one. : P

    Now that you mentioned Julie and Julia I think I have to go watch it. : D

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  5. I always was, too, Kimberly, so I can only draw one conclusion—I was possessed by Julia's ghost. :)

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  6. Hurray for Julia! I mean, for Lisa!

    I'd best *not* see that movie. If I start to cook, let alone well, my family will decided *I've* been possessed and lock me up. ;-)

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  7. Haha, Deb! Don't worry...you'll just have to get your hubby to take you OUT for French food. I cannot imagine how Julie Powell cooked that stuff for 365 days and did not gain 365 pounds. I think I gained weight just looking at all that butter. Eck. I think I hate butter now. :)

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  8. Aw, you brought a tear to my puffy eye. I'm all choked up ... truly

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  9. Because you can't bear the thought of all that sludge clogging my veins?

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  10. I enjoyed Julie and Julia as well. Even my husband liked it! I too have a favorite pot, well actually it's a pan. It's my grandmother's cast-iron skillet which is somewhere between 65 and 75 years old. I made crepes for first time using it this past week-end. Worked like a champ!

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  11. wonderful post! I loved that movie too and it even made me, the world's worst cook, want to butter it up in the kitchen :) (Though ever since I was pregnant with my daughter I am NOT a butter fan. Can't stand the smell and can barely tolerate the taste...funny how pregnancy does that to you) :)

    And I completely agree with you - I write for the love of it. Don't get me wrong. I want to be published...badly LOL But I've plowed through with nary a book on the shelves for a few years now and despite the often hard and frustrating times, I still love it :)

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  12. Hey, Bish—I know what you mean. The last time I fell in love with a pan was at a summer house we rented. It was a small cast iron griddle and it made amazing pancakes. Alas, I had to leave it behind!

    Yep..that's me, Michelle—trying to enjoy the ride and not worry so much about the destination.

    Okay..now folks. Anyone got any wonderful (easy on the butter) recipes for my Dutch oven? I'm tempted to make that chicekn all over again, it was so awesome. I'll let you know if I get a little TOO passionate about cooking and my writing (and my waistline) starts to suffer.

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  13. I still haven't seen this movie, but I want to. And what a great story about you and your daughter. :)

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  14. Just signed up for Netflix so I can watch more movies and less tv here at college. First on my list is Julie and Julia. Should be here tomorrow or Thursday! Can't wait!!

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  15. But then you'll get the urge to cook and you have a few other things to do (young man!).

    For those of you wondering whom this is—this is Josh, college student, close family friend and master chef. :)

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  16. I liked your story!

    Yes, I cook a lot, only I fall in love with certain knives. I actually handwash them so I don't have to wait for the dishwasher to go through its cycle (and I handwash about as often as I iron which is left of never)

    So yeah, totally get your new pot love.

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  17. Thanks, Anne! I detest my knives. Maybe it's time for an upgrade.

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  18. I love that movie too. I not only love the creating aspect of it but the way they challenged themselves as well. They never gave up, they persevered.

    I will admit to coming home and putting my apron and pearls on after watching it. I made Beef Bourguignon that week too. :) Glad you enjoyed it!

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  19. HELL YES ON THE GOOD DUTCH OVEN AND THE GOOD KNIVES!! Of course, I am an ex-employee of Williams-Sonoma and an occasional foodie (with an alter-ego who will someday finish her WIP cookbook)...so I will admit the possibility of bias. My knives (Shun and Global)are sacrosanct, and I have a couple pieces of Le Creuset and a Staub dutch oven in the shape of a green pumpkin with a brass stem that I saved up for...I am a geek in the kitchen and I love it! I say you made a worthy splurge!

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  20. I knew you'd approve, Kate (who gets all flushed just talking about creme brulee and the emotional experience of eating it).

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  21. I have recently fallen in love with a pot or two as well! Orange beauties is how I like to think of them. They make amazing beans.

    Can't for the life of me remember how I found my way over, but I'll be back. Nice to meet a fellow pot lover!

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  22. Thanks for the follow, Anissa. Glad you stumbled over here. I just bought Julia's cookbook, Way to Cook. I'm hoping it's not as heavy on the butter as her French cooking recipes—-glarrrrgh!

    What kind of beans? Got any good recipes?

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  23. Great story, Lisa. And a great tie in to writing. :) I'm going to have to try some of those recipes.

    BTW, I'm over here following from Anne over at Piedmont Writer.

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  24. Welcome, Sarahjane! Great to have you! I'm following you now too and I found Mark McVeigh on your blog so I'm following him as well. Seems like you're a big cooking fan, so feel free to leave some recipes in your next comment (lol!).

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  25. Sometimes you just have to splurge. And there is no subsitute for good cookware!

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  26. Welcome, Angela of the Bookmuse (one of my favorite blogs!) It's an honor to have you stop by.

    And true about the cookware.

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  27. I love cooking and you can never underestimate the value of a good pot and great knives in the kitchen.

    BTW, Lisa is my sweet and talented daughter.
    Am I prejudices you ask?
    Yes, indeed!

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  28. Anonymous wrote:
    prejudices s/b prejudiced......

    Do I get a passing grade now?

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  29. Yes, Mom, A+ for effort. Now I suppose you'll want a Dutch oven dinner. LOL

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  30. INK US IN ON YOUR CALENDAR FOR THE JULIA, JULIE AND LISA DUTCH OVERN SURPRISE DINNER!

    LOVE YA, MOM

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  31. sorry, i can't type too well!

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  32. Wow :). This post about passion (and, of course, delicious food) really struck a cord with me! I absolutely want to be the kind of woman that writes for the sheer joy of it, even when it gets crazy and hectic. I loved this post!

    Congrats on the newest addition to your (kitchen) family!

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  33. Love you, too, mom, typos and all. :)

    Thanks, Rebecca! That is so sweet. Hope I can maintain my sanity when I start to query in a few weeks. Guess I can always cook away my anxiety! (uh-oh..then I'll put on query pounds!)

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  34. Make sure you don't leave it simmering with nothing in it. Some times the enamel cracks!

    Nice piece by the way.

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  35. Food writing is my favorite. And I saw how excited you were that particular weekend you brought that baby home. And the movie is inspiring, ain't it. You should go see the exhibit at the Smithsonian. It's cool. Try this Pillsbury Bake-off recipe; it's so easy. I know the point is to use your dutch oven--but the recipe is by an author (Ellie Mathews) who enters cooking contests for a living. She WON the Bake-Off ($1000,000!) and wrote a book about it (The Ungarnished Truth.)

    http://www.pillsbury.com/Recipes/ShowRecipe.aspx?rid=11560

    Do not, I repeat, DO NOT change the spices! They absoultely "make" the dish.

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  36. I said that wrong! She doesn't enter cooking contests for a living. She WRITES for a living, and enters cooking contests for FUN.

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  37. Julie? You're not THAT Julie are you??? I'll check out the recipe. Thanks!

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  38. No you're NOT that Julie. You're Julie, my good friend and neighbor. LOL. Oh well. And thanks for the recipe. It does look amazing, so I will give it a go. I'll let you taste it, too!

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