Thursday, September 3, 2009
Merci, Costco and Julia!
It is finally all mine! The 40th anniversary edition. All 524 recipes, the introduction written by Julia herself, which reads like a mini-autobiography, the story of "Mastering" written by Judith Jones who helped bring the book to life at Knopf, and the famous foreword which begins with "This is a book for the servantless American cook who can be unconcerned with budgets, waistlines, time schedules, children's meals, the parent-chauffeur-den-mother syndrome, or anything else which might interfere with the enjoyment of producing something wonderful to eat."
Alrighty then, let us now analyze that sentence... simple to do really, if you ask me. Broken down, it leaves the vast majority of us totally out of the picture.
--I fit the "servantless" bill. I am quite sure that if I did live in another life, I was someone's cleaning lady. No kidding.
--I am indeed American. I never did pass for French during my six month stay in Provence. Canadian maybe, but French never.
--I am constantly concerned with my budget. We have a son enrolled in a private college. Granted he is getting financial aid, but we are both employed by a school and neither of us are the head of that school. Grateful to have jobs and doubly grateful they are at this particular school. Children practically eat your money. Steve says we'd be rich if we didn't have kids.
--I am usually concerned about my waistline, too. It didn't change sizes while I was in France but has since my return so I am relearning how to control portion sizes and eat only what is really good and what I really want. According to Julia "...I do think the way to a full and healthy life is to adopt the sensible system of small helpings, no seconds, no snacking, and a little bit of everything." That system worked very well for me while living in Provence, working with a very talented chef and being surrounded by such amazing food. I am living proof this system does indeed work.
--Time schedules. Ha. There is never enough of that precious commodity. I continue to juggle spending time with my no-longer-ex, parenting two boys (albeit it 21 and 17), teaching full-time, being president of the state French teachers' organization, hanging out with my BFF, exercising once in a while, supporting my mom as her sisters and various other relatives get older and face health problems, writing my column and this blog, emailing friends, chatting with my colleagues, blahblahblahblah. You get the picture.
--Children's meals. My two boys like the basics. They are a bit suspicious of my new found passion for cooking dangerously. Hopefully, that will change as they get older.
--I am no longer a chauffeur as they both have licenses and vehicles (back to the budget issue). I am not a den mother. I was, at one time, team mom for football, basketball and baseball teams, but that's a thing of the past. Yippee!!
Okay, Mme Child, I think that covers it. However, I refuse to let any of that defeat me. Am I going to cook my way through it? Absolutely not. Julie Powell did that. Go, Julie. Your book is on my top ten list. Will I try Mayonnaise Verte, Soufflé au Fromage, Poulets Grillés à la Diable, Fricadelles de Veau à la Crème, Épinards à la Crème, Chou Rouge à la Limousine, Pâté de Canard en Croûte or Tarte aux Fraises? (I got all those just by randomly flipping through the 684 pages of recipes. I just love the way they sound. I am so lucky to be able to at least say them properly!!) I may never try any of them. Or I may try all of them at some point. Right now, I just look forward to reading the book, letting Julia teach me about the art of French cooking, knowing full well that I will never master it. Being une femme d'un certain âge has its benefits. We no longer feel that we have something to prove. We can do things simply because they please us and no one else. As for me, I am lucky that I do have an eater in my house who is pretty willing to try most anything (within reason, he says)... Whose reason??
Hey, maybe I'll start with this one tonight, after a quick stop at Super Tar-gé on the way home. Pourqoui pas?
Oh! Kudos to Costco for selling the book for $25 instead of $40. Back to the budget thing yet again.
Quiche aux Oignons
for 4-6 servings
2 lbs. minced onions (about 7 cups)
3 Tb butter
1 Tb oil
1 1/2 Tb flour
2 eggs or 3 yolks
2/3 cup whipping cream
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
Pinch of nutmeg
2 ounces (1/2 cup) grated Swiss cheese
An 8-in pastry partially cooked pastry shell on a baking sheet
1 Tb butter cut into pea-sized dots
Cook the onions in a heavy skillet with the oil and butter over very low heat, stirring occasionally until they are extremely tender and a golden yellow. This will take about an hour.
Sprinkle with the flour, mix well, and cook slowly for 2 or 3 minutes. Allow to cool slightly.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Beat the eggs or egg yolks in a mixing bowl with the cream and seasonings until blended. Gradually mix in the onions and half the cheese. Check seasoning. Pour into tart shell. Spread on the rest of the cheese and distribute the butter over it. Bake in upper third of preheated oven for 25 to 35 minutes, until the quiche has puffed and browned.
Rosé or a red Côtes du Rhône would go well with this, in my humble opinion.