Mastering the Art of French Cooking is one of my favorite possessions. My copy is the Fortieth Anniversary hardcover edition, tenth printing from 2009. (What I wouldn’t give for a first edition!!) It was one of the first cookbooks I bought for myself after my divorce. I had high hopes of whipping up delicious culinary feasts and learning something new! And after watching the movie Julie & Julia repeatedly, I thought for sure I too, could become a chef! HA!!! (I believe I’ve already shared with you how uncomfortable I am in the kitchen!!)
I bought this cookbook, and I literally read it cover to cover, like a novel. I love the way the recipes are described. I love the way the book is written to teach women, like me, how to cook some of the most delicious food in the world. And with yesterday being the first day of Autumn (my favorite season!!), I wanted to make a special meal. So I turned to my good friend Julia Child, and with her help, I was able to whip up a little something special: Boeuf Bourguignon with Garlic Mashed Potatoes.
This special meal was going to require much of my attention…spending hours in the kitchen! Eekk! After pulling my hair back and donning my apron, I turned on some tunes in an attempt to psych myself up! (Yes…there was an audible pep talk. The dog looked at me like I was off my rocker!) I read the recipe. I re-read the recipe. I told myself I could do this and if it didn’t turn out, the dog could eat like a queen and we could have a frozen pizza! No harm, no foul. I didn’t have all of the exact ingredients. I had a package of sliced bacon and not a chunk. I would be using the Betlyon House Cabernet Sauvignon instead of the suggested Beaujolais or Burgundy wine. None the less, I followed every direction, and it was almost like Julia was sitting in the kitchen encouraging me each step of the way.
By the time Sam returned home from work, the house smelled amazing, and I was about to put the finishing touches on the mashed potatoes. I was sweating like a pig (it was 90* again yesterday). I burned my arm on the lid of the dutch oven. I felt like a hot mess! But just as he does every evening while I’m finishing dinner, he sat at the table encouraging me as he read the mail. Much like Paul would sit in the kitchen and watch Julia. It’s funny, when I think about their story…how much they loved each other and were the best of friends. He was her biggest fan…in anything she did! What a love story! Many comparisons can be made between my story and Julia’s…well, at least in my mind! (I may have to see if I can find her book at the library!!)
Everything came together at the perfect time. I plated and garnished the meal. I placed it in front of my favorite food critic and waited with bated breath to see what he thought! There were some audible “mmm’s” and much to my surprise, it was a success! We wouldn’t have to eat frozen pizza after all!!
With every success in the kitchen, I become more confident and comfortable. I’m actually finding enjoyment and satisfaction when I cook. Isn’t that kind of how life is in general? When we have a fear or something we feel we aren’t very good at, we can run the other way and avoid the situation, or we can try. We may not always succeed. We may fall flat on our faces…but at least we tried. I’m glad I tried…it was delicious!