Thursday, January 31, 2013

Chillin' with Julia

Yesterday evening I sat down with Nora to watch a couple of episodes of Julia Child and The French Chef. The kids got me the collection of her PBS shows a couple of Christmases ago.  What a gift!

I used to rent them from Netflix and we would lie in bed, watching Julia chop and stir and we would laugh uproariously.

With all the cooking shows available now, I think we take for granted people like Julia Child who premiered the whole idea.  Can you believe they recorded her shows in one straight shot!  No pauses.  No editing. As she was showing us how to make crepes last night, a bit of the batter fell onto the electric stovetop element and I believe it caught on fire!  The steady stream of smoke grew, but Julia just kept on talking, swirling her crepe pan.  For an instant, the camera caught a glimpse of the flame, then moved upward, keeping the element out of the viewer's eye.

It was something, watching her work, making good food accessible to the average gal or guy who enjoyed tinkering in the kitchen.  As she stuck her spatula into the bowl of the moving stand mixer, and the spatula was flung across the kitchen, she chuckled, but hardly slowed down!

Watching Julia Child, black and white, in her dated kitchen, makes me feel better.  I ALWAYS learn something new.  But one thing I wonder, how did she stay so skinny?

Nora and I watched Julia make crepes, with roasted apples, with orange butter, and of course the inimitable Crepes Suzette.  She poured cognac and orange liquer with abandon, and they flamed accordingly.  I think I have to start making crepes.  Spelt crepes.  Buckwheat crepes.  Perhaps tonight Nora and I can watch Alton Brown teach us the art of crepe making.  Think any customers would be interested in Taste and See crepes?

We also watched the croissant episode.

I have wanted to make croissant in the bakery for a very long time.  I read a great article in Cook's Illustrated last year, detailing some techniques that help make the perfect croissant.  Julia seemed to make it a lot easier than CI.  Perhaps she had access to better butter.  CI suggested that it is important to use a  high fat butter, like Plugra, to get the best results.  Julia said that the key was pounding the butter, to make it malleable and to make certain there weren't lumps.  As Nora and I watched her slam the dough onto the marble slab, repeatedly slamming it down, picking it up, slamming it down, to develop the gluten strands in the dough, and as we watched her beat the frozen butter with a wooden stick, Nora suggested that someone very angry invented this dish!  If that is the case, isn't it wonderful that something so amazing can come out of a temper tantrum in the kitchen!!!

When Julia took the platter of finished croissants into her staged dining room, sat down with the newspaper and her cafe au lait, I determined to perfect the spelt croissant.

I then put myself to bed with a book, and the first thing I read was a quote from The Sword and the Stone by T.H. White:  "The best thing for disturbances of the spirit is to learn."  There is quite a bit more to the quote, but I especially loved that part, and was thankful for Julia Child and her producers and the people who believed in her mission, who made it possible for her to help me and many other people learn something in the kitchen!

I will let you know how things go.  Maybe it is time to add a thing or two to the bakery agenda.  Maybe I need to shake things up and be a bit more creative.  Good medicine?  It is either that, or I break out the credit card, ditch the kids and head to Paris for a few days.  Which is where you will find me, if I am suddenly AWOL. 


Greener Pastures--A City Girl Goes Country said...

I thought she was fat?

Wow, pounding butter and all that. There's a lot that goes into professional baking! said...

You should check out the old shows! I think she looks skinny! And yeah, you have no idea how much work! Great for feelings of annoyance. I highly recommend it, but you don't need it, you have stalls to clean out. Same principal.

Dixie Farmer said...

Ginger, it is so, so good to see you back and blogging. It is a very rich and enjoyable time for me to read your post. I'm sure you have seen the movie 'Julie, Julia', right?
I think I will share your blog with a mom of 10, who just lost her young hubby to colon cancer.
I would love to sit down with you and something! hot to drink --- and v-i-s-i-t.
I wrote down your thoughts on believing in the goodness of God while we are in deep grief and anguish. said...

Dear, dear Dixie, I would LOVE to sit down for a very long visit. Now that we are so much closer! Burnet still feels pretty far away. We have so much to catch up on. I am sorry to hear about that new widow. Will pray for her and her family.

PS I did see Julie, Julia with some girlfriends when it came out. I laughed and cried. Should see it again.

PPS Thanks for reading and encouraging. Sometimes I think, Vanity, vanity, all is vanity, when I write and wonder why I even bother! But it seems to be something I can't not do, so the encouragement is helpful!

Greener Pastures--A City Girl Goes Country said...

True. The stalls. You have to be careful though. One time I pounded the wheelbarrow on the ground when I was emptying it because I was upset over something. Only thing was, I missed and got my toe. (You'd be surprised at how easy that is to do, lol.) It hurt so bad I was afraid to take my shoe off and look. Turns out I just lost a toenail. But that taught me a lesson about my temper. I guess you can't do that with butter...