Thursday, January 31, 2013

THank you Julia Child

Thank you Julia Child, and my parents more directly.

Why would I say that? Well I’m sitting here by a fire on the coldest day Iv’e lived through (with the possible exception of some day in Germany when I was an infant - not sure how much german winter I “lived though” before I was hauled stateside) eating ice-cream w/ chocolate sauce sitting in a pair of KrumKakes.

I woke up this morning and it was three degrees outside with a wind chill of -20. For a Bay Area boy that’s COLD!

I guess it’s cold for around here also because they were warning people to not go outside and make sure your pets were all in so they wouldn’t freeze to death.

I decided to use this weird pa n that must have been my Norwegian grandmothers (it makes a Norwegian waffle cookie called a KrumKake and I can’t remember ever having any except at her house). My mother must have inherited it and I inherited it from her. I’ve never seen it used and didn’t have any recipes, actually didn’t know what the name of the cookie was till I looked it up. They are a bit like a Scandinavian version of cannoli. You know “leave the gun, take the cannoli”.

So I looked up a recipe and plowed on in.

I’ve been doing a bunch of cooking lately. I have a version of potato leek soup I make pretty often and I’m working at a fish stew that is pretty much like cioppino. French sourdough (actually doesn’t use a sourdough starter, Croissants etc.

Before it sounds like I’m off on a Martha Stewart tangent... The point is I like to cook.

I love to go down to the Eastern Market (Huge farmers Market) and I’m really digging (OK I’m dated) the “cooking seasonally” aspect. I’m not a “foodie”, well I wouldn’t put it that way anyway because I really hate the term. I just like to eat well. Maybe if I had a lot of cash and there were a lot of good restaurants in town like back in the Bay Area or in NYC I would just go out a lot. But I doubt it, because I like to cook.

And why is that? I grew up when straight men didn’t cook (in the US anyway) and a lot still don’t.

I do because that’s what we did growing up.

Recently I for some reason got on a Julia Child kick and read a few things including a biography called “Dearie”. Not a great book but the subject shines through and it’s not bad. I think my parents must have gone through something similar to her journey because they cooked well from as far back as I can remember. I say parents because both cooked. Admittedly mostly my mom but still my father is the only father that I knew growing up that cooked other than a BBQ.

And when I say cook I don’t mean “beanie weenie” or “mac & cheese”. With three kids there was plenty of meatballs and gravy, etc. But we also had a wide selection from “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” and a slew of other cookbooks. If my parents went out and liked a dish they would work out how to make it at home (as I kind of implied we were not rolling in dough - if we had been maybe they would have eaten out more?). Probably not a lot more though because I think they really liked cooking.

So how does this wrap back to JC ;~)

Well “The French Chef” was one of our “family shows”. We would all sit around and watch JC “wing her way” though some recipe. After reading the bio I know there was very little “winging it” going on but it seemed that way to me. My brother and sister may have been too young to have it imprinted as strongly?, but they both cook well and enjoy it so...

The BIG thing was she instilled the idea that you can just do it. And it will be fun. Even the disasters will be fun and fixable, or fun and a lesson.

People coming over for dinner was never a time to pull out the tried and true. It was a time to try something new and spectacular. Disasters, in the kitchen, don’t end the world. You can salvage most and roll with the rest.

It’s been a saving grace since we moved to the Big D. There are not a lot of restaurants that will “surprise” you in motor city. There are a number that do basic stuff really well, but few that surprise.

In SF we couldn’t afford to go out to high end restaurants often but you knew you could. There were any number of places that you could go and the food was SOOO good you just wanted to go home and make something like it.

I haven’t found one in Detroit yet that has given me that feeling. There is one that comes close.

So here, for now any way, you have to surprise yourself. ;~)

That is the connection BTW.

My parents really change the way their kids approach food and cooking. Most of my friends growing up really looked forward to the “special” TV dinner as opposed to the every day TV dinner.

Julia Child helped change the way many in america approach food and cooking.

It’s not slow food and it’s certainly not fast food, but it sure is damn good food.

So thank you to all three, you have made my life much more enjoyable.