Follow by Email

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


My family is Southern with a twinge of Yankee influence.  I am proudly a second generation Florida Native, and my mothers family is all "Georgia Crackers".  I guess that makes me a "Florida Cracker".  LOL  My hubby is a Native too, and so, like most dyed-in-the-wool Southerners, we eat "down home cookin'".  The Yankee influence would be from my father, who was from up North, and as a young man in the military was stationed here... where he met mom.  My joke is that Daddy is a born Yankee.. but he got here as fast as he could.  :)   Daddy did bring with him, his taste for Pennsylvania Dutch food.. and he has passed some of those Yankee tastebuds on to my sisters and I.  Now we are passing them on to our kids... as evidenced by the block of frozen scrapple in my freezer.  

Bearing this in mind, it came as rather a surprise to me when my youngest child Robyn became interested in all things French.  I have no clue where this came from.  The child reads a great deal, and more likely than not she read about France, and became enamored from there, chattering to me about the glories of Paris any time she could.  

The movie Ratatouille came out.   

She has been a "foodie" since she could talk, and has told me since she was three years old that she wanted to be a chef.  So this movie comes out, and she watches it.  Religiously.  She begs me to watch.  I refuse, as the mere thought of a rat... even a cartoon one... cooking in the kitchen causes the bile to rise in my throat.  My dear husband who is often the "fun" parent bought the movie, and after months of nagging, I finally caved and watched it, simply to get her off my back.  Hmm.  Not as bad as I though.  Quite cute, actually.  Though I am still grossed out by the thought of a rat in the kitchen.  

I love Meryl Streep, and I love Julia Child.  Hence, when the movie Julie & Julia came out, I was hot to go see it.   Ever wanting to please us, hubby bought the movie.  I've watched it not less than seven times.  Maybe more.  I bought the book, and even bought Julia's, My Life In France.   Of course I already had Mastering the Art of French Cooking (volume 1), as well as "Baking With Julia".  But, I think a good many of us who enjoy cooking probably have those books.. along with The Joy of Cooking... which, I may add, was my very first cookbook.  I got it when I was 19, newly married, and no idea how to cook.   I read 'The Joy of Cooking' like a paper back novel, following it blow by blow as I slowly learned how to prepare a meal that didn't make you want to regurgitate.   I digress.  

So, here I am, dusting off my old Julia Child cookbooks.  Vowing I would actually crack them open.  Nope.  I didn't.  "Who needs all that butter?"  I'd ask myself.   EVOO (extra virgin olive oil for you non-foodies) is better.  Isn't it?  I didn't open the cookbooks.  There they sat.  Like the good china that doesn't get used.

My daughters birthdays are four days apart.  (No, we didn't plan this. LOL)  So since they're older now, we offered to take them out for a nice diner for their birthday.  I ask my eldest where she wants to go.  "I don't care."  Fine.  I ask my nearly 11 year old foodie where.  She lights up, and declares she would like to dine at the French Bistro in St Augustine, and she wanted escargot.  
Are you kidding me?

I google it, and I read the reviews, and evidently it's supposed to be "like stepping into Paris", and that the food was truly, truly French.  Wow.  Okay.  Umm.. sure.  I noticed that escargot is only served at dinner and not lunch, so I made reservations for the Saturday evening before their birthdays.  I have my mind up I am NOT eating a snail.  Forget it.  It ain't happenin'.

My Stars.  Such a lovely little bistro.  Fresh, crusty baguettes and "fancy" French cheeses, a lovely soup that was compliments of the Chef, and.. the much anticipated escargot.

The smell was intoxicating.  Buttery, garlicy, Heaven.  My vow to never try them was gone, and I ate two of the divine morsels.  There is nothing more delicate and delicious to be found.  My Stars and Garters, pick me up off the floor!!  Lamb and Ratatouille followed.  Every bite had us wanting to roll into the floor.   Our taste buds had died and went to Heaven.  We devoured every bite.  Dessert was fresh berry tarts for myself, hubby, and eldest, while my pint sized foodie went for the fresh-from-the-oven chocolate lava cake.  

When the meal was over, I looked at hubby.  "My Lord. NOW I know why the French all smoke.  After a meal like that, ya need a cigarette!"  Mark cracked up and agreed.   We waddled home, bellies full of fine French food.

The following day, as we mothers all have to do, was to prepare our meals.  
Nothing.. I mean NOTHING appealed to me.  How the Sam Hill do you eat something that blows your taste buds away, and then go back to eating the same boring stuff?   I cut a piece of yellow American cheese, and bit into it.  Ugh.  It tasted almost oily.  How had I always eaten it before?  I told my hubby, "It's NOT delicious."  It wasn't.  And it's not.   I felt spoiled and dissatisfied, which made me feel guilty.  I reminded myself that I was very blessed, and people were starving all over the world, and I should be ashamed of myself.   

The next day I took out hamburger from the freezer.  I got out 'Mastering the Art of French Cooking', and thumbed through, wondering to myself if Julia Child ever made anything with hamburger.  Much to my surprise, she did!  Who knew there were French hamburgers?  Hot dang!  So, I followed the recipe, and made her steamed buttered rice too.  Result?  Oh. My.  What a heavenly hamburger!  Now THAT was delicious!  Hubby carried his plate that I made him to eat at work, and later, when he got home, asked me just how I'd made it.  He loved it!  

"You know," he says, "you ought to do what Julie (Powell) did.  Go through the book in a year."  He grinned.  Oh Lord, the man is serious.  I considered it.  I sat down after dinner and looked through the cookbook.  I mean REALLY looked.  Oh dear God.. she cooked and ate BRAINS.  I am NOT eating brains.  You can forget it.  I may be a "hick", but brains and tongues and kidneys are not touching these lips.  So I told him I'd cook some of it, but some of it would not be made.  Too bad.  LOL   He counters with, "That's what you said about the snails."   

Dang it.

I am not going to do what Julie Powell did.. cooking her way through an entire, thick-butt cook book in a year, and then blogging about it. As I told my eldest today, NOBODY needs that much butter!  She laughed, and said, "Sure we do!"   Well guess what?  I will make Julia's recipes, and we'll enjoy them.  But not every day.  Lord no.  We are still eating "Southern home cookin' with our bit of Yankee influence."  :)   But after making Julia's Ground Beef with Onions & Herbs (p. 301) and steamed buttered rice (p. 530) yesterday, followed by to-days dinner, Chicken Breasts Saute'ed in Butter (p. 270) today, I have to say I have already learned a better way... more delicious way to cook.  Julia Child knew what GOOD was!  Yes, I will cook her recipes.  Not all of them.  And not in a year.  But I am happy to learn a new and better way to make things.  And incorporate what we're already doing, ever in our quest to eat better and healthier.   Butter is better than that fakey gross margarine anyway. :)  I am convinced that some of those margarines are part plastic anyway.  (gags)

Tomorrow I'm going to make tabbouleh.. we've not eaten that in a while.  I'm not aware if Julia ever made it.. it's definitely NOT French, and vegan to boot. :)   In my attempts for my family to eat healthier, and buying the organic stuff and shopping a little here and there at the hippie store..  well, I feel that Julia's recipes are NOT, in fact, the opposite of that.  Julia believed in using fresh ingredients.  Non processed.  She liked "real" food.  She didn't like the silly food fads.  I have thusly dubbed my "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" as "The Butter Bible".  LOL  I can pick and choose.  We all can. :)


  1. Wow! What an entertaining writer you are, Susan! I really enjoyed this foodie story.

    I remember cooking brains and tongues and kidneys at school. Is it called offal? Now I refuse to touch them. Perhaps I could be tempted by snails, or should I say escargot, if I were taken somewhere as special as the French Bistro... Cheese, berry tarts, lamb... my mouth is watering!

    I am going to follow the links.

    Oh yes, if you weren't so far away, I'd turn up on your doorstep for dinner. Your food sounds much more exciting than ours.

    God bless you.

  2. Susan, I was asked to tag 5 bloggers for a patron saint meme. I immediately thought of you. I know you'd write something entertaining and thoughtful. Would you like to join in? See my blog if you haven't heard about this meme for details. God bless.