Thursday, September 16, 2010

Veni, Vidi, Vici

While Alex and Josh flew back south, we managed to convince Ashley to stay another week or so :). I just love this girl. We have so much in common (a love of running, eating, enjoying God's creation, family...and then a whole slew of psychological make-up similarities that comes along with being the first-born girl of four), and she is the world's BEST guest. I asked her one morning if she wondered how things ever got done when she wasn't around. She cleaned, took care of the girls, went grocery shopping, did all the laundry, took care of Locks...much more than I did. When we're together, I feel like she's a straight-line wind blowing at 90 miles per hour, moving mountains. I feel like I'm a hurricane, swirling around just as fast but accomplishing nothing.

Unfortunately, during her stay, Seattle weather decided to go on and show up. It was cold and drizzily a lot of the time, and left us un-motivated to do the types of things we normally would have gotten out and done. However, there was a little somethin'-somethin' that caught our eye:

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After watching Julie and Julia (six months or so ago), Ashley gave me a copy of this cookbook, with the request that we start cooking through some of the recipes together. Well, we never did get around to that back in Birmingham, but now here we were--stuck inside and craving a warm and savory soup...and then there was this vintage copy of Julia's masterpiece...

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We started flipping through the incredibly intimidating recipes, and settled on this one. It sounded pretty straight-forward. Ashley went to the grocery store and only called once...just to verify that leeks were indeed those plants that look like giant green onions. I told her I was pretty sure that was right, but suggested she ask. She whispered into the phone, "I think if you are buying something like leeks, you are supposed to know what they look like. I'm going with it."

This first venture into Julia's world taught us a lot. We first learned that she is a funny little bean. She writes the cookbook as though she is speaking to you directly, and some of the things she has to say are laughable. Or at least, they were laughable in our delusional state:

How fortunate we are to have chicken in pieces--those who like dark meat feast upon thighs, white-meat only people are welcome to breasts, while wings at half price make lovely finger food when the budget is low.

Is that funny to anybody else? It's like she just gets a little carried away by her rhapsody over chicken being divided into pieces...What?! Or this:

The host starts the proceedings as usual by spearing out the beef and placing it on a platter. Then he finds a sausage, and after that a big piece of pork. Finally, to wild acclaim, he brings out a chicken...

Don't you all begin your dinner proceeding by spearing out the beef? And wouldn't you cheer to find a piece of sausage hiding beneath it?! This woman is funny...

Between our laughs we did manage to create the Soup a la Victorine,

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And this lovely plate of sliced heirloom tomatoes, with a variety of local cheeses, and a balsamic reduction. Get back now!!
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Besides the fact that we found it a tad on the salty side, it was all superb (if I do say so myself).

Probably because Ashley's love language is "Acts of Service" and mine is "Quality Time" we found that the process of spending a day cooking together was one of the best things on earth. SOOOO, we did it again the next day. And this time, we went ahead and threw down the gauntlet:

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Do you remember this part of the movie? When Julie dumps an entire bottle of red wine into a pot of braised beef. Was I the only one who wanted to crawl through my television and have a bite? Ashley and I have been talking about Boeuf Bourguinon since that day, intimidated, but desperate for a bite.

This time I went to the grocery store. Let me tell you this, going to the store with the intention of buying the finest and most perfect ingredients is a much different experience than scouring the shelves to try and make dinner as good but inexpensive as possible (which is what I normally do). I had a blast, and I even gave the meat man a hug for how much time he took to help me.

I didn't take many pictures. There was way too much concentration required for that. The difference between following a normal recipe and following one of Julia's recipes is much like the difference between reading Francine Rivers and C.S. Lewis. Francine may get the job done. You can fly through her books and get a little Jesus happy along the way, but if you go ahead and take the time to read (and re-read, and re-read, line after line) C.S. Lewis, you are going to grow. You are going to learn something that will last a lifetime AND get some Jesus happy.

We came. We saw. We conquered.

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Glory, glory, it was even more delicious than we could have dreamed!!

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And Ashley even took on cooking an artichoke with lemon butter sauce, since we'd grown so confident.

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It was a fun, growing, and delicious couple of days. Thanks Sashey...and Julia!

10 comments:

Denise said...

Love that movie. Looks like it was a yummy success!

La Petite Gallery said...

Every thing looks scrumptious.

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Darby said...

Y'all are so fun, I wish I could have participated with y'all... that sounds like my IDEAL kind of time spent together! And I love artichokes dipped in butter! Mmmmmmm!!!!!!!

Nancy said...

Precious post! I've been on a new recipe kick too...Chicken Primavera with parmesan pasta from Publix - publix.com/aprons
I don't think it was as fun as what you cooked, though!!
That beef looks so good!

Samma said...

Nothing like a few days really working it in the kitchen to blast any blues!

Anonymous said...

Julia Child's kitchen can be visited on line at the smithsonian I just typed Julia Child's kitchen Smithsonian and the Google helped me find the link thank You Al goredezuz

Pete and Ang said...

Lovely! What an adventure. The food looks amazing. And your comparison between Francine Rivers and CS Lewis made me laugh! So true!

Anonymous said...

do we get a tour of the house? the kitchen looks beautiful, no more fans in the ice box i suppose.

Ashlyn Stallings said...

How about I want to crawl into my computer and have a bite of y'all's dishes?

Fun fact: our daddies were fraternity brothers (maybe roommates? I can't remember..) Anyway, my job is shipping this little Southern girl up to Seattle in a month; you have no idea how much I'm enjoying your posts lately!

Jenny said...

Abby, I just got the Julia Child's cookbooks for Christmas, and I was thrilled. However, I am now looking through them making my grocery list and I am terrified! Are you still using her book? If you get bored, let me know at blackburn.jb@gmail.com
Also - Emily Moore Miller is one of my best friends from high school and she said y'all are sorority sisters! Small world!