Cooking & Eating

Mastering the Art of YouTube

I’ve posted some videos here before, but I’ve officially created a “Sensitive, Bookish Type” YouTube channel, and here’s my first video!

Get ready, book nerds, because it’s not just going to be cooking. As I told my YouTube audience: Continue reading “Mastering the Art of YouTube”

Cooking & Eating

National Croissant Day

Today is National Croissant Day. I know that because Starbucks has all these signs up trying to get you to buy their croissants on National Croissant Day–some kind of deal, I don’t know. I didn’t pay that much attention. All I thought when I saw the words “National Croissant Day” was, At last! I will try my hand at making croissants!

I looked through several of my cookbooks for a recipe and naturally, I ended up in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume II. I have several books that contain recipes for complicated pastries and breads, but this was the only one that specifically addressed the croissant: a bread almost nobody ever makes at home. Because why would you? The bakeries have it down. Plus, they take approximately twelve hours to make. At least, that’s what Julia’s recipe tells you. Continue reading “National Croissant Day”

Cooking & Eating, Reading & Writing

It’s Been Une Semaine Francaise.

img_0794I guess it started with Boeuf Bourguignon: I started thinking about Julia Child and The French Chef and how she always hated that title because she wasn’t French or a chef, and it got me thinking about her memoir, My Life in France, and how I’d like to have a life in France, even a brief one (which I guess you could say I have–I’ve spent a cumulative six or seven days in Paris, spread over several trips to Europe), and how if that’s ever going to happen I’ll have to improve my French, so I started going through my French texts and dictionaries, which made me remember this really great book I read a few years back, The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, which I then began rereading, and in reading the first few chapters I was reminded of one of my all-time favorite films, Amélie, which of course I had to watch, and on top of that the boy has been requesting multiple readings of the Madeline books per day, as well as the bilingual picture books I bought for the girl (whose favorite game, by the way, is to build stacks of blocks and then topple them, saying “Crash!” with all the excitement she can muster–blocks that have French vocabulary on them, because Santa Claus really wanted her to learn a second language) and, well, it seems I’ve thought about the French language and culture every day this week.

C’est bon, hein?

Cooking & Eating, Reading & Writing

Bouef Bourguignon(ish): Improvising the Art of French Cooking

IMG_20170109_165113.jpgWhen I first started cooking, I always followed a recipe. Teaspoons and tablespoons were taken very seriously. And if I forgot to buy an ingredient at the store, cooking came to a halt until that tablespoon of marjoram was located! (And if I sent my husband, he’d come back half an hour later with a tub of Country Crock and then wonder why I was so upset. No offense, Sweetie. I know you mean well.)

It seems a little silly to me now, but back then I had no idea what I was doing and if it was written down (regardless of the author–I had this idea that the only recipes out there were good recipes) that’s how I would do it. And that was the right way, because I was still learning. I have since learned a great deal about ingredients, proportions, and techniques. Unless I’m baking or making candy, I tend to wing it. Honestly, I even wing it when making most breads. So when we were at the grocery store over the weekend and my husband said he’d like beef stew this week, I didn’t whip out my phone to find a list of ingredients. I knew we had carrots and celery at home, plus some leftover sauteed mushrooms that would be a nice addition. My pantry always contains a good stash of dried herbs, tomato products and broths. I had onions in the cart, and I grabbed some stew meat. Done and done.

Now, a lot of the techniques I have on file in my brain come courtesy of Julia Child, especially when it comes to stews. I haven’t managed to cook all the way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking, but I’ve tried quite a few of her recipes and went through a somewhat Child-obsessed phase, during which I read her memoir, her biography, and a collection of her letters. I read Julie and Julia twice and watched the movie countless times, despite its reduction of the Julie character to a somewhat pathetic dud. I have two box sets of The French Chef on DVD. You could say I’m a fan. Continue reading “Bouef Bourguignon(ish): Improvising the Art of French Cooking”