Food, Glorious Food!

Cat 243 Dover

by Mary Jo

 Such are the intoxicating effects of handing in a book (Done, done, done!!!) that I couldn’t even read the calendar properly.  Or perhaps it’s because I had it firmly in mind that my blog was a day next to Thanksgiving, and since I’m mildly dyslexic, my mental hard drive naturally translated that to the day after, not the day before.  (Urk!) 

So I went off to have my hair done (finished a good book while under the hair baker, hence fun), then stopped at a grocery story (double urk!). And have only just cottoned to the fact that I have failed in my wenchly duty today.

Ah, well.  I’d been ruminating on the differences between being a good cook and a good baker, and Thanksgiving might be a good time to talk about that.  Because really, though most of us know the basics of cooking and baking, mastery of the two skills does represent different personality types.

A cook can be more improvisational.  If you lack mushrooms for that interesting chicken dish, you can probably do without, or maybe substitute bacon bits or something quite different. 

Pumpkin pie Bakers, however, can’t generally improvise as much, at least not without courting disaster.  You can add chopped walnuts to a cookie recipe and it will probably be just fine, but fail to have the basic ingredients—flour, eggs, baking powder, et al—and  the results may not be pretty.  Much less edible!  So following a recipe fairly carefully is usually advisable.

I always liked baking, mostly because I liked eating the results.  As a Yankee, I’m a pie person, as was my father.  (One definition of a Yankee is someone who eats pie for breakfast.  Guilty!  <G>)  My father used to pay me a bit of extra allowance for each pie I made, so Saturday nights, I’d make two for Sunday dinner. 

Julie and Julia I’ve been meaning to watch the movie Julie and Julia, which is about Julie Powell, a frustrated young New Yorker who decided to jazz up her life by cooking her way through Julia Child’s landmark Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  She blogged about the results, and got a book and then a movie out of it. 

The movie, I understand, intertwines the life of young Julie (Amy Adams) with Julia Child’s, the latter life based on the book My Life in France, which was compiled by Julia Child’s nephew from her letters and memories.  I listened to that book in audio, and loved hearing Julia’s stories.

What struck me most about My Life in France, though, was the realization of how Mastering the Art of French Cooking modern cook books are.  Yes, recipe books been around for a couple of centuries, but at the same time, cooking was also an apprenticeship system.  You trained with a professional cook, or much more often, learned from your mother.  If you bought a cookery book, it was usually more for the recipes and it was often assumed that you knew the techniques.  (For example:  “Elk Stew.  Take one elk. Skin and dress.  Make stew.”)

What made Mastering the Art of French Cooking so remarkable was the way Julia went through the steps of creating a classic French dish so she could describe exactly what was done.  She cooked each dish over and over and OVER until she could describe each step clearly.  All of a sudden people around the world could work their way through the recipes, and learn a whole lot about good cooking.

I’m one of the people who did exactly that.  The book had been out for several years when I picked up a copy.  I was living in England, and while I certainly didn’t Mylifeinfrance try to work my way through all the recipes, I learned how to make good stock by starting with bones and clumps of fresh herbs.  I made coq au vin, and chocolate mousse, and beef burgundy and lots of other dishes. 

These days I can buy first rate croissants at the local bakery, but then they were a rare and exotic treat.  So I followed Julia’s instructions to make croissants, which required layering dough and butter, rolling, flattening, folding, rolling again.  There Croissant were frequent resting periods in the refrigerator since the dough toughened too much to roll without more rest.  (I understood the resting part perfectly by the time I was done. <G>)

My croissants weren’t even remotely crescent shaped, but they had all the yummy flaky layers and were delicious.  Yet it wasn’t until many years later that I realized how much what I know about cooking came from those forays into Julia Child.  (My mother had many interests but cooking was not on the list.  Hence, not much of an apprenticeship for me.)

I haven’t seen Julie and Julia yet, though I will.  These days, my cooking ambitions are to have tasty, reasonably healthy food with the minimum of effort.  Here’s an example of the kind of cooking I do now.  I love making soup, and have a whole file folder within my recipe folder which is just soup. 

My Easy but Inelegant Italian Wedding Soup was inspired by visiting the café at the fabulous Missouri Botanical Gardens with Pat Rice in October.  The cup of Italian Wedding Soup that I ordered used beef stock, not the more common chicken stock, and I loved the cute little round balls of Israeli couscous, which is a baked pasta about the size of a BB in its dry form. 

So I came home, threw this together, and found it good.  It’s inelegant because the bits of meatball are chopped from larger commercial ones rather than made individually, but it sure tastes good.  And I did mention easy, didn’t I?

Easy but Inelegant Italian Wedding Soup

Ingredients

4 quarts of beef stock
1 – 1 ½ lbs. pre-made Italian meatballs, cut into small pieces (Traditionally, Italian meatballs are made of a blend of beef, sausage, and veal.  My local grocer sells them cooked and made on the premises, but frozen bags should be in most supermarkets.  At least, they are in Baltimore, which has lots of Italians who like good food.)

about ¾ lb. of carrots, chopped fine.  (Not essential, but they add color.)

9 oz. package of fresh spinach, sliced.  (I sent it through the slicing attachment of my food processor.  Frozen chopped spinach would probably work pretty well, too.)

1-2 cups Israeli couscous or other small pasta like orzo  (but the little spherical bits of Israeli couscous look awfully cute.)  Vary quantity for desired thickness—two cups is a very thick, hearty soup.

Directions

1) In a big soup pot, bring beef broth to a boil and toss in chopped carrots and cut up meatballs.  Simmer half an hour or so until carrots are well cooked. 

2. Toss in pasta and sliced spinach and simmer for 10 or 15 minutes.  (Longer if you use a larger pasta that takes longer to cook; in that case, you might want to add the spinach a few minutes after the pasta.)

When all is tender, serve hot with grated Parmesan sprinkled on top.

Makes about 16 servings.  Good the first day, better the second. Freezes well.

So have a lovely Thanksgiving.   hope you have a warm and rewarding ime, abundant blessings to give thanks for, and not so much hassle that it isn’t a good time.

And if you have to do most of the work of preparing a feast—remember that you can always make a nice easy pot of soup at some later date. <G>

Cherry Pie So—have you seen Julie and Julia?  And is it as much fun as I’ve heard it is?

Mary Jo
 

55 thoughts on “Food, Glorious Food!”

  1. I am a self taught cook/baker for what it’s worth. My grandmothers both taught me quite a lot when I was very young, but my mother wasn’t a cook or baker so my continuing education into the art of food was done on my own. I think I’d like the Julia Child cookbook though. It seems like it would be a blast to go through.
    I’m keeping your recipe, btw 🙂
    And no, I’ve not seen the movie. It looked very cute though and I just loved Julia Child.

    Reply
  2. I am a self taught cook/baker for what it’s worth. My grandmothers both taught me quite a lot when I was very young, but my mother wasn’t a cook or baker so my continuing education into the art of food was done on my own. I think I’d like the Julia Child cookbook though. It seems like it would be a blast to go through.
    I’m keeping your recipe, btw 🙂
    And no, I’ve not seen the movie. It looked very cute though and I just loved Julia Child.

    Reply
  3. I am a self taught cook/baker for what it’s worth. My grandmothers both taught me quite a lot when I was very young, but my mother wasn’t a cook or baker so my continuing education into the art of food was done on my own. I think I’d like the Julia Child cookbook though. It seems like it would be a blast to go through.
    I’m keeping your recipe, btw 🙂
    And no, I’ve not seen the movie. It looked very cute though and I just loved Julia Child.

    Reply
  4. I am a self taught cook/baker for what it’s worth. My grandmothers both taught me quite a lot when I was very young, but my mother wasn’t a cook or baker so my continuing education into the art of food was done on my own. I think I’d like the Julia Child cookbook though. It seems like it would be a blast to go through.
    I’m keeping your recipe, btw 🙂
    And no, I’ve not seen the movie. It looked very cute though and I just loved Julia Child.

    Reply
  5. I am a self taught cook/baker for what it’s worth. My grandmothers both taught me quite a lot when I was very young, but my mother wasn’t a cook or baker so my continuing education into the art of food was done on my own. I think I’d like the Julia Child cookbook though. It seems like it would be a blast to go through.
    I’m keeping your recipe, btw 🙂
    And no, I’ve not seen the movie. It looked very cute though and I just loved Julia Child.

    Reply
  6. I just finished baking for tomorrow–pecan pies, chess pies, and iced sugar cookies for the grands, some of whom will be here through Sunday. I’m more baker than cook since I’m not an innovator. My favorite recipes are my grandmother’s and my mother’s–both wonderful cooks. Not only is the food great but I also love the memories and the sense of connection

    Reply
  7. I just finished baking for tomorrow–pecan pies, chess pies, and iced sugar cookies for the grands, some of whom will be here through Sunday. I’m more baker than cook since I’m not an innovator. My favorite recipes are my grandmother’s and my mother’s–both wonderful cooks. Not only is the food great but I also love the memories and the sense of connection

    Reply
  8. I just finished baking for tomorrow–pecan pies, chess pies, and iced sugar cookies for the grands, some of whom will be here through Sunday. I’m more baker than cook since I’m not an innovator. My favorite recipes are my grandmother’s and my mother’s–both wonderful cooks. Not only is the food great but I also love the memories and the sense of connection

    Reply
  9. I just finished baking for tomorrow–pecan pies, chess pies, and iced sugar cookies for the grands, some of whom will be here through Sunday. I’m more baker than cook since I’m not an innovator. My favorite recipes are my grandmother’s and my mother’s–both wonderful cooks. Not only is the food great but I also love the memories and the sense of connection

    Reply
  10. I just finished baking for tomorrow–pecan pies, chess pies, and iced sugar cookies for the grands, some of whom will be here through Sunday. I’m more baker than cook since I’m not an innovator. My favorite recipes are my grandmother’s and my mother’s–both wonderful cooks. Not only is the food great but I also love the memories and the sense of connection

    Reply
  11. From MJP:
    Theo, you’re lucky to have had two grandmothers who can cook! Cooking is not a skill that runs in my family. My paternal grandmother made pies that had rock like little balls in the bottom, some kind of misbegotten thickening, I think. And she cooked vegetables till they were dead, dead, dead.
    I never knew my other grandmother, but I gather that when my mother wanted to learn cooking, my grandmother would intervene so it was done RIGHT. Which is not exactly an apprenticeship. *G*
    Janga, the baking sounds lovely! Have you thought of compiling a booklet of recipes from your mother and grandmother, along with some of your memories? The grands would surely love it!
    Happy Thanksgiving–
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  12. From MJP:
    Theo, you’re lucky to have had two grandmothers who can cook! Cooking is not a skill that runs in my family. My paternal grandmother made pies that had rock like little balls in the bottom, some kind of misbegotten thickening, I think. And she cooked vegetables till they were dead, dead, dead.
    I never knew my other grandmother, but I gather that when my mother wanted to learn cooking, my grandmother would intervene so it was done RIGHT. Which is not exactly an apprenticeship. *G*
    Janga, the baking sounds lovely! Have you thought of compiling a booklet of recipes from your mother and grandmother, along with some of your memories? The grands would surely love it!
    Happy Thanksgiving–
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  13. From MJP:
    Theo, you’re lucky to have had two grandmothers who can cook! Cooking is not a skill that runs in my family. My paternal grandmother made pies that had rock like little balls in the bottom, some kind of misbegotten thickening, I think. And she cooked vegetables till they were dead, dead, dead.
    I never knew my other grandmother, but I gather that when my mother wanted to learn cooking, my grandmother would intervene so it was done RIGHT. Which is not exactly an apprenticeship. *G*
    Janga, the baking sounds lovely! Have you thought of compiling a booklet of recipes from your mother and grandmother, along with some of your memories? The grands would surely love it!
    Happy Thanksgiving–
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  14. From MJP:
    Theo, you’re lucky to have had two grandmothers who can cook! Cooking is not a skill that runs in my family. My paternal grandmother made pies that had rock like little balls in the bottom, some kind of misbegotten thickening, I think. And she cooked vegetables till they were dead, dead, dead.
    I never knew my other grandmother, but I gather that when my mother wanted to learn cooking, my grandmother would intervene so it was done RIGHT. Which is not exactly an apprenticeship. *G*
    Janga, the baking sounds lovely! Have you thought of compiling a booklet of recipes from your mother and grandmother, along with some of your memories? The grands would surely love it!
    Happy Thanksgiving–
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  15. From MJP:
    Theo, you’re lucky to have had two grandmothers who can cook! Cooking is not a skill that runs in my family. My paternal grandmother made pies that had rock like little balls in the bottom, some kind of misbegotten thickening, I think. And she cooked vegetables till they were dead, dead, dead.
    I never knew my other grandmother, but I gather that when my mother wanted to learn cooking, my grandmother would intervene so it was done RIGHT. Which is not exactly an apprenticeship. *G*
    Janga, the baking sounds lovely! Have you thought of compiling a booklet of recipes from your mother and grandmother, along with some of your memories? The grands would surely love it!
    Happy Thanksgiving–
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  16. I liked Julie and Julia a lot. Julie was a little irritating but Meryl Streep was wonderful. My mother swore by MTAOFC and gave us girls copies when we left home. Even if you follow the recipies and they fail, they still taste great.

    Reply
  17. I liked Julie and Julia a lot. Julie was a little irritating but Meryl Streep was wonderful. My mother swore by MTAOFC and gave us girls copies when we left home. Even if you follow the recipies and they fail, they still taste great.

    Reply
  18. I liked Julie and Julia a lot. Julie was a little irritating but Meryl Streep was wonderful. My mother swore by MTAOFC and gave us girls copies when we left home. Even if you follow the recipies and they fail, they still taste great.

    Reply
  19. I liked Julie and Julia a lot. Julie was a little irritating but Meryl Streep was wonderful. My mother swore by MTAOFC and gave us girls copies when we left home. Even if you follow the recipies and they fail, they still taste great.

    Reply
  20. I liked Julie and Julia a lot. Julie was a little irritating but Meryl Streep was wonderful. My mother swore by MTAOFC and gave us girls copies when we left home. Even if you follow the recipies and they fail, they still taste great.

    Reply
  21. Thank you for the soup recipe. Love soups and easy is good;o) Have not yet seen the movie. Will probably see it on DVD. Have heard it is good.
    Had not heard the eating pie for breakfast definition of a Yankee. I am and I do. We now live in TN and I wondered why I got odd looks when I mentioned eating pie for breakfast. I always make two pies when I get a chance to bake. I know they will be breakfast for us all the next few days. Nothing beats a nice piece of fruit pie for breakfast. True dessert pies like chocolate cream, etc don’t make a good breakfast. Of course starting your day off with chocolate isn’t all bad.
    I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

    Reply
  22. Thank you for the soup recipe. Love soups and easy is good;o) Have not yet seen the movie. Will probably see it on DVD. Have heard it is good.
    Had not heard the eating pie for breakfast definition of a Yankee. I am and I do. We now live in TN and I wondered why I got odd looks when I mentioned eating pie for breakfast. I always make two pies when I get a chance to bake. I know they will be breakfast for us all the next few days. Nothing beats a nice piece of fruit pie for breakfast. True dessert pies like chocolate cream, etc don’t make a good breakfast. Of course starting your day off with chocolate isn’t all bad.
    I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

    Reply
  23. Thank you for the soup recipe. Love soups and easy is good;o) Have not yet seen the movie. Will probably see it on DVD. Have heard it is good.
    Had not heard the eating pie for breakfast definition of a Yankee. I am and I do. We now live in TN and I wondered why I got odd looks when I mentioned eating pie for breakfast. I always make two pies when I get a chance to bake. I know they will be breakfast for us all the next few days. Nothing beats a nice piece of fruit pie for breakfast. True dessert pies like chocolate cream, etc don’t make a good breakfast. Of course starting your day off with chocolate isn’t all bad.
    I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

    Reply
  24. Thank you for the soup recipe. Love soups and easy is good;o) Have not yet seen the movie. Will probably see it on DVD. Have heard it is good.
    Had not heard the eating pie for breakfast definition of a Yankee. I am and I do. We now live in TN and I wondered why I got odd looks when I mentioned eating pie for breakfast. I always make two pies when I get a chance to bake. I know they will be breakfast for us all the next few days. Nothing beats a nice piece of fruit pie for breakfast. True dessert pies like chocolate cream, etc don’t make a good breakfast. Of course starting your day off with chocolate isn’t all bad.
    I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

    Reply
  25. Thank you for the soup recipe. Love soups and easy is good;o) Have not yet seen the movie. Will probably see it on DVD. Have heard it is good.
    Had not heard the eating pie for breakfast definition of a Yankee. I am and I do. We now live in TN and I wondered why I got odd looks when I mentioned eating pie for breakfast. I always make two pies when I get a chance to bake. I know they will be breakfast for us all the next few days. Nothing beats a nice piece of fruit pie for breakfast. True dessert pies like chocolate cream, etc don’t make a good breakfast. Of course starting your day off with chocolate isn’t all bad.
    I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

    Reply
  26. Mary Jo, you’re talking to a dyed-in-the-wool cook. I do bake, also, but my real love is cooking, especially soups and casseroles.
    My previously kitchen-inept brother-in-law retired a couple of years ago, and, since his wife (my sister) was still working at the time, he took over kitchen duties . . . and discovered a love of cooking. My sister can have you in tears telling about his disastrous “experiments” in the kitchen. He is still learning, but he has great enthusiasm.
    He said the best Christmas gift I ever gave him was when I photocopied all the recipes I’d collected (or developed myself) over the past 40 years and put them in a 3-ring binder for him. Every Christmas, I give him more recipes that I’ve come across.
    My sister and I regularly get together for what we call “baking and bonding” days, where we try out new soups, casseroles, pastries, etc. We make double of everything so that we can each take home goodies. Most of our efforts are tasty, but there have been a few duds. One time, we tried a “sweet and sour lentils” recipe that was so awful we couldn’t even eat it. My sister set it on the porch railing to cool down so she could feed it to the cows. I can’t tell you how bad it was. Truly awful. But John came home, saw the pan of lentils on the porch, and sat down and ate 3 bowls. I did say that John likes to cook, but I didn’t say he had good taste. *g*

    Reply
  27. Mary Jo, you’re talking to a dyed-in-the-wool cook. I do bake, also, but my real love is cooking, especially soups and casseroles.
    My previously kitchen-inept brother-in-law retired a couple of years ago, and, since his wife (my sister) was still working at the time, he took over kitchen duties . . . and discovered a love of cooking. My sister can have you in tears telling about his disastrous “experiments” in the kitchen. He is still learning, but he has great enthusiasm.
    He said the best Christmas gift I ever gave him was when I photocopied all the recipes I’d collected (or developed myself) over the past 40 years and put them in a 3-ring binder for him. Every Christmas, I give him more recipes that I’ve come across.
    My sister and I regularly get together for what we call “baking and bonding” days, where we try out new soups, casseroles, pastries, etc. We make double of everything so that we can each take home goodies. Most of our efforts are tasty, but there have been a few duds. One time, we tried a “sweet and sour lentils” recipe that was so awful we couldn’t even eat it. My sister set it on the porch railing to cool down so she could feed it to the cows. I can’t tell you how bad it was. Truly awful. But John came home, saw the pan of lentils on the porch, and sat down and ate 3 bowls. I did say that John likes to cook, but I didn’t say he had good taste. *g*

    Reply
  28. Mary Jo, you’re talking to a dyed-in-the-wool cook. I do bake, also, but my real love is cooking, especially soups and casseroles.
    My previously kitchen-inept brother-in-law retired a couple of years ago, and, since his wife (my sister) was still working at the time, he took over kitchen duties . . . and discovered a love of cooking. My sister can have you in tears telling about his disastrous “experiments” in the kitchen. He is still learning, but he has great enthusiasm.
    He said the best Christmas gift I ever gave him was when I photocopied all the recipes I’d collected (or developed myself) over the past 40 years and put them in a 3-ring binder for him. Every Christmas, I give him more recipes that I’ve come across.
    My sister and I regularly get together for what we call “baking and bonding” days, where we try out new soups, casseroles, pastries, etc. We make double of everything so that we can each take home goodies. Most of our efforts are tasty, but there have been a few duds. One time, we tried a “sweet and sour lentils” recipe that was so awful we couldn’t even eat it. My sister set it on the porch railing to cool down so she could feed it to the cows. I can’t tell you how bad it was. Truly awful. But John came home, saw the pan of lentils on the porch, and sat down and ate 3 bowls. I did say that John likes to cook, but I didn’t say he had good taste. *g*

    Reply
  29. Mary Jo, you’re talking to a dyed-in-the-wool cook. I do bake, also, but my real love is cooking, especially soups and casseroles.
    My previously kitchen-inept brother-in-law retired a couple of years ago, and, since his wife (my sister) was still working at the time, he took over kitchen duties . . . and discovered a love of cooking. My sister can have you in tears telling about his disastrous “experiments” in the kitchen. He is still learning, but he has great enthusiasm.
    He said the best Christmas gift I ever gave him was when I photocopied all the recipes I’d collected (or developed myself) over the past 40 years and put them in a 3-ring binder for him. Every Christmas, I give him more recipes that I’ve come across.
    My sister and I regularly get together for what we call “baking and bonding” days, where we try out new soups, casseroles, pastries, etc. We make double of everything so that we can each take home goodies. Most of our efforts are tasty, but there have been a few duds. One time, we tried a “sweet and sour lentils” recipe that was so awful we couldn’t even eat it. My sister set it on the porch railing to cool down so she could feed it to the cows. I can’t tell you how bad it was. Truly awful. But John came home, saw the pan of lentils on the porch, and sat down and ate 3 bowls. I did say that John likes to cook, but I didn’t say he had good taste. *g*

    Reply
  30. Mary Jo, you’re talking to a dyed-in-the-wool cook. I do bake, also, but my real love is cooking, especially soups and casseroles.
    My previously kitchen-inept brother-in-law retired a couple of years ago, and, since his wife (my sister) was still working at the time, he took over kitchen duties . . . and discovered a love of cooking. My sister can have you in tears telling about his disastrous “experiments” in the kitchen. He is still learning, but he has great enthusiasm.
    He said the best Christmas gift I ever gave him was when I photocopied all the recipes I’d collected (or developed myself) over the past 40 years and put them in a 3-ring binder for him. Every Christmas, I give him more recipes that I’ve come across.
    My sister and I regularly get together for what we call “baking and bonding” days, where we try out new soups, casseroles, pastries, etc. We make double of everything so that we can each take home goodies. Most of our efforts are tasty, but there have been a few duds. One time, we tried a “sweet and sour lentils” recipe that was so awful we couldn’t even eat it. My sister set it on the porch railing to cool down so she could feed it to the cows. I can’t tell you how bad it was. Truly awful. But John came home, saw the pan of lentils on the porch, and sat down and ate 3 bowls. I did say that John likes to cook, but I didn’t say he had good taste. *g*

    Reply
  31. I used to cook and entertain a lot, but cooking is just one thing that’s been pushed into the corner since I started writing (dustballs, anyone?). I also used to have a copy of Julia’s cookbook, which my children accidentally sold in a yard sale to an ‘early bird’ who came into my house and helped herself!!! I read the kids the riot act, but was secretly relieved, because all the recipes took far more patience than I have.
    This Thanksgiving, I’m hosting a brunch, and there will be no turkey in sight, not even turkey sausages. I’m good if I can do the prep work early, otherwise I just don’t want to sit down and eat after I’ve slaved in the kitchen. I need to win the lottery so I can hire a cook/housekeeper like all my heroines have.:)

    Reply
  32. I used to cook and entertain a lot, but cooking is just one thing that’s been pushed into the corner since I started writing (dustballs, anyone?). I also used to have a copy of Julia’s cookbook, which my children accidentally sold in a yard sale to an ‘early bird’ who came into my house and helped herself!!! I read the kids the riot act, but was secretly relieved, because all the recipes took far more patience than I have.
    This Thanksgiving, I’m hosting a brunch, and there will be no turkey in sight, not even turkey sausages. I’m good if I can do the prep work early, otherwise I just don’t want to sit down and eat after I’ve slaved in the kitchen. I need to win the lottery so I can hire a cook/housekeeper like all my heroines have.:)

    Reply
  33. I used to cook and entertain a lot, but cooking is just one thing that’s been pushed into the corner since I started writing (dustballs, anyone?). I also used to have a copy of Julia’s cookbook, which my children accidentally sold in a yard sale to an ‘early bird’ who came into my house and helped herself!!! I read the kids the riot act, but was secretly relieved, because all the recipes took far more patience than I have.
    This Thanksgiving, I’m hosting a brunch, and there will be no turkey in sight, not even turkey sausages. I’m good if I can do the prep work early, otherwise I just don’t want to sit down and eat after I’ve slaved in the kitchen. I need to win the lottery so I can hire a cook/housekeeper like all my heroines have.:)

    Reply
  34. I used to cook and entertain a lot, but cooking is just one thing that’s been pushed into the corner since I started writing (dustballs, anyone?). I also used to have a copy of Julia’s cookbook, which my children accidentally sold in a yard sale to an ‘early bird’ who came into my house and helped herself!!! I read the kids the riot act, but was secretly relieved, because all the recipes took far more patience than I have.
    This Thanksgiving, I’m hosting a brunch, and there will be no turkey in sight, not even turkey sausages. I’m good if I can do the prep work early, otherwise I just don’t want to sit down and eat after I’ve slaved in the kitchen. I need to win the lottery so I can hire a cook/housekeeper like all my heroines have.:)

    Reply
  35. I used to cook and entertain a lot, but cooking is just one thing that’s been pushed into the corner since I started writing (dustballs, anyone?). I also used to have a copy of Julia’s cookbook, which my children accidentally sold in a yard sale to an ‘early bird’ who came into my house and helped herself!!! I read the kids the riot act, but was secretly relieved, because all the recipes took far more patience than I have.
    This Thanksgiving, I’m hosting a brunch, and there will be no turkey in sight, not even turkey sausages. I’m good if I can do the prep work early, otherwise I just don’t want to sit down and eat after I’ve slaved in the kitchen. I need to win the lottery so I can hire a cook/housekeeper like all my heroines have.:)

    Reply
  36. What a wonderful time to talk baking, Mary Jo! Even though Thanksgiving was last month for us Canucks, I’m starting to think about Christmas baking. My favorites are gingerbread and mince tarts, and my sister-in-law makes wonderful shortbread cookies!
    Most of my baking and cooking was learned by careful observation. My mother-in-law made wonderful pastry, so when I decided to learn how to bake pies, I spent a day watching and taking careful notes. Nothing like a little hands-on research.
    Happy holidays!

    Reply
  37. What a wonderful time to talk baking, Mary Jo! Even though Thanksgiving was last month for us Canucks, I’m starting to think about Christmas baking. My favorites are gingerbread and mince tarts, and my sister-in-law makes wonderful shortbread cookies!
    Most of my baking and cooking was learned by careful observation. My mother-in-law made wonderful pastry, so when I decided to learn how to bake pies, I spent a day watching and taking careful notes. Nothing like a little hands-on research.
    Happy holidays!

    Reply
  38. What a wonderful time to talk baking, Mary Jo! Even though Thanksgiving was last month for us Canucks, I’m starting to think about Christmas baking. My favorites are gingerbread and mince tarts, and my sister-in-law makes wonderful shortbread cookies!
    Most of my baking and cooking was learned by careful observation. My mother-in-law made wonderful pastry, so when I decided to learn how to bake pies, I spent a day watching and taking careful notes. Nothing like a little hands-on research.
    Happy holidays!

    Reply
  39. What a wonderful time to talk baking, Mary Jo! Even though Thanksgiving was last month for us Canucks, I’m starting to think about Christmas baking. My favorites are gingerbread and mince tarts, and my sister-in-law makes wonderful shortbread cookies!
    Most of my baking and cooking was learned by careful observation. My mother-in-law made wonderful pastry, so when I decided to learn how to bake pies, I spent a day watching and taking careful notes. Nothing like a little hands-on research.
    Happy holidays!

    Reply
  40. What a wonderful time to talk baking, Mary Jo! Even though Thanksgiving was last month for us Canucks, I’m starting to think about Christmas baking. My favorites are gingerbread and mince tarts, and my sister-in-law makes wonderful shortbread cookies!
    Most of my baking and cooking was learned by careful observation. My mother-in-law made wonderful pastry, so when I decided to learn how to bake pies, I spent a day watching and taking careful notes. Nothing like a little hands-on research.
    Happy holidays!

    Reply
  41. From MJP:
    Patricia, I’m glad that you can validate my definition of a Yankee. *g* It’s definitely the fruit pies that make a delicious breakfast. Warm cherry pie, hot coffee–yum! And with all that good fruit, even somewhat healthy. (I agree that breakfast is not the time for chocolate cream pie.)
    Keziah, the cookbook my mother gave my sister and I one Christmas long, long ago was also classic THE JOY OF COOKING. Solid American day to day food, nothing like Julia’s brilliant French, but still a very useful book, especially for someone like me who started near ground zero. *g* I still have it, still use it sometimes.
    Sherrie, how lovely that your b-i-l discovered a love of cooking in retirement! (And how handy for your sister. *g*) I can accept the legitimacy of sweet and sour lentils, though I probably wouldn’t like them. But rather nice that someone did. *g*
    Good grief, Maggie, a “yard saler” walked into your house and basically swiped a cookbook? Someday she may be roasting in some hot place herself! Enjoy your brunch–that sounds wonderfully civilized.
    Cynthia, a nice thing about Christmas is all the wonderful baking, which comes from so many traditions. I don’t like American mince pie, which is a full size pie and way too rich and sweet for my taste, but when I lived in England, I found that I loved the little mince tarts which you’re probably referring to, since the mince is balanced by the delicious crumbling short crust. Yum! A holiday favorite of mine are Russian tea cakes–basically, shortbread with lots of chopped walnuts, cooked in round balls and rolled in powdered sugar when they come out of the oven hot. Delicious!
    I’m getting hungry just talking about all this food! Luckily a 21 lb turkey nicknamed “Leftovers”) is roasting in the oven, with many lovely other dishes hovering in wait.
    Thanks and blessings to all–
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  42. From MJP:
    Patricia, I’m glad that you can validate my definition of a Yankee. *g* It’s definitely the fruit pies that make a delicious breakfast. Warm cherry pie, hot coffee–yum! And with all that good fruit, even somewhat healthy. (I agree that breakfast is not the time for chocolate cream pie.)
    Keziah, the cookbook my mother gave my sister and I one Christmas long, long ago was also classic THE JOY OF COOKING. Solid American day to day food, nothing like Julia’s brilliant French, but still a very useful book, especially for someone like me who started near ground zero. *g* I still have it, still use it sometimes.
    Sherrie, how lovely that your b-i-l discovered a love of cooking in retirement! (And how handy for your sister. *g*) I can accept the legitimacy of sweet and sour lentils, though I probably wouldn’t like them. But rather nice that someone did. *g*
    Good grief, Maggie, a “yard saler” walked into your house and basically swiped a cookbook? Someday she may be roasting in some hot place herself! Enjoy your brunch–that sounds wonderfully civilized.
    Cynthia, a nice thing about Christmas is all the wonderful baking, which comes from so many traditions. I don’t like American mince pie, which is a full size pie and way too rich and sweet for my taste, but when I lived in England, I found that I loved the little mince tarts which you’re probably referring to, since the mince is balanced by the delicious crumbling short crust. Yum! A holiday favorite of mine are Russian tea cakes–basically, shortbread with lots of chopped walnuts, cooked in round balls and rolled in powdered sugar when they come out of the oven hot. Delicious!
    I’m getting hungry just talking about all this food! Luckily a 21 lb turkey nicknamed “Leftovers”) is roasting in the oven, with many lovely other dishes hovering in wait.
    Thanks and blessings to all–
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  43. From MJP:
    Patricia, I’m glad that you can validate my definition of a Yankee. *g* It’s definitely the fruit pies that make a delicious breakfast. Warm cherry pie, hot coffee–yum! And with all that good fruit, even somewhat healthy. (I agree that breakfast is not the time for chocolate cream pie.)
    Keziah, the cookbook my mother gave my sister and I one Christmas long, long ago was also classic THE JOY OF COOKING. Solid American day to day food, nothing like Julia’s brilliant French, but still a very useful book, especially for someone like me who started near ground zero. *g* I still have it, still use it sometimes.
    Sherrie, how lovely that your b-i-l discovered a love of cooking in retirement! (And how handy for your sister. *g*) I can accept the legitimacy of sweet and sour lentils, though I probably wouldn’t like them. But rather nice that someone did. *g*
    Good grief, Maggie, a “yard saler” walked into your house and basically swiped a cookbook? Someday she may be roasting in some hot place herself! Enjoy your brunch–that sounds wonderfully civilized.
    Cynthia, a nice thing about Christmas is all the wonderful baking, which comes from so many traditions. I don’t like American mince pie, which is a full size pie and way too rich and sweet for my taste, but when I lived in England, I found that I loved the little mince tarts which you’re probably referring to, since the mince is balanced by the delicious crumbling short crust. Yum! A holiday favorite of mine are Russian tea cakes–basically, shortbread with lots of chopped walnuts, cooked in round balls and rolled in powdered sugar when they come out of the oven hot. Delicious!
    I’m getting hungry just talking about all this food! Luckily a 21 lb turkey nicknamed “Leftovers”) is roasting in the oven, with many lovely other dishes hovering in wait.
    Thanks and blessings to all–
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  44. From MJP:
    Patricia, I’m glad that you can validate my definition of a Yankee. *g* It’s definitely the fruit pies that make a delicious breakfast. Warm cherry pie, hot coffee–yum! And with all that good fruit, even somewhat healthy. (I agree that breakfast is not the time for chocolate cream pie.)
    Keziah, the cookbook my mother gave my sister and I one Christmas long, long ago was also classic THE JOY OF COOKING. Solid American day to day food, nothing like Julia’s brilliant French, but still a very useful book, especially for someone like me who started near ground zero. *g* I still have it, still use it sometimes.
    Sherrie, how lovely that your b-i-l discovered a love of cooking in retirement! (And how handy for your sister. *g*) I can accept the legitimacy of sweet and sour lentils, though I probably wouldn’t like them. But rather nice that someone did. *g*
    Good grief, Maggie, a “yard saler” walked into your house and basically swiped a cookbook? Someday she may be roasting in some hot place herself! Enjoy your brunch–that sounds wonderfully civilized.
    Cynthia, a nice thing about Christmas is all the wonderful baking, which comes from so many traditions. I don’t like American mince pie, which is a full size pie and way too rich and sweet for my taste, but when I lived in England, I found that I loved the little mince tarts which you’re probably referring to, since the mince is balanced by the delicious crumbling short crust. Yum! A holiday favorite of mine are Russian tea cakes–basically, shortbread with lots of chopped walnuts, cooked in round balls and rolled in powdered sugar when they come out of the oven hot. Delicious!
    I’m getting hungry just talking about all this food! Luckily a 21 lb turkey nicknamed “Leftovers”) is roasting in the oven, with many lovely other dishes hovering in wait.
    Thanks and blessings to all–
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  45. From MJP:
    Patricia, I’m glad that you can validate my definition of a Yankee. *g* It’s definitely the fruit pies that make a delicious breakfast. Warm cherry pie, hot coffee–yum! And with all that good fruit, even somewhat healthy. (I agree that breakfast is not the time for chocolate cream pie.)
    Keziah, the cookbook my mother gave my sister and I one Christmas long, long ago was also classic THE JOY OF COOKING. Solid American day to day food, nothing like Julia’s brilliant French, but still a very useful book, especially for someone like me who started near ground zero. *g* I still have it, still use it sometimes.
    Sherrie, how lovely that your b-i-l discovered a love of cooking in retirement! (And how handy for your sister. *g*) I can accept the legitimacy of sweet and sour lentils, though I probably wouldn’t like them. But rather nice that someone did. *g*
    Good grief, Maggie, a “yard saler” walked into your house and basically swiped a cookbook? Someday she may be roasting in some hot place herself! Enjoy your brunch–that sounds wonderfully civilized.
    Cynthia, a nice thing about Christmas is all the wonderful baking, which comes from so many traditions. I don’t like American mince pie, which is a full size pie and way too rich and sweet for my taste, but when I lived in England, I found that I loved the little mince tarts which you’re probably referring to, since the mince is balanced by the delicious crumbling short crust. Yum! A holiday favorite of mine are Russian tea cakes–basically, shortbread with lots of chopped walnuts, cooked in round balls and rolled in powdered sugar when they come out of the oven hot. Delicious!
    I’m getting hungry just talking about all this food! Luckily a 21 lb turkey nicknamed “Leftovers”) is roasting in the oven, with many lovely other dishes hovering in wait.
    Thanks and blessings to all–
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  46. “Julie and Julia” is indeed as much fun as it looks (two members of my family are getting the DVD for Christmas), although admittedly Powell’s story suffers a bit by comparison to Child’s. There are some nice romantic elements in the film as well, especially the relationship between Julia and Paul Child.
    I cook and bake–baking was what I mastered first–but I’ve never attempted anything as ambitious or caloric as working my way through something as huge as Julia’s famous book. But there’s something so reassuring about cooking because it has a clearly defined beginning, middle, and end. And if you do it right, the results are delicious. My most recent accomplishment is bouillabaisse, though I’ll confess I’ve been leaving out the most expensive ingredient: saffron. But I include everything else and I make my own fish stock too. So far, no one in the family has complained.

    Reply
  47. “Julie and Julia” is indeed as much fun as it looks (two members of my family are getting the DVD for Christmas), although admittedly Powell’s story suffers a bit by comparison to Child’s. There are some nice romantic elements in the film as well, especially the relationship between Julia and Paul Child.
    I cook and bake–baking was what I mastered first–but I’ve never attempted anything as ambitious or caloric as working my way through something as huge as Julia’s famous book. But there’s something so reassuring about cooking because it has a clearly defined beginning, middle, and end. And if you do it right, the results are delicious. My most recent accomplishment is bouillabaisse, though I’ll confess I’ve been leaving out the most expensive ingredient: saffron. But I include everything else and I make my own fish stock too. So far, no one in the family has complained.

    Reply
  48. “Julie and Julia” is indeed as much fun as it looks (two members of my family are getting the DVD for Christmas), although admittedly Powell’s story suffers a bit by comparison to Child’s. There are some nice romantic elements in the film as well, especially the relationship between Julia and Paul Child.
    I cook and bake–baking was what I mastered first–but I’ve never attempted anything as ambitious or caloric as working my way through something as huge as Julia’s famous book. But there’s something so reassuring about cooking because it has a clearly defined beginning, middle, and end. And if you do it right, the results are delicious. My most recent accomplishment is bouillabaisse, though I’ll confess I’ve been leaving out the most expensive ingredient: saffron. But I include everything else and I make my own fish stock too. So far, no one in the family has complained.

    Reply
  49. “Julie and Julia” is indeed as much fun as it looks (two members of my family are getting the DVD for Christmas), although admittedly Powell’s story suffers a bit by comparison to Child’s. There are some nice romantic elements in the film as well, especially the relationship between Julia and Paul Child.
    I cook and bake–baking was what I mastered first–but I’ve never attempted anything as ambitious or caloric as working my way through something as huge as Julia’s famous book. But there’s something so reassuring about cooking because it has a clearly defined beginning, middle, and end. And if you do it right, the results are delicious. My most recent accomplishment is bouillabaisse, though I’ll confess I’ve been leaving out the most expensive ingredient: saffron. But I include everything else and I make my own fish stock too. So far, no one in the family has complained.

    Reply
  50. “Julie and Julia” is indeed as much fun as it looks (two members of my family are getting the DVD for Christmas), although admittedly Powell’s story suffers a bit by comparison to Child’s. There are some nice romantic elements in the film as well, especially the relationship between Julia and Paul Child.
    I cook and bake–baking was what I mastered first–but I’ve never attempted anything as ambitious or caloric as working my way through something as huge as Julia’s famous book. But there’s something so reassuring about cooking because it has a clearly defined beginning, middle, and end. And if you do it right, the results are delicious. My most recent accomplishment is bouillabaisse, though I’ll confess I’ve been leaving out the most expensive ingredient: saffron. But I include everything else and I make my own fish stock too. So far, no one in the family has complained.

    Reply
  51. From MJP:
    Stephanie–you’re so right about how cooking has a definite end and a visible result, which isn’t the case with so many projects.
    As for the bouillabaise–sounds lovely, but why not ask for some saffron for Christmas, just to see what difference it might make? *g*
    Mary Jo, still digesting

    Reply
  52. From MJP:
    Stephanie–you’re so right about how cooking has a definite end and a visible result, which isn’t the case with so many projects.
    As for the bouillabaise–sounds lovely, but why not ask for some saffron for Christmas, just to see what difference it might make? *g*
    Mary Jo, still digesting

    Reply
  53. From MJP:
    Stephanie–you’re so right about how cooking has a definite end and a visible result, which isn’t the case with so many projects.
    As for the bouillabaise–sounds lovely, but why not ask for some saffron for Christmas, just to see what difference it might make? *g*
    Mary Jo, still digesting

    Reply
  54. From MJP:
    Stephanie–you’re so right about how cooking has a definite end and a visible result, which isn’t the case with so many projects.
    As for the bouillabaise–sounds lovely, but why not ask for some saffron for Christmas, just to see what difference it might make? *g*
    Mary Jo, still digesting

    Reply
  55. From MJP:
    Stephanie–you’re so right about how cooking has a definite end and a visible result, which isn’t the case with so many projects.
    As for the bouillabaise–sounds lovely, but why not ask for some saffron for Christmas, just to see what difference it might make? *g*
    Mary Jo, still digesting

    Reply

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