Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Forget The Joy... I Need The Basics Of Cooking..

Last year, I watched the movie Julie and Julia about a woman who blogs as she works her way through Julia Childs classic cookbook, The Joy of Cooking. The movie focuses on the modern-day woman and how she has this unknowing connection to Julia Child's life when she was writing the book. Julie blogs daily about the recipes she tries and discovers truths about herself along the way.  I can relate...  I discover things about myself every day as I sit down to write to you.

I share another connection to Julie as well... I know it is a little late in the game since my only child is leaving home, but I want to learn to cook... and bake from scratch... and dare I say it.... to grill. I can cook, of course.  Taylor has not grown into the tall strapping young man that he is based solely on a diet of Happy Meals and frozen pizza.  I fed him proper meals when he was younger ~ the staples of chicken, hamburger, steak, soups, and stews.  If asked, Taylor will tell you that my steak and smashed potatoes is his favorite meal.  I tried to sneak lima beans or corn into the equation, but as he has aged, the accompanying veggies were pushed to the side to linger until they are scraped into the trash later. I can make Taylor's favorite meals, though he is rarely home in the evenings for me to do so these days. I want more though. I want to learn how to truly meld flavors, reduce sauces, marinate meats until they are infused with deliciousness.  I want to cook something that I cannot wait to eat. Where do I start? Exactly where does a novice chef turn to figure our how to separate an egg and why it needs to be separated in the first place? Where do I even begin without taking on the sort of huge project seen in the movie?

As a shopper at heart, I think I need the stuff  first.  Tonight, my friends, Patsy and Donna, made the bases for candy Easter basket that will be woven with choclate strips to make beautiful edible baskets. Patsy provided all the stuff for me to make one as well so I can join them for the class on Saturday.  Patsy is a wonderful cook; she also has all the equipment to do about anything.  She has candy molds and an entire collection of differing sizes of glass measuring cups.  I have a single small aluminum measuring cup. Is it really any wonder who the better cook is here? The stuff matters.

Saturday, G, my niece, great-niece, and I went to dinner after taking prom pictures. We ate at a wonderful downtown restaurant (Smoke on the Water) where I enjoyed the loaded potato cake.  It was delicious and light and absolutely perfect.  I want to be able to cook well enough so I can eat something like that and know how to recreate it at home in my own kitchen. If you haven't been to Smoke on the Water, go.  They have wonderful lunch deals during the week; they have this amazing squash casserole too.  I'd like to make it as well.  I want to make food that I relish rather than eating soup from the pot so I don't need to wash an extra bowl. Anyone have a list of exactly which items a functioning kitchen for one should have to allow me to make delicious meals at home?  What do I need?

When Taylor leaves for basics, I plan to stay busy, to keep my mind occupied, to try not to become the weepy military mom that I fear I will be.  Maybe, just maybe that involves a cooking class and a shopping spree at a kitchen store.. I need to know the basics before I can tackle the Joy of Cooking. Sorry, Julia..

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