I first watched Julie and Julia when it hit the cinemas earlier this summer with my two favourite girls. We sat, we watched, and then I suppose we got hungry after seeing all that food, because that’s precisely what we did right afterwards. I came home, newly inspired, full of enthusiasm and proclamations that I, too, was going to learn to cook, just like Julie. I made promises to Sweet I fully intended to keep; promises involving projects and cookbooks and new culinary delights – maybe not one per day for a whole year, but maybe I could manage to do one per month. I was all set to find a new hobby, continue winning over the heart of my dearest, and teach myself all sorts of new and exciting skills.
My culinary expertise has never been fantastic. I love to bake – simple, little things like chocolate chip cookies and fairy cakes, small undertakings I find hugely rewarding when I get to decorate them with bright colours, sprinkles and messages. I love taking a plate round to the neighbours, entering ridiculous baking contests (yes, those were ALL mine…), or staying up until the early hours of the morning making an edible football for special boys on their birthdays.
But none of this equates to any actual talent in the kitchen.
It’s been several months since I saw Julie and Julia, and after its recent release on DVD, we decided to watch it together. I was re-inspired, as, surprisingly was he – he decided to find a cookbook (that “didn’t involve anything with cow’s feet”) he could work his way through, starting in the Christmas holidays. I felt bad, remembering my earlier, unfulfilled promises, and resolved do actually do something about it this time.
There’s a couple of dishes I can do without fail. I make a mean Shepherd’s Pie, with mashed sweet potatoes and parsnips on top instead of regular mash. I can slave over an omelette making sure it’s just right, with the help of the stovetop, oven and grill. And I’m not bad at anything involving pasta. But those are easy. I want to challenge myself and actually spend a good three hours one day making something I’ve never done before. Something I’ll feel really accomplished about if I get it right. (And score a few brownie points while I’m at it.)
But I need help. I don’t want something I can pull off AllRecipes.com or cut off the back of a cereal box. I want something ambitious – something interesting (so I can share!) – and something entirely different. My patience and culinary dexterity will be put to the test. Sweet will be the fortuitous judge. And I want your help. I found the real blogs of Julie Powell, and to see this real life woman’s dream, ambition and dedication fulfilled is nothing short of inspiring, along with the perseverance, friendships and memories made as a result. I want to tackle a Real Recipe over the Christmas break. And turkey, stuffing and roast potatoes are strictly off limits.
Thinking aprons on, girls – what can I venture into for my first attempt at proper cooking?