Tuesday, August 25, 2009

the Julie/Julia project

I just read Russ Parsons NY times article about why Julia Child was not a fan of Julie Powell - and I feel stirred to share my thoughts with someone other than T...

First off, I have to say that I LOVED both books for very different reasons. A few years ago, I picked up the Julie/Julia book on a whim, and immediately connected with Julie Powell. And I do mean immediately - from page one I was hooked!

Like Julie, I am at a point in my life where I am not sure what "it" is all about. I work really hard for not a ton of money. Granted, I really enjoy my work so its not like I dread getting up in the morning, but 6 days a week does take its toll on a person. Also like Julie, I take public transportation to work. (And for all of you who have never had the joy of seeing your tax dollars at work - I will share this little gem from yesterdays commute: a man with special needs sat down next to me, smiled, told me I was pretty, and then relieved himself.) So you can see how at the end of the day, sometimes the last question I want to answer is "whats for dinner."

I love to cook, and I love to try new things (see the previous few posts about my new pickling/canning obsession for proof), unfortunately, my time at home is limited, as are my resources. I do the best I can, but sometimes its so frustrating to have these desires that are not realized.

Now, before you start saying that I am just as "whiny" as Mr Parsons says Julie is - let me say that I know first hand just how much creativity is spurred by limitations. Some of our best meals have come from me just looking through the cupboards and scrapping something together. The same goes for my work life... as an Interior Designer I am constantly being challenged with budget, taste, and time limitations! But that doesn't mean that I don't sometimes wish I could have carte blanch to do whatever it is that I want!

Anyway, back to the books...

My Life in France was an equally pleasurable read, but for very different reasons. I did not connect with Julia Child on a personal level, but rather found myself putting her up on a pedestal of sorts. She was a woman who displayed amazing character and tenacity - and is definitely a woman to emulate. I loved how she not only had a zeal for the good life, but was also wiling to work very hard for her dream - it took her ten years to perfect her masterpiece!

And yet, in the back of my head there is the nagging thought that to her, cooking was something she did in order to occupy her time - she didn't want to be bored while living in France. And yes Mom, I will admit it - I am jealous. I would LOVE to be able to go to work every day and not have my take home pay matter. I would love to be able to walk to the market and have my pick of the freshest produce to turn into a wonderful dinner that will nourish and sustain my family.

Which brings me back to Julie... and so many other women of my generation who have inherited the aftermath of feminism. We are a group of women who are immensely grateful for the freedom and liberties we have been given , yet are still nostalgic for the comforting routine of domesticity.

A co-worker an I have started recounting our domestic accomplishments, and failures, every Monday morning in an effort to encourage each other's quest for domestic bliss. She is on a mission to roast a whole chicken once a week, using all the bits and pieces for various meals throughout the week. I am on a mission to eat more healthful, which means buying fewer processed products, and instead making my own (so far that means pickles, canned tomatoes, and bread).

We are both on a mission to come to the place of finding a sort of Zen in washing the dishes.

And so, here is to two amazing women who lived in very different times, and faced very different challenges.

I raise my glass to their individual accomplishments...

Sunday, August 23, 2009

a pickle update - and more on tomatoes!

So the pickles were good.

Really-really, super-duper, and I mean amazingly good!

And I am astounded that it took me so long to discover the super crunchy deliciousness. T and I ended up eating a whole jar for dinner. We had plans of making sandwiches and eating outside in the sun, picnic style. Instead we stood around in the kitchen, marveling at how yummy the pickles were, and before we knew it they were all gone! (We never even got around to making sandwiches). The pickled green tomatoes were also good. Not nearly as good as the pickles themselves, but wonderful in their own less crunchy, more meaty way.


And now on to a tomato update.

So far the summer has been really wonderful to our little garden. The weather has been cooperating, and as a result we already have joyfully consumed more tomatoes in one week than we had all last year! I think we can also credit the raised bed T made for me out of $10 worth of reclaimed cedar planks we found at the ReBuilding center.

We try to plant our starts by Mothers Day. It is sort of an arbitrary date, but seeing as we both live far away from our mothers we like to do something that celebrates home and family.

This year we planted a Cherry, a Celebrity, a San Marzano, and a Siletz, all from Vicki's Sun Gold Farm here in Oregon.

Look at the difference - 2008 vs 2009! (photos taken mid July)

Buoyed by my pickle success, and my bumper crop, I decided to get a jump on the canning process. After all, I did not want a repeat of last year!

This morning's harvest:

...yielded 5 jars, all before 10 in the morning!

And I still have so many gorgeous green ones...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Saw this on sale at Anthropologie today...

Unfortunately it is still way out of my price range...
And even more unfortunate, seeing it in person only made me fall more in love with it. Too bad because it would look SO perfect in my house...

I can't seem to find it online anymore.... so any fairy godmothers out there need to go to the Bridgeport Village store... ;)

Monday, August 17, 2009


I have ambitions of becoming a domestic goddess, but the reality is that I am pretty challenged in that area. My dishes sometimes go unwashed, and my floors could use a more regular sweep... luckily I married a man who is more concerned with spending quality time with me, than having an impeccable house!

And so today, on a rare day off from work, instead of dusting, ironing, or de-cluttering, I delved into this wonderful book, and made my first ever batch of pickles!

I was really surprised at how easy the whole process was, and I do have to pat myself on the back for not biting off more than I can chew. I only purchased a few cucumbers (rather than the 20lb bag that looked so inviting at my local growers outlet), and I made sure to inventory my spice cupboard before I went shopping - I only had to end up buy fresh dill and mustard seeds. (on a side note - I LOVE my growers outlet... they are actually cheaper than the uber trendy farmer's markets, are so local that many of the farms are in my neighborhood, and I can go 6 days a week if I want to!!)

It took about 5 minutes total, and the hardest part had to be slicing the cucumbers! I even got crazy and tried pickling some of my green tomatoes.

I can hardly wait the three days until they are ready!

And look who I found enjoying the garden.

Beautiful no?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

We just returned from an un-planned trip back east, and while the reason for the trip was somber, it became such a celebration of life, living, and family!

yup... still obsessing over this