Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Dinnertime - Mamma Vintage Style

Something about my Mamma Vintage persona is that I am a big believer in the comfort, beauty and therapy found in a home-cooked meal. Hence, I was in heaven last night as I watched Julie & Julia in a discount theater as I savored a few dark chocolates. The lights were dimmed, the seats a little scratchy and noisy, the smell of stale popcorn hung in the air, but I was unaware of all of my surroundings as I watched Meryl Streep perfectly portray one of my newest of heroes; Julia Child.

I was also pleased to find out that although I am Mamma "Vintage," I am not necessarily a dying breed. Yes, I realize that Julia Child is now the late Julia Child, but the entire movie was made because of Julie; a real, young woman who shares my passion. I am not alone!

Oops - I must go and baste the chicken!

Yes, that's right, I am serving Julia's Child's roast chicken tonight and I have to say, it smells simply scrumptious.

There is something primal and luxurious and visceral and natural and absolutely lovely about food that you have prepared yourself. The satisfaction from a homemade meal is so much more abundant than from one that is handed to you in a sack. I'm not talking health. I'm talking pleasure. How much pleasure is derived from nourishment that you have no investment in? When you nurture your food, taking the time to learn the best method of preparation, when you put yourself into it, you receive so much in return.

It is the ying-yang of subsistence, the karma of cuisine - the more you give, the more you get.

Gotta go baste again . . .

Yep, basting every ten minutes. Now, I fully realize that many would respond in whiny, high-pitched voices, "Every ten minutes? I'm too busy! I don't have the time for that!"

But the more I cook this way, the more I want to do it. I make the time and plan ahead and prepare things in advance. Anyone who knows me knows that I am very busy. But when you really love something, you make time for it and that includes food. I simply love food and adore eating.

Who wouldn't be thrilled to sit down to a table set with a glorious platter of roasted chicken which was stuffed with sliced lemon, half an onion and celery stalks (all of which was only to flavor the chicken and were then saved to make stock for tomorrow's soup), and then basted every ten minutes with its own juices, accompanied by roasted carrots and onions and a baked potato? Seriously, I will make the time for that.

It's the same as making time for exercise or a manicure or a girl's night or a chick flick. It's therapeutic. By preparing meals that my family and I can enjoy and savor, I am actually pampering myself. Who knew?! I'll tell you who did - Julia Child.

I always knew I liked to cook. But now I'm sort of loving it. Sort of becoming obsessed with it. Like I sort of can't stop thinking about it. There's always an occasion coming up which needs a special dish, even if it's just a Tuesday night dinner. The ritual of sitting with loved ones to share a meal is worth celebrating. It's an opportunity - a chance to connect with one another, as well as to relish some magnificent food.

If you need somewhere to start, I would strongly recommend Better Homes and Garden's Cookbook, a masterpiece that has been updated at least fourteen times since it's first edition in 1930.

I have a few cookbooks on my wish list this year. If you're looking for one, I've done some research and am pretty sure that any of the below will be fabulous. . .

Ad Hoc At Home by Thomas Keller

Jason and I love to watch Top Chef, and I often look up the chefs who guest star on the show. However, most of the time their cookbooks offer recipes for snobby, trendy, "gourmet" food, which I am so not into. Well, Tom Keller was introduced on the show as America's greatest chef today. So I was thrilled when I discovered that he came out with a cookbook this year with home style recipes for family dinners!

Mastering the Art of French Cooking and The Way to Cook By Julia Child
Surprise, surprise, right?

I'm Dreaming of a Chocolate Christmas by Marcel Desaulniers
Okay, this guy is one of the top pastry chefs in the country, but this cookbook is filled with recipes that are perfect for the holidays and a bit easier than his typical feats. I borrowed the book from the library and have tried a couple of the recipes, and I have to say, they are delicious!

From Mom With Love . . . A Complete Guide to Indian Cooking and Entertaining by Pushpa Bhargava
I LOVE Indian food but I am a real novice in this ethnicity. This cookbook got rave reviews and has color pictures on every page, something I absolutely love.

So, if Santa decides I've been a good girl, maybe I'll be writing about a featured recipe next month!

Here it is - Julia Child's Roast Chicken with Carrots and Onion

Noah enjoying a drumstick

Joshua doing "the chicken"


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