“If you’re afraid of butter, use cream”

 When people ask me what my interests are outside of writing, after I’ve listed travel and good movies, cooking and foodie stuff usually comes next. I have three shelves of cookbooks, I love to watch Chopped, and I still make dinner every night, even when it’s just Bob and I. Some of the best memories I have – both as a kid and as an adult – happened around the dinner table with good food that loving hands made.

On Wednesday morning when I read in the San Diego Union Tribune that it was Julia Child’s birthday and the recipe for her famed Boeuf Bourguignon was included in the write-up, I knew I had to head to Sprouts and get the ingredients. So I did. I chronicled on Facebook the journey from grocery bag to plated wonder and I now include two of those photos here. The most amazing thing to me about the creation of what was probably the best-tasting dish I have ever made is that there were steps in the process that made absolutely no sense. Like when the meat is done, removing it from the casserole dish, washing out the dish and then putting it all back to cook some more. Or simmering the bacon in water before you fry it. Straining the entire cooked contents through a sieve before adding the sauteed mushrooms and pearl onions.

But then I tasted the end product and I couldn’t have cared less about the answers to those questions. There’s a powerful metaphor there for trusting in the things of God that stymie us: The end product is quite often delicious perfection that renders those questions weightless.
My kitchen was trashed twice in the process, I used a boatload of dishes and utensils, and I admit there were sacrilegious moments when my thoughts toward dear Julia turned to SNL’s long-ago sketch (“Now I’ve gone and cut the dickens out of my finger!). But oh, the aroma that filled the house as the creation came to life. Oh, the tender sweetness of just the right ingredients in just the right proportions, prepared in just the right way.

Things of true value are worth the effort that goes into creating  them.

Bon appetit to me means a whole lot more than hey, have a good appetite. I think it means have an appetite for good things. They sweeten life like nothing else. 
Have a great weekend.

p.s. If you are a foodie and a Downtown Abbey devotee, check out this post on the Downton Abbey Cooks blog!  – “From Mrs. Patmore to Julia Child.”  And if you want to make Julia’s Boeuf Bourguignon, here’s one I found on the internet that, lucky for you, explains why you blanch the bacon first – to remove its smokiness, of course… And if you haven’t seen the movie Julie and Julia, well, what are you waiting for? It was directed by the amazing Nora Ephron, (sniffle, sniffle) may she rest in peace…

Author: Susan

This post has 3 Comments

  1. Dana McNeely on August 17, 2012 at 9:41 pm

    Thanks for telling us about your cooking experience. I chuckled about boiling the bacon and cleaning the dish only to put the same ingredients back in and cook some more. I too loved Julie & Julia (and Nora.) And yes, also a Downton Abby devotee, so it will be fun to check out the link.

  2. Mocha with Linda on August 17, 2012 at 9:59 pm

    I loved this. I'm such a cookbook hound. I love them!

    I read something recently about Julia that she was an incredible cooking instructor but actually not a very good cook herself. That was surprising.

    The bacon thing makes sense now that you explained it, and I can guess at straining the mixture through a sieve, but washing the dish and then putting the stuff right back in it and cooking it some more?! That's bizarre! I guess there's some remnant that you have to remove but I've never heard of such a thing. Wonder why she didn't have you just put it in a different dish. I guess she assumed it would still be warm? That's a new one!

    P.S. I promise I'm not a robot, but these blogger codes are getting ridiculous. I'm fixing to make my sixth attempt at copying these squished-together letters and faded numbers! Arggh!

  3. Susan Meissner on August 17, 2012 at 11:12 pm

    Thanks for your comments, Dana and Linda! Linda, I'm with you! Sometimes I can't make heads nor tails of those “Prove you're human” codes!

Leave a Comment