Good-Bye to Summer

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It seems as though my summer came and went without much of a fuss. Like many people this year, I planted my first garden and had high hopes of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and squash to spare.

I imagined myself giving them to friends and neighbors and freezing the extra to serve during winter. I was so naive! I barely grew enough to make one salad. But that’s fine with me. I learned alot and hope for a better yeild next year; with much less going to the deer who were not at all afraid to jump over the little fence I put up and enjoy my garden for themselves!

Here is the lion’s share of tomatoes which just came in. The plants quickly withered and turned brown and I feel lucky to have these.
Some went right into a basil, tomato salad with olive oil and the rest I ate on bread with a bit of homemade mayonnaise. I went “old school”. I made Depression Era sandwiches with my Recession Garden !

Courtesy of Julia Child, from Mastering the Art of French Cooking
Julia Child’s Hand-Beaten Mayonnaise

The following directions are for a hand-beaten sauce (using a wire whisk). For electric beaters, use the large bowl and the “moderately fast” speed for whipping cream. Continually push the sauce into the beater blades with a rubber scraper.

Ingredients

Round-bottomed, 2½ to 3-quart glazed pottery, glass or stainless steel mixing bowl. Set it in a heavy casserole or saucepan to keep it from slipping.
3 egg yolks
Large wire whisk
1 tablespoon wine vinegar or lemon juice (more drops as needed)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon dry or prepared mustard
1½ to 2¼ cups of olive oil, salad oil or a mixture of each. If the oil is cold, heat it to tepid; and if you are a novice, use the minimum amount
2 tablespoons boiling water
Directions

Warm the bowl in hot water; dry it. Add the egg yolks and beat for 1 to 2 minutes until they are thick and sticky.
Add the vinegar or lemon juice, salt and mustard. Beat for 30 seconds more.
The egg yolks are now ready to receive the oil. While it goes in, drop by drop, you must not stop beating until the sauce has thickened. A speed of 2 strokes per second is fast enough. You can switch hands or switch directions, as long as you beat constantly.
Add the drops of oil with a teaspoon, or rest the lip of the bottle on the edge of the bowl. Keep your eye on the oil rather than on the sauce. Stop pouring and continue beating every 10 seconds or so, to be sure the egg yolks are absorbing the oil.
After 1/3 to 1/2 cup of oil has been incorporated, the sauce will thicken into a very heavy cream and the crisis of potential curdling is over. The beating arm may rest a moment. Then, beat in the remaining oil by 1 to 2 tablespoon dollops, blending it thoroughly after each addition.
When the sauce becomes too thick and stiff, beat in drops of vinegar or lemon juice to thin it out. Then continue with the oil.
Beat the boiling water into the sauce. This is an anti-curdling insurance. Season to taste.
If the sauce is not used immediately, scrape it into a small bowl and cover it tightly so a skin will not form on its surface.
Tips For Making Mayonnaise
Julia Child’s tips for homemade mayonnaise:

Room Temperature: Have all ingredients at room temperature. If they aren’t, warm the mixing bowl in hot water to take the chill off the egg yolks; heat the oil to tepid if it is cold.
Egg Yolks: Always beat the yolks for a minute or two before adding anything to them. When they are thick and sticky, they are ready to absorb the oil.
Adding The Oil: The oil must be added very slowly at first, in droplets, until the emulsion process begins and the sauce thickens into a heavy cream. Then, the oil may be incorporated more rapidly.
Proportions: The maximum amount of oil one large egg yolk can absorb is six ounces, or ¾ cup. When this maximum is exceeded, the binding properties of the egg yolks break down, and the sauce thins out or curdles. If you have never made mayonnaise before, it is safest not to exceed ½ cup of oil per egg yolk.

  

Falling in Love with Julia!

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I saw Julie/Julia last night and for any foodie, blogger or both it was an inspiration; but not in the way that I had anticipated.

I thought that the movie would inspire blogging success; I thought that I would be driven to finish that novel saved in pieces in “my documents” on my computer. No such luck.

I fell in love with Julia Child!

Watching Julia on TV as a little girl I was fascinated by her. She had an unidentifiable accent; she had a commanding and intimidating presence. And she was always entertaining guests for dinner. I wanted this kind of life. Even as a 12 year old. I knew that wanted to serve fancy hors d’oeuvres and elegant French desserts to my dinner guests. I wanted to cook with wine, something very exotic where I grew up.

When the movie came out it sparked an interest to renew a bond with my childhood icon. The “rock star” world of celebrity chefs worshipped “deconstructed” food, used bacon in ice cream, and tried to shock the palate. I wanted to learn how to make puff pastry. I wanted to learn why those French sauces tasted so good. I wanted to make food that was just really good to eat!

I revisited an old favorite on my cookbook shelf; Julia Child& Company. It was published in 1978 and was a kind of cookbook documentary of her WGBH cooking show out of Boston, MA. I read it from cover to cover. Julia was charming, funny, warm, encouraging, and so very generous of spirit. She was not the kitchen commando that I remembered her to be. Maybe I was too young to pick up on her humor or warmth, and maybe I focused on the parodies made famous by late night comedians who lampooned her awkwardness and eccentricities. I missed a lot.

Nora Ephron gave us that gentle Julia Child. The women who wanted to demystify French cooking for the average “serventless American cook”. She gave us Julia who encouraged our mastery in the kitchen for the pleasure of sharing good food with those around us. She gave us a Julia who was graceful in spirit and above all forgiving of our foibles. To persevere was her dictum. We are making food to be eaten, not to thrill or surprise to intimidate or to threaten.

For those of us diving recipes for Jalapeño Banana cupcakes with Mascarpone and Basil Icing, it would do us well to revisit the nurturing wisdom of a great lady who taught us not only how to cook but to master the skills of the kitchen which cant be camouflaged with smoke and mirror culinary acrobatics.

  

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