I’ve not yet seen the movie but I looked up the story line on Wikipedia when I first saw the previews. I was inspired by Julie’s commitment to what she set out to do. I was also so impressed that a simple blog chronicling her experience turned into a well read blog and a movie! Wow! Being the gung-ho obsessive compulsive person I can be at times, I said I was going to do the same thing. As soon as I said it to myself, I felt that familiar trickle of fear. After examining why I was afraid, I came to the conclusion that it was because I was afraid of failing. I saw Julie’s success at the end of her story but I didn’t want to face the failures she encountered on her journey myself. So, as soon as the thought came, I nixed it but God had other plans.
I remember sitting on the couch and feeling the familiar tap of the Holy Spirit saying that this was something I should do. Not the blog, but cooking. I love baking and I enjoy cooking but because of the absolute blunders I have experienced in the kitchen, I stopped trying. I do not have the innate gift of being able to combine different ingredients and spices together to make something delicious off the cuff. That is what I was trying to do before. I wanted to be a good cook and my definition of a good cook was a person who is able to cook from memory or by feel. I am not that person…well, at least not yet. (I’m keeping hope alive).
I sat on the couch accepting why I stopped cooking. It was hard to admit that I needed a recipe. I so wanted to be gifted in the kitchen from innate ability and not a cookbook sista.
When my husband and I married, I would cook, or at least try to cook dinner. Most of my attempts were a disaster. I could bake and I could cook macaroni and cheese. Everything else was hit or miss (normally miss). I had kitchen gadgets and electronics but nothing made my food taste any better. With the exception of weekends when we had the children, it was just us and we got accustomed to me not cooking. Don’t ask me what we ate because I can’t remember. I do remember we made a lot of runs to Wenny’s (the local Chinese-American late night spot) for cheese steaks. We just ate what we wanted whenever we wanted. I made sure I had things that we both liked to eat. Brian didn’t mind eating sandwiches and I could make a meal off of cookies or peanut butter and jelly. As I am writing this, I see how pathetic this was.
We continued this pattern of impromptu eating until November 2009. Jazmine was 6 months old at the time. I new one day I would have to have a dinner plan for her and I didn’t want to be new to the whole process when it became necessary to actually start cooking. I was so afraid. I didn’t want to bomb in the kitchen again. I hated feeling embarrassed in front of my husband. I wanted to impress him and when I failed, I felt absolutely terrible. I thought it would be worse this time around because not only is my husband eating my food but my mother-in-law as well.
I talked with my husband about what I was going to do. By this point, we had both gotten into our eating routines and we both would have to adjust so we would both eat what I made. I shared my fears with him and I told him that it was very important to me for him to eat what I cooked. He supported me so off I went to the bookstore to look at cookbooks.
I wanted something basic but exciting. I needed the ingredients listed and the recipe planned out in detail for me. I wanted something that took no longer than an hour to get on the table. I wanted a cookbook that would stretch me to try different foods, different ingredients, and different spices. I didn’t want chicken every night either. I asked for God’s help in making this decision because the selection was so overwhelming but not large enough either (if that makes any sense). Their was a large selection of cookbooks but for what I needed, there wasn’t much to choose from. I looked at my familiar favorites from the Food Network. Sandra Lee and Rachel Ray cook gourmet meals in a short amount of time but the majority of their recipes used foods that I know my husband already doesn’t like and neither do I. I wanted something to stretch me but that was a bit much especially for starting right out of the gate.
I settled on Robin Rescues Dinner by Robin Miller. She is also on the Food Network but I had not seen her before. Her book has 52 weeks of dinner meals. In this book, a week is three days so you cook three meals a week. That works for me. It is much easier to follow a recipe. It provides a crutch for me. If I have a recipe, I can follow it to a T. If the food is nasty then it’s not me, it’s the recipe.
I have been cooking at least three nights a week for seven months now and it is going well. Some recipes we enjoy and others not so much. I am on week 15 in the book. I “should” be on week 28 but I did not cook during Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Years since I didn’t have to help cook. We were out-of-town a few times during the week plus we haven’t stopped eating out. We just don’t do it as often because I enjoy being in the kitchen. Because of the confidence I have gained by cooking, I’ve branched out. Every now and again I use a different cookbook and recipes I find online.
That is my Julie & Julia story. As with all my other posts, I hope this helps someone.