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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Happy Birthday Julia Child!

If I’d known earlier, I might have baked one of the few cakes I make completely from scratch.

Seven sticks of butter…Julia, would be so proud!

You know, I’m not big on spending hours in the kitchen---playing with recipes and discovering new techniques---but I did go out with my girlfriends last night and see Julie & Julia. What a wonderful film! It was ‘based on two stories’. The first of course, is the wonderful love story between Julia and her husband Paul, and how Julia learned to cook. (Wow, what an understatement!) The second story is about a woman named---you guessed it---Julie Powell. She’s a writer, a blogger, and evidently, a very good cook as well. Though I’ve never tasted her cooking, I’ve seen her blog, just this morning, and she’s witty and clever, and real.

So, I watched this great story unfold on the screen last night, and there were many things that spoke to me. Julia was an awkward, larger-than-life woman, more than six feet tall, and millions of people loved her in her lifetime---still do, five years after her death. (She died August 12, 2004, just three days shy of her 92nd birthday.) Yet, what struck me most was the way her husband Paul loved her. There are letters he wrote to his twin brother; and from these letters, we see a man who adored Julia, laughed with her at her quirks, and encouraged her to do what she loved, though the task seemed daunting. The movie was so good, I’m borrowing the related books from my library, and probably ordering my own copies soon after.

I laughed so hard watching this film, especially when Paul wrote to his brother about Julia’s shocking exclamation about hot cannelloni she’d just plucked from boiling water. I won’t spoil it for you, but let me just say, the closing scene made me cry. If you love food, or writing, or both, you must see it. Upon exiting the theater, the girls and I headed to the Starbucks at Barnes & Noble and I bought a lemon baby bundt cake to bring home and share with my husband. I only ate a few bites, but it was delicious. It reminded me of my Mimi’s lemon pound cake.

We recently had a family reunion and to cover costs for food and such, we auctioned items we’d made or inherited from Mimi and Grandpa. When I was young, Mimi hand wrote a handful of her favorite recipes on index cards and gave them to me, and each of the granddaughters to follow. Therefore, in preparation for this reunion, I scanned those cards and created a digital scrapbook, with the recipe cards slipped under bits of digital-ribbon and old photos and the text of the recipes on facing pages. Scattered throughout the book are five, short pieces about my childhood memories of Mimi, one of which I wrote the day she died, and read at her funeral. Mimi passed away in April of 2008. The book is something I’m very proud of, and it was a big hit at the auction.

I’m thinking I want to dig out Mimi’s Lemon Pound Cake recipe, and adapt it for mini bundt cakes. That means a trip to Wal-Mart. I hope they carry the right pans. I’m inspired to set the world right for at least a few minutes, baking in my kitchen with Julia and Mimi. Then while the aroma of warm lemon cake fills the air, maybe I’ll read a bit from “My Life in France.”

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