Wendy’s Word

Not your mama’s blog….

Julie and Julia December 19, 2009

Filed under: Food — wendy @ 7:55 pm

A government bureaucrat who likes to cook and idolizes Julia Child starts a blog, becomes famous, and writes a book which is made into a movie.  Story of my life?  Well, er, not yet.  It’s Julie and Julia, the movie that I recently saw.

Julie and Julia is based on two books, Julie Powell’s book from her blog in which she cooks every recipe in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in one year, and Julia Child’s memoir, My Life in France.  Apparently, Nora Ephron saw parallels in the two women’s stories and thought the combination would be compelling.  There are parallels, but they are superficial. Both women used cooking as a way to divert themselves from the humdrum aspects of their lives.  But whereas Julia Child is passionate about food and about life, the Julie of the movie seemed whiny and uptight.  Julie gets upset when her recipes don’t work, whereas Julia Child just says oh well, and moves on.

While I fantasize about being fearless like Julia Child, unfortunately, I related much more to the annoying and self-involved Julie.  Although I was jealous of the success of her blog.  When she discusses the number of comments she receives (from people she doesn’t know!), I wondered why that doesn’t happen with my blog!  Hmm…..

The movie is also about the women’s relationships with their husbands, Julia’s being warm and loving, and Julie’s being strained as she struggles to get through her Julie/Julia project in the timeframe she alloted herself, ignoring her “saint” husband’s needs in favor of her own.  As this is a Nora Ephron movie, it does have a happy ending.  Julie’s blog becomes a book and she becomes the writer she’s always wanted to be, and Julia publishes her classic cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking and is on her way to becoming the Julia Child we know so well.

The acting is this movie is great, with Meryl Streep and Amy Adams as the leads.  Stanley Tucci is always good, and my fave, the woman who plays Sue Sylvester on Glee, has a small role as Julia Child’s sister.  I recommend the movie, especially if you like to cook, although it’s not a movie that features food in the way others like Babette’s Feast, Big Night, or Eat, Drink, Man, Woman do.

And if you have any suggestions for making my blog as successful as Julie Powell’s (short of cooking through Julia Child’s cookbook), send them my way!


Olive Paste, aka Tapenade

Filed under: Food — wendy @ 7:25 pm

This holiday season, we’ve had several potlucks to attend, so I’ve pulled out my simple yet impressive (at least to the non-cook) recipes.  I recently brought this olive paste to a wine and cheese party.

I could be completely wrong about this, but I think of the Italian version of this dish as smooth, with just olives, maybe some garlic, and olive oil, whereas the French version, known as tapenade, has more ingredients and is chunkier.  I make it different ways, depending on the ingredients I have around.  This is one of the rare things that I make without a recipe and don’t measure, showing you just how simple it really is. Here’s how I made it most recently:

Olive Paste/Tapenade

1 jar kalamata olives, drained

1 clove of garlic (put through the garlic press)

a couple squirts of anchovy paste

about a teaspoon of capers

about a 1/2 t. of dried thyme

a small bit of salt (the olives and anchovy paste are salty) and pepper

about 2 T. olive oil

Put all ingredients in the food processor and puree to the consistency you want.   You may want to add the olive oil while the food processor is running, check the consistency, and add a little more if needed.  Serve with crackers or crostini.



Filed under: Food — wendy @ 6:37 pm

My office suite had a brunch for our holiday party, and I brought the easiest thing I could that’s still homemade and looks impressive (until you realize how easy it is) – granola and yogurt.  Although there was tons of other yummy food at the brunch, I actually got a few requests for the recipe.  So here goes:

Granola (recipe comes from the Los Angeles Times)

1 1/2 c. oats

2/3 c. shredded coconut

1/4 c. wheat germ

1/2 c. chopped raw pecans

1/2 c. raw pumpkin seeds

2 T. canola oil

3 T. prune juice

1/2 t. cinnamon

1/2 t. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all ingredients in a bowl.  Spread onto a baking sheet. (I line my baking sheet with Release non-stick foil.)  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring once about halfway for even toasting.

Variation: substitute almond or flaxseed meal for wheat germ, use almond slivers and cashews for the nuts, substitute maple syrup for the prune juice, add some sesame seeds, and omit the cinnamon.

This recipe is excellent, because it’s low fat and has no sugar, yet flavor is not compromised at all.  It’s also simple to whip up a batch.  I usually put it over greek yogurt, but it can go over anything.  One of my co-workers put some on her salad.  The only thing you might not like about this recipe is that you don’t get the clusters that you get in other granola.  But other than that, it’s a fantastic recipe.


Bone Soup December 10, 2009

Filed under: Food — wendy @ 10:03 pm

My dad’s comment on my recent posting reminded me that I’ve been remiss at writing this posting about bone soup, as I had intended.   As my dad said in his comment, a visit to my parents in Tuscon always starts with a steaming pot of soup.  After an 8-10 hour drive from Los Angeles, this soup tastes good.  My kids always ask if Bubbie will make bone soup — just seeking reassurance since they know bone soup is something they can count on.  But more important than the taste, bone soup means I’m home.

We didn’t always call it bone soup.  When we were growing up, we called it flanken soup, after the meat that’s in it.  I suppose the regular name for this soup is beef barley soup.  But since marrow bones are an essential ingredient, my nephew started calling it bone soup when he was little, and the name stuck.

My mom made this soup all through our childhood and we’ve always loved it.  First we eat the thick soup, laden with barley and tiny alphabet noodles.  Then we’d put the meat in our empty soup bowls and eat it with ketchup.  I know it sounds strange, but the meat gave most of its flavor to the soup – it needs a little something.  Then comes our favorite part — eating the marrow from the bones.  We’d scoop the marrow onto a piece of rye bread or challah, add a little salt, and eat in bliss.  There are never enough bones to go around, so those of us that love the marrow (my mom, sister, and me) hope that others find it disgusting, or neutral at best.  I had mixed feelings when learning that my kids love the marrow – happy that they’re embracing their cultural heritage but sad that I have to share.

I make variations on the soup from time to time, but they’re not the same as my mom’s.  For one thing, it doesn’t feel right to me to buy marrow bones in the supermarket.  They need to come from a kosher butcher.  And I have no idea what flanken is in English.  True, I don’t really know my cuts of beef, but flanken doesn’t bear any resemblance to flank steak, so I’m lost.  I’m more likely to make a vegetarian version of barley soup, or a version that’s made with beef stock but without any actual meat or bones in it.  My soups are thick and flavorful, but they’re not home.  And it’s not the same fighting over the scarce marrow bones without my mom or sister.  So I’ll make my versions, but will save the real thing for my mom.   When Thomas Wolfe said, “you can’t go home again,” he obviously never tasted my mom’s bone soup.