It is Monday morning. Saturday has passed, Sunday, too. It’s Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday weekend and there is no school. On a normal Monday morning, I’d be up to my eyebrows in teaching ELA, but today and last Monday, and the Monday before last – school has been out. I enjoy the three- day weekends, but I get lazy and don’t accomplish what I should. However, last weekend was a three-day weekend for my students, it was not for me, the teachers had a workday and I got a lot done. Full Disclosure, though it felt like a three-day weekend.
The weather has been typical Midwest January – cold. Friday night we had a light fluffy snow that was almost like fake snow. Saturday morning I woke to a clear sky and an amazing sunrise. I knew it would be a great day and indeed, it was. It began snowing about noon Saturday afternoon so I decided to stay indoors and enjoy the great indoors with a fire to warm the family room. By the time the snow ended, we had three inches of fresh snow to brighten the world. There is nothing like a fresh snow to brighten the world. The sky cleared and the moon shone brightly on the world Saturday night. On Sunday, B took the kids skiing and I stayed home – I had a dog- sitting job. I spent the day catching up on things I don’t make time to do, and watching football.
Last weekend I finished my post mentioning I planned to finish the day cooking Beouf Bourguignon, watching football, and enjoying a fire in the fireplace. I did all of those things and except for the Saints, all of the teams was pulling for won. The Beouf Bourguignon turned out well, I decided to make poached pears in red wine for dessert, and they, too, were delicious. O enjoyed hers and W’s. I cooked enough so there were leftovers. I was warming my lunch in the microwave last week and I struck up a conversation with a colleague. She and I are of the same age bracket and we always have leftovers in a plastic container a novelty, of sorts. Her dish looked wonderful – pasta and broccoli and she asked about mine, the aroma (I was going to write smell, aroma sounds better, doesn’t it?) caught her nose and we got to talking about cooking. Cooking with wine. We talked about how much fun cooking is and how it is a lost art. I nodded and agreed, it takes too much time, but it is so relaxing, or at least it is for me.
So, when Saturday morning rolled around, I was inspired to do it again. It was another cold weekend, perfect for comfort food to warm the heart and everything else. Last weekend, I didn’t get much assistance from O, she did come into the kitchen while I was cooking and ask,
“What are you cooking?”
“What’s for dinner?”
And, I explained and showed her the recipe. When she discovered I was using a cookbook and realized what it was Julia Child’s she exclaimed,
“You have the book?!”
I rarely use a recipe, working from experience, or simply winging it. She was impressed that I had the book, you know, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
Later, I found her thumbing through it and she discovered ‘Bavarois aux Fruits’ with fresh raspberries. This weekend while I was shopping she asked for raspberries, always thinking, always planning. But this weekend, O was on board helping with everything from turning the meat, to chopping the vegetables, and adding the wine and beef stock. She helped with the pears, yes, I tried them again. I think she was thinking we’d get to work on her recipe. I decided it is too complex for me, at this time, at least for now. The beef cooked and cooked, the aroma filled the house, and finally, it was ready.
Crusty bread, Beouf Bourguignon, and haricot verts (green beans). O had a taste and decided it wasn’t for her. W had two plates, no wrestling until next week, I had one and another spoonful, and B enjoyed a plate. The fire was nice, but I missed the streets of Paris, the hustle and bustle of the city.
I had been thinking of growing up and learning to cook. When I was four, we lived in Paris. I have faint memories of the time. My mom loves telling the story about taking all three of us to dinner in Paris. At the time, 1966, Parisians did not take young children to dinner (even here, it is still frowned upon today, in some restaurants). After dinner, we asked to pay our compliments to the chef where upon I proclaimed,
“You’re a good cooker!”
My parents translated and there were chuckles, afterwards we were welcomed in that restaurant.
I remember my mom’s cooking with all of us watching Julia Child’s “The French Chef” and then my mom cooking each episode. I uncovered a DVD my mom gave me for my birthday several years ago about Julia Child. I watched it again last night. She was truly a groundbreaking woman and her idea about teaching people to cook, to cook well, still applies today. I see it in my office; Jan and I have leftovers, everyone else has Lean Cuisine. Cooking takes time, at least good cooking takes time and of course, wine.
I dream of Paris and the many times I visited, especially the last time when we returned dad to his beloved France. This morning, I dug through our old photos and uncovered the photos of our visit in September 1993. We’d been married almost two years and dad and Julie were living in Paris, so we had a place to stay. I remember bits and pieces of our visit – Versailles, the Eiffel Tower, and having dinner in my dad’s apartment. The photos I uncovered were of things, not people and it made me sad, because I was looking for photos of our visit, of us. Today, it is so much easier to snap a photo with a phone or a camera and keep the image, or discard it. Nevertheless, I am quick to take a photo of a place, a thing, instead of people.
I enjoyed cooking dinner Saturday night and I am going to enjoy re-heating for dinner tonight. I enjoyed the lazy evenings by the fire. Last night after the football games and Julia Child’s biography, I pulled out stationary, a pen, and sat down beside the fireplace to write my mom a letter and couple of other notes. In the meantime, my walk down memory lane needs to end, there is a lot to there always is. My plate is full. There is always something that I don’t make time to do; I suppose that is why I don’t cook like Julia Child every day. Today is going to be a great day, I know it – it is already off to a wonderful beginning – so I had better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, one recipe, one meal.
What’s on your plate today? What’s cookin’ for you?