Day 225–A Locavore Birthday for Julia Child

The best way to execute French cooking is to get good and loaded and whack the hell out of a chicken. Bon appetit!–Julia Child

Two of our three happy eaters!

August is one of those odd months with no major holiday or celebration. June has the beginning of summer, July (for us in the U.S.) has Independence Day, and September has Labor Day and the beginning of fall. August is just hot. And humid. So we thought maybe we could find a new holiday and have a very good time. It was either that or go sit in the pool and not come out until Labor Day. We picked the party.

August 15th would be Julia Child’s 100th birthday. After watching numerous episodes of The French Chef and realizing Julia Child was a locavore ahead of her time, we felt like her birthday was the perfect summer celebration we needed. So we threw Julia Child a birthday dinner using her recipes and our own local chicken and produce. Our menu included all locally sourced ingredients except olive oil, butter, kosher salt, and pepper. I even went crazy and made my own breadcrumbs. We all pitched in to make it happen. It was such a fun success that I think we will do this again.

Ellie making the roasted potatoes!

We dressed up our table, put on nice clothes, lit candles, poured sparkling pink lemonade into wine glasses, sang Happy Birthday and had a pretty awesome time. For an afternoon and evening, we were a remote outpost of Julia Child’s Ecole Des Trois Gourmandes (School of the Three Happy Eaters). We even wore the patches designed by Paul Child! Although the menu seems like a lot, each recipe was very simple and made use of what is super fresh at our farmer’s market right now.

 Here is what we had:

  • Julia’s roast chicken (thank you, Rainbow Farm)
  • Tomates a la Provençal (stuffed heirloom tomatoes)
  • Sautéed Zucchini in Butter and Shallots (and cream!)
  • Roasted new potatoes with rosemary (our recipe)
  • Tarte aux Peches (fresh peach tart)

The Sautéed Zucchini (top) and Tomates Provencal (bottom) were surprise hits!

The chicken was amazing, but the real standouts of the night were the stuffed tomatoes and the sautéed zucchini. The recipe for the tomatoes is HERE and the recipe for the zucchini is HERE. I would make both again in an instant. Ellie devoured the zucchini, which is rich, creamy and amazingly good. Tom, who does not enjoy a stand alone tomato, even ate his stuffed tomato and enjoyed it!

Our one gourmand (happy eater dude) even enjoyed an almost unadorned tomato!

I’m ending with another of my favorite Julia quotes. Have fun cooking, eating, and living! And Happy Birthday, Julia Child!

You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces–just good food from fresh ingredients. Julia Child

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Day 219–Starting Week 32–Budget and Menu

This week I am trying to feature those summer vegetables that will not be available too much longer–tomatoes, zucchini, okra and eggplant. We’re also featuring our Julia Child 100th birthday dinner, which costs more than most of the week 🙂 But, totally worth it. And, we are astonishingly under budget at $75.24. That helps make up for last week!

Budget

  • The Produce Box (cantaloupe, heirloom tomatoes, okra, eggplant, sweet peppers, squash, garlic, onions, cherry tomatoes): $22
  • Various farmer’s market (new potatoes, zucchini): $4.00
  • Rainbow Farm (whole roasting chicken): $12.00
  • Locals Seafood (pink snapper): $18.00
  • Hillsborough Cheese Co (mozzarella): $6.00
  • Trader Joes (frozen mango, yogurt, soy milk, shallots): $13.24

Menu

  • Wednesday–Red Pepper Tart, tomato and cucumber salad; leftover peach cobbler
  • Thursday–Pan seared pink snapper w/cherry tomatoes, corn, roasted okra
  • Friday–Tuscan eggplant parmesan w/roasted tomato sauce, leftover tomato and cucumber salad
  • Saturday–Homemade pizza
  • Sunday–Julia Child Birthday Dinner–roast chicken, roasted new potatoes, sautéed grated zucchini in butter and shallots, stuffed tomatoes, peach tart
  • Monday–Leftovers from Sunday
  • Tuesday–Carryover local pasta with roasted vegetables

Day 218–Cook for Julia!

August 15 of this year would be Julia Child’s 100th birthday. As someone who came woefully late to cooking, I love the story of Julia Child and her role as a mentor to chefs and home cooks around the world. She was an exceptional woman and an exceptional teacher. And, I have to say, I love her quirky sense of comedic timing and mannerisms. We recently watched many of the first episodes of The French Chef on Netflix and one of the things that strikes me is her use of simple, honest ingredients prepared with surprisingly little effort. Of course, her shows also feature some complicated dishes and topics, but there is no high-end truffle oil from halfway around the world or peppers from South America or exotic meat from a half-extinct animal. No food towers. No plates of mostly garnish. No smoked underbelly of mustard leaf (ok, that one I made up). Real food, olive oil, salt and pepper, butter and fresh herbs. For. Reals.

So PBS is sponsoring a Cook for Julia to celebrate her 100th birthday. Make a dish between August 5th and 15th, take a pic, post it to the website HERE. Or not. But isn’t it fun to celebrate someone who reminded all of America that maybe SPAM isn’t really a food and that a simple whole chicken can be an exalted thing when dressed simply and roasted with care? I think that’s worth a celebration. Here is a quote from Julia Child that I often think about when I’m cooking:

“Learn how to cook. Try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all, have fun.”

What will I make? I’m going all-out with simple, local ingredients. Here is my Julia Child Birthday Dinner:

  • Julia’s Roast Chicken
  • Oven roasted potatoes
  • Julia’s Grated Zucchini Sautéed in Butter and Shallots
  • Julia’s Baked Stuffed Tomatoes
  • Julia’s Peach Tart

We’ll have our feast on August 12 and I’ll post pics from our birthday party. Should be fun!

Bon Appetite!