{NEW} Recipe Challenge: The 5 Day Streak!

I have become extremely fascinated with Julia Child, which has in turn motivated me to want to cook more, which has in turn led me to start small with new recipes and challenges. (Hence the introduction of my brand new post category you see in the title, "Recipe Challenge." But more on that in a wee bit.)

It all started with my need to feel inspired. Sometimes I experience word block and just can't seem to write, or at least write a story that sounds good anyway, or I'm not feeling creative, or I haven't come up with a good design yet for a new necklace, or my blog is feeling sorta stale and I'm not sure what to post about... well, you get the picture. Sometimes shite happens. 

So when I need to feel inspired, I need to do something I enjoy. Occasionally this involves something healthy, like going to the gym, playing with my dogs or planting new flowers. But more often than not, it involves a film. I absolutely l-o-v-e watching movies. I could sit and watch movies all day and be perfectly content. Probably not all day, every day, but I do love movies. When I want to unwind at the end of the day, I like to cook a nice dinner, put on a good flick and settle into the couch with a trusty glass of wine and a plate full of good eatin'. When I need to cheer myself up, I put on some comedy or watch old black-and-white reruns of Red Skelton or Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin. (Yes, I know they're old, most of you haven't heard of Red Skelton and they are clearly before my time. But I love them and all three of those figures can pull me out of my worst days. I've watched them since I was a small child and I actually have Jerry Lewis' autobiography to read someday soon. Another fascinating person.)

For this particular instance, I chose Julie & Julia to inspire me on that stuffy afternoon when nothing was working out. Let's face it—the movie is about blogging, cooking, life in Paris and a New York upstart. What's not to love? I adore the humor injected into the movie with Meryl Streep playing Julia Childs (and she does a bang-up job, too) and I love all the frustration that so clearly escapes Julie Powell's character played by Amy Adams. Child's blossoming mid-life career change reminds me that throughout our entire lives we have opportunities to reinvent ourselves, to capitalize on our passions and to make something happen. Plus, I certainly relate to Powell and her husband living in cramped quarters in a NY apartment (okay, our house isn't that small...), debating on having kids, drinking vodka (or whisky, as it is in our case) and cooking the hell out of that little kitchen.

At the end of the movie, no matter how many times I watch it, I truly feel like I can accomplish anything! I'm fired up and ready to conquer the world, and I'm especially ready to eat. So after watching it that dreary afternoon, it suddenly occurred to me that these are both real people who had and have real lives. Immediately, I went online and found Julie Powell's original blog—as in the one that started all this—and began reading the juicy entries as fast as I could. 

"It was good, though after one meal we're already feeling the buttery side effects. I cooked Julia and lived to tell the tale." 
~ Julie's second blog entry on July 26, 2002

I realized, however, that I couldn't possibly get through all these entries in one sitting so I'd just try to read them through whenever I could. But then I had my next great (obvious) epiphany—the movie was based on a book! So I hopped onto Amazon.com and realized that Julie Powell had not just written one book, Julie & Julia, but two. The second is called Cleaving: A story of marriage, meat and obsession. This one I'll be digging into tomorrow with great anticipation.

What's more, I thought, is that most certainly Julia Child has her own book, too! One more Amazon search confirmed this, bringing up My Life in France by Julia Child. I hastily bought up the lot and then sat by my front door, biting my nails and waiting on the delivery truck to come by. (Okay, maybe not... but I still couldn't wait for them to get here. Oh, and you can purchase all three on Amazon for yourself here, here and here.)

During a plane trip to Niagara Falls and back (read about that next week!) I devoured Julie & Julia from cover to cover.  Julie's writing is funny, smart and smartass, witty, divulging and obnoxious all at once. It's been most interesting to see her rise to fame from a life she'd nearly given up on. You can always glean loads of cooking tips and knowledge and inspiration from the tome, which simply makes you—or at least me, anyway—feel that much more inspired. 

So what's all this have to do with the Recipe Challenge, you ask? A good question, indeed. See, all that inspiration had to go somewhere. And the kitchen seemed like the perfect place to start. I cook nearly every day, but oftentimes my meals are plain and unexciting or easy and quick to throw together. That's not to say that I don't feel I achieve an illustrious dinner every now and then, but it's been awhile since I truly challenged myself with the, er, skillet so to speak. Eventually, I want to conquer some French and Italian cooking techniques and all my discoveries about Julie Powell and Julia Child have simply confirmed I do not need to take a lengthy cooking class to accomplish this. The answer is atop my stove!!

But big accomplishments are first achieved through baby steps. And most of my "cooking life"—including all the recipes I began sharing on this blog—I have been more of a Rachael Ray-type gal than an adventurous duck-deboning Julia Child taker-after. Thus I have decided to invent my newest blog category, the Recipe Challenge. Whether I'm taking on a brand new dish, tackling a cooking method I've never done before, trying a new food or conquering an entire cook book (or maybe just a chapter), you'll find it by clicking on the "Recipe Challenge" link in the category column to your right.

So why not start with something I knew? In the July issue of Every Day with Rachael Ray magazine, there was a tear-out one-week meal planner with a set list of ingredients and five recipes. This is included in every issue, but I've never really taken the time to thoroughly examine it. This particular edition seemed quite tasty and all things we would eat. So I'm taking it on. For the next five days, you can come along with me as I tackle five new recipes for dinner each evening. All five recipes will receive their own post, complete with ingredients, photos, my take on the dish, Rachael Ray's instructions and any edits I ended up with along the way. (Because, let's face it, I have a hard time following a recipe to a "T"... I always want to make up my own stuff, which is why I don't bake.)

If you're still with me after reading the longest blog post ever, then I thank you and encourage you to hop on over to the next post, which chronicles my first-ever Recipe Challenge!


  1. This is great! I love cooking, I have Julia Child's cooking books! A-mazing! Can't wait to see how it turns out New follower.

  2. omg this is such a good idea! Your inspiring me to try and cook more! haha Another good read (if you want another book about food) is called Diamonds and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl. She was the food critic for the New York Times and it is about how she disguised and her experiences with the restaurants and food. She also includes all her reviews and some recipes along the way. She is pretty funny too! I also might have to rent Julie and Julia! :)

  3. Thanks for stopping by y'all! I'm excited to get cooking with new recipes... starting with some easy stuff, and hopefully working my way up to some serious tasks!!

    Thanks for the book recommendation, Katie, I'll have to look that one up when I'm finished with my Powell and Child books. :)

  4. HOW did I miss this post yesterday?
    I am excited about your great adventure! I love READING cookbooks. I even make the recipes from time to time!


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