Taking a Page from ‘Julie and Julia’

With 2015 fast approaching, plans for New Year’s Eve parties are set, the Christmas trees and decorations are getting ready to come down, and I think the majority of us are hunkering down to withstand the remaining months of winter. With so many things to reflect on this past year and look forward to next year, the tradition of setting new year’s resolutions is well in hand. Many of us are setting new dietary goals or hoping to overcome personal habits, but for me, I’m hoping to accomplish something else entirely. Recently, I had the chance to read “Julie and Julia” by Julie Powell. Some of you probably recognize this title from the acclaimed movie staring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. I’d been wanting to read this book ever since I saw the film and especially since I started this blog. The challenge Julie takes of completing 524 recipes from Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” in 365 days is a huge feat, turning the story into something far beyond just cooking.

reading challengeSo what does any of this have to do with new year’s resolutions? Inspired by the trials and tribulations of Julie Powell, I’ve decided to accomplish my own goal: the 2015 Reading Challenge. Throughout the next year, I’ll be taking on the task of reading 50 books with a wide range of categories. Funny books, books from a beloved author, movies based on books, books more than 100 years old and the list goes on and on. Each book I finish, I’ll share on my blog with the hope of sparking interest in all you book worms out there. By no means is this the same as cooking more than 500 recipes, but for me this is significant since I’ve been meaning to read more lately. With the encouragement from family, friends and all you readers out there, I think this resolution will be one of the best.

With that said, here’s my reflection on “Julie and Julia” and what I took from reading this inspirational story.

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Celebrating the Season with Christmas Cookies

Merry Christmas fellow bloggers, readers, fans, home renovators and culinary artists! For many of us, Santa has arrived, the gifts have been unwrapped and the joy of the holidays is once again renewed. For weeks, we’ve been decorating trees, sneakily hiding presents to one another and watching an endless array of Christmas-themed movies  — for me it’s gotta be “The Santa Clause” and of course “A Christmas Story.” The list of things I love about Christmas could go on and on. But over the years, I’ve found the most important thing of all is spending time with those you love, family and friends alike. Kris Kringle put it best in “Miracle on 34th Street” when he said, “Christmas isn’t just a day, it’s a frame of mind.” Now, I know I’m leaving out a rather big component of what makes the holiday season so wonderful — the food. But not just food: the Christmas cookie. Many chefs have different opinions of what makes the perfect seasonal treat and all taste just as yummy as the rest. But for me, the best come from family traditions and being passed down from generation to generation. So with that said, here’s my family’s famous shortbread cookies — simple to make and delicious to eat (especially for Santa).

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Making Tomato Sauce from Scratch

If you’ve been keeping up with my latest blog posts, you know my adventures in tomato gardening have now reached its final leg — cooking up delicious recipes. My first foray into tomato land came in the form of soup, which you can read more about in Tomato Soup for the Soul. I’ll be continuing this liquid yumminess by creating and preserving my first batch of tomato sauce. I absolutely love tomato sauce. For the longest time, I would never touch a whole tomato, but make it into a sauce and I was hooked. It wasn’t until recently (before my vegetable garden) that I started enjoying raw tomatoes outside of smashing them down into something else. And tomato sauce is so versatile. It can be used in pastas and pizzas but also seafood or buffalo wings. The art in making your own tomato sauce is that it’s very free form. You can have it be chunky or smooth, seeds in or seedless and include a plethora of herbs and spices to season it up. So here’s my take on some delicious tomato sauce, along with pointers on how to properly can and preserve your creations.

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