Friday, April 03, 2009

Baking with Julia

I'm backing off on the knitting a little today, since tomorrow is Round 2 of Sock Madness, and I know I'll be knitting like crazy!

So instead, I've been baking. These are Galettes au Chevre, from Julia Child's Mastering The Art of French Cooking, Volume I. Julia's recipe is actually for Galettes au Camembert, but she says you can use any cheese you like, and I had Chevre in the refrigerator. Our "Unraveled Readers" book club read My Life in France this month, so I thought I should do some baking for the meeting. Kerry brought a cake from one of her favorite Julia Child recipes, so we had a pretty tasty get-together.

My Life in France proved to be a very interesting, but somewhat sad book. It was actually completed after Julia died, so it's like getting to know someone when it's already too late. But it was fascinating to see all that went into putting together French Cooking - I'm not going to go into details here, because I'm running around recommending My Life in France to everyone I know, and I don't want to spoil anything. My chief criticism is that I don't think Julia gave sufficient appreciation to German food, but perhaps that was a function of historical context more than anything else.

Our edition of French Cooking is pretty old, which makes it a bit more difficult to use than a typical cookbook. She never meant the book to be easy - it's for a dedicated amateur who's willing to put in some work - but requires attention in ways I didn't expect. For example, the ingredients and equipment are all together in a "What You Need" list, so you'll find "Butter, flour, wax paper, cheese," and so on. She'll also give a base recipe, and then go on to say "and you can change this, and make this instead" - in some ways it resembles the cookbooks of 400 years ago as much as it does those of 40 years later. But my Galettes are downright tasty, and are definitely going into my list of Standard Party Fare (or maybe even post-party fare, since they'll be great for using up leftover cheese).

Even with all this baking, there's always knitting. I'm trying to get things off the needles in anticipation of more Sock Madness, so last night I finished this Unoriginal Hat. It's made from Nele, a bulky yarn Aaron picked up in Oldenburg for fifty cents a ball, so this hat sets us back less than one Euro.

Following the Harlot's pattern, this knitted up just a bit small for me. But I had it earmarked for charity from the beginning, and so it's going to head off to the Mattaponi Indian Tribe of Virginia, as part of the latest Knitters for Obama service project. This has been a fun one - after knitting for preemies, homeless veterans, and cancer patients, we decided to let one of the group's more active members pick the post-inauguration project. She was already doing a lot for the Mattaponi on her own, and so now she's getting a lot of help. I really hope the service knitting projects continue - so far, the momentum has been great.

But that's enough knitting for tonight. It's early to bed, so I'm ready for Sock Madness tomorrow!


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