Julie & Julia … and me

I like recipe books. I have a whole shelf of them and can happily browse through them, admiring the pictures and planning all sorts of interesting dishes to make. But I have to admit that I seldom get further than planning. Most of my recipe books sit on the shelf, never seeing the inside of the kitchen. I tend to make the same dishes over and over again, or go with simple meals which don’t actually need recipes – salads, stir fry, grilled chicken, pasta and so on.

Every year I promise myself that I will cook properly, that I will try new recipes, that I will not buy another recipe book until I have actually used the last one I bought. And no, looking at the pictures does not count.

This year, I might actually get somewhere. Two things have prompted me to get back to cooking and baking. One was my birthday. I was trying to decide what to make for tea at work, when it dawned on me that the last few times I have taken tea, I have made chocolate cake and pineapple fridge tart. These are two of my standard recipes – quick, easy and yummy. But perhaps it was time for a change. So I made a madeira rainbow cake (new recipe) and a caramel tart (old recipe but not made for a while).

The next day I went to see the film Julie & Julia. And came home completely inspired to cook. For those who have not seen the film, the character Julie challenges herself to cook all the recipes in Julia Child’s book, Mastering French Cooking and to blog about it. The film switches between Julie’s project, and the story of Julia Childs learning to love (and master) French cooking. It is well worth seeing, but be warned, you are likely to come out feeling hungry.

Now I have no desire to master French cooking. It is far too fancy for me.   I am  too fussy to want to work through an entire recipe book. We all know there is no way I am going to cook lobster, or spinach for that matter. And too  lazy  busy to want to cook over 500 recipes in one year.

So I have set myself a gentler, more manageable challenge. ( And one less likely to see me double in size.) Each month I will pick one of my recipe books and aim to try four or five new recipes, roughly one a week. At the end of the month I will let my readers know how it went, and which book is next on the menu.