Julie/Julia Project

If anyone follows me on social media, you’ve probably noticed my recent infatuation with posting food, either incredible food that I’ve had the pleasure of devouring or meals that I’ve tried my hand at making. I’m extremely blessed to be surrounded by such rich local farm-fresh food in Vermont and even more closely in my jobs serving at weddings. I can’t tell you how many times my mouth has watered at the dry rubbed fire-roasted bone-in chicken with tomato panzanella or the cast iron seared salmon over a beet puree or the sirloin steak with bordelaise sauce over a luscious bed of creamy mashed potatoes and charred sweet onions. Just writing about it is making me salivate (insert heart eye emoji here).Don’t even get me started on the appetizers….

Here’s a quick peak of what I’m talking about. Farmhouse Group Events serves only the best…

Doesn’t that food look just scrumptious?? Photos courtesy of their Insta feed

Needless to say, having started out on my own, it was time that I learn to cook. Using the knowledge gained from hours of watching MasterChef, the preparation techniques I’ve seen the cooks use at work as well gaining inspiration from the fantastic food we get to indulge here in BTV, my friend Dan and I began our culinary adventure. We’ve always been the foodies of our group of friends and we were hoping to put our knowledge to the test.

As a jumping off point, I watched Julie &  Julia, the 2009 nod to the true story of a home cook in New York who follows in the footsteps of her idol Julia Child and works her way through Child’s cookbook, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”, challenging herself to cook 524 recipes in 365 days.

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She blogs about her food journey and creates a following of like-minded “serventless American cooks,” foodies that share her love of food and motivate her when the going gets tough. As the parallel lives of Julie and Julia unfolded on the screen, it made me fall so much more in love with the idea of cooking. Food brings people together around the table, sharing in the bounty of our earth and keeps traditions of cultures and families alive. I absolutely love the idea of not just cooking for myself but sharing our gifts with others.

With Julie’s challenge in mind, we starting working through some of the recipes that we had that had been passed down in our families. We’ve never really been ones to start small so we jumped right in with pork scallopini with butter and herb noodles and  green veggies, fish milanese with pine nut couscous and most recently, skillet chicken in a mushroom and onion cream sauce over a bed of mashed potatoes and roasted brussel sprouts. Even our easier meals such as quiche or baked macaroni or spaghetti and meatballs get elevated with homemade (secret) family recipes as well as crunchy garlic bread sides and the like. Part of our learning process includes writing the date of our experiment, what we had paired with the protein as far as a starch and vegetables are concerned, and our amendments to the recipe (if any). The recipes are then entered into our official collection.

Learning to cook from scratch and elevating simple meals has added a whole new level of tastiness and an appreciation for fine food. This calls to mind some of my favorite lines from Chef Dider in the 2006 film Last Holiday. He says,

“The secret of life is butter”

“No butter, no cream, no wheat, no dairy, no fat! Eh merde! Why do they bother to eat?”

“The first time I saw you, I was so happy to see your appetite for food….for life.”

Didier’s philosophy has shaped how I feel about food and thus about life. Don’t ask for substitutions, just appreciate and experience all that we have been blessed with in our lives. When it comes to food, I don’t limit myself, count calories, or pass on dessert. Of course all in moderation but life is too short not to eat things that make you happy!

We cannot wait to continue honing our culinary skills. Got any recipes we can try? Post them in the comments!

-elise

Simple is better

Living in the charming state of Vermont, as a stark contrast to growing up in the hustling, high-traffic, and overall more gruff MA, has (gently) forced me to slow down. As proud as I am to identify as a Bostonian (greater Boston area still counts), it has made us as a people more worked up, aggressive, and unobservant of the simple pleasures that life and our earth have to offer. Vermont is so much the opposite that one cannot help but to inhale the crisp clean mountain air, allow the sun’s rays to warm their skin and the cool lake water to tickle their toes. God’s gifts are not taken for granted. Our earth is well tended here, and Vermonters have taught me more simple ways of living. I never really thought myself to be outdoorsy until I fell in love with Vermont’s sweeping mountain views, picturesque lakes and fields beckoning me to explore. I keep plants, eat breakfast outdoors on my balcony listening to the birds, and have considered starting my own fruit/vegetable garden. I find myself more grateful everyday for the bounty our earth has to offer and amazed at its beauty.

Some of my favorite days so far this year have been days spent outside, exploring the shores and craggy cliffs surrounding Lake Champlain. Just this past weekend, a friend of mine visited from MA so of course we had to show off our gorgeous state. A group of nine of us hiked through the woods to find a secluded stretch of beach, complete with a driftwood hideaway and a fire pit. Spending an afternoon tossing a Frisbee in the water, guessing our own and others’ spirit animals, roasting hot dogs and s’mores over the fire, and taking in the sunset was a day not soon to be forgotten.

We took “nothing but pictures, left nothing but footprints, and killed nothing but time”.

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How grateful I am to live in such a beautiful place with such adventurous people.

-elise