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July 14, 2009. I like to cook and I like to feed people.
Recipezaar is the best. I discovered this site about three years ago. The recipes and ideas here are very good. And so many creative chefs. Many here are just like me, self taught. I am not a professional chef or cook. And I am not a caterer. I am a home cook and I cook for my family and friends. I have other interests, but cooking is top of the list.
In my opinion one can never have too many recipes or cookbooks...as long as they are organized, accessible and used. I'm also a Food Network (FN) groupie. I've watched FN since it was launched on 11/23/93. I have a few (okay a lot) of their earlier shows (and some later shows) recorded to VHS tapes. Many are Julia Child shows - my favorite chef. More on her later.
Some of the dates on the early cooking shows may be off by a year or two, as I have not gone through a lot of the old tapes and notes recently. That said, all other information is correct.
I have the first appearance Emeril Lagasse made on FN. He appeared on the show "How To Boil Water" around the same time that Julia Child (Julia) was airing on FN. Emeril was very young, and very, very, shy. He had just left New Orleans for FN. How To Boil Water was his show. I believe one other lady did a few episodes before he replaced her. I have many of these episodes recorded on VHS tape. We of course know that Emeril moved on to bigger and better shows on FN. So other personalities came to How to Boil Water.
Before I discovered cooking shows I had a modest collection of cookbooks that I started collecting in the mid 1980's. Today I have a collection of cookbooks that would be too many to count. A conservative estimate would by more than 800. To contain this massive collection I have a library room in my home. I cook from these books and use them constantly. So much information, not just recipes. Zaar is the same. A source of good recipes and information.
I learned to cook interesting foods by reading cookbooks and watching Julia on the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) in the late 1980's through the 1990's. Julia's shows (a series of episodes) were The French Chef and From Julia Child's Kitchen.
You weren't just cooking recipes when you watched The French Chef or From Julia Child's Kitchen, you were learning techniques as well.
In an episode where she makes puff pastry, she tells us, "when you master the techniques of puff pastry, you will be able to make all types of pastry dough. Pastry is the dough that makes one feel like a cook. And the techniques developed when you make it are the same techniques used to make French croissants....this business about rolling and folding and turning the dough. The difference is that the croissant dough is a yeast dough that needs to rise before baking. We will make croissants in another episode." She was a great teacher.
She then appeared on FN around 1995 through, I believe 1998. This show was called The French Chef. All, or most of the shows had been produced in the 1970's. Some may be from the 1960's. I watched all of the episodes, bought her books, and bought the expensive professional equipment (to hubby's chagrin), that she recommended for professional results. So I started cooking with Julia. Hubby calmed down when the cooking results were in. I recorded all of her shows (VHS tapes).
The best information on how to cook came from the early TV shows, The French Chef and From Julia Child's Kitchen. There was a classroom feel about both shows, seemingly taught by an ordinary American housewife from her kitchen. Of course she wasn't an ordinary American housewife. As we all know she was a classically trained French Chef. Yet you felt like it was just you and Julia alone in the kitchen, and her information was exhaustive.
PBS did later shows with Julia, in the 1990's up until, I believe, the time that she died. They were Baking With Julia, In Julia's Kitchen with Master Chefs, Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home and The Way to Cook. I bought the books of the same titles, recorded these episodes and cooked with Julia and the featured chefs.
The later shows were different from the earlier shows, The French Chef and From Julia's Child's Kitchen.
These later shows, Baking With Julia, In Julia's Kitchen with Master Chefs, Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home and The Way to Cook, kept some of the classroom feel. However, they mainly featured other well known chefs...with Julia cooking along side them in her kitchen, sometimes just watching and commenting, as she was getting on in age.
In today's world, if you are interested in the skills and techniques that Julia taught, you will probably have to go to culinary school or take cooking classes. Lots of cooking classes. Or maybe buy the DVDs of her early shows. In the television market in my area, I do not see any other TV chef who is doing what she did.
Around that same time period (1990's) the Discovery Channel ran a series called Great Chefs. These chefs were then (and are more so now) famous chefs from all across America. They were shown cooking in the restaurants where they worked. I watched the Great Chefs series, bought the cookbooks from this series that I was interested in, recorded (VHS tapes), and cooked these foods too.
Julia Child was and still is my all time favorite chef. My cooking style can best be described as American southern, Tex-Mex and French influence from Julia.
My specialties are desserts. American southern old fashioned, regal cakes with rich frostings. Any baked goods and pastries. I also enjoy baking fancy French cakes, embellished with French buttercream, croissants, puff pastry and baking other French pastries.
There are good shows on FN today. It's still a great network. PBS is still good. But I have to say, the shows on FN today are different from the first shows. Some of the shows today are more about entertainment (Iron Chef - a favorite of mine, Next Food Network Star, Challenge, etc.). These types of shows may have been on FN in the beginning, but I can't recall them. Some FN shows today have chefs who cook (as opposed to the entertainment shows). And that's fine too. This is not a criticism, just an acknowledgement that FN is different today.
Again, the early Julia shows on FN and PBS were cooking classes. Each show was a menu with recipes from her cookbooks The French Chef and Julia Child's Menu Cookbook. Sometimes the recipe was the main dish, sometimes dessert, pastry etc. She always cooked the dish step by step with great attention to detail. The accompaniments to the main recipe were mentioned, shown and sometimes assembled just before the finished presentation. The shows had a classroom feel. You didn't need the cookbooks to cook the recipes, unless you just wanted to have them. She never mentioned the books. She just presented the recipes.
I think the narrator on FN who introduced Julia on the show "Cooking Classics" said it best: "For the first time on cable, Julia Child as The French Chef. This series has been hailed as the most widely attended cooking course ever given in America. This program, produced in the 1970's, show her at the height of her powers. It is a cooking classic."
This narration is spot on. If you watched The French Chef you felt like you were in a classroom. This incredible woman taught me so much, though I never knew her personally. Even the most daunting recipes were easy when you watched her cook. I replay the tapes sometimes because I like to watch her cook. And I read her cookbooks.
I read my other cookbooks too. I still buy a cookbook or two every now and then. There is always something new to learn. But I have to say my collection of cookbooks is pretty much complete.
Here are a few of my favorite cookbooks from my home library. The first eight are by Julia Child:
1. & 2. By Julia Child with others, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volumes I & II; Mastering I - with Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck; Mastering II - with Simone Beck, 3. The French Chef, 4. Julia Child's Menu Cookbook, 5. The Way to Cook, 6. Baking With Julia, 7. In Julia's Kithen with Master Chefs, 8. Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home-Julia Child and Jacques Pepin,
9. Spago Desserts-Mary Bergin, 10. Desserts by the Yard-Sherry Yard, 11. Time Life-The Good Cook Series-Richard Olney, complete 28 volume set plus 1 extra volume, Snacks & Canape's, that is not usually included with the set of 28...bringing this set to a total of 29,
12. Family Circle Illustrated Library of Cooking-published year 1972, complete 16 volume set, 13. Woman's Day Encyclopedia of Cookery-year published 1974, complete 22 volume set,
14. Woman's Day Encyclopedia of Cookery-year published 1966, complete 12 volume set, 15. Better Homes & Gardens Encyclopedia of Cookery, complete 20 volume set,
16. Grand Diplome Cooking Course-published 1970's-Anne Willan, 14 volumes of 20 volume set, 17. Time Life Foods of the World-published 1960's-complete 27 volume set & 27 small spiral books that accompany the main volumes,
18., 19., & 20. Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook-published 1950, Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook-published 1956, Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook-published 1961,
21. Treasury of Great Recipes, published 1965-Mary and Vincent Price (the actor), 22. Flavors of France-Alain Ducasse, 23. & 24. Desserts, & Chocolate Desserts-both books by Pierre Herme' and Dorie Greenspan, 25. Southern Living Southern Heritage Cookbook Library-complete 19 volume set, 26. LaVarenne Pratique-Anne Willan,
27. Bocuse's Regional French Cooking-Paul Bocuse, 28. The Cake Bible-Rose Levy Beranbaum, 29. The Professional Pastry Chef-Third Edition-Bo Friberg, 30. The Chocolate Bible-Christian Teubner, 31. & 32. Death By Chocolate & Desserts to Die For-both books by Marcel Desaulniers, 33. Better Homes and Garden's Anyone Can Cook,
34.The Last Course-Claudia Fleming, 35. The Food of France-Maria Villegas and Sarah Randell, 36. Eurodelices Dine With Europe's Master Chefs-Desserts, 37. Eurodelices Dine With Europe's Master Chefs-Pastries, 38. The Twinkies Cookbook-by Hostess.....and many, many more. And I still visit Zaar often.
This is a timely posting for me - with the movie about Julia Child's influence on an American cook being released in August 2009. The movie - Julie and Julia - is about a woman (Julie) learning to cook by watching Julia Child's cooking shows and cooking from her cookbooks. The cookbooks Julie uses in the movie appear to be earlier cookbooks, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. This, from what I have seen in the advertisement for the movie. When I discovered Julia Child I cooked from some of her later books.
And there are millions of others out there who followed this same path to cooking.
So I will end (finally) by saying, this page is a tribute to JULIA CHILD, not only for what she taught me.....but also for what she taught countless other Americans.