Saturday, August 20, 2011

Meanwhile, back in D.C., in Julia Child's Kitchen No Less!!!!!

Hi Everyone!

I realized this wasn't getting my info out to you about D.C. and I wanted to share Julia Child's actual kitchen and some other information about her with you.  So here come the pictures! Hope you enjoy them!

This is Julia in her tiny French kitchen.  No wonder when she had the opportunity, she insistged on having a kitchen that was suited to her.  Julia was a tall lady and Paul, her husband, was a genius in design, as well as helping with the business end of her cooking show on television.
Julia often said there would be no "Julia Child" without Paul.

First of all, I have to say I LOVE this kitchen.  For that matter, I love looking at ll well designed kitchens. They are - I believe - the very heart of the home.  But I also have to say - I HATE cooking!! I kid you not!  I've never liked it, although I can cook well if I have to.  This is in spite of the hilarious "fish gravy" story from my first year of marriage in Germany, but that's another story.

To be perfectly honest, I'd rather clean up after someone else has done the cooking.  I do enjoy baking every now and then; I find that peaceful somehow, but "cooking" to me is nothing more than a daily chore which I'd much rather do without.

Okay, enough about me.  Isn't the kitchen beautiful? I love the green color and how it's all laid out, everything within easy reach, neatly labeled, very organized.  I guess it appeals to my sense of organization.  It looks as if you could walk right in and start baking something marvelous!

A view of the right side of the itchen.  She must have had a pan for everything imaginable!

The entire kitchen was dismantled piece by piece and reconstructed inside the National Museum of American History!  You can view it through several Plexiglas panels at different angles.

Even though much larger, this kitchen immediately reminded me of one that belonged to a very dear family friend of ours, Virginia Douglas Lavender - Ginny to us!  I met her when I started dating Nigel.  Ginny and her husband, Thomas, had been friends with Nigel's family for years and years, ever since they lived next to each other when Nigel was a boy.  Ginny was known to all her friends, and she literally had hundreds of friends, as a marvelous cook.  But her genius lay in the fact she could create masterpieces by just throwing in "a pinch of this, a bit of that".  Yet it always came out tasting as if she'd been cooking all day!  She came from the "old school" of cooking, with a New England upbringing.  Ginny took me "under her wing" and taught me how to make my first loaf of bread - and it was EASY!!!  I still use several of her recipes, but my favorite and the one I use most whenever I'm feeling particularly nostalgic, is one for her Aunt Mary's "Old New England Chocolate Cake".  The only way I can describe it is that it comes out with a consistency similar to pound cake.  It's very moist, but it isn't overly sweet.  And the best frosting is simply to sprinkle Confectioner's Sugar over it when it's completely cooled.  My youngest, Liz, doesn't like chocolate overly much, but she LOVES this cake.  My oldest, Laura, who loves chocolate, LOVES this cake.  And everyone I've ever served it to LOVES this cake!  Maybe I need to give you the recipe! Ya think?  Ha Ha
But later.  For now - back to Julia's kitchen!!

The really neat thing about this wall of pans was that it was pulled away from the side of the kitchen completely so you could get a better view of both it and the inside of the kitchen.  As you an see, Julia was very meticulous and organized.  I suppose you'd have to be with all she managed to accomplish in a day! Also, Julia and Paul entertained quite a bit right in this kitchen! They would frequently have close friends over, but whenever someone was helping clean up after the meal, they'd have difficulty trying to figure out where everything went.  Let's face it, not many people have this many different pots and pans, especially back in the early 1960's!  No problem though.....Paul designed this wall with an outline drawing of each saucepan and skillet so you would know immediately what went where!

Julia loved trying out new gadgets and appliances, but she kept a "homey" type kitchen, well lived in and well loved.  I can just picture her and Paul, sitting in here in the morning, having a cup of coffee!

Sorry for the lousy photograph, but I wanted a picture of these beautiful blue canisters.  They reminded me of someone who was well traveled, who picked up pretty bits and pieces for the home here and there.

I can barely keep two pans of cooking going at the same time on a stove top.  I hate to thing what I'd do with six burners, other than burning down the house, that is!  I love the use of pegboard!  It's so efficient! I have it in my studio as well; it makes an entire wall a fantastic storage and display area!

I was particularly delighted with the sight of this fridge and all it's "normal" magnets and "things" we all put on our refrigerators - childrens' drawings, favorite photos of family and pets, and those fruit magnets! I remember my Gran had some just like it years and years ago!

It's true. I HAD to see the top of the fridge, so I held my camera up over my head and snapped this picture!
I LOVE all the cat pictures and items she had throughout the kitchen.  Made it just that much more personal!  Ginny loved cats too and was forever rescuing them.  She had one named "Purrrr-ple Lavender".

More pegboard and more CATS!!! Fabulous!!

Oh yes! And that would be even MORE pegboard and MORE cats!!  

All of Julia's cookbooks!  She had two well worn copies of "The Joy of Cooking" which she used more than any of the others except her own!

If I remember correctly, these are tapes from her cooking show, The French Chef, which was the forerunner of all the cooking shows we have today. Despite the fact I don't like cooking and never have, and despite the fact I don't particularly care for French food, I still thoroughly love to see reruns of her shows even now.  She was just a lovely and very interesting person to listen to, and completely out of the norm for what most Americans were used to.

As I mentioned earlier, Julia LOVED kitchen gadgets and was always trying out new ones.  This exhibit shows what it would look like if you tipped her "gadget drawer" on its end and let everything fall out! The Plexiglas doesn't photograph well, but it's fun thing to look at! I couldn't identify much of anything! 

Okay, now for the recipe.  And one thing Ginny taught me - always use fresh ingredients! So if you want to make this cake, make a run to the store to get fresh cream, fresh eggs, fresh shortening, and so on!  Really! It makes a BIG difference!!

Ginny Lavender's recipe for her Aunt Mary's Old New England Chocolate Cake
(written down just as Ginny wrote it down for me)

3/4 cup shortening, creamed with
1 3/4 cup granulated sugar.  Add
3 squares melted chocolate and
4 eggs beaten.

Add alternately 1 3/4 cup flour, sifted with
3/4 cup milk (with 3/4 teaspoon soda and a pinch
of salt stirred into the milk).  Bake 350 about 40 minutes.

Some helpful hints I learned over the years:

1.  For a pretty presentation, bake in a bundt pan.  This makes a lovely presentation when you sprinkle it with Confectioner's (3X) sugar when it's completely cooled on a rack.

2.  Do NOT rely on cooking spray.  Actually grease and flour the pan well.  Disaster otherwise, at least for me.

3  I use Swansdown Cake Flour; works better than all purpose flour.  I don't remember if Ginny used regular all purpose or cake flour, but I've used both and the texture is better using cake flour.

3.  I frequently use Half and Half instead of whole milk; sometimes I use half heavy cream and half whole 4ilk.  I figure that's about what milk was like back in the 1920's when this recipe was created, and it makes for a wonderful flavor and texture!

Did I tell you how I got this recipe?  Ginny hosted a bridal shower for me (back in 1980!) and everyone was sent a bank recipe card in the mail.  They were all asked to write down their favorite recipes and bring them to the shower!  So I got recipes of everyone's "very best"!  At the shower, Ginny presented me with a wooden recipe box that held all the recipe cards, and a package of blank cards inside for my own recipes.  This chocolate cake was Ginny's "favorite".

Hope you enjoyed the tour!  And if you get a chance, do try to see the movie "Julie Julia".  Meryl Streep does a FABULOUS job playing Julia Child, right down to the accent!!

And as Julia herself said at the end of her cooking shows,

"Bon Appetit!"

With Love and Blessings to All,     Jan