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juliachildI saw this film several weeks ago. I really enjoyed the film, but not just because I love to cook and eat authenticaly cooked food. I loved that the movie really struck a chord with me as a female entrepreneur who is following a dream, and that it’s inspiring and uplifting, and a reminder to live life to the fullest. For those who haven’t seen it, Julie is a young cube-worker-bee with what seems to be a dead-end job while what she really wants to do is write and cook – both of which she does around her 9-5 job as she cooks and blogs her way through one of Julia Child’s cookbooks.

What Julie and Julia Can Teach Us About How to Live

  • Zest for life
  • Questioning life
  • Unconditional love (Julia shows toward her husband and sister)
  • Unabashedly expressing emotion – coming into ones own skin and being who you really are
  • Follow passion – even if it’s not popular
  • Balancing life. All women I know strive for balance but it’s momentary, and more important than always trying to achieve balance may be relishing those moments when things ARE balanced

When I went to see this film, I expected two things. That I would learn more about and have greater respect for Julia Child, the chef, and that I would relish in the experience Julie has teaching herself how to cook from Julia’s recipes over the course of a year. I’m always delighted when a film touches me deeper than I expected (usually a tell tale sign of a great film). This one did, many times over.

Much more than we learn about her cookery, we learn a great deal about Julia’s zest for life, which translates into her culinary success, to most who know of her. But Julia’s zest for life transpired her cooking and we get a good glimpse of that throughout the movie. She ably switched gears and could ‘go with the flow’ wherever life took her. While her husband’s job took the two to various locales without much notice, she was quick to embrace new cultures, learn, and take advantage of the bounty available to her. Her passion for life was present both inside and outside of the kitchen.

Along with this passion for life, Julia regularly questioned ‘the norm’. She questioned her role as a housewife, and why women weren’t enrolled in top culinary schools. When she found there was no good reason for this, she persisted, and got herself into the famed Le Cordon Blue, being the first woman ever to do so. She pushed herself out of that comfort zone and grew because of it.

By now it’s not surprising to learn that Julia’s love was unconditional. She (or at least Meryl Streep portrays her as) deeply cares for her husband and her sister and is supportive of each, but we particularly see this with her relationship with her husband. Watching it will make you want to be a better person! I loved that this movie transcended the too common pettiness commonly portrayed by many female roles on TV and in film today. Even while one of Julia’s friends didn’t pull her weight in the venture they started with a third woman, the other two didn’t sit around and gripe about the third. Julia, instead, thought more to deal with it head on and then move on.

Julia is not shy. She is comfortable in her own skin, even though we can imagine as we watch her six-foot (maybe more!) frame hobble around sometimes that it might not have been easy for her. I love that she doesn’t care what other people think. She just is, her zestful self. And in that, she is content.

Although it’s not typical, a surefire way to make friends, or even fun at first, Julia follows her passion and does what she believes she really wants to do. She is fearless, enters classes full of men who have been cooking for years, and does her best to keep up, to learn as much as possible, all because she has a passion and believes this is what will make her the best chef she can be. There were plenty of easier roads to becoming a better chef, but Julia’s passion and persistence led her to get the best training possible.

Finally, despite throwing herself into her passion, Julia seems to have good friends, that great relationship with her husband, and a well roundedness about her that is almost enviable. I know, it’s a movie, but still. The reality seems to be that she probably didn’t have a lot of balance all the time, particularly when writing an ginormous cookbook, and taking intensive culinary classes. Butcha know what? Balance is fleeting. It’s a give and take, a constant tipping back and forth of the scales and sometimes if we’re lucky everything evens out. Worrying about it, spending energy and time trying to achieve it, is only likely to remind us how much we have to juggle. The point is to enjoy it all, and sometimes you simply cannot enjoy it all at once, but that’s ok.

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srcafe1Tucked away is an understatement. This special restaurant commands you stray from the mainstream and venture to the back roads of northeastern Connecticut. An hour and a quarter from Boston and probably forty-five minutes from Hartford, the scenic drive from I-84 puts you in the mood for what waits in this quaint restored barn in Eastford, CT. A former Connecticut resident myself, I’d never heard of the town, but once off the interstate I recognized the territory as I drove through part of Bigelow Hollow State Park, a swimming and canoeing oasis I have fond memories of from childhood days gone by.

My dining companion who arrived before I was seated on the sunny side porch with a book the owners wrote about the restaurants of St. Bart’s. It was a glorious spring day, the kind that restores hope after a long cold New England winter.

Once inside, the old converted barn shined with warm spring sunlight on rustic old beams and clean white walls amidst a simple and rustic, yet elegant interior.  The menu looked fresh, robust with just enough choices, and customized for the latest local harvest.

I’d hoped to begin with the Blue Hill Mussels, but sadly they were sold out this Sunday brunch. So instead, I was satiated by a hearty serving of the North Ashford Farm Salad – healthy, fresh, and light with baby greens, toasted pumpkin seeds, shaved fennel and goat cheese feta, which I am slowing learning to enjoy (goat cheese, that is). My companion enjoyed an even more tasty Farm Beat salad, which was gorgeously plated and shined with earthy red and golden beats and a mellow local goat cheese.

Next, I moved onto the Kobe Beef Carpaccio. Wow. These ‘dumplings’ were packed with a beefy, bacony flavor and had a melt in your mouth texture, complimented by baby arugula and Parmesan shavings. My guest enjoyed the Tasting of Scallops – scallops with a scallop jus and another with a hazelnut crust. I preferred the former, which were perfectly cooked with most complimentary jus, however both were worthy of ordering again.

We wrapped up brunch with a fun experiment in chocolate that included homemade chocolates (the caramel with sea salt was the best I’ve ever had – I wanted to take a box home), a simple but rich mouse, and brownie-like bites of cake. It was the perfect ending to a special brunch, all of which overlooked a serene rural setting that my city soul savored. Still River is a winner in my book, and even with the distance,  I’ll be back. 

Still River Cafe Website

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pollan-cover2This is overdue but none the less I wanted to share a few thoughts from the lecture I attended with a good friend, (and graduate of the Tufts Nutrition Masters program) last Tuesday. I finished Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilema several months ago now, but many of the stories and messages from within the book have stayed with me, making a notable impact on the way my family and I eat and the way I think about food. The book’s a non-fiction page-turner, reminicent in some ways of Fast Food Nation, yet more eloquently written, more fascinating and uplifting as it focused more on positive aspects of eating. 

Michael was invited by Tufts to speak on his latest book, In Defense of Food. I can’t say I’ve read it yet, but I can’t wait to. It’s next in the queue of nutrition and foodie books, right after Bitman’s new one which I’m just about finished with (by the way, Bitman’s latest is quite reminicent of Pollan’s Omnivore’s). 
Pollan spoke clearly and easily, focusing on content from his latest book, leaning more towards following what we know to be true than on recent scientific knowledge about nutrients and food of which there is little of (this seemed to perturb some of the Nutrition school’s heavyweights who were sitting beside him on stage). He acknowleged that there is so much we don’t know about food today, but we can and should abide by what we know to be true. We know plants are good for us, and that today’s mainstream western diet is not; and he implied to rely less on meats and processed foods and more on natural plant based substances. He actually focused much of the talk on processed-non-food items, which to most of the audience was probably a no-brainer, however he hit it home by talking about how the food industry is incented to continually innovate (i.e. ‘process’) new substances, and how this has been to our demise. How bizarre it is that a 3 year old Twinkee never decays, and thinking about bringing our grandmothers or great grandmothers to the grocery store and how little of the food they’d actually recognize. He touched on some other topics which I really appreciated, such as considering the 7-year rotation farming style practiced by the Argentinians, finding foods with less than 5 ingredients, and looking in stores for foods that don’t promote themselves (ie produce isn’t packaged labeled with ‘low fat’ or ‘loaded with Omega 3!). He emphasized the importance of cooking and how lately it’s become a lost art. Given my passion for this, it really resonated. I couldn’t help but think about what ways we can try to bring cooking back into our family kitchens despite being busier than ever…
In the end he came over to the overflow room where we were seated and answered questions for our smaller audience which I really appreciated. I wasn’t called on, but what I really wanted to know, was where does locavore Michael Pollan, with just one night in Boston, choose to have dinner? I guess I’ll have to try to find out another time, maybe next month when he comes to West Roxbury for a book signing.

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Welcome

Welcome! In 2009, I resolved to start a blog and to be more GREEN in my ways. Thus I find myself writing a blog about becoming more green, documenting musings, ideas, and real changes I’m making for me, my family, my community and mother Earth.

Disclaimer: I’m still a suburban working mom with a fairly laid back preppy style. I don’t strive to live perfectly green because I don’t think it’s possible (unless I were to make some major life changes like give up my job or house etc). But I do strongly believe we can all do our part to make the world a better place for our children, and that we can save money in the process. To me it’s easy – a WIN-WIN. This world has its challenges a plenty, and I’d hate to think I didn’t do my part to make life healthier, safer, and less taxing for my children. I’m not saying I don’t want them to work hard, but I do mean I don’t think they need to pay for our abuse of using too many non-recyclible materials, watch their health suffer because our generation didn’t bother to try to reduce emissions or reduce the widespread use of antibiotics and genetically modified corn-based diets in the meat we eat.
As a working mom, I strive for efficiency at home, because my time at home, and especially with my children is sacred and limited. I want to make the most of it. I will pay a little more for convenience sometimes, but not at the expense of our health or the environment. So for example, although it makes packing lunches easier, I’m trying not to purchase individual yogurt cups for my kids. It saves packaging and money if I fill my own plastic containers for the girls with plain yogurt and fresh or frozen fruit. (I’m not thrilled about using so much plastic, but that is another story for another time).
So what have I done lately that is green? I am the proud new owner of my own seltzer making machine from the Soda Club! My husband and I both have a weakness for seltzer. We don’t drink soda at home, but we love bubbly water. I was getting so tired of lugging 1 and 2 liter bottles into the house and starting to feel pretty guilty about all the wasted plastic, too. I remember thinking and saying to my husband that we need a solution to make our own seltzer at home, and then wah-lah, soon after I found a link on Tree Hugger to the Soda Club! The Soda Club sells a variety of carbonated beverage making appliances which are compact and affordable. We purchased a kit that included 2 rental and reusable CO tanks, bottles for storing the seltzer, and even a bunch of free samples for soda and seltzer flavors. Just as claimed, it’s easy to use and even kinda fun to make your own seltzer at home! I’m sure it will not be long before we’re seeing our return on this investment given all of the seltzer we were buying. And, I’m feeling pretty green! Yah!

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