Ever since I saw the movie Julie and Julia, I have been compelled to try to make Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon. Before the Food Network ever existed, I loved to watch cooking on t.v., and of course, Julia was the Queen.
So yesterday was the big day. For our weekly Monday night family dinner I decided to finally tackle Julia's recipe. But the conflict began the minute I sit down to download her recipe. Boeuf Bourguignon is not a fancy dish...it is basically a low and slow simmered beef stew with wine in it. But Julia's way smacks against my 30 minute meal mentality. It's labor intensive and complicated. I look and see that other people have "tweaked" her recipe and made it easier...and I'm tempted, tempted to go the easier route. But something in me compels me to stick with the plan, to accept the challenge, embrace it, enjoy it.
So off I go to the store to gather the ingredients. It cost more than I thought it would. I also had to venture into the unfamiliar territory of the wine aisle in search of Chianti...which I had no idea was just the Italian version of burgundy wine.
Who knew that the recipe was going to begin with a whole lot of bacon? This was going to be richer, more fattening than I first thought.
It was a several step process. Chop the meat, dry it off carefully so it won't steam but will brown nicely in the bacon fat. Small batches, don't overcrowd the pan. Then flour it and brown it even more in a hot oven. Saute onion and carrot, add wine, broth, and seasonings...
Finally the whole thing goes into the oven and simmers for hours and fills the house with a heavenly smell. But there's still more to do...slice and saute the mushrooms, peel and braise the pearl onions. These will go in last, after the time in the oven is over.
After family dinner is over, dishes are done, house put back in order, and the kids and grandbabies go back to their own homes, I wonder about today. Why was this important to me -to do something the hard way for once? Why did it seem necessary to make myself take time and carefully go through something step by step? Finally, I realize, my whole life is too often about hurrying to get something done, and too seldom about living in the moment and enjoying the process. Like Julia's recipe, life often costs me more than I think it should. More denying self than I want to pay. There are also scary times when I must tread into uncharted territory, leave the easy and familiar. Things often take longer than I think they will, or than I think they should. Just when I think I'm about done dealing with something in my life, I find out there's something more to do, finishing touches that still need to be done. But my life is also richer and more delicious than I thought it would be-if I'll only slow down long enough to enjoy and savor it. A life well-lived, a heavenly fragrance, rich and satisfying...I want some of that!