On August 15 we celebrate the 100th birthday of Julia Child, and I'll be raising a glass of something to be sure!
My first exposure to Julia Child was watching her PBS cooking shows on Saturday afternoons, and I was thrilled when that same station began re-playing her first series "The French Chef", which began airing the year I was born. She made cooking accessible and inviting, and more than that she made it entertaining. Watching the variations on her PBS series of shows, you saw what a natural teacher she was as well as an ever-curious student, a trait I try to keep myself.
When I first moved to Asheville, I was all excitement and anxiety over my move and my new life, and it was an episode of her first season of "The French Chef" that helped me focus all those energies. It's the now even more famous 'Potato' episode, as it was partially featured in the recent "Julie & Julia" movie. I was watching the series as I unpacked boxes, and stopped to pay attention to her potato pancake recipes and to get another lesson in flipping the pancakes.
Two great lessons learned that day. The first, which is still a motto I live by: "You must have the courage of your convictions." This is the advice she gives on how to successfully flip a potato pancake in the pan, and they are words that have stood by me in many experiences outside the kitchen. And when the first flip doesn't go too well, she follows it with equally relevant words to live by: "You can always pick it up if you're alone in the kitchen ... who's going to know?" Ok, so I don't live by THOSE words, but it's a nice reminder to not take oneself too seriously.
Wanting to make a recipe to honor Julia's birthday, and wanting to thank her for those wise words, it makes sense that I would make a potato pancake. Here's where Julia would likely roll her eyes and then herself over in the grave as I really don't eat white potato much any more, and I don't cook with cow dairy. As it is right now, I'm keeping all dairy out of my diet, so Julia's recipe calling for butter and cream with white potatoes is not something I'd make. But having the courage of my convictions, I'm making a potato pancake, using her method, but following my own tastes. More lessons to be learned along the way, to be sure...
What I've come up with is a sweet potato pancake, with a Thai flavoring of coconut milk and my favorite locally produced hummus (it's also "Eat Local Month"!): Roots Thai Coconut Curry Hummus. A little thyme and salt and pepper and a hot, oiled pan, and we're off. Many thanks to Mark Robertson of Mark Robertson Photo for taking pictures for me!
I'm not sharing the specific recipe (I know, I know, this is a recipe page!!), as it needs much development in spite of the successful flip, but as much as Julia might hate the outcome, I hope she'd love the fact that she inspired a lot of my own culinary curiousity and willingness to experiment ... along with a very accommodating mother when I was younger!.
Happy Birthday Julia, and thanks for showing me how to live with the courage of my convictions - bon appetit!
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Here's where you'll find all the recipes featured on the website. Some are presented in traditional format, others are more 'assemblage' recipes, combining ingredients that can be prepared a number of ways, and sometimes I'll present some ways. You're welcome to comment and offer your own versions!