Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Julie & Julia? For me, it's Christina & Nitza

I did it.


I started a project for me. Well, not for me, it's really for the benefit of others, but for me. Since starting to read Julie & Julia in time for the movie release, I realized that I wanted to take a stab at something similar.

I know how to cook. I love cooking and trying all those Food Network style recipes that require lots of chopping and prepping and little gadgets and containers, pots and pans. But to really cook, like my, that's a different story.

So, yesterday, I started my project. I'm going to tackle Nitza Villapol's Cocina al Minuto - yes, the Cuban Julia Child's guide to Cuban cooking, from cover to cover.

Recipe #1: Caldo de Res

The first thing I must say is that starting a recipe after the kids have been put down to sleep and checking the BlackBerry for the almost last time for the night is not a good thing. But, because I had gone to Publix on Sunday and tried to start then but couldn't, and then wanting to try on Monday but being dead after a long day and couldn't, I was determined to make this first recipe on Tuesday.

I took out the pressure cooker - yes, by myself. I had never used the pressure cooker before myself. My husband always helped me with the tricky gadgets. You know, there's a guy, that my grandmother knows, that lost an arm opening the hoya de presiĆ³n before he should have - those things are scary! (Urban Legend - not proven)

I got the soup bone (Found that at Publix thanks to a neighbor that happened to be there and showed me where the bones were - yes, in the meat market wall with the rest of the meat), water, salt, tomatoes, green peppers, garlic and perejil (parsley) and I was set. Nitza said to let it cook for 2 hours, but since she didn't have a pressure cooker, I had to call my references for a conversion.

"15 minutos", said my abuela."30 minutos", said my suegra. Since my grandmother had been the one to instill the fear of the pressure cooker in me anyways, I went with my mother in law and she nailed it. Once the cooker stopped making the "chaca-chaca" noises in my kitchen, I transfered it over into my kitchen sink to run cold water over it so that the "chiki-chiki" safety thingy would drop so I could open it.

When I took off the lid, it happened. I had made soup, from scratch, like for real without anything fake or pre-made. Wow! By myself!

Then, I counted the rest of the recipes in the soup section and I totalled 49. Then I had to sit for a second and, maybe I'll post here all 49 times during my journey in the first section of this cookbook but maybe I won't. I can't make any promises, but I'm on a mission. That soup tasted so good, I was cooking like I should be. The stuff I want to have in my house so it smells like my house growing up; the stuff I want my kids to learn how to eat.
But, it's just Beef Broth? All this for Beef Broth?

Yes, all this for the base of getting started. Buen provecho!

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