On August 15th, 2012 we will celebrate the great Julia Child’s 100th birthday. In celebration of her birthday and in honor of her influence on the home cook and professional chefs everywhere, All Seasons Homestead Helpers, Inc. put a call out to food bloggers for commentary on how Julia Child influenced or affected them in the kitchen. All articles will be featured in the All Seasons Homestead Helpers, Inc. Weekend Highlight post.
My earliest memories of Julia Child was on Saturday and Sunday mornings; after cartoons, Solid Gold & Soul Train… channel 9 (PBS) would host a series of cooking shows that included Jacques Pepin, Martin Yan, and of course…Julia Child! My mother was a late sleeper and being a child of a hard-working single parent, I had to ‘fend for myself’ at times. There were several early morning hours of watching TV and the lineup was Looney Toons, Solid Gold, Soul Train, and then a channel change to cooking shows. I’d watch cooking till the early afternoon. I’d then try to recreate what I saw on TV, producing what my mom called a “stinky mess” in the kitchen.
Another fond memory of watching Julia’s shows were during the morning summer hours at my grandmother’s house. After breakfast I found myself watching cooking shows on PBS and of course Julia Child was a huge part of their lineup. Similar to my weekend time, I’d sneak into grandma’s kitchen and attempt to put together ingredients I thought would work based on what I saw Julia do!
“You have to have the courage of your conviction…” She wasn’t afraid of her ingredients; she made mistakes in the public eye without losing herself, and had a sense of humor about it all! She made using tools from the garage allowable in the kitchen with her giant rubber mallets, hand saws, and other large items. Best of all she broke it down and gave the home cook the confidence to attain success in the kitchen with what was considered gourmet ingredients and basic culinary techniques.
I was quite young at the time but decided I wasn’t going to be afraid of my ingredients either. Watching Julia’s shows I learned how to put together a recipe. My first ever recipe creation was a ‘fancy’ jello mold, circa 1985. Now looking back, the ingredients were simple but the structure, the creation of the mold was rather complex. I saw Julia do it in other ways, so why couldn’t I…even if I was only 8!
Berries & Cream Jello Tower
1 package strawberry jello
1 package raspberry jello
1 large container of cool whip
1 large decorative mold
1 regular jello mold
- Prepare the jello according to the package directions.
- Pour ½ of the strawberry jello into the large decorative mold.
- In a separate mold, pour the remaining ½ of the strawberry and ½ of the raspberry jello together.
- Set aside the remaining ½ of the raspberry jello and allow to cool to room temperature.
- Place the molds in the fridge and allow to partially set.
- While still soft but firming, remove the large mold from the fridge and press in pieces of strawberry and raspberry. Place the mold back in the refrigerator.
- Once the raspberry/strawberry jello mixture has set, remove from the refrigerator and mix in ¾ of the container of cool whip and a cup of the chopped fruit.
- Remove the large mold from the refrigerator and place the cool whip/fruit/jello mixture on top of the setting strawberry jello layer. Place the mold back in the refrigerator to continue to set for another 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes (give or take), remove the large mold from the refrigerator and pour the cooled remaining ½ of the raspberry jello on top of the cool whip mixture.
- Place the large mold back in the refrigerator and let the entire mold completely set.
- Once completely set, remove from the refrigerator and place in a sink filled with hot water for 15-30 seconds.
- Place a plate over the mold bottom and turn over. If all goes well, you’ve got a decorative fruity jello mold tower of delight!
- Top with the remaining cool whip, chopped fruit, and enjoy!
All from memory, over 27 years ago, and the last time I attempted this I think I was 12. The amounts are not specific, the timing is not specific, and the ingredients vague… but you get the idea. Today I’d make this different given my family’s change of consumption and eating habits. I’d use homemade local organic cream. I’d find a way to make our own ‘jello’ and the fruit would be organic, local, and seasonal.
At the age of 8, watching these shows of Julia and friends on PBS gave me a litte extra confidence to try something new. She gave home cooks everywhere the basics of how to handle good food that looks and tastes the way it should and is fun to put together! Happy Birthday Julia! Thank you for the inspiration and confidence in the kitchen!
Photo(s) Courtesy of me watching PBS and enjoying a few minutes of Jacques and Julia making crepes!