Usually my go-to books fall into the non-fiction category. Biographies, memoirs, collections of personal essays, usually of fellow artists or writers—tell me how it's done! I devour page after page hoping the wisdom and success of my idols somehow seeps in through my irides. Show me the treasure map!
But every now and then I let my inner 50's housewife indulge in one of her guilty pleasures: culinary books, cook books, food novels, tales (usually) of women turning to food and cooking as a way to please their husbands, forget their ex-husbands, or simply as a hobby to keep themselves occupied while said husbands are not at home. I'm looking at you, Julia Child.
In all seriousness though, Julia Child is one of my heroes, tucked in between Eleanor Roosevelt and my grandmother. The first time I saw "Julie & Julia," starring Queen Meryl as Chef Child, my obsession took off. I read every book, watched every show, and perfected my Julia Child voice in a manner that makes my fiancee laugh and that Dan Aykroyd would be proud of.
Once I exhausted all of the media I could find on the literal 60s housewife, I turned to other food writers. Currently that's Ann Mah and her memoir "Mastering the Art of French Eating." Every time I read one of these books or watch one of these movies, I convince myself that this could be my calling in life. Why aren't I traveling around Europe and writing about farmers and restauranteurs I meet while peppering in funny little anecdotes of trying to recreate their dishes in my own photogenic kitchen? Le sigh.
My current budget won't allow quite that much freedom, but for now I can continue to share our "everyday" meals.
A few of my other favorite food collections:
- "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert
- "Tender at the Bone" by Ruth Reichl
- "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" by Julia Child
- "My Life In France" by Julia Child
Kielbasa Skillet Dinner
Growing up, kielbasa was a staple at all of our family cookouts and picnics. Usually pan-fried and slathered with a bottle of bbq sauce, or slow-cooked with that same "secret" ingredient, this was the only "authentic" homemade Polish meal we ever had. I live with a Greek who makes me eat too much olive oil and feta cheese, so it was only fair that I start to share my own heritage with her.
- 1 lb kielbasa (or any other sausage)
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 large red onion (roughly chopped)
- 1 large sweet potato
- 2 garlic cloves (minced)
- 2 medium tomatoes (cubed)
- Salt, black pepper (to taste)
- 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
Heat oil in a skillet. Cut sausage into 1/2 inch pieces. Add to skillet and cook on medium heat until brown on all sides. Remove sausages and set aside.
Add onion, potatoes, salt, and pepper to skillet. Cover and cook on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are cooked. I also like to add a little water here to keep the potatoes soft and to keep them from burning.
Add sausage, tomatoes, garlic, parsley, and maple syrup to skillet. Cook until tomatoes are cooked, about 5 minutes.
What's your favorite ethnic meal?