The Hardest Post… As goes the publishing world, so goes the blog.

After six years, I’m done. The publishing world has changed, we all know it. So has the world of blogging.

Once upon a time, as recently as 2-3 years ago, a blog was crucial for outreach, for getting to know readers and other authors. Blogging meant putting oneself out there. No more.

Readers find books and authors via other algorithms. Via Amazon and Goodreads and who knows where. There is far less interest in the individual thoughts of individual authors like me.

I’ve loved this blog. It is precious to me. I’ve loved interacting with my readers and my friends. I will miss writing posts and reading your comments. But it’s time to make a change. And change is good. I’ll have more time to write regular old books.

Regular old books… Therein lies the reason I began this blog– to get my books read. Well, you’re reading them. And I thank you.

This blog will become a website. I’ll keep my blog posts archived. You can read them anytime! I plan to include a number of features and I’ll post updates whenever I release a new book.

So ends an era. It’s been fun. You all keep in touch because I would be lost without you. Love, Julia

Baba Ganoush (Translation: Yummy Eggplant Dip)

Fun factoid #1: literal translation from Arabic– Pampered Papa or Coy Daddy

Fun factoid #2: Eggplants contain nicotine. Why is this? Good question! Because the tobacco plant is a member of the nightshade family, along with eggplant, tomato, tomatillo, chilie, peppers, potatoes! Eggplant contains more nicotine than the other nightshades, aside from tobacco, at 100mg/gm. Twenty eggplants equal one cigarette. Better get to eating if you’re trying to quit!

Fun factoid #3: As usual we have an excess of eggplants, which is fine because my Montana daughter insists I overnight the excess to her. Short growing season and this past week they’ve had several feet of snow. (Hello ice age!)

So I’m making Baba Ganoush. Love. It.

It’s super easy. First I grill the eggplants (2 large or 4-5 small-medium) until they are soft and the skins are charred. Then I stick them in a plastic bag to steam. I let them cool to make peeling easier.

Grilled Eggplant. Ready to Peel.

Grilled Eggplant. Ready to Peel.

Toss the charred skins. Throw the meat of the eggplant into a food processor or blender. Add salt, 2 cloves of garlic, the juice of 3 lemons and 1/2-1 cup of tahini. Start with 1/2 cup. Blend. Add water, slowly, as needed to make the Baba Ganoush creamy. Taste. You may need to add a little more salt, lemon juice or tahini.

Scoop into a wide bowl. Sprinkle with sweet paprika or zaatar and drizzle with olive oil. And voila! Serve with pita bread and crudites.

Baba Ganoush.

Baba Ganoush.

And done!

 

My new favorite ‘found’ item!

I found this in a throw-away bin– one of the bins where we could toss our earthquake trash.

Look!

My two favorite cooks!

My two favorite cooks!

Look closer!

Can you believe it???

Can you believe it???

That’s what I saw when I opened the book the next day. I was so excited. I loved Julia Child. I always wanted her autograph but I never had the opportunity. Wow. Just… just wow!

Will I ever make one of the recipes? Who knows? Who cares? It’s enough to merely hold the book in my hot little hands. :)

Julia’s Bolognese Sauce.

Yummy Bolognese!

Yummy Bolognese!

I cannot, for the life of me, recall if I’ve posted this recipe. It’s my very very very favorite recipe for Bolognese Sauce– which basically is nothing more than a meaty Italian pasta sauce. In Bolognese, the meat is the star of the show.

My recipe is an amalgam of my grandmother’s Bolognese, my mother’s Bolognese, both of my daughters’ Bolognese, and my own original vegetarian version of Bolognese, so as you can see, the recipe has transformed over the years. This is the current version. I’m sticking with it.

Julia’s Bolognese Sauce

2 large carrots

3 large stalks celery, with leaves if they are fresh

1 small onion

4 cloves garlic

1 small shallot

Chop the above vegetables coarsely and put in food processor. Process until finely chopped. Set aside.

In a large Dutch oven or soup pot, saute either:

3 thick slices bacon, chopped, or 1/4 lb. Prosciutto or Pancetta, or 1/4 lb. Guanciale

When the meat is cooked through and the fat is rendered out, remove from pot and set aside. Add 2 generous Tbs. olive oil and saute the chopped vegetables.

Cook the vegetables over medium heat, allowing them to soften and caramelize- about 15-20 minutes. (Low and slow is the way to make a rich and tasty Bolognese.) Add 1 lb. ground chuck and 1 lb. ground round. Continue to cook, breaking up the meat until it is very fine. Cook 15-20 minutes, allowing the meat to brown nicely. Add salt and pepper to taste. (I usually add 1-2 tsp. Kosher salt at this point.)

Return bacon to the pot along with 1/2 tsp. dried thyme and 1/4 tsp. nutmeg. Stir through. Add 1 large can or 1 cup tomato paste along with 1/2 cup water. Stir though and cook 3-4 minutes. Add 1 cup white wine and 1 cup whole milk or half and half. Stir. Add another 1/2 – 1 tsp. Kosher salt and 2 bay leaves. Add just enough water to cover and reduce heat to a very low simmer. Cover pot and simmer for 2-4 hours, adding water only if necessary. The sauce should be thick, not watery.

Before serving remove bay leaves. Taste to check seasonings. Just before serving I stir in 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese.

Serve with any pasta you like, a crusty bread, a salad and additional Parmesan.

This recipe serves eight.Maybe ten. Sometimes I use fresh thyme – just tie a bunch with twine and toss it into the pot. I remove the bundle before serving. While you may be tempted to use leaner cuts of meat, the recipe will not taste right. A good Bolognese needs fat. If you decide to make the sauce, let me hear! Julia

 

 

We are blessed.

Napa, the town, suffered terrible damage. Napa, the people, did not. We are so blessed.

When my family and I ran out of our house, shoes on our feet, flashlights in hand, I can only describe what I felt as indescribable joy. It was by the grace of God or by the grace of something that almost everyone in Napa escaped serious injury or death. One boy suffered multiple fractures and he remains hospitalized. He’s expected to make a full recovery.

Our saving grace? The earthquake occurred at 3:20 a.m. Had it occurred any earlier or later many people might have been killed and injured. Just hours before there had been a music festival downtown, along the very street that suffered the most damage.

It will take the town of Napa years to recover. Our downtown looks as if it’s been struck by artillery- the historic buildings were hit especially hard, even the brand new luxury hotel is closed for the time being.

This is not a broken sidewalk. This is an opportunity.

This is not a broken sidewalk. This is an opportunity.

My husband and I took Jake out for a walk through one of the hardest hit neighborhoods– adjacent to the elementary school my children attended. The damage is astounding but the residents are happy. Because we survived.

Napa will rebuild. The town will be more vibrant than ever.

In the meantime I could use a good night’s sleep. Jake feels every single aftershock and he’s decided to take on the official role of earthquake monitor. He wakes me up and urges an immediate evacuation. I let him outside so he can check the perimeter and then we return to bed until the next aftershock. We’re having 3-4 every night. This is one active fault. The geologists who claimed years ago it was quiescent have some ‘splainin’ to do.

Love, Julia