I received the movie Julie & Julia as a Christmas gift and watched it Christmas day. I had read the book years ago and really enjoyed it. I remember being very impressed by Julie's thoughtful insight into what cooking can do for you, how she 'channeled' Julia Child and her real commitment to her project and her blog: the julie/julia project. Julie set out to make EVERY recipe in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a year - even the gross stuff - the gelatinous aspics and the organ meats and 'sweetbreads,' which by the way are SO far from anything I've come to know as 'sweet bread' (do not expect a gooey cinnamon bun!). And she religiously wrote about it - definitely a huge time commitment on her part. To be honest, part of me was envious, thinking 'what a brilliant idea!' I should've thought of that! I love Julia Child - really I do, my mom loved her and loved to cook and that's definitely something that I'm very thankful to have inherited.
So now with the movie fresh in my head, and me with a fair amount of time on my hands seeing how I'm well beyond the insanity that is Ironman training and a hip/back issue (also known as 'old age') that is preventing me from training for another marathon anytime soon, well it got me thinking: 'That's what I need, a project!' So I'm obviously not going to do the same thing - and by the way, as much as I say I would've loved to have thought of this first - there is just NO way I'd let all that butter come between me and my weight loss success so far. It's been over 6 years of Weight Watchers meetings and points and probably a million gallons of water - no thanks, even Julia Child isn't worth my throwing all that away. And by the way, Julie had a husband to feed and did a lot of it as a daily chore of making meals for the two of them, albeit very rich, delicious meals. So no, as much as I love to cook, I don't think 'the art of french cooking' is gonna be in my future anytime soon, or ever for that matter.
So ruling that out I thought a bit more about what I could do. I know deep down I wanted to do something that might be 'charitable' in some way. It certainly didn't have to be cooking, but fresh off my holiday baking made me realize how much I love doing it, especially cookies. And whatever I decide to do, I wanted it to be fun - not something I'd totally struggle to do consistantly - but just challenging and realistic enough for me to stick with. Basically I was looking for something to take the place of the marathon training I'm not doing.
Anyway, I tossed around a few ideas, mostly related to volunteering, but then realistically thought about how 'I' am and what I know about myself - and nothing seemed feasible for me to stick with for an entire year. I started browsing my cookbooks - one of my favorites is 'Baking with Julia' - a little too obvious - plus the issue of what to do with everything (cakes, pies, breads, rolls, muffins etc) once I bake it. The annual Cooking Light yearbooks appealed to me too - at least it'd be 'light'- but again - that's a lot of food for one person.
What I started to realize was that if I was going cook or bake 'anything' I needed a distribution plan - and for some reason as I was driving home tonight I got to thinking about what I want to do with my cookies and baskets next Christmas. Baking Christmas cookies has got to be one of my greatest joys on earth - it is always SO much fun to me.
And right then everything became clear - this project I've been looking for is right here - it's flour & sugar & eggs & vanilla in a 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes - and then it's delicious! A homemade cookie has got to be one of the best, simplest pleasures in life. Certainly I could give away cookies. Who wouldn't love a cookie? Can a cookie make a difference? Can a cookie change the world? How will you know if you don't try?
So that's it ... I'm working on the details and that'll come next, but tonight I came home and setup this blog - my commitment is 'in the books' and tomorrow I may even tell people about its existence. 2009 is drawing to a close and I have to tell you I'm feeling pretty good about the prospects of 2010.
Here goes, a very blatant rip off of the Julie/Julia project - but without the daily study and committment and hopefully far less butter and cream!
For the 52 weeks of 2010 I'm going to bake a batch (or two) of cookies each week and provide them to various local charities and residential non-profits. It's a bit self serving - I get to do what I love - baking - and then get to avoid what I love a bit too much - eating! It's a near ideal scenario for me. Hopefully along the way I'll get to meet some great people, test out some new recipes and broaden my baking and presentation techniques. I'll continue to tweak recipes to improve the nutritional value and then I'll give them away, to who, exactly, I'm not so sure just yet but I'm working on it.
Life gets busy, but to spend an hour or two week to throw together a batch of homemade cookies to give to folks that might be going through a hard time seems like a pretty small contribution to society but maybe, just maybe, it'll change the world, one batch at a time ... to be continued ...