My sister came to visit this weekend. You met her in an earlier post. She’s really a giant, but you can’t tell in this picture. By “giant” I mean taller than my 5’4″-ish self. She’s also younger than me with better hair and boobs. She got the good boobs. I got Grandmas. Notice the picture does not reveal this factoid because the Sassy Sleever has been trained to do all snapshots “boobs up.” Imagine this happening before every shot, complete with hand gestures.

This instruction has been burned into brain of the Sassy Sleever because of my need to remind him of the time Grandma accidentally tucked her boobs into the elastic waistband of her JC Penney Alfred Dunner polyester pants.

It haunts me, people.

We had lunch. I cooked. It was good. I can hardly believe it. Julia, you are a miracle worker. Here’s a brief review.

Filet Steaks with Mushroom and Madeira Sauce
What’s Madeira sauce? Exactly. Let’s examine the booze I’ve had to use and buy in the past month since this project started. Madeira wine, I’m told by Wikipedia, is commonly used for cooking and lasts a pretty darn long time after opening. Julia uses it a considerable amount in the cookbook for sauces and wine reductions and it was $5.99 at HyVee. Sold. Port is a sweet red wine which makes it heavier and sweeter than Madeira. I hate rum, but it appears a lot in the dessert recipes. Sweet, dry vermouth is often used as a substitute for dry white wine, as this chardonnay represents on the right.

Note the dog cannot help but photo bomb the booze picture.
It’s like when you try to find the spider on the $1.

People, I have never in my life walked out of a liquor store with 5 bottles of booze. But, I will say, the house smells A M A Z I N G  when I use it in the kitchen, so, yay for cooking booze!

After the booze expedition I went next door to the real grocery store where the fancy cheese lives to get the meat. Julia calls for a specific type of filet steak that is, I kid you not, “2 1/2 inches round and 1 inch thick.” I saunter up to the butcher counter and immediately the lady butcher says, “How did the Boeuf Bourguignon go.”

I love this town. 

I had to tell her we should not have chosen a chuck cut because it was a little tough, but the sauce was incredible. She took it well and asked what was next on the menu. Because I can’t go the to grocery without the cookbook now, I turned to the page and pointed to the recipe like a one-year-old child learning sign language. This, I need this now. Imagine 1-year old Maddycat enthusiastically making the sign for more (closed fingertips touched together with both hands) after being fed an artichoke for the first time. That’s pretty much how it went with me and the butcher. 

Hold up, butcher lady! Those steaks are $10 each! Back up the meat truck. Beep. Beep. Beep. Here’s what I said. Notice it’s in quotes because it’s exactly what I said. 

“See, I’m not confident I won’t completely screw this up. So, let’s go with the $3.50 steak.”

“Yes, but remember the chuck with the Boeuf Bourguignon?” said the lady butcher.

I hate you, Julia, and your delicious French Cooking b.s. Why couldn’t I just have gone with Rhee Drummond’s Pioneer Woman cookbook and called it good?

I’m yearning for the time when Hamburger Helper was just fine. When only ground beef was the staple protein source. When chicken breasts in the bag were the go-to fowl choice. (Oh, wait, it still is. I haven’t gotten to the chicken chapter yet.) I can never go back.

But I digress. These are first world problems, huh.

Here’s the cheap filet in the pan.

And here’s the cheap filet eight minutes later.

And here’s the cheap filet on the warmed-because-I’m-following-all-Julia’s-instructions-to-the-letter platter with the sauce and mushrooms.

Baked Cucumbers
I’m a cuke fan. Marinated cucumber salad is my favorite salad. Anything marinated in red wine vinegar with celery seed and sugar is a-ok in my book. So, when I saw this in the movie and how Julie Powell was raving over baked cucumbers, I was like, shut up, that’s wrong. So, with the sis coming, who is also a big cuke fan, I figured it would be good to try.

Let’s just say I’m sticking with the cold cucumber dishes. Hot cucumbers are just wrong. As the sis pointed out, “the are supposed to be refreshing” and they just weren’t, people. They were somewhat still crunchy, but the texture was kind of slimy and soft for my taste. Not terrible, but not great.

Braised Carrots in Butter
See, carrots can be either cold or hot. Personally, I like them hot because it brings out their sweetness. I stuck with the basic carrot recipe because you just can’t go wrong cooking a vegetable (unless it’s cucumbers) in butter, sugar and oil. I boiled them for 30 minutes in the sweet liquid and they were fine. A little boring, but I’m sure adding one of the variations would have made them more exciting. I learned about braising, which is just boiling stuff in liquid. I’m sure when Julia was writing the book she thought “boiling stuff in liquid” was just not good enough of a description.

Since the sister took this photo to send to her husband and the finicky son erupted with “this is so good” and the Sassy Sleeever said “you can make this again”, I’m calling this meal a success.