Friday, January 29, 2010

The Bitch Lied...

The cover of Everyday Italian says (and I quote) “125 Simple and Delicious Recipes.” Giada, with all due respect, you are a dirty rotten liar. There are indeed 133 recipes in Everyday Italian and I have cooked my way through just 21 of them.

Though I feel deceived, I’m actually way ahead of schedule. To make it through the last 112 recipes, I will have to average a little over two dishes per week. Totally doable, right?

But word to the wise- before starting a yearlong quest to cook your way through an entire book of Italian recipes there are several questions that should be addressed…

  1. In your general vicinity, just how many grocery stores, convenient stores, specialty grocers or any other foodstuff bearing locales are there?
  1. Just how much do you like pasta?
  1. Will family/friends/loved ones begin to despise you when you say, “no we can’t order Chinese tonight, I absolutely have to make Endive and Frisée Salad with Blood Oranges and Hazelnuts.”
  1. Is your freezer large enough to hold the leftovers that will eventually accumulate when cooking large Italian meals for a single person?
  1. Are you out of your fucking mind?
I apparently did not take these into consideration. But cooking (and blogging) my way out of cubicle ennui has been more often than not a complete delight. And as I close the first month of my own deranged project, I feel fantastic! So thank you for reading. Write you next month. 

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Organic Heaven...

Have you ever had such an off day that you literally have to look down before leaving your house to make sure you remembered to put on pants? Yeah, yesterday was that day.

Maybe it was lack of sleep or feeling a cold coming on or eating way too much garlic but from the moment I woke up topless (I guess I remove clothing in my sleep now?) I knew that Wednesday was going to kick my ass.

Blow number one came at the Dunkies drive through at 8:45 in the morning. “Sorry Meees, chai macheeene es brokeeen. Want sometheeeng else?” No, a medium vanilla chai was absolutely necessary. Luckily I live in New England where there’s a Dunkin Donuts positioned conveniently every five minutes from the last. Barely late for work with chai in hand, an older woman with glasses the size of hubcaps stops me at the door for an endless chat. Almost daily our office building gets confused for the eye doctor next door by the elderly. Understandable really. I mean they’re going to the eye doctor for a reason.

So now ten minutes late with a cold chai I sit down to an inbox full of emails, a blinking message light and a toppling pile of job jackets. We’re a week away from ad close for five magazines and for those of you out there that don’t know the publishing industry, just envision this week as the seventh circle of hell- only instead of boiling blood and blasphemers it’s contingent clients and screaming sales reps.

By the time the sun sets and the streetlights flicker on outside my cubicle window, I’m utterly exhausted. If it weren’t for the “office birthday cupcakes” I probably would have crashed hours ago. I run to my car through the frigid night air and practically burst into tears as I watch my publisher hop into her Beemer and peel off to the airport for a week long vacation in St. Barts. Sometimes I hate Connecticut.

I decide that the only thing that could possibly cheer me up is a shopping spree at the fancy organic market in Westport. This market is so beautiful it almost makes me more beautiful- literally. I think it’s the lighting or something.

Anyway, I walk in and am immediately greeted by an aroma of hot apple cider that I follow to a rustic old table with a carafe and sample cups. I’m instantly warmed and forget entirely about my off day- like an apple lobotomy.

I sniff my way through barrels of coffee beans, I drool over tubs of candy, I fondle drums of seeds and nuts until finally I notice rich WASPy women with bodies by Winsor Pilates start staring at the crazy lady on her fourth cider sample roaming the aisles without a shopping cart.

OK, let’s get busy! In the dead of winter, who wouldn’t want to be reminded of fresh spring vegetables or grilling out on warm summer nights? GDL’s Grilled Vegetables it is! I load up on bell peppers, squash, mushrooms and asparagus. My rainbow of veggies are carefully placed in a crisp, sturdy paper bag and I leave my organic heaven on cloud nine.

The vegetables are oiled and seasoned and then grilled to perfection. GDL recommends using the leftovers on sandwiches or in salads, which is just what I did for lunch today. With snow piling up outside my window, grilled colorful vegetables were the perfect dish to remind me that there will be good weather, good workdays and good food to come. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Crostini & Panini...

I’m an American. So I call multiple toasted sandwiches “Paninis” like the ignorant barbarian I am. However, “Panino” is the singular small stuffed bread roll and “Panini” is the multiple of these usually grill-pressed sandwiches. Same thing goes for “Crostino” which is a small piece of toast topped with a spread and the plural is “Crostini.”

OK, the Italian grammar lesson is over. Moving on…

Last night I cautiously made GDL’s Italian Egg Sandwich. I say ‘cautiously’ because I have never in my life made an egg any other way than scrambled or hard-boiled. Nor have I eaten one any other way. I, like Julie Powell, thought that fried eggs would be greasy and slimy and cooking them would be an even bigger challenge so I set aside three to make this one-egg crustino. But low and behold, I pulled it off without a hitch. I guess it’s not a huge accomplishment. It’s basically a dropped egg on toast with a spoonful of marinara sauce and a sprinkle of Parmesan. But last night it deserved a small round of applause from my small self in my small kitchen.

Above the recipe in Everyday Italian, GDL writes a cute personal note to me saying, “This breakfast sandwich has been passed down through our family: My grandfather used to make it with my mom, and she would make it with us. Now I’m passing it on to you.” Aw gee, thanks Giada, it's dee-lish!

Staying on the crustino/panino bandwagon, I came home for lunch today and made Panino Alla Margherita. The Italian version of a BLT, which I’ve always called a TBM- tomato, basil & mozzarella. Here’s a little culinary history lesson courtesy of Ms. GDL- Anything made using the colors of the Italian flag (red, white and green) is known as 'alla Margherita.' This goes back to 1889, when the royal palace asked the locals to make pizzas for Queen Margherita with her three favorite toppings tomato (red), cheese (white) and basil (green). It’s the tricolore of the Italian flag! Viva Italiano!

I used the last of a baguette so I guess what I made was technically teeny weenie Panini. But it was just as delicious in diminutive form.

So in closing, can I just say that crusty bread drizzled with olive oil and toasted on a grill pan has quickly become one of the great loves of my life? Shhh, you had me at “sizzle!”

Monday, January 25, 2010

Getting Saucy...

I rarely get weekends entirely to myself lately. Between traveling to Virginia and having friends visit me in Connecticut and seeing family, there are few weekends when I blissfully have nothing to do. This weekend happened to be one of those rare occasions so I decided to commit myself to making several of the tomato sauces in Everyday Italian.

Saturday was spent running around doing errands including a trip to the grocery store (they are beginning to know me by name there) to stock up on everything I’d need to make GDL’s Marinara Sauce, Tomato Sauce with Olives and Vodka Sauce. I had every intention of waking up early on Sunday and getting straight to work on my sauces but a gray, rainy morning was too good to pass up. I slept in and woke up only to spend the remainder of the morning in front of CMT with a pot full of coffee and a coffee table full of glossy magazines.

By two o’clock I was so well rested and amped up on caffeine that I darted into the kitchen and started chopping vegetables like a karate kid on crack. GDL says that her Marinara Sauce is so versatile that she doubles the recipe and freezes it to use later. I thought it wise to do the same. Not to mention, it was the base for the other two sauces I was attempting that afternoon.

So four celery stalks and carrots, four garlic cloves and onions, two nicks, one losing-a-finger-close-call, and countless onion tears later I was ready to throw everything in the pot and add the canned crushed tomatoes. As the sauce simmered, I turned on my DVD player and spent the afternoon with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck pretending I was on a Roman Holiday.

An hour later, the sauce was thick and gorgeous and my little apartment smelled divine. I ladled the sauce into several two-cup containers for the freezer, set aside three cups for the Vodka Sauce and left 4 cups in the pot for Tomato Sauce with Olives. As previously stated, I’m not a fan of olives. I want to be. It seems like something I’d like. But alas, I have not developed a taste for them. So I sautéed the olives in oil and red pepper flakes half-heartedly.

Combined with the Marinara Sauce and a lot of basil, the olive sauce wasn’t half bad. But on to my grand sauce finale- Vodka Sauce! I’ve always been a fan of this creamy sauce but never did it occur to me how much actual booze was in it. For three cups of Marinara Sauce you add one cup of vodka. Standing over the simmering mixture, I had flashbacks of my twenty-first birthday party and that dreaded night at Mohegan Sun when I’m sure I drank all the vodka on premises.

After ten minutes I was supposed to add the heavy cream, Parmesan, spices and that’s all she wrote but I took a quick taste test and… hello I’m drunk. Isn’t the alcohol supposed to burn off or something? I didn’t think Giada wanted to get me hammered so I figured I’d let it simmer ten minutes longer and up the heat a bit. Just two minutes later I heard a sickly burping noise coming from my kitchen and ran in to find my stovetop and page 67 of Everyday Italian looking like they spontaneously burst out in a saucy case of the chicken pox. OK, no more heat. Half a cup of heavy cream, Parmesan, seasoning and it looked just like my jarred Classico and… tasted even better. GDL says it looks like a heavy dish but “the vodka kicks in and heats up the back of your throat to cut through the heavy cream.”

And I’m not even hung over. 

Friday, January 22, 2010


After a completely horrid day of work yesterday I decided it was time for an evening of indulgences. I stopped at Whole Foods and picked up a dozen eggs, dry Marsala, strawberries, whipping cream and a bag of chocolate chips. That’s right- we’re making a GDL dessert!

If there’s one thing I can do in the kitchen it’s bake. Desserts have always been my thing. I have inherited the talent (along with stacks of recipes) from my mum and grandmother. But Chocolate Zabaglione (which I still think I’m pronouncing incorrectly) isn’t exactly baking. It’s more like cooking sweetly.

You start by simmering the cream and adding chocolate chips in a saucepan until it’s shiny and smooth. Then you separate eight egg yolks in a large metal bowl, add a lot of sugar and a lot of Marsala and whisk constantly over a double boiler until your arm falls off or the mixture reaches 160 degrees- whichever comes first. Then you fold the melted creamy chocolate into the thick eggy mixture and spoon it over strawberries.

But mine didn’t exactly look like the elegant photo in Everyday Italian. Mine looked like frothy egg yolks with a brown hue- not the most mouth-watering dessert. I was almost ready to give up on it entirely but after doing the dishes, I gave it one more stir, dipped a strawberry into it, said a quick prayer not to get Salmonella, and miraculously… it was pretty f-ing good! Very thick and chocolaty with a sweet and tangy kick from the Marsala. Yum.

I drizzled a ladleful over a small bowl of strawberries, poured a large glass of wine and drifted off into a harmonious haze in front of reruns of The Office. My own office worries were miles away… until today that is. Argh. Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Petite Powerhouse...

I’ve been feeling very connected to Giada De Laurentiis lately. Wonder why. Maybe because I’m spending my days writing about her recipes, planning out her recipes, shopping for food for her recipes, running around buying kitchen utensils and gadgets I realize I don’t own when I go to make her recipes. The woman is definitely on my mind.

Prior to a week ago, the only connection I had to GDL was the fact that Giada at Home was conveniently on the Food Network during my lunch break. I’ve always loved the look of her show- the gleaming kitchen overlooking the ocean, the fresh beautiful foods and Giada’s clean, confident presence.

I do, however, on occasion roll my eyes at her cooking with cleavage or the goofy giggling faces she flashes the camera. (I mean, who gets that excited over mascarpone cheese?) But despite her quirks, Giada has found her way into my kitchen and my heart. And my affection may be growing to obsession status. I read about some of her “favorite things” on her website and then found myself requesting her signature OPI Bubble Bath polish at my nail salon. Um, hello, I’m a red flag, nice to meet you!

But seriously, in Julie Powell’s blog she wrote about her growing love and connectedness to Julia Child through her project and I have to agree wholeheartedly.

Now on to recipe number 14- Cheese Tortellini in Light Broth. I have never boiled pasta in broth rather than water and as the frothy, yellow cloudy bubbles boiled up and popped before me in the pot, I had my reservations. But poured into a deep bowl and sprinkled with Parmesan, pepper and parsley the dish was as warm and comforting as chicken soup and a big cozy blanket. I imagine round Italian mamas serving this to their cold-stricken children in Italy. “Mangi bambino!”

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ziti with Asparagus for Two & Vegetarian Lasagna for One…

In yesterday’s novel of a blog post, I neglected to mention that I cooked another GDL meal on Saturday night for Jared and me. Ziti with Asparagus, Smoked Mozzarella and Prosciutto turned out to be one of the fastest dishes I’ve ever cooked (aside from my college regiment of instant mac and cheese of course).

The ziti boils for just five minutes before adding the asparagus pieces. In just two more minutes it’s practically done. Just add garlic, salt and pepper and bits of smoked mozzarella to the hot pot so the cheese gets gooey and presto! I made Jared add his Prosciutto to his own bowl as to not taint my vegetarian dinner. I do have to admit that his bowl looked significantly more interesting with the bright red Prosciutto mixing in the white ziti and bright green asparagus. However, the thought of a hanging two-year-old salted pig’s leg crushed any jealousy toward my boyfriend's dinner immediately.

Last night was happily meat free for me. I made GDL’s Individual Vegetarian Lasagna. When cooking for one, a recipe titled “Individual” is a welcomed one. I’ve never made a lasagna on my own before but was fairly impressed with my results. Giada recommends a lot of different vegetables for a variety of textures and flavors but I did omit several that were not easily found (or on sale) at Stew Leonard’s last night.

The only thing I would do differently is let it set longer before attacking it. By the time I got home from Stew’s after work and the gym and prepared the lasagna, I was positively ravenous. With one stab of my fork, zucchini and asparagus and pasta noodles retreated to the edges of my dish and the sauce spewed throughout the plate leaving me with a little bloody vegetable battleground. Ironically violent for a vegetarian night.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Weekend Wonders & Worries...

This weekend my uber-meat-eating boyfriend also known as Jared was in town. Jared and I have been in our long distance relationship for about a year now. Every other weekend he comes to Connecticut and then I go to Virginia. The things we do for love, eh?

So Friday night Jared was due to arrive around 8pm. I got home from work around five thinking that three hours was plenty of time to whip up three of GDL’s dips, clean everything up, get myself cute and be waiting for him, glass of wine in hand. I’m sure you’re bracing for a story of how this all goes terribly wrong and at eight o’clock Jared finds me sweating and crying on my kitchen floor covered in bean dip? But don’t underestimate my determination for perfection!

By 5:15pm, my ingredients are lined up on my counter practically cheering me on. I start with Cheese and Rosemary Bread Sticks. I mix up the cheese filling and unroll my Pillsbury dough (Giada, thank you, thank you, thank you for shortcuts!) I roll about a dozen sticks around the cheese filling, drizzle my rosemary infused-oil over the top and pop in the oven.

On to my first dip in my brand new Cuisinart mini food processor. I combine garlic, chickpeas, lemon juice, salt and pepper, olive oil, sun dried tomatoes and herbs and have a savory spread for toasted baguette slices drizzled with olive oil. My crustinis look like perfectly golden brown sunbathing beauties. The spoonful of dip I sampled was tasty but a little dry (next time more olive oil).

By now, I have cups and cutting boards and cooling crustinis on practically every surface of my tiny kitchen. Even the windowsill holds one of my largest knives (god knows what the neighbors must be thinking!) and it’s already 7pm. I coat some cut up pitas with olive oil, season and throw them in the oven. The last dip gets processed with cannellini beans, parsley, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper and of course olive oil.

I call Jared to check in ever so sweetly. He says he’s making great time and that he’s already in Connecticut. Fuck. Jared adorably makes small talk asking how the cooking is going but I’m sweating and scream, “Jared! I’m gross and my kitchen is a disaster! I’ll see you when you get here. Bye!”

I throw my cell into the couch cushions, wipe down the kitchen, wipe down myself and attempt to look cute for my man. Miraculously, at eight o’clock my apartment is sparkling, I have a glass of wine in hand and even time to garnish the dips with lemon zest and fresh parsley. Can I get an amen? Jared and I have a fabulous night. He eloquently rated my cooking as “f-ing delicious!” and I beamed with pride.

By Saturday afternoon Jared decided to read my blog. I know this has been out in the Internet universe for about a week but if I’m totally honest with myself, I believe this may be the first time anyone has actually read my blog. He decides to read it aloud from his iTouch during a car ride to IKEA. It’s unbearable. With each joke that rolls by un-laughed at I die a little inside. In my mind, this blog is funny and clever and cute but coming out of Jared’s mouth it sounds dull and flat and utterly stupid.

Cue meltdown.

What was I thinking? I’m not a cook and I’m not a writer and I can’t believe people are going to actually read this! Who am I to copy a best-selling idea? What will readers think of me? What will my family think of me? And if god-forbid Giada De Laurentiis should ever stumble upon my silly little blog, will she be offended to even be the slightest bit associated with me?

Jared tries his darndest to cheer me up and though I am still terribly self-conscious about this project, I do manage to crack a half smile when he says that he thinks it’s “really cool” that I am writing a blog. And I guess it is kinda cool. People can criticize my cooking or my writing if they want but at the end of the day, this project makes me happy. I’m learning to cook and I suppose learning to write and if this brings me more moments like eight o’clock on Friday night, then I guess it’s all worth it. 

Friday, January 15, 2010

Lemon Spaghetti & Stew Leonard's...

Last night I got home from the gym (thank god the New Year’s Resolution crowds are dissipating!) and decided that the most perfect dinner would be GDL’s Lemon Spaghetti. Simple, nutritious, exactly what I needed after a fairly healthy day on my part (pat self on back).

Despite the fact that Everyday Italian lists it in the “Fresh From the Pantry” section and Giada claims, “I always have a few boxes [of pasta] around, and so I’m never at a complete loss for a meal,” I happened to be at a complete loss for lemons and oh yeah… spaghetti. Unlike most full time workers, I have always enjoyed a trip to the grocery store. Just like Bed Bath and Beyond, grocery stores fill me with a sense that anything is possible. And just like Bed Bath and Beyond, I can easily get carried away.

There are three large grocery stores within 10 minutes of me- Super Stop & Shop, Whole Foods and Stew Leonard’s. If anyone other than my immediate family is reading this and happens to not be from the tri-state area, allow me to introduce you to the infamous “Disneyland of Dairy” known as Stew Leonard’s.

Visualize, if you will, a fresh farmers market in a giant old rustic barn. Now mix in Cosco-style free samples, Connecticut trophy wives with shopping carts and Louis Vuitton handbags fighting their way through the labyrinth of foodstuffs, and finally singing animatronics. Oh yeah, it’s an experience. When I first moved to Norwalk, Stew Leonard’s became an essential stop on my tour for visitors. They ate it up. Some even returning with coolers on the next visit.

So last night I pulled in to Stew’s with a mission. I was focused. Lemons, spaghetti and home again. No heavenly smelling fresh baked bread, no mozzarella ball samples, no singing produce would distract me! “We’re Dole fresh vegetables, we’re gooood for yooooouuuu!” No! Lemons, spaghetti, home! What?! 24 roses for $12.99? Sold. I deserve roses, dammit.

So back home with lovely pink roses looking on admiringly, I prepared Lemon Spaghetti. I halved the recipe since just cooking for lil’ ol’ me and whisked olive oil, Parmesan, lemon juice and salt and pepper in a bowl and set it in the fridge. (I’ve concluded that whisking has to be one of my favorite cooking tasks mostly because of the word- whisk! Love it!) Anyways, eight minutes later my spaghetti is cooked and I toss it in the lemony sauce. Salt and pepper on top and I sit down with my wine (and my roses, yay) and enjoy a lovely Everyday Italian meal.

8 recipes down, 117 to go.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Snacks & Sinful Sandwiches...

Last night I put my infused oils to work or should I say to play. I threw a little cocktail party for one with Marinated Olives, Sweet & Spicy Roasted Almonds, crudités with Pinzimonio dip, Popcorn with Rosemary-Infused Oil and one (or several) glasses of Pinot Grigio. Delightful!

Although, I must be honest- I have yet to develop a taste for olives and at my little party they were unfortunately the neglected guests. The almonds however, are a new favorite of mine. Sugary with a spicy kick from the red pepper flakes. Sweet and spicy have to be one of the best pairings. Better than Brandgelina. I guess that would make them Swicey?

Moving on…

So as fun as my solo cocktail party was, I woke up this morning with such excitement you would never know I probably overdid the vino the night before. For me, this sort of enthusiasm is reserved for just a handful of things including glossy magazines arriving in the mail, Dunkin Donuts’ vanilla chai, getting out of work early, mani/peti/massages, getting just about anything for free and… chocolate.

Which brings me to our next recipe. Pause for dramatic effect… Nutella Sandwich. For those of you unfamiliar with this mouth-watering spread, Nutella is a silky smooth combination of hazelnuts, skim milk and cocoa. I highly recommend you incorporate it into your diet immediately.

My first introduction to Nutella occurred in my elementary school cafeteria. Thanks to her Italian mama, my best friend Jeannette would never be caught dead with a PB&J or a simple bologna sandwich on Wonder Bread. Oh no. Each lunch period was more colorful and interesting than the next when I sat next to Jeannette. Then one day she pulled out the most decedent lunch our table had ever seen- a chocolate sandwich.

At the time I had no idea what Nutella was and Jeannette certainly didn’t share with us that it wasn’t all that unhealthy. She just smirked and nibbled knowing that she had the sandwich we all would trade lunches for- hell, we’d trade our My Little Ponies, our I Heart Joey McIntire oversized buttons, or even our Punky Brewster Trapperkeepers.

Alas, I was never packed a Nutella sandwich. No, it went right on my mother’s list of things that all the other kids could have but for me “it would rot my teeth.” This list included Oreo cookies, orange soda and fried dough. My heart still aches with desire at the sight of a fried dough vendor. But I digress.

Giada’s Nutella sandwich was everything I hoped it would be. Two slices of crunchy ciabatta bread grilled to perfection and tenderly embracing that ooey gooey chocolaty goodness. I should eat this every day! But no, that would cheapen it and this is anything but ordinary. This is a lunch you savor and save for the most special of days like a pilgrimage to the holy land.

If you haven’t noticed I really haven’t taken on much of a challenge yet. I am well aware that some infused oils, appetizers and chocolate paninis aren’t impressing anyone. I assure you, this weekend I am ready to take on my first Everyday Italian pasta dish. Wish me Buona Fortuna!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Infused Olive Oils...

Since I have never been a ‘cannonball into the deep end’ kind of girl but rather a ‘one tippy toe at a time’ one, I decided to start simple- infused olive oils. Two recipes down, two ingredients each, easy! Sure, but finding a container to infuse in… not so much.

As I gathered my options- an old sauce jar from the recycle bin, a tall skinny vase from the back of my cabinets and finally (god forbid!) my chili stained Tupperware, an overwhelming feeling of shame bubbled up from deep inside me. Can you imagine Giada De Laurentiis with her sun soaked kitchen, frosted glass canisters and gleaming stainless steel appliances steeping oils on her windowsills in old root beer bottles? Unthinkable!

Bed Bath and Beyond to the rescue!

For the wannabe foodie in me, the kitchen supply section of Bed Bath and Beyond is stocked with endless possibility. As I meander the aisles, it occurs to me- this is why I can’t cook! I’ve never owned an ergonomically designed potato peeler! Or a proper lemon zester! And how could I have gone almost three decades without ever having seen a fruit muddler? Should I have been muddling my fruit all these years? This is terribly embarrassing and I make up for it by over filling my shopping basket. I mean every good cook needs to own a pair of onion goggles, right?

So late last night I arrive home, credit card still warm (but thank god for twenty percent off coupons!) and unload my loot. Among my purchases are two tall, sleek, glass oil bottles with pourers that I immediately perch on my tiny kitchen windowsill. I feel Italian already!

The recipes are as simple as I had hoped. Heating olive oil and adding the infused element- in this case red pepper flakes in one, rosemary springs in the other. I let cool and transfer the concoctions to my new bottles.

By the time I step back and admire my infused oils in their new bottles, it’s much later in the evening than I expected. I’ve already fed my hunger pangs with pepper jack cheese and Special K crackers and am thoroughly exhausted from the BB&B excitement so I call it a night.

This morning I ambled sleepily into my kitchen and beamed with pride as the rising sun streamed through my very first Everyday Italian accomplishment. Let’s hope it tastes as good as it looks.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Here we go...

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right? So let's just get this out there- yes, I am totally ripping off Julie Powell's idea. I'm sure by now you've all heard of the blog turned book turned fabulous motion picture Julie & Julia based on Julie Powell's self-challenge to cook her way through Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking in just one year.

Well I have thoughts too! Apparently not for an original blog idea but thoughts nonetheless. And I am that cliché of the twenty-something cubicle worker who is completely lost and looking for a challenge. So, on to the challenge!

I may not be as ambitious as Julie Powell taking on 524 impressive French recipes in a year but I am attempting 125 classic Italian recipes. My muse? Giada De Laurentiis. I am cooking my way through Giada's Everyday Italian in just one year.

Now before you doubt the severity of my challenge, let me remind you who you're dealing with here. My name is Julie. I live in a small apartment on the coast of Connecticut and work full time in a cubicle. I'm a vegetarian of ten plus years and oh yeah... I can't cook. I know a lot of people say that but seriously, rice is the bain of my existence.

So I know what you're thinking. How is a vegetarian who can't cook supposed to successfully cook her way through Everyday Italian in one year? That's the challenge! You see! It's not as easy as you thought! Listen, I'm not an idiot. I can follow a recipe. And I love Italian food... LOVE IT! I don't push vegetarianism on anyone else so I'm going to have to learn to prepare meat for my future children someday. So this might as well be that day.

Well maybe not today. This weekend maybe? My uber-meat-eating boyfriend will be in town and gladly volunteer to eat whatever I feed him. I mean, the man has been brave enough to try Tofurky. A little pancetta will be a welcomed change.

So welcome to my challenge. Thanks for reading. And yes...

Buon Appetito!