Shortly after reconnecting with Lisa on Facebook, I learned that she is also a "foodie". That sort of person always interests me, as I love all things food-related; from the cooking gadgets, to grocery shopping, to the cooking process itself and of course, the utlimate reward of eating. It was just too bad that she lives half a country away, but not to be deterred, I suggested that we cook "together" despite the distance. She and I haven't been in contact for 25 years, so I was pleasantly surprised when she responded with such enthusiasm. Remembering the same excitement my cheerleader friend possessed in high school, I was brought back to the fond years when we knew each other.

Anyone who knows me at all knows that I have many ideas for hobbies and am a great starter, but more often than I would like to admit do not always have the best follow through. Luckily, Lisa turned out to be the driving force behind the blog, and thank goodness for that. She has initiated the means by which we will rekindle our newfound friendship.

Stealing a page from "Julie & Julia", we have decided to cook Bouef Bourguignon on the same date - I mean, what choice did we have, really? I don't have the giant Julia Childs cookbook like Lisa, so I looked up the recipe on the World Wide Interweb. For something so elaborate, it seemed surpirsingly simple.

Admittedly, I was a little nervous when I called her for the first time. I was worried that we would struggle for conversation. I wondered if the uncomfortable silence would be filled with struggling small talk. When she answered the phone, no longer did I hear the cute and small voice from years past, but instead, a wise and confident woman answered. The sound of her voice provided hints of the familiar sweet and perky girl that I remembered from so long ago, and I was happy to find that her kind spirit never changed in the years that had passed.

We caught up for a bit on the phone while beginning the dish, but had to hang up because we came to the point where we needed both hands to work. My modification was that instead of the thick chunk bacon called for in the recipe, I used regular bacon, as the local Pick'n Save didn't have chunk bacon at the meat counter. Oh, and in response to the flaw I found in Julia's recipe, I doubled the meat. I needed it to fully absorb all of the extra wine I poured in - also an apparent oversight on Ms. Childs' part, God rest her soul. It seemed to take forever to cut all the meat and veggies, but I know it would pay off when the aromatic scents would fill my home. In the future, however, I may have to respectfully request that I be exempt from peeling 18 - 24 pearl onions should it be required for future recipes. Either that or I will wait out Ryan Reynolds' existing marriage and let him peel them and then reward him in the only way that would make sense at that time :) (Oh wow...was that inappropriate...) By the way, Lisa wasn't the only one who couldn't figure out when the carrots and the lovingly peeled pearl onions had to go into the stew!

In the movie, I'm not exactly sure how Julie Powell could have possibly fallen asleep while the dish was roasting in the oven, because I tried to take a nap during the four hours of roasting in the oven. The aroma of the stew was too distracting - in an exciting way - to allow a full afternoon of self-centered indulgence.

[True to form, I did not have my camera charged, so there is no pictorial documentation of the dish. I do, however, have several satisified witnesses.]

Suffice it to say, the dish was WONDERFUL, I mean close-your-eyes good! Ryan Reynolds would have eagerly fought David Beckham for my hand in marriage after eating my dish. The meat was so tender that I was glad that I added what seemed like too much at the time. My friends loved it and hope that I make it again. Perhaps I will, the next time I have 7 free hours to spend in the afternoon.

Sharing our love for cooking was a wonderful experience, one which we plan to continue. Lisa and I have decided on Lamb Stew this coming Saturday, March 13, 2010. I promise to submit pictures next time!

I was very excited to embark on my first long distance cooking experience with my dear friend, Leana.  This was her idea.  Leana and I have reconnected on Facebook, having graduated together 25, yes, twenty-five years ago from Davenport West High School in the Quad Cities.  Through facebook, I learned that like myself, Leana is a foodie at heart.  When she asked if I wanted to cook "together" I was completely on board.

Our chosen fare for our first gourmet play, Boeuf Bourguignon al la Julia!  I had never made it or even tasted it  but knew I'd love it.

After a rough 2009, this was a great way to start a new year and a new chapter in friendship, food, and fun.  I started by first purchasing Mastering the Art of French Cooking from Borders in Frederick, MD.  I was fortunate enough to have to be in Frederick the Friday before our dueling Julia's experience.  I took that opportunity to pop into a couple of markets that I thought would have a wider selection of meats and veggies to choose from.  I was not disappointed.  Along with a hearty armful of Peet's coffee, I was able to purchase the lovely small pearl onions I would need for our recipe.  I figured everything else I could get at home.

Big mistake!  I could not find slab bacon anywhere near Frostburg!  I ended up using a thick cut bacon instead of a slab.  It would have to do!

I assembled all the ingredients beautifully on the kitchen counter and measured everything in to small bowls and ramekins.  I typically cook by the seat of my pants, but I wasn't in a hurry, you can't be to make this dish, and I wanted to savor the experience.

Leana and I spoke via telephone during the initial cooking of this dish.  It was really great to hear her so familiar Midwest accent and hear what she's been up to for the past 25 years.  We live extremely different lives!  I'm a Mom and wife and homeschool my child while trying to scratch out a semblance of a professional life.  Leana is a hip single professional living in a real city! But, one common bond we share is a love of cooking.  We may live entirely different lives, but we are amateur foodies, through and through!

Besides learning about Leana, I learned something about myself while making this wonderful dish;  I can't follow a recipe...even when it's Julia, I find something to change!  To Julia's wonderful dish, I added a couple of extra bay leaves, a couple of extra cloves of garlic and 1 tsp thyme leaves.  Other than those small additions, I DID follow the recipe.  However, I couldn't figure out what to do with the carrots and onion!  I ended up adding the carrot and onion back into the pan for a quick sautee before sending the whole thing to the oven.

 I even had my detail oriented husband read the recipe to see where the sliced onion and carrot played in. He couldn't find it either.  C'est LaVie!

In the end, it took me 7 hours to complete the recipe.  It was worth every minute and my family enjoyed it immensely!  Can't wait to cook with Leana again!