Day 20: Conclusion.
This experience has been…illuminating.
I learned so much more than the “twenty” techniques and ingredients as presented in this book. It’s been quite transformative, and I enjoyed it even more than I thought I would. It helped that I had so many people who commented both on here and on Facebook and twitter…it was so gratifying to know that at least a few people out there were enjoying it.
Speaking of my “audience” – if you’ve been following this project and are interested in getting the book, here’s a few helpful links: IndieBound, Barnes & Noble (available in hardcover and as a nook book), and yes, Amazon (boo).
I thought it best to break this out into bullet points. Also? I love to make lists…it’s a weakness.
Here we go:
- I learned to put my trust in what the cookbook had to offer: Basically, I forced myself to not tweak any recipe unless circumstance demanded that I do so (I’m looking at you, Raw Zucchini Salad and Grill-Roasted Prime Rib). I put my culinary life in the virtual hands of this book and went with it. Scary and worth it.
- Hey! I can bake!: This was a particularly surprising revelation, as I had proudly declared that “I am so not a baker” for years. You would think that my crowning achievement on this tidbit would be making Angel Food Cake not once but twice. Nope. My high point in the baking arena was not burning my first batch of cookies. Booyah.
- I learned to make peace with onion (or at least, onion flavor): This surprised the hell out of me because I had thought that I was just going to not have onion in my kitchen ever. EVER. The lightbulb moment of “oh crap I’m missing something in my cooking” was perhaps a lesson so profound for me that it was worth the price of the book alone.
- I became a more confident cook overall and stopped second-guessing myself: Because I had to focus on one recipe each day and write about it without fail, I didn’t have time to second-guess myself. Even more than that though, working with this book helped me realize (and in some cases, remember) that I was capable of more in the kitchen than I had been doing. It broke me out of a culinary rut that I didn’t even know I was in. Very freeing.
- Now that I’m finished with this project, I feel like I just attended Culinary Boot Camp: Seriously, I do. I feel like even when I was covering topics that I was at least a little familiar with, the practice of going through them methodically made even the most basic of lessons new again. Like I said in my “progress report”, there is tremendous value in cooking your way through a cookbook. In my case, I happened to pick a particularly good example of a cookbook that not only gives you great recipes but it will teach you some valuable lessons.
- I might have found a whole new niche for myself: The exercise of writing about this experience as it happened opened my eyes to the possibility that I could (and further, should) try my hand at writing about some of my other passions beyond books. It lead me to FoodRiot, for heaven’s sakes. I can promise you, had I not been planning this for January, I never would have had the confidence to grab that opportunity when I saw it. I know it seems strange to relate that to “what I learned from this book“, but I am not kidding when I say that this was a transformative experience.
Aside from those bullet points, I feeling very inspired these days, not unlike how I felt after I saw Julie/Julia. Speaking of Julie Powell, I will tell you first-hand: that girl is a freaking rock star. I only did twenty recipes in all, and it was a lot of work. I cannot even imagine what she went through to do 524 recipes in only one year. I had a lot of respect for her already. I now realize she’s a superhero.
So now that I am finished, I do want to say a couple of things:
To Michael Ruhlman and Marlene Newell – The support and enthusiasm you showed was both awesome and humbling. And Marlene, I so appreciated your willingness to help when I felt like I needed it. I only hope that you both enjoyed reading about my quest and that I did right by this book. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Bonus: at last count, I think I sold 10 copies of the book from the entries on my blog. You’re welcome.
Last but never least, to my Sous Chef, taste-tester and partner in crime, Jason: thank you a million times over. I really could not have stayed focused and completed this project without my husband. Every day he did the dishes and made sure that I had enough time to write and tend to this project. He made last-minute trips to the grocery store, helped take pictures, and generally made things easier. He even routinely came into my office while I was finishing writing that night’s entry, and would silently leave a mug of hot chocolate or chai tea. So thank you, my dear. You are truly the best. (awwwww).
I’m going to take a day off of writing, but stay tuned because there are some great things coming…
CooksKorner.com (Marlene Newell’s website)