Hello all! Is this weather gorgeous lately or what? I could so get used to this!

Headed out to Channel 69 on Wednesday to do a really fun piece on “Themed” Mother’s Day events. We’re going with a “Julie & Julia” Mother’s Day this year, based upon the fantastic book & movie of the same name. Every, single mother I know adores (1) Meryl Streep, (2) Julia Child, (3) Amy Adams, (4) Julie Powell, the real-life cubicle worker who found blog superstardom by cooking her way thru JC’s “Mastering The Art of French Cooking” over one year’s time. With all of these themes in play, it seemed reasonable that no matter who the special “Mom” is in your life, they would adore a “Julie & Julia” themed day on Mother’s Day!

This was a BLAST to put together, here’s what we came up with!

* A copy of the book “Julie & Julia” which I found at Goodwill in outstanding condition for $1.97
* A copy of Mastering The Art of French Cooking, which, fabulously, is an exact match of one in the movie, purchased at yard sale for $1.
* You can’t do anything “Julia Child”ish without the pearls! A real strand costs hundreds, if not thousands, and then you’re terrified to leave the house with them… However, a lovely, luminescent strand of “Julia” pearls found for $2 at Goodwill is perfect.
* A special repeat screening of our tribute movie! Julie & Julia movie night, courtesy of the local library – $1.50
TOTAL: Approx $8

And BEST of all, a Julia Child dinner, straight from the pages of “Mastering The Art of French Cooking!”
Boeuf Bourguignon ingredients (serves 6)
6 ounces bacon
3 pounds lean stewing beef
One sliced carrot
18-24 baby onions (canned is fine)
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
2 tbsp flour
3 cups red wine – (can also use stock, if preferred)
2-3 cups brown beef stock (we used 6 cups beef stock)
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic / minced
1 tsp thyme
One bay leaf
18-24 small white onions, canned
1 lb quartered mushrooms, sautéed in 2 tbsp butter & 1 tbsp oil

Cut the bacon into ¼” to ½” pieces.
Saute the bacon in the oil over moderate heat for 2-3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with slotted spoon. Reheat the oil until fat is almost smoking before you saute the beef.

Dry the beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Lightly sprinkle it with flour, and saute it, a few pieces at a time, in the hot oil and bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the bacon in the stew pot.

In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables, and add to the stew pot, along with (drained) canned onions and sauteed mushrooms.

Stir in the beef stock (or combination of beef stock & red wine, if preferred) so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs. Bring to simmer on top of the stove. Regulate heat so liquid simmers very slowly for 3 to 4 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.

FOR IMMEDIATE SERVING: Cover the casserole and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times. Serve in its casserole, or arrange the stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles, or rice, and decorated with parsley.

FOR LATER SERVING: When cold, cover and refrigerate. About 15-20 minutes before serving, bring to the simmer, cover, and simmer very slowly for 10 minutes, occasionally basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce.

TOTAL COST: $12.16 for Boeuf Bourguignon for 6 people

Reine De Saba – Chocolate and Almond Cake
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate melted with 2 TB rum or coffee (we use coffee) — $1.00
1 stick softened butter — .50
2/3 cup granulated sugar .25
3 egg yolks – .15
3 egg whites – .15
Pinch of salt .01
1 tbsp granulated sugar .03
1/3 cup pulverized almonds .25
¼ tsp almond extract .05
¾ sifted cake flour .10
TOTAL FOR CAKE AND ICING/ALMONDS (BELOW) = $3.19 (KLH NOTE: If you’d care to dazzle Mom with the actual Julia Child recipe, be our guest! However, boxed cake mixes have come an extraordinarily long way in the 50 years since “MAFC” came out, and can easily be substituted for FAR greater ease

Butter & flour an 8” cake pan (one that’s at least 1 ½ inches deep)
Melt the chocolate over almost simmering water (KLH note: you can also carefully do this in the microwave in a microwave-safe dish)

Cream the butter & 2/3 cup granulated sugar together for several minutes until they form a pale yellow, fluffy mixture.
Beat in the egg yolks until well blended.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites and salt in a separate bowl until soft peaks are formed: sprinkle on the sugar and beat until stiff peaks are formed.

With a rubber spatula, blend the melted chocolate into the butter and sugar mixture, then stir in the almonds, and almond extract. Immediately stir in one fourth of the beaten egg whites to lighten the batter. Delicately fold in a third of the remaining whites and when partially blended, sift on one third of the flour and continue folding. Alternate rapidly with more egg whites and more flour until all egg whites and flour are incorporated.

Turn the batter into the cake pan, pushing the batter up to its rim with a rubber spatula. Bake in middle level of preheated oven for about 25 minutes. Cake is done when it has puffed, and 2 ½ to 3 inches around the circumference are set so that a needle plunged into that area comes out clean; the center should move slightly if the pan is shaken, and a needle comes out oily.

Allow cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan, and reverse cake on the rack. Allow it to cool for an hour or two; it must be thoroughly cold if it is to be iced.

Glacage Au Chocolat – Chocolate Butter Icing
2 ounce (2 squares) semi sweet baking chocolate .25
2 TBSP rum or coffee (we use coffee) .01
6 TB unsalted butter – .19
Surrounded with crushed almonds = .25

Stir the chocolate and run or coffee in the saucepan over the hot water until chocolate has melted into a very smooth cream. Remove saucepan from hot water, and beat the butter into the chocolate, a tablespoon at a time. Then beat over cold water until chocolate mixture is cool and of spreading consistency. At once spread it over your cake with the spatula or knife.

Using the above as a guide, you can show the wonderful Moms in your life (your Mom, Mother in Law, Grandmother, Godmother, etc), just how fabulous and appreciated she is with this terrific, themed Mother’s Day. And hey, when it comes to a gift that keeps on giving, there’s nothing like a Julia Child-inspired celebration to inspire some serious bragging rights for Mom for weeks to come!

Best of all, you’ve spent no more than $25 for gifts AND dinner for six! THAT’S SOME BRILLIANT FRUGAL LIVING!