Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom


17 Aug Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom

JuliasKitchenWisdom.jpgWhen I posted my question about the emotional allure of Julie & Julia, a couple of people commented that a book giveaway might be welcomed.

But Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking is a two-volume set consisting of more than 500 recipes and 1400 pages. I can’t back this up with hard numbers, but I suspect the majority of readers are not going to hunt down calf feet or a hog’s head to make some of the more esoteric recipes. I could be wrong, but I’ll bet most people want Child’s insight and her recipe for Boeuf Bourguignon.

The good people at Alfred A. Knopf were ahead of the curve when they sent me a review copy of Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom: Essential Techniques and Recipes from a Lifetime of Cooking (Alfred A. Knopt, 2000). In this book, Child distills the most important culinary information into 160 pages and includes the recipe for her famous beef stew.

Want to make a roux? Child tells you how. Think French cooking uses too much butter? How about Child’s fat-free blender version? Should green beans be boiled or steamed? And just how do you clean a blackened pan?

Full of master recipes and variations, charts, guidelines, definitions and Child’s irrepressible voice, this book won’t break the budget or your bookshelves. While it’s not a replacement for her groundbreaking book, it is a practical and easily skimmed cheat sheet. In the introduction, Child writes:

So often you can be in the midst of cooking and you just can’t remember whether that leg of lamb should roast in a 325°F or a 350°F oven, and for how long… [This book] is a mini aide-memoire for general home cookery, and is aimed at those who are tolerably familiar with culinary language; whose kitchens are normally well equipped with such staples as jelly-roll pans, a food processor, a decent rolling pin; and who know their way around the stove reasonably well.”

Is this you? If so, enter to win the book by leaving a comment with:

  • your name
  • your city and province / state
  • your best cooking tip

I’ll draw names late Sunday and reveal the winner on Monday, August 24th. Almost makes Mondays tolerable, doesn’t it?

Related Post

No Comments
  • Babette
    Posted at 12:40h, 17 August Reply

    My best kitchen tips come from Julia herself–at the end of the forward to MtAoFC (Volume 1):

    A pot saver is a self-hampering cook. Use all the pans, bowls,and equipment you need, but soak them in water as soon as you are through with them. Clean up after yourself frequently to avoid confusion.

    Train yourself to use your hands and fingers; they are wonderful instruments. Train yourself also to handle hot foods; this will save time. Keep your knives sharp.

    Above all, have a good time.

  • Alexandra Grabbe
    Posted at 13:01h, 17 August Reply

    Alexandra Grabbe here, in Wellfleet, MA, and my best cooking tip comes from Julia as well, of course: taste as you go along. So many people cook without tasting. I do not know what I would have done when I moved to France in 1969 without The French Chef in my luggage! I actually got to meet the grande dame once in Paris, where she was promoting one of her later volumes. That was a thrill!

  • Debbie
    Posted at 13:05h, 17 August Reply

    Name- Debbie
    City – Guelph, On

    Tip – Use a plastic, bread bag, closer thingy, to scrape (clean)hard stuff off a teflon frying pan. Works great and won't ruin the pan!

  • Wendy Gacparski
    Posted at 13:26h, 17 August Reply

    I'm a little embarrassed to confess with the hoard and collection of cook books I own…that I do not have a Julia Child cookbook! Always wanted one, but for some reason have never taken the time to treat myself. I can remember watching Julia Child on TV cooking up a storm for the masses when I was a child…I was always mesmerized by her voice and smile… it seemed like she could do anything, and do it well. I think my best cooking tip would be when cooking, roasting or baking anything, try to use the freshest and best quality ingredients you can get your hands on -the more locally grown the better. And never throw out those pan drippings! It's those lovely drippings and caramelized brown bits in the bottom of pans that makes that extra flavour and difference in your soups, sauces, glazes and gravies!

  • Cheryl
    Posted at 13:34h, 17 August Reply

    My tip is something I learned in cooking school, and it's so obvious I'm almost embarrassed to repeat it (but it was new to me): browning = flavor. If you're baking a pie or a loaf of bread and the timer buzzes and it's time to take it out, don't do it. Leave it in until you get a nice brown top. Push this tip as far as you can w/out burning your food. This goes for searing meats, tofu, vegetables as well.

    Pale food generally tastes, well, pale.

  • KJB
    Posted at 13:45h, 17 August Reply

    What a great book and what a great give-away. Thank-you.

    At first, I thought, I don't have a tip. Then I realized that not only do I have a tip, I had been expounding on it this past weekend.

    My tip: make it from scratch. Those time savers are money wasters and often not so healthy. Sure, frozen cookie dough is handy, but, really how long does it take to make a cookie batter. Same goes for vinnaigrettes, rice & pasta sides — the list is endless.


  • Cheryl Arkison
    Posted at 14:39h, 17 August Reply

    This would make a welcome addition to my Harold McGee. That's my tip. When faced with something new or I simply can't remember whether a shoulder should be slow roasted, seared, or braised I pull out my "On Food and Cooking".

  • Cheryl Arkison
    Posted at 14:39h, 17 August Reply

    This would make a welcome addition to my Harold McGee. That's my tip. When faced with something new or I simply can't remember whether a shoulder should be slow roasted, seared, or braised I pull out my "On Food and Cooking".

  • nicole
    Posted at 15:22h, 17 August Reply

    Nicole O
    Fairfax, Virginia

    Best cooking tip:
    You can make lots of different types of milk with skim milk, whipping cream, and sour cream or vinegar. No need to buy huge cartons of milk for a recipe that uses a few tablespoons. I also use my iPod's Units app all the time for easy conversions in the store or while baking!

  • Anonymous
    Posted at 16:56h, 17 August Reply

    Name: Robin Smart
    Province: Ontario
    Best Cooking Tip:
    Do not substitute hot chocolate mix with marshmallows for cocoa powder in a brownie recipe. (Daughter tried it – rather amazing results.)
    Real Tip: When ever possible make extra and freeze it in individual portions for emergency lunches, after school snacks and picky eaters who just won't do "meat" with the rest of the family.

  • Andrew
    Posted at 17:12h, 17 August Reply

    Andrew from Guelph Ont.

    Best cooking tip? Stay out of Charmian's way until meal is ready. Repeat with the clean up.Hope for the best.

  • Christie's Corner
    Posted at 17:15h, 17 August Reply

    Update on the prize. Winner will have their book hand delivered by Andrew who will stay a week. At least.

  • Kathe Lieber
    Posted at 17:20h, 17 August Reply

    My tip is to keep a bowl of lemons on your kitchen counter and use them in all sorts of things (besides, they look stunning in a blue bowl, of which I happen to have…er, many). Fr'instance, I bury half a lemon in the pot when I'm cooking basmati rice. It somehow brightens the flavour in a subtle way.
    Kathe Lieber
    Montreal, Quebec

  • Katerina
    Posted at 17:35h, 17 August Reply

    Katerina from Vancouver.

    My best cooking tip? Relax and Have fun.

    Oh and care for your knifes well.

  • The Diva on a Diet
    Posted at 17:40h, 17 August Reply

    Diva (wink)
    New York City

    Best Cooking Tip: Nothing that hasn't been said before … clean as you go. Its so much easier, and more enjoyable, to cook in a kitchen that is not a disaster!

    Aside: love the Andrew/Charmian back and forth! LOL

    Last Words: Thanks so much for the Julie/Julia post … the discussion was fascinating and I so enjoyed reading all the comments.

  • The Diva on a Diet
    Posted at 17:40h, 17 August Reply

    Diva (wink)
    New York City

    Best Cooking Tip: Nothing that hasn't been said before … clean as you go. Its so much easier, and more enjoyable, to cook in a kitchen that is not a disaster!

    Aside: love the Andrew/Charmian back and forth! LOL

    Last Words: Thanks so much for the Julie/Julia post … the discussion was fascinating and I so enjoyed reading all the comments.

  • TZel
    Posted at 18:38h, 17 August Reply

    I agree with other posters about the importance of tasting as you go along- I have a friend who doesn't! I don't know how she manages! But I would give this advice- learn the spices and herbs that dominate each ethnic type of cooking- such as Mexican: oregano, chili powder or chilies, cilantro, epazote, cinnamon, etc. View the herbs and spices as just as important as the main ingredients- and add them to your cooking! They will make all the difference!

  • Cheryl
    Posted at 18:51h, 17 August Reply

    Wait a minute, now that the prize has been updated, I withdraw.

    Oh, on second thought, I forgot to leave my province. I live in the Yukon Territories. (That's a province, right?)

  • danamccauley
    Posted at 19:12h, 17 August Reply

    Great prize! I'm already stocked up on Julia books but I did want to wish the rest of the entrants luck!

  • lisa waterman gray
    Posted at 19:13h, 17 August Reply

    Hi Charmian-

    I'd like to enter. I'm from Overland Park, Kansas. My best cooking tip is, "Don't think you can't change a baking recipe; just balance changes in solid ingredients against changes in liquid ingredients.

    lisa waterman gray

  • Brandislee
    Posted at 19:28h, 17 August Reply

    Brandis from Colton, CA.

    My cooking tip is to plan and have an organized kitchen. Organize to minimize the amount of needless steps taken, and plan meals and snacks so you're not suck with one of those "I want to make X and I have everything EXCEPT Y" situations.

  • terry cohoe
    Posted at 20:59h, 17 August Reply

    My best cooking tip is to start by pouring a nice glass of wine. I prefer red, but the tip works with white as well. 😛 This way you'll be relaxed and ready for whatever comes your way in the kitchen. Works especially well when you're cooking for a crowd that makes you a little nervous.

  • terry cohoe
    Posted at 21:01h, 17 August Reply

    Oops, forgot my city and province (Beamsville, Ontario) — does that I've imbibed too deeply in my own tip?

  • Anonymous
    Posted at 21:16h, 17 August Reply

    my best kitchen tip is this: tape a list or table of the proper water to grain ratio's in the inside cupboard….saves me hours i tell you…i used to have to look up each and every time as i buy bulk grains…..total pain….

    edmonton, ab

  • Cari Snell
    Posted at 22:21h, 17 August Reply

    Hi Charmian,
    Will Andrew be earning his keep while staying the week? I have a 2 year old and a 4 year old that could be entertained. :-)
    On to business! My best kitchen tip: Put your dry spices in a visable, easily obtainable space. Mine are kept in little magnetic craft tins I purchased at Walmart. ($1.29 each) I've labelled them with my label maker (yes, I'm a nerd) and they are stuck in alphabetical order on the side of my fridge. The needed spice is easy to find and I can always tell if I need more of a certain spice from the store before it runs out(eliminating my children from witnessing a scene of me cussing under my breath halfway through cooking dinner when I go get a spice and the jar is *gasp* empty…
    Thanks for the chance to win.
    Cari Snell
    Vancouver, BC

  • ssomerville
    Posted at 23:06h, 17 August Reply

    Shelley S.

    I have one Julia Cookbook, but after seeing the movie, would like a lot more!

    My tip is keep your spice drawer/cabinet and pantry area well organized. Makes cooking/baking easier, and you're less likely to run out and buy something you think you need, only to find later on that you already had it!

  • Julie
    Posted at 23:23h, 17 August Reply

    Ooooh – I love free cookbooks! I don't have this one yet!

    You know my name.. and I'm in Calgary. I love Julia's advice: never apologize! So many people (myself included) start apologizing as soon as people walk in the door. There is so much advice out there.. how about: chew gum in the kitchen if you don't want to eat half the bowl of cookie dough before it makes it into the oven?

  • alexandra's kitchen
    Posted at 02:01h, 18 August Reply

    yes, I can attest, Julia's Kitchen Wisdom is a much more manageable book … full of goodies. And, I think that's a good call … calves feet is not something I imagine many people want to spend their time hunting down. Great giveaway!

  • Micah Holden
    Posted at 08:05h, 18 August Reply

    Wow, great tips so far, I'm reading and learning from all these comments… My tip: 1st step in prep, prepare and pre-measure all ingredients in a recipe. I've learned this makes for easier cooking as well as clean up.
    Thanks, Charmain, for the giveaway!

  • Renee
    Posted at 20:03h, 18 August Reply

    Hi Charmian,

    My best tip for in the kitchen is to use your senses. If a recipe isn't tasting the way you want, or doesn't quite have the right texture, change it. The more appealing the food is to you, the more enjoyable cooking will be.

    Berkeley, CA

  • amyproulx
    Posted at 21:13h, 18 August Reply

    My best advice comes from the late James Barber,

    "Cooking is the simplest way of saying I love you… So stop worrying. Cooking is easy. Dead easy."

    I ascribe to the James Barber school of cooking – don't measure, don't worry, have fun.

    Amy P
    and you know where to find me

  • ManitoulinGirl
    Posted at 12:12h, 20 August Reply

    Hi. I think my best kitchen tip would be to involve your kids in as many aspects of meal preparation as possible – measuring, stirring, chopping, kneading – even menu planning. Help them appreciate how delicious food is when it is made from scratch. It isn't always convenient, but at some point they will actually be helpful! 😉 This will benefit them for the rest of their lives.

    This tip also works for hubbys! (Right, Andrew?)

    Carmen from Manitoulin Island, Ontario

  • Carolyn H.
    Posted at 20:24h, 20 August Reply

    Fun give away!
    Just a little tip I use with my food processor. You can secure the blade by sticking your finger inside the bottom of the bowl when pouring out your goods…took me a couple of falling blades to figure that out!


    Spokane, WA

  • One of the Woodside Joneses
    Posted at 11:10h, 23 August Reply

    Hi Charmian. Cooking tip from my 10yr old: "make more than you need then freeze it so next time you want to have it it's easier".

    Jill in Markham (and Caroline :-D)

Post A Reply to alexandra's kitchen Cancel Reply

Subscribe to my newsletter.

It’s easy. It’s free. It’s informative.


Receive weekly tips, recipes and advanced notice of upcoming events.

Yes, please!