AMY & REE: A New Year, a New Cookbook

So, I mentioned in a previous foodie post that I loved the movie Julie & Julia. I also enjoyed the original blog, "The Julie/Julia Project" written by writer and food lover Julie Powell, where she documents a year of her life cooking her way through Julia Child's classic, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, making all 536 recipes in 365 days. I was inspired by Powell's ambition and her contentment in the kitchen. I'm also a bit obsessive and love the challenge of committing to doing something for an entire year. With The Compact complete, I need something new to set my mind to. I have a slew of other traditional New Years Resolutions which are all serious, not that fun, and not likely to last, so I was looking for something intriguing and interesting. Like Powell, I love to cook, but I'm not nearly as adept in the culinary realm as she is so there was no way in hell I was taking on Julia Child.

I am, however, a huge fan of Ree Drummond, aka The Pioneer Woman, and have been a fan of her cooking website for several years now. I've made a good many of her recipes in the past and they never fail me, like her sinful Apple Dumplings and her yummy Simple Sesame Noodles. So when she announced her first cookbook was due out this fall, I immediately put it on my Christmas list. And guess what I found under the tree on December 25th?

Damn straight. I was thrilled! And then I thought, wait, Ree is right up my alley. Accessible, down-home cookin' with great pictorial step-by-step directions. Her ingredients are easy to find and don't break the bank. She didn't go to culinary school, she makes a big mess, and feeds her family with love. It doesn't hurt that she's funny, quirky, and a great writer, either. As I read the book cover to cover, I began my plan of attack. Her cookbook contains around 60 recipes, which is perfectly doable in a year. This means I have to make about one a week, which is all I can commit to, considering the chaos that is my life with toddlers as a new SAHM.

In the beginning of the book, she also offers up some "must haves" in her kitchen for us amateur chefs, which included both a cast iron skillet and a dutch oven. I have now excitedly purchased these lovelies in red and am getting used to using them. They are wonderful to cook with, and I can't believe we have lived without them. I can't wait to expand my culinary arsenal and push myself in the kitchen in new ways. So stay tuned, as I'm inviting you all along on this delicious journey with a new weekly column called "AMY & REE." You'll get tales of my attempt to become a better person, or at least a better cook, in 2010. It should be full of follies, treats, laughs, and, undoubtedly, a few extra pounds.