“The flight was extremely normal for 36 seconds…”

“…and after that it got very interesting.”

– Apollo 12 Commander Pete Conrad in the post-flight technical debriefing, referring to the first of two lightning strikes on the vehicle during launch.

I just found out I can upgrade my Galaxy S5 at no cost to an S8, so I ordered a new phone skin that will ship tomorrow – as it serendipitously turns out, the 48th anniversary of the date the photo was taken.

This is Apollo 12, taken from the roof of the Vehicle Assembly Building as the stack began its 3½ mile journey to Launch Pad 39A on 8 September 1969. This assembly of Crawler-Transporter, Mobile Launcher (aka Launch Umbilical Tower), Saturn V, and Apollo weighed over 18 million pounds, the equivalent of twenty or so 747s, and moved at a stately 80 or so feet per minute.

From the remarkable 600-page Moonport: A History of Apollo Launch Facilities and Operations: “These novel mechanisms almost defy verbal description, and the reader should refer frequently to the illustrations in this chapter.”

Here’s a higher-resolution copy of the source photo – click for a larger version and note the people in white hardhats at the edges of the platform:

NASA photo AP12-S69-51309

Apollo-era photo of the 526-foot-high Vehicle Assembly Building and crawlerway leading to Launch Complex 39 with Pads 39B (upper left, 4.2 miles from VAB) and 39A (upper right, 3.5 miles from VAB). Apollo 12 launched from Pad 39A.

NASA photo AS12-68-7134: Pete Conrad wiggling Surveyor 3 by its camera on 20 November 1969 (Okay, Houston. I’m jiggling it. The Surveyor is firmly planted here; that’s no problem.”)

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What a load of horse potatoes

  • Made with Bulletproof clean coffee beans that are certified to be free of 27 toxins”
  • “…sustained energy and mental focus”
  • “…will allow people to conveniently take steps toward achieving their goals and unleashing their full potential”
  • “Brain Octane oil”

It’s true, they haven’t even added cyanide or hemlock to their buttered coffee – now gullet-ready at Whole Foods, five bucks a pop – because they respect their marks customers so much. I’m surprised, however, that they left out from today’s press release so many high-bogosity health claims frequently associated with I-Can’t-Believe-It’s-Got-Butter Coffee. For instance, metabolism jump-starting and consequent miraculous weight loss – doesn’t buttered coffee like doing that anymore? Too tiring?

I’m thinking of calling Hogan Brothers Coffee Roasters and Barrington Coffee Roasters to ask if the Thunder Mountain and Barrington Gold blends I get from them are free of 27 toxins – and if they can name them. You know, just to give them a giggle.

Brain Octane oil indeed. Never give a sucker an even break or smarten up a chump.

Time for a cleanse in the form of a balancing load of bullshit antidote. This guy is my kind of cynic, and full of novel phrases. Both of these videos are NSFW due to salty language. First up, a teardown of the just-torn-down Juicero. (Seeks a buyer? Surely they jest.) He made this one three months before their end of days last week.

And a look inside a KitchenAid mixer:

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Chips ahoy, unabridged

I recently consolidated all I know about these delightful chocolate chip cookies for people I share them with, so here it is:

Serving suggestion the next day: Microwave one cookie for fourteen seconds. You won’t regret it.

The cookies, pictured above in my kitchen in 2010, are my variation of what are widely referred to on the web as the…

New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

Original 2008 article in the Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/09/dining/09chip.html

Accompanying recipe: https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1015819-chocolate-chip-cookies

Throughout and at the end are my notes on improving and simplifying the recipe and making it more affordable while still delicious.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 ½ ounces, 240g) cake flour [examples available in supermarkets are Swan’s Down, Softasilk, and King Arthur Cake Blend]
  • 1 ⅔ cups (8 ½ ounces, 240g) bread flour
  • [You can safely substitute 4 cups/17 ounces/480g of all-purpose flour for the cake and bread flours because the above combination results in a protein content right in the range of all-purpose flour; bread flour is generally 14-16% protein, cake flour is 7 or 8%, and all-purpose flour is 10-12%]
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons coarse salt [kosher salt to you and me – or you can substitute 1 teaspoon table salt]
  • 2 ½ sticks (1 ¼ cups/10 ounces/280g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 ¼ cups (10 ounces/280g) light brown sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces/225g) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
  • [My addition: 1 ½ cups pecans, toasted as described in my note 1 below]
  • 1 ¼ pounds/565g bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content (see tip)
  • Sea salt for sprinkling before baking [see my note 4 below]

Tip

  • Disks are sold at Jacques Torres Chocolate; Valrhona fèves, oval-shaped chocolate pieces, are at Whole Foods. [people with earthbound budgets, see my note 3 below]

Preparation

  1. [Toast pecans as described in my note 1 below and allow to cool]
  2. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside. [flours generally don’t need sifting these days, so I just measure them into a bowl – the flour by weight – and whisk thoroughly]
  3. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop [pecans and] chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. [See my note 2 below about skipping this next step] Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.
  4. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.
  5. [See my note 5 below about portion control – these are way too big] Scoop six 3 1/2-ounce/100g mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt [I bolded that because it’s really easy to forget] and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. [I simply slide the parchment off the baking sheet onto my kitchen island] Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm, with a big napkin.

My notes on the recipe:

  1. Pecans: They’re essential in chocolate chip cookies for me. Before starting the recipe, I break a cup-and-a-half of pecan halves into quarters and toast them on a parchment-lined baking sheet at 300F for 10-12 minutes. When you start to smell them, they’re toasted. Don’t forget to boost the oven to 350F afterward for the cookies. Add the cooled pecans to the dough just before the chocolate chips go in. Pricing note: Costco sometimes has 2-pound bags of raw pecan halves for about US$12, which is what pecans used to cost down South about 20 years ago. That’s a lot of pecans, but you can freeze them and they won’t go rancid after six months.
  2. The so-called curing stage: Because I found it hard to believe anything can migrate anywhere in what is a very thick cookie dough, especially after chilling, and the fact that the flour will autolyze – soak up the liquid – in well under an hour, I did extensive blind taste-testing with friends when this recipe came out in 2008. We determined definitively that the 24- to 36-hour “curing” in the fridge is a sad example of wishful thinking of the “Sounds gourmet, right?” variety. Any difference in flavor was purely due to different baking times that people unconsciously or consciously used. It brings nothing to the party other than an unforgivable delay in access to your cookies, and who needs that stress?
  3. Inexpensive chocolate: Jacques Torres is a peach of a guy, but forget about his chocolate discs and those Valrhona fèves; they would make these cookies prohibitively expensive. Instead, use two 10-ounce/285g bags of Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate chips, which are delicious, in shape halfway between a standard chip and a disc (meaning the chocolate spreads well inside the cookies – see the photo), and priced between US$2.99 and $3.39 a bag at Market Basket depending on whether they’re on sale. They’re strangely up to $6.99 a bag at Stop & Shop and other supermarkets, way above Ghirardelli’s suggested list price of US$4.75.
  4. Sea salt: I use Maldon Sea Salt from the UK, available inexpensively on Amazon and in some US supermarkets. It’s also a nice finishing salt for salads, steaks, fish, &c.
  5. Portion control: I find their suggested 3½ ounce/100g scoop size ridiculous – that’s a #10 disher size, what you’d use for an ice cream cone, fercripesake. It’s no wonder so many pictures of these you see on the web depict wonky and/or partially raw cookies. I want more cookies that last longer, not cookies the size of Wales that I can’t finish, so I use a heaping tablespoon – a #30 disher or a not-quite-full #24 disher (the one I have), about an ounce/30g, will do that nicely.
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Salsa very fresca

After enthusiastically wolfing down a couple cups of this earlier today, a friend asked for the recipe, so after writing down what I do, I figured I might as well paste the body of that email right here:

This will stop the salsa from almost immediately turning into soup: To remove excess water from the seeded and diced tomatoes – see photo below – salt them with a teaspoon of kosher salt, mix it in, and then put them in a mesh strainer, pushed up on the sides of the strainer to make an even layer, over a bowl for 45 minutes to an hour. This will extract a cup or more of liquid from four fresh-off-the-vine tomatoes. If you use roma tomatoes, which are drier and more dense, you generally don’t have to do this.

The tomatoes and bi-color corn I used this morning were still warm from the field at Willard Farm.

Tomato and Corn Salsa
Yield: 5 or 6 cups

  • 4 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced, excess water removed
  • 3 ears corn – shuck, then over a sheet pan (less cleanup), hold by the pointy end and slice off the kernels, rotating the cob as you go
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, some but not all of its rib removed, finely diced (the rib, not the seeds, is where most of the heat is)
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced, then mix in a pinch of kosher salt and smush with the back of a knife to make a paste
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro/coriander
  • Juice of one lime
  • Additional kosher salt if needed (it usually needs a bit more) and freshly ground pepper to taste

Let this sit for an hour or so and the salt and lime juice will mellow the harshness of the onion and garlic.

Those chips were On the Border Café Style Tortilla Chips, which I prefer over Xochitl because they hold up much better in the oven when making chicken nachos, &c. The thinner Xochitl sort of wilt under high heat. I wasn’t surprised a few months ago when the On the Border chips were the America’s Test Kitchen taste test winner.

The excess liquid from four tomatoes:

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A shoulder to gnaw on

Pork shoulder ends up fantastically moist when slow-cooked inside an oven bag – in the case of this half-shoulder, about five hours at 275F/135C. This cut is commonly known as “Boston butt” because 1) in the 1700s, pork shoulder was widely known as a Boston specialty and 2) a butt is a volume measurement equal to two hogsheads and was also the name of the casks butchers packed shoulders into for transport. So the odd name was not so much for the product as its origin and the container it arrived in.

The QA department, ever thorough, is responsible for the large missing chunk. Click for a larger version.

Pulled pork demands hamburger buns, and around here that means King Arthur Flour’s recipe for Beautiful Burger Buns:

They really are things of beauty. My friend appropriately said, “Oooo!” when she walked into the kitchen to see. Click for a larger version.

The corn below comes from Willard Farm in Harvard, Massachusetts, where the Willard family has been farming since the 1600s. A dozen or so generations directly back from the current owner is Simon Willard, who moved here from England in 1634 and founded the town of Concord, Massachusetts, serving as its clerk and counsel for a couple of decades. Their corn, quite sweet early this year due to lots of rain, cannot be beat. It’s in the form of Better Than Granny’s Creamed Corn here, made about two hours after the corn was picked.

Click for a larger version

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Sammiches? Turkey dinner? Turkey noodle soup? More sammiches?

Yes to all of those, and probably in that order. First up, the sandwiches: turkey, cranberry sauce, and soft Gournay cheese with garlic and herbs on hunks of split and lightly-toasted baguette from Iggy’s.

Possibly the best-looking turkey ever to come out of my oven; click for a larger version

Nice and juicy, too. I always scratch my head when I hear some sleb chef say turkeys are dry and awful. One little click below will present to you the evidence of how wrong they are.

The roasting pan has the requisite amount of liquid gold, of course, to be strained right after I post this.

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In sciencey terms, it’s like an inside-out water filter that you eat

Thank goodness activated charcoal drinks will now take over for our stumbling, bumbling, apparently massively failing kidneys and livers. For a while there, I thought we were all goners.

I wonder, though, will charcoal help prevent the pain and itch of orthorexia?

Recommended: Swindled: From Poison Sweets to Counterfeit Coffee by the author of the article in the second link.

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100+ hours of Julia Child

Discovered among the last few shelves of videotapes going to digital: A 12-hour French Chef marathon I taped when WGBH Boston aired it on Christmas 2004, four months after Julia Child left us. The tapes, with no labels on the spine but Post-its indicating the contents, included seventeen half-hour episodes I didn’t have in digital form before, including S07E20 More About French Bread. I just uploaded that one to YouTube – see below – to go along with the S07E19 French Bread episode someone else previously uploaded that I featured in an article here a couple years ago.

My two favourite series from the lists below are probably Baking with Julia, a thirty-nine episode, nineteen-hour series, and Julia & Jacques: Cooking at Home. The former is mouth-watering throughout – just this week, I watched three episodes on my tablet while waiting for my car window master switch to be replaced and was then compelled to stop at a good bakery – exceedingly rare around here, but one happens to be just half a mile from the Hyundai dealer. In the latter eleven-hour series, filmed in Julia’s Cambridge home when she was 88, Julia and longtime friend Jacques Pépin frequently compare and contrast home and professional cooking techniques and sometimes disagree about various methods – or whether something’s done. She gives him plenty of good-natured sass, but he returns the volley more often than not. Lots of fun.

Windows Explorer tells me I now have 208 files with 105 hours of Julia Child shows in 40 gigs. Absolutely delightful.

Speaking of delightful, the image I grabbed for the video’s thumbnail is when Julia politely shushes Professor Calvel to allow us, too, to hear “la musique du pain”.

Episode Guides
[1963-1973] The French Chef episodes [201×28].txt
[1978-1979] Julia Child and Company episodes [13×28].txt
[1979-1980] Julia Child and More Company episodes [13×28].txt
[1983-1984] Dinner at Julia’s episodes [13×28].txt
[1989] The Way to Cook episodes [6×58].txt
[1992] A Birthday Party for Julia Child – Compliments to the Chef [1×58].txt
[1993-1994] Cooking with Master Chefs episodes [16×28].txt
[1993-1995] Cooking in Concert episodes [3×85].txt
[1994-1996] In Julia’s Kitchen with Master Chefs [39×28].txt
[1996-1998] Baking with Julia episodes [39×28].txt
[1999-2000] Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home [22×28].txt
[2000] Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom [1×58].txt

[I’ve none of the three in italics]

[1963-1973] The French Chef [51 of 201 eps, the rest on Amazon Video]
S01E01 Boeuf Bourguignon.avi
S01E02 French Onion Soup.avi
S01E09 Vegetables The French Way.mp4
S01E19 French Crêpes.mp4
S01E20 French Crêpes II.mp4
S01E22 The Potato Show.mp4
S02E02 Cooking Your Goose.mp4
S02E07 Vegetable Adventures.mp4
S02E13 Elegance with Eggs.mp4
S03E17 Bûche de Noël.mp4
S03E20 Croissants.mp4
S05E03 Queen of Sheba Cake.avi
S05E09 Roast Suckling Pig.mp4
S05E10 More About Potatoes.mp4
S06E18 Bouillabaisse à la Marseillaise.avi
S06E20 The Spinach Twins.avi
S07E01 Cake with a Halo.mp4
S07E02 Hamburger Dinner.mp4
S07E03 Salade Niçoise.avi
S07E05 Lasagne à la Française.mp4
S07E06 Waiting for Gigot.mp4
S07E07 How About Lentils.mp4
S07E08 Fish in Monk’s Clothing.mp4
S07E09 Gâteau in a Cage.mp4
S07E10 Cheese and Wine Party.avi
S07E11 Curry Dinner.mp4
S07E12 Apple Desserts.avi
S07E12 Apple Desserts.mp4
S07E13 Meat Loaf Masquerade.MP4
S07E14 To Roast a Chicken.mp4
S07E15 Hard Boiled Eggs.mp4
S07E16 Boeuf Bourguignon.mp4
S07E17 Strawberry Soufflé.mp4
S07E18 Spaghetti Flambé.mp4
S07E19 French Bread.mp4
S07E20 More About French Bread.mp4
S08E01 A Vegetable for all Occasions.mp4
S08E02 Pot au Feu.mp4
S08E10 The Whole Fish Story.avi
S08E16 The Lobster Show.avi
S08E18 Mousse au Chocolat.avi
S08E20 To Stuff a Sausage.avi
S09E06 Terrines and Pâtés.mp4
S09E11 Cheese Soufflé.mp4
S09E12 The Good Loaf.avi
S09E13 The Hollandaise Family.mp4
S09E14 Tripes à la Mode.avi
S09E15 Sole Bon Femme.mp4
S09E18 The Omelette Show.avi
S09E20 French Fries.avi
S10E07 VIP Cake.mp4

[1979-1980] Julia Child and More Company [1 of 13 eps]
Julia Child & More Company Summer Dinner.mp4

[1989] Julia Child – The Way to Cook [6 of 6 eps]
01 Poultry.mp4
02 Meat.mp4
03 Vegetables.mp4
04 Soups, Salads, and Bread.mp4
05 Fish and Eggs.mp4
06 First Courses and Desserts.mp4

[1993-1994] Cooking with Master Chefs [16 of 16 eps]
101 Emeril Lagasse.mp4
102 Michel Richard.mp4
103 Patrick Clark.mp4
104 Lidia Bastianich.mp4
105 Charles Palmer.mp4
106 Amy Ferguson-Ota.mp4
107 Robert Del Grande.mp4
108 Jean-Louis Palladin.mp4
109 Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken.mp4
110 Jacques Pépin.mp4
111 Jeremiah Tower.mp4
112 Jan Birnbaum and Lidia Bastianich.mp4
113 Andre Saltner.mp4
114 Nancy Silverton.mp4
115 Jacques Pépin.mp4
116 Alice Waters.mp4

[1993-1995] Cooking in Concert [3 of 3 eps]
Graham Kerr.mp4
Jacques Pépin Holiday Meal.mp4
Jacques Pépin Stuffed Turkey Roulade.mp4

[1996-1998] Baking With Julia [39 of 39 eps]
101 Craig Kominiak.mp4
102 Alice Medrich.mp4
103 Michel Richard.mp4
104 Lora Brody.mp4
105 Marcel Desaulniers.mp4
106 Gale Gand.mp4
107 Norman Love.mp4
108 Lauren Groveman.mp4
109 Mary Bergin.mp4
110 Steve Sullivan.mp4
111 Nancy Silverton.mp4
112 Nick Malgieri.mp4
113 Flo Braker.mp4
201 Esther McManus.mp4
202 Beatrice Ojakangas.mp4
203 Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid.mp4
204 Danielle Forestier.mp4
205 Markus Farbinger.mp4
206 Charlotte Akoto.mp4
207 Marion Cunningham.mp4
208 Johanna Killeen.mp4
209 Leslie Mackie.mp4
210 David Ogonowsk.mp4
211 Joe Ortiz.mp4
212 David Blom.mp4
213 Norman Love.mp4
301 Martha Stewart 1.mp4
302 Martha Stewart 2.mp4
303 Nancy Silverton.mp4
304 Michel Richard.mp4
304a Michel Richard.mp4
304b Michel Richard.mp4
304c Alice Medrich.mp4
305 Lauren Groveman.mp4
306 Johanne Killeen.mp4
307 Marcel Desaulniers.mp4
308 Nick Malgieri.mp4
309 Mary Bergin.mp4
310 Markus Farbinger.mp4
311 Jeffrey Alfor, Naomi Duguid, and Beatrice Ojakangas.mp4
312 Gail Gand and David Blom.mp4
313 Flo Braker and Leslie Mackie.mp4

[1996-1998] In Julia’s Kitchen with Master Chefs [37 of 39 eps]
101 Roberto Donna.mp4
102 Jasper White.mp4
103 Lynne Rossetto Kasper.mp4
104 Jimmy Sneed.mp4
105 Madhur Jaffrey.mp4
106 Daniel Boulud.mp4
107 Jim Dodge.mp4
108 Charlie Trotter.mp4
109 Leah Chase.mp4
110 Christopher Gross.mp4
111 Jody Adams.mp4
112 Zarela Martinez.mp4
113 Jean-Georges Vongerichten.mp4
114 Rick Bayless.mp4
115 Gordon Hamersley.mp4
116 Dean Fearing.mp4
117 Reed Hearon.mp4
118 Johanne Killeen and George Germon.mp4
119 Carol Field.mp4
120 Michael Lomonaco.mp4
121 Monique Barbeau.mp4
122a Jacques Torres.mp4
122b Jacques Torres.mp4
122c Jacques Torres.mp4
123 Alfred Portale.mp4
124 Mark Militello.mp4
125 Julian Serrano.mp4
126 Joachim Splichal.mp4
127 Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Roberto Donna.mp4
128 Jimmy Sneed.mp4
130 Killeen, Germon, and Gross.mp4
131 Daniel Boulud and Gordon Hamersley.mp4
132 Madhur Jaffrey and Reed Hearon.mp4
133 Dean Fearing.mp4
134 Jim Dodge.mp4
135 Jody Adams and Jaochim Splichal.mp4
136 Mark Militello.mp4
137 Jasper White and Zarela Martinez.mp4
138 Alfred Portale.mp4
139 Monique Barbeau and Jaques Torres.mp4

[1999-2000] Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home [22 of 22 eps]
S01E01 Beef.mp4
S01E02 Fruit Desserts.mp4
S01E03 Salad Days.mp4
S01E04 Our Favorite Sandwiches.mp4
S01E05 Vegetables.mp4
S01E06 Beef Stews.mp4
S01E07 Fish.mp4
S01E08 Roast Turkey Dinner.mp4
S01E09 Soup.mp4
S01E10 Eggs.mp4
S01E11 Pork.mp4
S01E12 Creamy Desserts.mp4
S01E13 Shellfish.mp4
S01E14 Roast Chickens.mp4
S01E15 Souffles.mp4
S01E16 Winter Vegetables.mp4
S01E17 Charcuterie.mp4
S01E18 Comfort Food.mp4
S01E19 Salmon.mp4
S01E20 Roasts of Veal and Lamb.mp4
S01E21 Potatoes.mkv
S01E22 Duck.mp4

[2004] Food Network Tributes August 2004
Emeril Live Tribute to Julia Child 2001.mp4
From Martha’s Kitchen with Julia and Jacques 2000.mp4
Julia Child – A Tribute – Food Network 2004.mp4
Sara Moulton – Cooking Live with Julia 1997.mp4
TV’s Greatest Food Moments 2003.mp4
Wolfgang Puck and Julia Child In the Kitchen 2002.mp4

Other
Other [1978] Chicago Tonight interview.mp4
Other [1997] Julia Child – A&E Biography.avi
Other [1997] Julia Child – An Appetite for Life 1997.mp4
Other [2000] Out of the Box with Jack Nadel interview with Julia Child.mp4
Other [2000] Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom.mp4
Other [2001] Chicago Tonight interview.mp4
Other [2005] American Masters – Julia Child.mp4
Other [2008] Julia Child – Culinary Revolutionary – The New School.mp4
Other [2012] Siting Julia – Radcliffe Institute Conference Panels.mp4
Other [2012] Dearie The Remarkable Life of Julia Child.mp4
Other [2014] Sharing Julia Child’s Appetite for Life with Noël Riley Fitch — Dinner in the Library.mp4
Other [2015] American History (After Hours) The French Chef, American-Style.mp4
Other [2017] Alex Prud’homme – The French Chef in America Julia Child’s Second Act (Full Lecture).mp4

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