And she decided to do it all in one calendar year.
The results were bigger than she could ever have imagined: a daily blog, the best-seller, "Julie & Julia," and now, the hit movie of the same name.
The woman who inspired "Julie and Julia" visited "The Early Show Saturday Edition" on what would have been Child's 97th birthday and took on a culinary quest of quite a different kind: our "Chef on a Shoestring" challenge.
Julie prepared a three-course meal from Julia's cookbook but, in honor of Julia's birthday, we added $10 to our usual budget for shoestring chefs and gave her $45 in all -- still not a lot -- to work with.
She also talked with co-anchor Erica Hill and with CBS News about what that year was like, what inspired her, and what it's like to have her life chronicled in a big Hollywood movie.
"It's beyond surreal, of course," seeing her life on the big screen, Julie says. "I've had a couple of years to prepare myself, you know, and I thought I was ready, but there's no question, the first time I saw Amy Adams calling herself 'Julie Powell' on the big screen, it knocked me for a loop. Of course, by now I've seen it seven times, so I'm getting used to it."
Why did she decide to cook every recipe in Julia Child's cookbook?
"I was turning 30," Julie explains, "which at the time felt like the end of the world. I was in a dead-end job. My life was going nowhere. Cooking had always been a comfort, and Julia Child's book had been a part of my life since I was a kid. I'd been a frustrated writer for many years, and ... it all just came together, all at once."
Julie told Hill she never imagined her project would lead to what it has. "I started the blog back in 2002," she said on the show, "and I didn't really know what a blog was. I had no idea. And it was just part of the project I wanted to do to sort of save my life by cooking. And the blogging was part of it. And I had no idea it was gonna to resonate with people the way it did."
In the book, Julie tells of writing to Child about her project and getting a decidedly cool response. That's also portrayed in the movie. And Julie admitted to Hill, "Of course, it was devastating to hear. You come off a year doing what I had done, I saw primarily as a tribute to this amazing, extraordinary woman who changed the world. She really did. So to find that she didn't see it in that light was distressing. But one of the great things that Julia taught me was that the person you have to be true to is yourself. And I know why I did what I did and how much she meant to me. And if she didn't see that, I'm sorry, but it is OK. It is OK."
"Her disinterest didn't change how I felt about her," Julie says. "I don't love Julia Child because she loves me; I love her because she inspired me to change my life. ... I know how I feel about Julia, and that's what matters."
Making all those recipes in a year "was a challenge," Julie told Hill, saying she "ate at midnight a lot. That's the sort of the way it was." She would get up at 6 in the morning and scamper around town, looking for ingredients for that day's recipe, holding down her a=day job all the while. "It was physically exhausting and it took a lot of time," Julie recalled for Hill, "but, existentially, I was feeling so much better about myself, you know."
Would do it all again?
"No!" Julie exclaimed to Hill. "I'm on to the next now!"
And, of all of the 524 recipes in the cook, the one for Braised Cucumbers was her favorite, Juie says, adding, "I'm so glad they made it into the movie, because I think they're a revelation!"
To get the recipes for the dishes Powell made on the show, go to Page 2.