Friday, June 28, 2013

Spicy Lamb & Feta Gözleme with a North African Twist


Have I even cooked yet since my return from Florida? I cannot remember. Time is flitting by on wings…. No, more like time is rushing by on wheels as it is pushed down a steep mountain. Where does it go? I have a bucketful of projects that seem to be standing around my desk, hands on hips, feet tapping earnestly as each waits…demands.. its turn and my attention.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Chocolate and Vanilla Frosted Birthday Cupcakes


We were sitting across from each other at the old wooden dining room table inherited from my in-laws before he was even born, each of us at our respective laptops, working. Suddenly he looked up at me, pausing in his typing, a glimmer of mischief in his golden eyes, and he said “You’re requisitioned to make 50 cupcakes for my birthday party.” Sly grin slid over his face, smugness oozing from each and every pore. “Requisitioned? Don’t you mean “commissioned”? I asked, always in the habit of correcting those slight errors of language in my multilingual boys. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Another Road Trip : Villesavin, Valençay and Chaumont


Pour le weekend, nous avons voulu faire les Châteaux de la Loire. 
Malheureusement, ils étaient déjà faits. 
Francis Blanche

Château de Valençay

The kitchens at the tiny château of Villesavin were simply an entrée, a mise en appétit, a taste of things to come. But let me titillate your curiosity for just a moment longer before leading you, hand in hand, to the main course. Patience. After the majestic, imposing Chambord, royal hunting lodge extraordinaire of François I with its da Vinci (or so they say) splendid double-helix staircase, after beautiful Blois, we decided to visit the Château de Villesavin, the gem of a lodging built for Jean le Breton, Finance Secretary of the King, who was asked to oversee the construction of Chambord.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Another Road Trip: Chambord and Blois


We were in need of a vacation, a little break. It doesn’t take much; no faraway, exotic location, no beach resort or jet setter crowds. We don’t have to go far, au contraire! Why tire ourselves out with complicated travel plans, long airport waits or unexpected glitches? Free as the wind, we toss the bare necessities, rubber boots, extra coats and snacks into the back of the station wagon, grab a few necessary guide books and leave. On a whim. Our destination is decided upon last minute. Do we want to stay in France or drive south to Basque Country, north to Holland? Do we want mountains or seaside or the hustle and bustle of city life? What we are always sure of is that we crave quiet nights, great meals and a few days filled with history.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Mini Baked Chocolate Cinnamon Donut Bites


I know there is strength in the differences between us. 
I know there is comfort where we overlap. 
Ani DiFranco 

Our families, our childhoods, our upbringings were as different as night and day. He grew up in an old-fashioned home in the working class suburbs of Paris, an apartment filled with too much dark, heavy, worn furniture in too small of a space. Narrow corridors, sharp corners, a string of small rooms, cumbersome tables, sofas, desks in faded pinks and scuffed browns that left little room to maneuver, nowhere to play for four children, were a reflection of a family weighed down by dark traditions and a heavy past. Papa and Maman worked downstairs in their tiny corner grocery, a blue-collar working family with rigid hours and conventions. Lunch was a hot meal, a long-simmered ragout, roasted chicken, one-pot dishes that filled and warmed, setting one up for the rest of the day. Dinner was a ritual as was that noontime hot, hearty meal; leftover meat eaten cold out of the refrigerator, watery poor man’s soup of carrots and leeks, a platter of cheeses, chunks cut off and placed on wedges of country loaf. Food was adamantly home cooked, every dish, every meal. Prepackaged and frozen had not made it to France, was unknown to the average French home cook. Canned was limited to vegetables yet why make canned when fresh was cheaper and within your reach and time no limitation? Convenience food was for the inconvenienced, not a good French housewife with two able hands and four able children. And traditions and a culture that looked down on anything less than good, homey, hearty old-fashioned food. Food was sustenance, maintenance and ritual.


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