Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Rum Raisin Rice Pudding


Can anything be so elegant as to have few wants, and to serve them one’s self? 
Ralph Waldo Emerson 

Once upon a time, we were poor as the proverbial church mouse, yet living quite happily and abundantly in our frugality. We marketed together, eyeing prices, buying seasonally and planning out our meals. We loved to cook and did so in our little kitchen whose wide French windows opened out onto a tiny stretch of lawn, a handkerchief-sized garden. The sun would flood in through those windows as we stood and chopped, minced, breaded, stirred and simmered. Our few cookbooks, our past travels and my days spent working as an interpreter in a cooking school, listening and watching a series of chef-instructors, were a constant source of inspiration and recipes. We went out for the occasional couscous at the neighborhood Moroccan restaurant, but we were more than content, actually quite tickled pink to play house in that little doll-sized abode on the outskirts of Paris. Not only did we stay within our meager budget, but we were well fed and satisfied.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

French Apple Cake


Let them eat cake. 
Marie Antoinette 

While my own parents were making pies with frozen shells and canned filling or cakes from boxed mixes, my future mother-in-law was feeding her family on homemade treats. Apricot or plum halves pressed into sugary, crumbly pâte sablée or rich quatre-quart made with butter, milk, sugar and flour. Simple apple tarts in season, the apples straight from their boutique downstairs, much later coming from the orchard down the street. While my father was whipping up pudding from a mix, my future mother-in-law was preparing creamy, sweet rice pudding for her tots, milk, sugar and rice in a pot on the stove bubbling away. Simple, rustic treats, indeed, perfect eaten for breakfast or that ever-so punctual snack mid morning or mid afternoon. Perfect for plumping up children on the cheap while assuring goodness in the natural ingredients.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Let’s Talk Writing IV


Create your own (sic) style... let it be unique for yourself and yet identifiable for others. 
Orson Welles

For Session1: A Skillful Understanding link here.
For Session 2: Playing the Lead : Your Role as a Writer link here.
For Sesson 3 : Finding Your Voice link here.

“Find your voice! Find your style!” In Let’s Talk Writing III, I discussed finding your voice, yet take any writing workshop and the instructor is bound to encourage you to find both your voice and your style; the instructor will throw around voice and style as if they are two separate things, yet one and the same. It can certainly get confusing! And is it important to even understand the difference or can we just lump voice and style into one single entity and idea?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Beouf Bourguignon and Allegrini Brunello di Montalcino


Mangez bien, riez souvent, aimez beaucoup 
(Eat well, laugh often, love abundantly) 
– French saying 

Boeuf bourguignon was all the rage a couple of years ago in the blogging world, as if it was a dish newly invented, the next great challenge. These trends that seem to come and go in waves – the boeuf bourguignon and the coq au vin, the macarons, the bacon desserts – always make me wonder what creates this sudden desire that seems to consume so many all at once to make the same thing and eat the same thing all at the same time. The identical recipe, or a slight variation thereof, appears across thousands of blogs around the world over a rather short period of time, weeks or months, sometimes up to a year, and then disappears as suddenly, as inexplicably as it had arrived. And that recipe gets shuffled back to the archives of forgotten food.

Unless you live in a place where those recipes are simply daily fare.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Visual Feast VI


A great city is not to be confounded with a populous one. 

The week has been a busy one. Hectic, to say the least, but energizing as only hectic weeks can be. Husband in his corner, typing, typing, making phones calls, his muffled voice shifting through the closed office door, his intense concentration and tenacity broken only by the occasional wandering into my workspace for a bit of tension-relieving buffoonery. And I have spent my days editing, revising, adjusting and adding paragraphs … or cutting paragraphs on two articles soon to be published, finally hitting the send button with a satisfied tick. Simon rushes into the apartment and then out again loaded down with bags and sacks of school supplies and what to make dinner for three or four hard-working students, swallowed up into the night.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Mom’s Chocolate Waldorf Astoria Cake


The Waldorf Astoria Hotel. The year was 1977 and there I was, in the private ballroom of the famed Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City! I found myself enveloped in the warmth of red velvet and gold trimming, heavy brocade tassels and chandeliers. I stood surrounded by backpacks and duffle bags, suitcases, teenagers sprawled on the floor, draped over banquettes, lolling, slouched or flopped down wherever there was free space. Others paced back and forth, anxious for something to happen or climbing over luggage to join one group or another, the shyer ones, of which I was one, quietly standing and observing the brouhaha. An odd contradiction, the elegant red velvet and the faded old jeans, the silent crystal teardrops hanging high above us and the chattering tumult below.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Let’s Talk Writing III


Words are the voice of the heart. 
- Confucious 

For Session1: A Skillful Understanding link here.
For Session 2: Playing the Lead : Your Role as a Writer link here.

"Find your voice!" they (the mysterious they) say all the time. Your authentic voice. Your unique voice. The voice that is distinctly you.

Yes, we as writers or as budding writers hear this constantly, the same refrain, the same charge, over and over again. And we nod our heads knowingly, “Oh, of course! My voice!” Yet, what does this even mean? What is our own authentic, unique, distinctive voice? And how do we find it? How do we recognize it? Well, let’s think about this for a minute.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Stewed Veal with Chard, Zucchini and Potato Gratin


Whenever I found out anything remarkable, 
I have thought it my duty to put down my discovery on paper, 
so that all ingenious people might be informed thereof. 
- Antonie van Leeuwenhoek 

I simply wanted to share these recipes with you. No fanfare, no trumpets, no stories as I gather you together round me in front of a roaring fire. No tales told in the dead of night to the watery glow of a flashlight as we sit shivering in a tent too small to hold us all comfortably. No comedy to have you doubled up in laughter, no dramatic tragedies, you hanging on my every word with bated breath, as I recount some death-defying adventure. My stories will have to wait, but these recipes will not.


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