Thursday, August 28, 2014

Fast and Fabulous French Bread


Talk of joy: there may be things better than beef stew and baked potatoes 
and home-made bread - there may be. 
- David Grayson 

Even as I have warm, oven-fresh bread practically at my fingertips whenever I like, baked daily at the boulangerie a mere two-minute walk from my home, I still yearn to pull a homemade loaf from my own oven. I love the measuring of ingredients, the cups, the poofs of flour, the yeast fizzling and foaming in a few inches of warm water, the rhythmic movements of kneading, the graceful shaping into rounds, lengths or braids, carefully brushing each loaf with egg wash and dusting the tops with sesame seeds or coarse salt. I press my nose to the warm oven door and watch with bated breath as the loaves rise and color, waiting for the moment when the kitchen, my home is filled with the scent of fresh bread.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Rum-Poached Plums and Mousse

SUMMER BARBECUE: A Progressive Dinner

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, 
listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, 
is by no means a waste of time. 
- John Lubbock, The Use Of Life 

Not much of a summer we've had. It's been cool if not downright chilly. Gray and lots of rain. We have enjoyed nary a picnic out in the vines nor many strolls along the river. I did spend an extremely hot few weeks in Florida, sweltering days, steamy evenings. We did fire up the grill on my brother's back porch for steaks and corn on the cob but it was tough simply hanging around the patio for long periods of time.; breathing became labored and sweat trickled down my back. Hot. Okay, so I'm not happy here and I'm not happy there. Because I miss the eating outside.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Polenta Bread


Sex is good, but not as good as fresh sweet corn. 
- Garrison Keillor 

I grew up with cornmeal, such an American thing, hushpuppies deep fried, dipped in powdered sugar and eaten with Florida fish and seafood dinners; cornbread dotted with hot green jalapenos or salty bacon, sliced and eaten at barbecue joints. Corn muffins with their faint sweetness, broken open, slathered with salty butter until it melts against the warm crumb becoming damp and moist, a deeper yellow. And we won't even mention the fresh corn on the cob all summer long, the bowls of cornflakes or the mountains of popcorn I must've eaten over the years. Let's stick to the glories of cornmeal.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Visual Feast Chinon


Obsessed by a fairy tale, we spend our lives searching for a magic door 
and a lost kingdom of peace. 
- Eugene O'Neill 

A stroll through the beautiful city of Chinon, and the fairytale of living in France returned and excited my esprit. One afternoon in this picturesque village with its swags of roses draped over gates and doorways, its quaint shopfronts and cobbled streets and I was once again enchanted. I forgot the daily grind of life, the drab, rainy summer we've had, the need to see my doctor that I keep putting off and trying to help one son find an internship and the worries of the other off in Africa and here I was, once again, in the beautiful, romantic France of every American girl's fairytale.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Golden Vanilla Layer Cake with Chocolate Mocha Frosting


A compromise is the art of dividing a cake in such a way 
that everyone believes he has the biggest piece. 
- Ludwig Erhard 

My son is very particular about cake. Very. I often refer to him as persnickety and he is. When it comes to cake he requires a texture halfway between gooey and dry…. just moist without being too dense or creamy. Lightly fluffy is best. For flavor he goes for plain chocolate, not too sweet, not too bitter, just, well, right. And frosting, you ask? There is only one single frosting he will eat and happy for me it is simple as pie to make. Each time I ask him what he would like for me to bake his answer is invariably the same: "The double layer chocolate cake. You know that is the only one I'll eat!" Cue in eye roll.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Plum and Wild Blueberry Fruit Crisp


They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself. 
- Andy Warhol, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol 

We've been going over the accounts, income and expenses, with a fine-tooth comb for the last three days, coming at each budget spreadsheet from every direction. Again and again. It had all better be right! Luckily our minds work in different ways, come at this from two different directions thus we see different things, catch errors, ask new questions, highlight what the other doesn't making the outcome surer.


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