To all my friends and readers and visitors, those who stop for a moment and those who pass right by…whatever you do during this Easter period, whichever way you celebrate it, or even ignore it…I wish you fun and joy, many chocolate Easter eggs, (may you win the Easter egg hunt), and the most important of all…stay safe and pass on that wide smile!!
Joyeuses Pâques a tout le monde!
Don’t you just love it when a recipe says in its first line..easy and quick? I definitely do! With these last three daily posts, I had to think of very quick and easy but still delicious recipes and it being a time of nostalgia, this little recipe came to mind…It is not a stunner, but still a delicious little snack. It is even easy enough for young children to make….keeping them busy during the upcoming holidays.
My sister made this treat regularly so many years ago when she was living in her tiny apartement during university years. I loved visiting her on weekends with my parents, sure in the knowledge that this delicacy would be waiting in her fridge. It is sort of one of those treats that was part of a certain era and then disappeared. It was great for students to make on their desks in their rooms, without the need for cooking facilities.
You need only 2 ingredients: 2 packets of butter biscuits and a can of caramelized condensed milk. If you live in SA or a country which has “tennis biscuits”, then that is exactly what you will use. It has a slight coconut taste and it absorbs the caramel nicely to go all tasty soft and flavorful. Here I used le grand petit beurre from St. Michel, which is a nice square shaped biscuit. I also used confiture de lait by Bonne Maman (what will we do here in France without Bonne Maman?).
- Place two biscuits next to each other on a sheet of baking paper.
- Spread the caramelized condensed milk thickly over both biscuits.
- Place two more biscuits on top of the caramel layer.
- Continue until you have about 9 to 10 layers of biscuits.
- Close up tightly with the baking paper and wrap tightly(without crushing the biscuits!) in tin foil.
- Leave overnight.
- Will keep about a week or even longer in an airtight container in the fridge.
- Cut in slices and serve with a coffee or tea.
Pincée de fleur de sel:
- Try using nutella instead of caramelized condensed milk.
- The longer it stand, the better the flavor and softer the biscuits become.
Backstage. If there is one thing we all have in common, it is that “fun” behind the scenes. But, I am unfortunately not Jacky Chan, so my behind the scenes will probably only have significance for me and no one else. It is a bit like the friend who comes back with photos from Russia, taken with his expensive Canon and ten lenses, and entertains you with great enthusiasm to his hundreds of touristy cathedrals and fountains and bridges and museums, while your jaw aches from biting back your yawning. But just maybe seeing a bit of my backstage scenes, will have you run to your photos to remember your own backstage times with loved ones.
We are always in our total number represented in the kitchen, stretching over one another, reaching over heads for a tool, tasting, licking, nibbling, fighting. It is amazing the busyness only 4 people can cause in a kitchen..
These are truly precious memories..
Not everything that came out of the kitchen was that big a success, but that didn’t matter in the least..we made our flops together, that is what counts.
Even guests had to pitch in, and they did it with enthusiasm… for that reason I have plenty of tabliers(aprons).
One thing to be found in practically all our scenes, is the opening of oysters. It is the task of mon chéri. I will probably lose all my fingers, because I have never opened an oyster! and mon chéri and our youngest daughter always have to get into a dish cloth fight..in the kitchen!
We normally start off our evening of Réveillon with some vin chaud et apéritifs in the living room. then we start warming up and finish off our menu and seat ourselves at the table where an amuse bouche is awaiting us. I always have something ready at the table when guests seat themselves..it adds to the expectation and while everybody start eating their amuse bouche and have their wine poured and just simply settle at the table, it gives me the time to finish off the starter. Our entrée(starter) is plated in the kitchen.
After the starter, we bring the plat principal(main course) arranged on a large platter to the table, where we keep it warm over a flame. It is normally fish and a vegetable accompaniment, all arranged on one platter. We follow that up with a cheese board..
..and end of course our dinner with la piéce de résistance….le dessert! Byt that time, we are close to midnight,; which is the time we pass around our gifts. But before that, we go for a late pre-midnight walk..or rahter that is what we used top do in the Loire house – we went for a walk by the Loire, just to walk down some calories. On arriving back home, we warm ourselves by the fireplace, make coffee and start opening up gifts..slowly, deliberately, lingering on each moment.
Christmas day followed about the same pattern, except that we ate earlier and afterwards we walked up to the DVD store and rented a DVD while we had coffee and chocolates a and fell asleep before halfway through the movie..
Thank you for sharing this trip down memory lane with me. If nothing else, I hope it took you on your own roads back, remember with tenderness all the good and I hope it inspires you to make many new memories this December and note them down, either in words or in pictures.
- Some nice music again which I listen to lately: Opéra rouge – Vincent Niclo/les choeurs de l’Armée rouge. Here is one song you can listen to..Ameno
Merci et à bientôt!
I am preparing a post on Pierrot Gourmand, our very popular and well known “clown” associated with lollipops and ‘bonbons’ here. While I am/was busy writing and making lollipops and driving everywhere to photograph Pierrot and his lollipops all over town, I ran into a book which found it’s way(all on its own, believe me) into my basket(that one that fills up far too quickly in a book store…!). Jardins a vivre, from Art et Décoration. Since my post on “cher Pierrot” is taking quite long, I thought I would share some images of this book and of two others, with you in the meantime. I don’t know if they are available in English, because it is books based on the magazine, Art et Décoration, a French magazine I’ve been buying for more than 16 years, on and off. Apart from my most favorite magazine Campagne Décoration, which was born in 2000 and of which I haven’t missed a single issue since 2001, Art et Décoration is the magazine I’ve been buying the longest, albeit sporadically…browse through it in the store and then decide if it has enough tips to own it. But more about Décoration Campagne later, let’s talk about Art et Décoration for now.
The latest trend for magazines is to capture their articles and particularly the images into hard bound pretty coffee table books. Art et Décoration did exactly that. Very nice books to browse, have on your coffee table or fall asleep with!
So, let’s indulge in some of the magnificent images from the three following books:
1. Jardins à vivre; Karine Villame, Collectif; Massin
..a rustic shower by the pool..
crédits photograpiques: B. Boigontier
…a rustic garden gate…
crédits photographiques: A Réty
..a water feature with an oeil de boeuf..
crédits photographiques: P. Smith
…entertaining in the garden under the “tonnelle”…
Crédites photographiques: B. boigontier.
…open kitchen with a “piano La Cornue“…
Crédits photographiques: B. Boigontier
…entertaining on the terrace…
Crédit photographique: B. Boigontier
I love the chapter on the “marquises” over the doors. Just a little protection from the rain without having a whole veranda or entrance.
crédit photographique : O. Hallot
..bathroom with “paniers” for storage…
crédit photographique: C Erwin
..simply decorated bedroom with clean lines…
crédit photographique: P. Binet
…courtyard with old stables turned into bedrooms…
crédit photographique: P. Smith
I hope you enjoyed this short tour with me.
Other books from Art et décoration:
Until we meet next time with a succette(lollipop) and Pierrot Gourmand!
I drive past Nonard’s cemetery almost every day. Never have I stopped and entered it. Never had the desire to. I never go to a funeral, so why would I want to go to a cemetry? But today I stopped at Nonard’s cemetery and pushed open the wrought iron gate…..oh dear, do I see some frowns out there??
PS: I made a riz au lait to accompany this post, because I thought an old traditional dish like rice pudding would go well with the traditional cemetery and add a little bit of sweetness to an otherwise grim subject. But then my chickens were so cute today, the sun was so wonderful, the cats so playful that I forgot about the rice inside on the stove and burnt it to oblivion! So…only cemetery and no pudding..
… three stones, one family…
Les cimetiéres in France are very different to those I grew up with…they are almost..pretty? I love a cross…not for religious reasons, just because, and in the French cimetiére there is no shortage of spectacular crosses. But let me not talk too much, I might just say inappropriate things, since I do sometimes have a wicked mind.
…through the open gate…
So, while walking through Nonard’s cimetiére , I heard all the stories being whispered around me…people who once were fathers and mothers, sons, grandchildren, sisters…If there is one place you can sit and be surrounded by stories, it is the cemetery. I thought of my own story, way back, when my father died and I was a young and vulnerable teenager of fifteen.
I can remember my mother’s black dress she wore for the funeral and for weeks after. I remember her beautiful brooches she always wore with her dresses. A scarf. Black shoes. I always thought she looked very elegant in black with her black hair, dark eyes and olive skin. I have no idea what I wore. After that day, it became custom for my mother and I to visit the cemetery every Sunday afternoon with a bottle of water, a cloth and a bunch of flowers. Our sweet, sweet neighbour across the road always came by the morning with flowers she picked from her garden, knowing our ritual by heart. On arrival, my mother walked around the stone, inspected it and and found fault here with the stone that chipped, and there with marble that moved…it is after all a thing that stands on ground that move? I think that was her way of just controlling her emotions. My task was always to empty the dry flowers, fill the vase with fresh ones, wipe the dust from the marble and then I joined my mother, where she just stared at my father’s name. I stared too. In silence. We continued that ritual for years, every Sunday afternoon, until I left home to university.
..to my grandpa, to my mother, to my father, to our friend, to my cousin, with sorrow,..
…age old plaques, broken, worn, sad…
I have no doubt that it is one of the reasons why I hate a Sunday and why I feel depressed for a whole Sunday, especially the afternoon. But I suppose there is no difference between Sunday rituals at the cemetery; flowers, a cloth, fresh water, staring. Wondering. And remembering. A cemetery has its stories. Touching. All the same, yet so different.
…a private family…
…two families resting together – what would their story be?..
..and finally, to lift the dark veil a bit and to reveal the wicked side of my character – 2 statues I would love to have in my garden and 4 vases for my home!…
…and dare I bring in a little humor with the abandoned stone reminding me of the Titanic (bottom left), and a Jesus about to fall out of his vase any minute(bottom right)? Of course I can! In the saddest moments lies the biggest humor…that is what keeps us going. In fact, there is very little difference between laughing and crying…?
Pinch of salt:
Inspiration: 2 star chef Jean Sulpice: His restaurant, Oxalys is the highest in Europe, at 2 300 m above sea level where he serves food of the highest quality and ingenuity. What inspires me is his devotion to his passions: his work, his family and his mountains. He watches the weather every day from his window high up in Val Thorens to see how his clientele will turn out. He rises every morning at dawn for his exercises in the mountains with his skies in winter and hiking in summer. He takes his son to preschool and serves lunch to the school: healthy vegetable soups and delicious chocolate mousse, which leave the kiddies with broad chocolate covered smiles! A young man full of joie de vivre and a vivid passion for what he loves!
Rest in peace until next time
..from your wicked, Nonard cemetry intruder..
Coasters. That tiny but important little thing, preventing me from going crazy. I hate any kind of “ring” on furniture…a water ring from a glass , a heat ring from a hot mug, a wine ring from a bottle…it drives me nuts. So I have coasters everywhere. Beside the beds, by the computer, on the office desks, in my atelier, in the kitchen , outside… since we have become a “lazy mug using” society, rings have become more visible on our furniture. A pity. I would easily vote for going back to a cup and saucer. But until then..coasters it is. Maybe this weekend could be useful in getting rid of all stain rings everywhere and go shop for a variety of affordable, fun coasters to enjoy a drink without stress!
Les dessous-de-verres. Une chose apparamment petite, mais très importante. Moi, je ne supporte oas du tout les taches sur une table; soit si c’est une tache d’un verre d’eau, soit la tache dun verre du vin, soit une tache d’un “mug” de café… Ça me rend folle! Donc, j’ai des dessous-de-verres partoutes dans la maison, même à l’extérieur. Malheureusement, comme on est devenu une société de consommateurs de “mugs” de cafés, de “mugs” de thé, et de “mugs” de cacao, les taches commencée a faire leurs apparitions plus visibles sur les meubles à la maison. Dommage! Peut-être ce weekend peut-on investir dans quelques dessous-de-verres abordables et “fun”, pour que on puisse s’amuser plus tranquillement autour d’un verre ou d’un “mug” de café.
…an assortment of coasters for peace of mind…
Do we have time for a movie this weekend? Always! One of my favorite actresses, is Juliette Binoche. A great, versatile actress. I once received an amazing compliment…someone told me I remind him of Juliette Binoche. But … it was late at night and it was during a good meal with plenty of good wine… What I would like to have…is a laugh like her. A wonderfully spontaneous, bold and spirited laugh!
Est ce qu’on peut regarder un film ce weekend? Bien entendu! Une de mes actrices préférées, est Juliette Binoche. Une fois, on m’a fait un joli compliment; quel qu’un m’a dit que je ressemblais àJuliette Binoche. Mais…c’etait au cours d’un dîner, il etait, tard, et on avait bien bu… et pourtant, j’aimerais tellement avoir son merveilleux rire, si charmant, si spontané, si vif et si audacieux!
Copie conforme plays off in Italy, spoken in English, French and Itaian…to me a great film by Abbas Kiarostami.
An apricot soup says SUMMER! in so many ways.In its bright yellow color we find the warmth of mid summer days. The flavor has us smelling the shadows of big overhanging tree branches…that afternoon nap after the pic-nique. And the taste…the taste that makes us hear les cigales in the heat of the day, see les guêpes hoovering over all the sweet delicacies of our al fresco meals… So. If you’re in the mood for a little summer heat and holiday…take to an apricot soup, close your eyes and see yourself stretched out in the fields, chewing on a grass sprig, dozing off with a heavy summer laze and then just lose yourself in being the happiest soul walking this earth!
*Une petite soupe d’abricot est indispensable pour l’été. Sa couleur nous donne la chaleur des journées dorées. Dans son saveur on sent les ombres des rameaux d’un grand noyer et on a envie de s’allonger et fermer les yeux pour un petit moment magique. Et le goût…le goût nous donne l’impression d’entendre les cigales, de voir les guêpes qui dérangent la tranquilité d’un repas al fresco. Alors. Goûtons cette petite soupe et laissons notre imaginaire nous transporter vers un champ où on s’allonge dans l’herbe et nos pensées disparaissent dans les nuages de rêves et de bonheur.
- Try this also with soft ripe peaches.
- Use a rose wine instead of a white.
- for a completely vegetarian dish, replace the chicken stock with vegetable stock.
- Serve with a fresh traditional baguette, topped with some melted camembert cheese.
- Substituez avec des pèches.
- Remplacez le vin blanc par une rosé.
- Pour la version végétarienne, replacer le bouillon de poulet par un bouillon de légumes.
- Servez accompagnée d’une baguette ancienne et son camembert fondu.
…un brunch d’été…
With two weeks left before the summer holidays, it is now or never to have a fete d’ete with all our friends before they all take off with their straw hats and tanning lotions. Let’s make it special. Make it fun. Make it beautiful and dreamy. Summer. Gay with color. Inviting.
*Dans deux semaines on arrive au début de vacances d’été. Il reste donc qu’un petit bout de temps pour se régaler une toute dernière fois avec nos amies, avant qu’on prenne la route, armée de nos crèmes solaires et les espadrilles! Allé! Faisons une fête spéciale. Gracieuse. Chaleureuse. Merveilleusement habillée avec les couleurs gaies de l’été.
…rustic romance for a brunch…
Choose a corner in the garden.
On cherche un coin dans le jardin.
…a view on summer…
Go overboard on flowers and plants. Don’t spend money on buying flowers. Pick all kinds of greenery and even herbs and don’t overlook the beauty of weeds all around you. Ask a friend for trimmings which are happening now to pump new life into plants. Buy some seedlings or summer plants instead that can be planted afterward in the garden. They come at cheap prices everywhere now and buy them in trays. Set the trays as is on your tables and in your serving corners. Tie some rafia or some sisal around for a ristic garden look. And don’t forget to send a few plants in a cute container home with your friends, which they can plant in a pot or their own garden. And DON”T do what I did….have so much fun that you forget to give each friend her plants at going home time!
*Il y’a un choix exubérant de fleurs et de plantes. Ne dépensez pas d’argent sur les fleurs en commerce. Elles sont libres et abondantes tout autour de nous. Pensez aux herbes, aux feuillages, même les mauvaises herbes qui poussent sans cesse avec une beauté plus subtile. Surtout on a des voisins et des amis qui font une nettoyage de saison en ce moment, donnant une nouvelle vie saisonnier au jardin. Passez par la jardinerie et achetez des barquettes de fleurs d’été, qui peut servir pour la décoration de table et comme cadeaux pour nos invités, voir plantée dans leurs propres coins du jardin.
…pétunias in trays and all things garden…
…umbreallas at the ready…
Have some colorful umbrellas close by for that urgent run in that rain to the bathroom! And in the same thinking frame…remember some suncream for those who prefer sitting in the sunny side, have an ecofriendly trap for the “gueppes” so you can lunch in peace and provide lots of cool water if you are lucky to have a blasting hot summers day, but if not…a cozy little throw can provide some body heat if your day is cool and cloudy like we had on Friday!
*N’oubliez pas les jolies parapluies pour les courses sous la pluie ou pour se rendre à la maison. Et pourquoi pas une crème solaire pour ceux qui adorent s’installer en plein soleil. Une piège bio pour les omniprésentes guêpes sera un petit geste attentionné. Voir dans le cas d’une canicule, l’eau fraîche à boire nous éviterons de tomber dans un sommeil impolie. Pourtant, dans mon cas ce Vendredi dernier…cette scenario était impossible, car on est ici en France toujours capturé dans l’âge de glace!
..knee blankets and flowers do go together…
…cherries, freshly picked from a friends garden, a garden hat and pretty flower…
…garden tools and a warming fire…
Have your guests bring their favorite dish to the table. We had delicious quiches and gorgeous salads, which I hope to bring to you soon with the permission of my friends, we finished with magnificent cheese a friend got fresh from the market earlier the morning and we feasted on local rose’s and homemade moelleux wine with our strawberry soup.
*Les amies apprécient toujours contribuer à la table, n’hésitez pas à demander une bonne quiche ou une salade gourmande, comme elles sont faites pour notre brunch. Puis, on a terminé le brunch avec du fromage du marché, une soupe de fraises pour un dessert et ce festin était accompagné par une bonnes rosé d’Evres et un moelleux fait maison par ma gentille voisine Claudine!
A fete d’ete indeed. More than that. An uplifiting 5 hours spent with lovely ladies, funny ladies, creative ladies. Friends. Summer. Good food. And so traditionally french, we tasted, examined, commented, complimented, changed the recipe, suggested alternative ingredients, discussed accompanying wines, and simply savored each helping.
*Voila une vraie fete! En fait, beaucoup plus que ça. C’était quelques 5 heures passées dans la compagnie de femmes très sympas, drôles et créatives. Les amies. L’été. Une bonne table. Et comme la tradition dicte toujours en France, nous avons goûté et fait des propositions de différentes ingrédients. On a testée, examinée, changée les recettes, discutée les vins comme des pros… bref…un après-midi savoureux et chaleureux!
Then we said our goodbyes and gave our “bisous” with promises of outings to chateaux…and a lunch.. To show gardens…and a lunch. To walks around town…and a lunch. To hiking trails…and a lunch. To painting days…and a lunch. to music concerts…and a lunch. The moral of the story? We have to seize the moment.
So c’mon! Deck the garden, load the table with fresh produce! Call up your friends! Chill the wine! Life is short…grab onto it with in a fork in the one hand and a joie de vivre in the other!
*Nous avons faites nos bisous avec de sacrées promesses de se réunir en visites des châteaux…et un lunch. Des promenades en ville…et un lunch. Des rencontres Van goghe-esques…et un lunch. Les concerts musiques…et un lunch. Alors. On comprend qu’une chose. Il faut profiter de chaque moment!
Allez! appelons nos amies!Ouvrons le portail! Faisons le marché! Décapitons le champagne! La vie passe trop vite…profitons-en avec une fourchette et un joie de vivre triomphant!
…passez une bonne été et à la prochaine!…
Oysters lead to digging up old favourite films. Like Vatel, by Roland Joffé. A wonderful gastronomically seductive film.
But before taking up your place under the blanket… clean some oysters and make a vinaigrette and chill a bottle of white wine in the fridge. Or better yet, in the spirit of Vatel, let’s make it a sparkling one.
- Open the oysters about an hour before eating, because they form some liquid whilst standing. Throw off the first quantity of liquid jsut after opening and leave the secoind forming of water if you like it. Or throw it off as well.
- Use the liquids for cooking in the case of cooked oysters.
- Serve on a bed of rough salt orcruched ice to keep them in place and the cruched icve will keep them cold too.
- Always serve with extra lemon slices.
- When eating raw oysters, choose the smaller size and the big sizes for cooked/baked oysters. the smaller the number, the bigger the oyster. The favourites size for eating raw, are 5, 4 and 3. Use 2, 1 and 0 for cooked oysters.
- don’t forget to serve a warmed wet napkin when serving any kind of seafood. I usually fold a wet, warm napkin into a small square, insert a lemon slice and cover it in foil to keep the warmth insied a little longer – place on the side in a small glassbowl.
In spring and summer, time doesn’t allow watching movies. Life is to be lived ouitside, drinking up the sun during the day and the moon and stars by night. On the rainy days you can do a little vacuming…
Winter, and especially January after the festive season, is time for nesting. Reading in front of the fire. Catching up on a new movie and then on those old ones you so love.
For those living in the hemisphere where summer is at its peak now, well…keep on enjoying the sun and summer evenings the way you do and remember this for when the cold starts chasing you inside…
Vatel is one of those movies where the beauty lies in the scenes behind the scene…the kitchen and the grounds of the chateau de Chantilly de prince de Condé , where Gerard Depardieu is the Maitre d’hôtel, FrancoisVatel, responsible for the entertaining and gastronomic pleasures of the le roi Louis XIV and his entire shallow entourage.The preparation of the exquisite foods is a feast on its own. The creations for entertainment. The movie itself is total splendour at the chateau with all its indulgence and frivolity that would disgust, were it not a movie. Although, truth it is, or was…thankfully, now we can only find it entertaining and amusing and a pleasure for the eye…
…une poire cristallisée…
…Louis XIV lui mème…
…plat de fruits de mer…
Trucs et astuces de nos grand-méres:
Don’t throw out the water you have boiled your eggs in. It is rich in mineral saltsd. Use it to water your green leaf plants.