Monday, August 29, 2011

We The Foodie People...Week 6: French

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaand we're back!

Oui, oui, I know. This post was supposed to be up last week, but for various and sundry reasons (which Monsieur B. Francois will relate in a post later this week) the posting of the following pictures and foodiness were postponed. However, I am now at liberty to give you a glimpse into our very fun French week.

Actually, we're bending the rules a bit (Or are we? I mean, this was our idea, so I suppose we can do what we like without really bending the rules, right?) since we will be spending one more week in France. It's a long trip to Greece, and we haven't quite mastered the "Art of French Cooking." Wait, that's the name of a cookbook, isn't it?!?!?
Why, so it is! As a matter of fact, my BIL, Matthew, bought these books for me. What a perfect gift! All of the meals I made last week were from Julia Child's French cookbooks. While her recipes may be "simplified" for the American housewife, they are still a bit involved!

All of the quotes you will find in this post are from the very inspirational Julia Child...

Day 1: Poulet Saute aux Herbs de Provence with Potato Crepes and Broiled Tomatoes.

This dish was made with slices of chicken and a very rich cream/cheese sauce. The potato crepes were a cross between the Tattie Cakes we ate when we were in the British Isles and hash-browns. Add the broiled homegrown tomatoes...can't get better than that!

"If you're afraid of butter, use cream."

And she was serious! Almost all of the food we ate was swimming in cream and butter.
I. Love. Dairy.

Ben loves dairy, too. Actually, I think that his first love would be bread...then dairy.

"You'll never know everything about anything, especially something you love."

Ahhh, my little princess at the piano. She was very much intrigued by the fact that she could push the ivory keys and hear a sound. Soon she will be playing Clementi... *grin*

"Just speak very loudly and quickly, and state your position with utter conviction, as the French do, and you'll have a marvelous time!"

Day 2: Filets de Poisson Bercy aux Champignons with Risotto Pilaf and Steamed Artichokes with a Hollandaise sauce.

Or my translation: Filets of Sole in a buttery, creamy sauce with mushrooms served next to a risotto pilaf. Preparing the artichoke was great fun, and eating it was even better! I cleaned out the middle so that I could serve the sauce inside the artichoke.

"It's so beautifully arranged on the plate - you know someone's fingers have been all over it."

Ben and I ate everything except the heart...we were waaaaaaaaaaay too stuffed to finish that part, so I had it for lunch the next day!

"I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate."

Day Three: Pork Roast with Stuffed Eggplant and Cucumbers in a cheese sauce.

The eggplants had a really good cheesy just sort of melted in your mouth! The cucumbers were a bit interested at first, but by the end of the meal, we both decided we rather liked them! Warm cucumbers sound nasty, but once they've been sitting in vinegar, then baked, then tossed in a cheese sauce, they are pretty tasty!

"This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook- try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!"

My first attempt at homemade French bread. I love how Julia Child gives the background of her techniques and recipes... Next time around, I'm going to try putting wet bricks in the oven! *grin*

"How can a nation be called great if its bread tastes like kleenex?"

French Toast for breakfast, made with our homemade French Bread! The French have this delicious dish for dessert, but here in America, it graces many of our breakfast tables. Cook the bread in butter instead of oil, and it really adds some pizzazz!

"In France, cooking is a serious art form and a national sport."

Day Four: Beef Rolls...

"The best way to execute French cooking is to get good and loaded and whack the hell out of a chicken. Bon appétit. " (Or in this case, the cut of beef!)

...with broccoli...

" one is born a great cook, one learns by doing."

...and stuffed tomatoes.

This was a very interesting dish...everything had bread in it! The tomatoes had breadcrumbs, the beef had chopped bread, as did the broccoli. Oh, and if you peel broccoli before blanching it, it's waaaaaaaaaaay better than how we've always eaten it! It only takes about 4-5 minutes to cook, and it will keep it's bright green colour. Ben and I can't go back to the way we used to eat broccoli!

"The only time to eat diet food is while you're waiting for the steak to cook."

Oh, and some homemade Cherry Lemonade to keep things perky. Lilyana is hoping that it's for her!

"Cooking is like love; it should be entered into with abandon or not at all."
Ben poured the flames over our Apple Tart Flambé and then enjoyed the sight. Lilyana thought that it was pretty cool, too.

"You don't have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces - just good food from fresh ingredients."

Day Six we were on the road and so we stopped in for some "French" food at the Thai restaurant on our way home late that night. Oh, didn't you know that there were many French-Thailand relations back in the 17th Century? Fascinating history....

And so that wraps up our first week in France! It was loads of fun, and we're excited to be spending one more week here! Hopefully I'll feel like I'm beginning to master the art by the end of this week! Since we haven't posted a dessert recipe before, how about one this time!

Apple Tart Flambé
Serves 8

An 8 inch partially cooked pasty shell

4 large cooking apples (we used Granny Smith)
2/3 C Sugar
2 Tb butter, cut into pea-sized dots

1/4 C Rum

Preheat oven to 375.

Peel, core and slice the apples. Sprinkle 3 T of sugar in the bottom of the pastry shell. Arrange the apples over that in a closely overlapping layer of concentric circles. Spread on the remaining sugar and dot with butter.

Bake in the middle level for 25-35 minutes, or until the fruit has colored lightly and the juices have become syrupy. Remove from oven.

Heat the rum on the stove over low heat. As soon as it is hot, light it with match and pour over the tart. But make sure everybody is there to watch...oh, and be sure to turn out the lights!


"Just like becoming an expert in wine–you learn by drinking it, the best you can afford–you learn about great food by finding the best there is, whether simply or luxurious. The you savor it, analyze it, and discuss it with your companions, and you compare it with other experiences."

Monday, August 15, 2011

Onward and Upward! To Narnia and the North!

Living 2,600 miles away from family is tough...especially when children start having children of their own. Ben talked me into spending two weeks back East with my family in July, which enabled my family to spend 2 weeks with Lilyana. Due to Ben's work schedule, he had to miss out on all of the fun, so Anton was more than happy to pack his bags and travel with me. The girls didn't know he was coming, so it was a big surprise for them! Ahhh, but I'm getting ahead...

As usual, the cameras were whipped out at every opportunity, so I've selected my favorites (just over thirty pictures...that's not too many, is it?) and put them all into one BIG post! Life continues to move along, and I've got to keep up somehow...

The big trip began with a hotel room in the Bay Area. We didn't want to face traffic the next morning and had no plans on missing our flight... We finally made it to our hotel around midnight. Ben dropped us off the next morning and then made the lonely drive back home and to work.

Waiting for our second plane, Lilyana spent some time on the floor stretching, playing with her toys and talking (or babbling) up a storm! She charmed all of the other passengers and we were SO thankful that she was an angel on the fussing a'tall!

Good morning time with Uncle Bubby!!!! Back story: When the kiddos were little, they called Caleb "Bubby" so his nickname is still going!

Woo-hoo!!! Being back East means going to one of my favorite stores! This picture was mostly taken for Ben... *grin*

See! This store has GREAT signs....

Birthday time for James! We celebrated his birthday early and since I had promised Caleb to make this while I was out there, we had Frozen Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Pie for dessert. Yes, it's insanely rich...

Cuddles with Grandmommy before heading off to bed!

Lilyana's veeeeeery favorite book is "The Duchess Bakes a Cake". It was a favorite book in my family, so my parents bought a copy for Lilyana. We've been reading it to her since she was born, and she is still captivated by the bright illustrations and the soothing sound of people reading the fun rhyming story to her.

Spending quality time with Grandpa...precious moments!

I love bringing new crafts back home to the girls, and this time we made hair clips as party favors for the Ladies Tea.

Aunt Jessica has this thing for frilly dresses... This one belonged to Abby (or was it Grace?) and Jess fell in love with it's in her hopechest waiting to be used. The dress is still a bit big for Lilyana, but Jess HAD to inflict this torture on her... *grin*

Aunt Grace holding the pink frilly thing. Grace is looking forward to playing with Lilyana.

Coffee break at Eli's! The girls found this really fun coffee/tea house near the church so we dropped in to have some drinks.

AH! A rare moment of tummy time! She might have serious objections to being held all of the time come December...

Aunt Jill looking cute as she teaches Lilyana to gamble... *grin* Anton and I taught the family one of our new favorite games.

As foodie people, we spend LOTS of time in the kitchen! It's the best room in the house, right?

So, we like our funky glasses, okay?

Auntie Em rocking the baby to sleep. Both of these girls love to cuddle!

Caleb and Anton made my mom's day when they removed all of the wallpaper on in the powder room and painted it.

Uncle William having the time of his life! He absolutely adores this little girl!

And so does Caleb....

...and so does my dad! *laughing* After bringing the boxes of decor in, protecting his granddaughter was his job for the afternoon.

Aunty Abby loves her little niece. One day they'll be having tea together....

William teaching Lilyana how to make funny faces.


The Grandsisters.

Hey! Look who else made it! Nic and Matthew escorted Mumsie out and surprised the girls again!
Some of us went peach picking with the Bandys and Len, and the rest of us joined them for breakfast...I'll let you guess who did what...

Like I said...we like our funky glasses.

Spending some final moments with the granddaughter before it was time to head out. She'll be much bigger in December.

And so the fun trip came to an end. Our little angel comforted me as we said our teary goodbyes, slept on the loooooooooooong flight home and was tickled pink to see her daddy waiting for us at the airport. Missing my family still hurts, but I am so thankful to be married to my best friend, the love of my life...and to spend each day training my little blessing from heaven. Family is a wonderful gift and I love all three of family, the family I married into, and the family that Ben and I have made.

So life moves on...Upward and Narnia and the North! The homeschool convention, oral surgery and getting back into the swing of things have all taken up my time. But now that I'm back on my feet and feeling mostly normal once more(and can actually EAT again!!!), I'm pleased to announce that we're back to our foodie travels! Hurray! F is for French and it's going to be a goooooooooooood week...or two! *grin* Before I close, though, I thought I'd leave y'all with a few pictures of life back home...

Ben is still reading aloud and this is our morning reading. As you can see, Lilyana enjoys it, too. Right after Ben reads a poem from When We Were Very Young by A. A. Milne to Lilyana, Dante's Inferno is our current evening reading since we just finished The Wisdom of Father Brown.

Lilyana gets bigger and more curious every day! She rolled over for the first time yesterday, and she thinks it's great fun...which means that she's a floor baby now! She's also discovered her toes and thinks that they taste reeeeeeeally good.

Lilyana has also loved sitting up since she was really small, so Ben went out and bought her a Bumbo chair. She's had oodles of fun sitting at the table with us and watching the cars go by.

In honour of our return to the Foodie Chronicles, I'm posting a picture of our homemade ice cream. I decided to try my hand at chocolate and got two very big thumbs up from Ben, so I went on to try a mocha ice cream...still tweaking that recipe, though!

If you don't hear from us the rest of this week, just remember that we've got our hands full of French recipes and good family fun. We hope to have a drool worthy post ready for you next week!

Until then,

Tiffany...for BLT