My Husband’s Apple Pie


My husband decided to make an apple pie today because he loves apple pie.  I helped him to choose some apples and we decided on pink ladies because we liked the name.


I gave him an easy recipe, two pieces of pre-rolled butter pastry and things started shaping up.


Too bad he mistook my canister of curing salt for the sugar.  Otherwise, this would have been perfection.  Too old to travel :D

Posted in American, Cooking, Dessert, Food and Wine | Tagged , , , , | 26 Comments

Troyes, France


Feeling as under as the weather and hugely contrary, we decided to take a ride in the driving wind and rain to the lovely little town of Troyes, existent since the Roman era (GPS prononces this tee-raw).  We’d been here years ago when my husband was bitten by a monkey in Mali and needed several rabies shots.


Troyes has a fabulous 13th century cathedral St. Peter and St. Paul that is worth a visit. Pity about my trembling hands; I even had it on automatic and it still didn’t help.  Oh well.


If you are in this region, you really should visit Troyes.  It’s a medieval town with the same narrow streets and houses like back in the day.


We would love to have one of these ancient apartments in this town center, although my husband says the buildings are crooked.


So what did we decide to do for lunch in this old, old town with its vibrant covered market and its numerous, quality bistros and brasseries?  Crotchety, contrary, grouchy and just plain ridiculous, we decided to eat at the English pub, the James Joyce.  Really!  Sometimes we’re inexcusable!


Yes, we chose it but we were immediately prepared to criticize, a la M. Parret.  The butter; not near the best quality (less than President) and served in little one pat packages.  Bad. To be fair, the salmon was good but for some reason, the cherry tomatoes on the salad were roasted.  I asked.  We figured it was an English thing.  Roger would know.


In an restaurant, we absolutely hate it when our condiments are served in little packages! So why did we choose a restaurant that was almost certain to do this?  I don’t know.  Our minds are not right.


The food was edible but we don’t like big fries.  We ordered an outrageously priced bottle of wine to be sure that it was at least the quality of table wine and that was a good idea.


I totally believe that Roger Stowell  is right about taking automatic pictures; the camera doesn’t really know, you do.  All these pictures are taken on automatic and I don’t believe this is exactly what I saw but whatever, I couldn’t be bothered.


My husband ordered a Charolais beef hamburger that was correct.  I had the duck breast that was also correct.  When asked how I wanted it cooked, I answered “normal” in a grumpy old lady way and it was, more or less; I like it a little more rare.  See above.  Don’t have the Cafe Gourmand.


Would we eat here again?  Probably not.  It was perfectly edible, but it’s because this is not the food we want to eat in France.  Our fault totally.


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Thank you to everyone who is supporting us in this horrible horrible time.  Still no news.  I made this.

Posted in Appetizer, Cooking, fish, Food and Wine | Tagged , , , , , | 25 Comments

Chez Guy


Well yes, I’m in Sens and I have eaten and drunk wine a lot.  If you hang with Le Parret, wine drinking and cheese eating is inevitable.  I even cooked sometimes.  Look at this pan fried skate wing with cucumber and mango salsa.


The owners of the really awful Indian restaurant closed up and escaped into the night, owing a full year’s rent for the premises.  M. Parret says nobody is looking for them.  Only in France.  The unfortunate thing about this restaurant is that this was the first experience for many people who have never tried Indian food before and now never will again.  The building is located a few doors down from M. Parret and before the Indians came, it used to be the Parrets’ cheese shop.


Anyway Guy, a chef and all around nice guy, has now opened a small, traditional  French food restaurant on the premises.  We’ve been there twice and in the “eating with Le Parret” tradition, we came at 12 and left after the waitress at about 3:30-4:00 p.m.  When the rest of the customers have left, Guy, finally giving up all hope of us ever going home, like reasonable people who have other things to do, pulls up a chair and joins us at table for an after lunch wine or several.  If necessary, as it has been both times, M. Parret fetches a bottle of the good stuff from his house.


The restaurant decor is simple, casual and comfortable.  There is a lot of light in the restaurant from both the windows and recessed lighting in the ceiling.  This is so much a neighborhood restaurant and at least one of M. Parrets’ cronies eats here everyday.


The menu, with choice of entree, main course, cheese or dessert is reasonably priced at 14 euros.


Concerned about where Guy gets his beef?  Worried about the My Little Pony substitutes? Have no fear!  The beef in the bourguignon was born in France, killed in France, cut up in France and we ate it in France!  Just saying.


As an entree, we had a delicious salad of mozzerella with avocado puree.  Fresh, fresh everything.  Along with the beef bourguignon on offer was a seafood gratin with a buttery, creamy, rich, delectable sauce.  It was so rich that a couple of the usual trenchermen thought that the portion was too large!  A first.


To end the meal we had raspberry cake or the cheese plate and, of course, a coffee afterward.


When we finally left to go to my house for Champagne, Guy looked exhausted :D


Posted in Food and Wine, French | Tagged , , , , , | 15 Comments

Our Daughter Jade Mullally Missing: How You Can Help



On November 24, 2013 Jade took the train from Stuttgart, Germany to Strasbourg, France. Normally, she would have taken the school bus from the train station to her boarding school in Walbourg, France but she didn’t get on the bus.

Her dream was to become a fashion model and we believe that that was her plan when she left home.

Jade has lead a very sheltered life and our concern is that some person(s) might be taking advantage of her naivete and possibly holding her against her will.

An investigation and search is being conducted worldwide and particularly concentrated in France, Germany and England.

jade short hair 2

It has finally occurred to me that this blog has almost 4,000 followers worldwide, and while I wanted to keep “CookinginSens” as my refuge from the harrowing thoughts of having our lovely daughter out there, maybe friendless and…. You can fill in the blanks yourself.

Here’s how I would like you to help me:  With the advice of the FBI, I have created a page on facebook   If you have a facebook account, go to this page and “like” it.  This will share the news of her disappearance with all of your friends and increase the chances that Jade will be found.

Jade with braces

I know everyone who follows this blog is as horrified as we are but, again, please use the facebook account if you would like to comment and be sure to “like” the page.

Thank you.



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Cullen Skink Chez Moi


The last 3 weeks have been horrendous and there doesn’t seem to be any end in sight.   I won’t/can’t tell you about it but my lovely husband has brought me home to Sens and will be joining me in a week for very un-merry Christmas holidays.  I haven’t touched my camera for over 3 weeks and the food I cooked was neither interesting nor “correct”.  I am cooking and posting today in an effort to keep my sanity.  Enough said.


And isn’t this cullen skink lovely?  I think it’s better than the one I made before; more flavorful and more attractive.  Probably because this time I just did what I thought was right and mentally challenged Jamie Oliver to criticize.  The fishmonger didn’t have a full pound of smoked haddock but threw in a piece of house smoked salmon to make up the weight that was brilliant!  From now on, I will always include a little salmon.  Cullen skink doesn’t usually contain mussels but so what!


Once in West Africa, someone quoted a proverb, “You eat alone, you die alone.”  Don’t eat this alone!  Invite the neighbors, I did.  They’ll thank you.  By the way, this is easy.


Smoked Haddock, Salmon and Mussel Soup

2 tbsp butter

1 onion, halved and thinly sliced

3 large cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

1 leek, thinly sliced

1 lb potatoes, cubed

3/4 lb smoked haddock

1/4 lb smoked salmon

3 cups milk


1/2 tsp black pepper

2 bay leaves

1 quart fresh mussels

Parsley, chopped

Cook the onion, garlic and leek in the butter until the onion and leek are tender.  Add the potatoes and place the whole pieces of haddock and salmon on top.  Add 1 1/2 cups of the milk, water to cover, the pepper and bay leaves, bring to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes or until the fish begins to flake.  Remove the fish and set aside.  Continue to cook the potatoes until they are tender.

Add the rest of the milk, then bring to a boil and add the mussels.  Cover and cook until the mussels open.  Gently stir in the reserved fish, sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Posted in Cooking, English, fish, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes, Soup | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 49 Comments

Happy Thanksgiving Day


My husband’s favorite holiday is Thanksgiving Day.  From childhood he  has always loved the annual ritual of stuffing both turkeys and bellies.


Quantity was of primary importance; turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, gravy by the bucket and pies, pies, pies.  In my family it was the same way but we added potato salad and mustard greens, sweet potato pie instead of pumpkin.


At the beginning of our marriage, this day of gluttony was not a cause for contention.  We would have the meal at his or my family’s house filled with our relatives.  The women worked in the kitchen, the men drank in the living room and the children ran wild.  It was a family party!  I loved that.


The problem began when we traveled overseas and had no relatives with which to celebrate this uniquely American family holiday.  The first year we attended a  turkey-less, potluck, buffet Thanksgiving with the rest of the American Embassy community, but we agreed that it just wasn’t the same because  1) my husband thought that there wasn’t enough food and  2) I thought that not everyone who cooks knows how.  Reluctant to participate again, the following year I just invited 10 friends over for a sit down, not quite traditional, Thanksgiving lunch that I cooked myself.  It was okay but it didn’t feel like a celebration to me and my husband thought that there wasn’t enough food.


The next year I refused to cook Thanksgiving dinner altogether and suggested we go out to a restaurant for lunch and just be thankful that we weren’t going to the potluck.  The only reason my husband didn’t divorce me was that he would have felt ridiculous telling the lawyer that I wouldn’t make Thanksgiving dinner for 20 when there was only two of us.


When we had our son Brian, my husband was so sure things would change!  In October of the year that Brian was eating solid food, he polished a miniature set of sterling silver (fork, knife, spoon) and showed them to me.

Me:  Those are nice!  Where did you get them?

Him:  I had them when I was a child

Me:   You should not have brought them to Africa, you could lose them!

Him:  I wanted Brian to use them for Thanksgiving.

Me:   I am NOT making enough food for 20, we are only three people!

Him:  :(

So that’s why.


There are turkeys at the commissary but Jade is in school, Brian is in Burkina Faso and there are only two of us.  If we were in France, we would eat with M. Parret and I would make a small turkey with stuffing and gravy.  There would be at least 8 of us at the table, there would certainly be enough food, and every meal with the Parret is a celebration. Next year in Sens.


This was time consuming but although the quantities would need to be increased, it wouldn’t take any longer to make this for a full sized family.  The superior stuffing and gravy always makes this combination worthwhile.  Those zweiback toasts were slightly sweet but the stuffing was fine, I just wouldn’t use them again.

Tomorrow is not a holiday in Germany so I’ll be going to the hairdresser and doing a little Christmas shopping with my husband later.  This meal should soften him up for major Euro spending :D


Thanksgiving Dinner for Two

1 cornish game hen

Salt and pepper

Olive oil

1 small onion, quartered

4 sprigs of thyme

Broth and Stuffing

1 cup chicken gizzards

2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 onion, chopped

1 carrot, quartered vertically and sliced thin

1 celery branch, quartered vertically and sliced thin

1 small onion, quartered

1 carrot, sliced into four pieces

1 celery branch, sliced into 4 pieces

1 bay leaf

6 cups water

Salt and pepper

3 cups of super dry toast, broken into pieces in a large bowl

1 1/2 tbsp poultry seasoning

1/4 cup melted butter


3 tbsp vegetable oil

3 tbsp flour

Season the hen all over with salt and pepper, then rub with olive oil.  stuff the onion quarters and thyme sprigs into the cavity.   Refrigerate.

Brown the gizzards in the olive oil, remove and set aside.  Add the chopped onion, sliced carrot and sliced celery branch to the skillet and sweat until the carrot is crisp tender. Remove and set aside, reserving the skillet for later use.

Place the gizzards, the small quartered onion, carrot pieces, celery pieces, bay leaf and water in a stock pot, bring to a boil, season with salt and pepper, then simmer for an hour. Drain and reserve the broth, remove the gizzards and chop fine.

Put half of the chopped gizzards in with the dry toast, all of the reserved sauteed vegetables, the melted butter, the poultry seasoning and 1 1/2 cup of broth.  Stir well, then turn into a baking pan.

Place the hen into a 375 F oven and roast for 50 minutes.  After 30 minutes, add the stuffing pan to the oven to cook for the last 20 minutes.

Place the flour and vegetable oil in the reserved skillet and cook stirring until the flour is a pleasant dark brown.  Gradually add, stirring all the time, 3 cups of the broth and stir until smooth.  Turn down the flame and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the gravy has reached your desired thickness.  Stir in the remaining half of chopped gizzards.

Wine suggestion:  Merlot

Posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 28 Comments