The Camera Battery Situation

IMG_6611bOkay, long story short, I packed my battery charger in the airfreight.  When I took these pictures I had one black, blinking block showing on the camera.  Lord have mercy!  It’s not fun to take pictures when you’re stressing over the possibility of camera blackout.  Anyway.

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Finding it impossible to stop shopping, even though I’m leaving on Tuesday, I bought four pretty red mullets from Steve at the fishmonger.  I told him I wanted to stuff them but wanted him to cut them up the belly, instead along the back, his preferred cut for stuffing. Really, the French can be so stubborn!  With people queuing in a long line behind, we had this snarling argument about the “correct” method of cutting fish for stuffing.  Of course he did it like I asked but couldn’t stop mumbling under his breath, probably making snide, anti-American comments the whole time he was preparing the fish.  It didn’t help that I made snide comments aloud at the same time :p

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In addition, I bought some enormous, yellow chicken legs for baking using the sel fou and pepper overnight marinade, then flour coating and baked in butter method.

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Just think about it.  You can have crispy, succulent chicken without the deep fat frying as long as you use butter in the baking pan.  It’s frugal, Frugal and the just plain good!

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I was supposed to make a cauliflower/yam gratin but ran out of steam between selling the car, controlling the dog and drinking wine.  Anyway, the fish entree was pretty filling, so I just steamed some yams and left it at that. No one complained.

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Okay, seriously this time, I’ll see you in Pennsylvania.

Red Mullet Stuffed with Aubergine (Inspiration French Saveurs Magazine: July-August 2014)

2 tbsp olive oil

2 large garlic cloves, chopped

1 aubergine, cut into small dice

2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped

4 largish red mullet, gutted and boned

Salt and pepper

1 tbsp olive oil

Cook the garlic in the olive oil for 1 minute, add the aubergine and continue to cook for 10 minutes.  Remove from the flame, stir in the basil and allow to cool.

Stuff the mullet with the cooled aubergine mixture, tie with kitchen string, season with salt and pepper, then brown in the hot olive oil for about 4 minutes per side.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Cooking, fish, Food and Wine, French, Main dishes, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , | 31 Comments

Fame

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Small towns are wonderful!  Move to one and you’re sure to get your “15 minutes of fame.” On Monday I was interviewed by Olivier Richard, a courteous and clever journalist for our regional newspaper L’Yonne Republicaine.  By Wednesday morning, my picture was on the front page of the newspaper and the buzz at all the cafes in town was about me, my name on everyone’s lips :-D   M. Parret’s picture was also featured in the main, almost full page article on page 8. He was standing in the kitchen while the journalist was taking pictures and just sort of eased in :)

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Anyway, enough about me, let’s talk me cooking :)

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Normally the fresh bean season is late August-early September.  I’m leaving in a few days and was just bemoaning the fact that I wouldn’t be here when the beans came out.

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Lo and behold, there were some early Coco beans at my favorite vegetable stand on Monday!  Yeah, baby!  Just in time for my birthday!  Plump and firm with creamy interiors, fresh beans can not be compared to canned or dry beans.  Fresh coco or mogette beans are in a league of their own.  I’m really, really going to miss them.

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I gathered up the usual suspects, including a handful of very sad looking cherry tomatoes that were happy to partner with a seeded, normal tomato and the beans.

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Really, you don’t need anything else but a bowl of these beans and perhaps a slice or two of baguette.  However, the American in me just won’t leave well enough alone.

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And if it’s lamb chops, the sin of gluttony is not considered deadly :D  Season with salt and pepper, quickly sear and add herbed butter.

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See you guys next in Pennsylvania where I’ll probably lose weight.  Unintentionally.

Coco de Paimpol Beans

1/2 cup lardons or diced bacon

1/2 large onion, chopped

2 large garlic cloves, slivered

12 cherry tomatoes, quartered or 2 normal tomatoes, seeded and diced

1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped

1 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped

2-3 cups of shelled fresh coco beans

3 cups chicken broth

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

Brown the lardons, remove from pan and set aside.  Add the onion and garlic to the fat in the skillet and cook until the onion is soft.  Add the tomatoes and herbs, then cook for a minute or two.  Add the beans, lardons, broth, salt and pepper, bring to a boil, then simmer for about 50-55 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Cooking, Food and Wine, French, Main dishes, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , | 29 Comments

United Airlines Disrespects Quincy

Quincy

Today my husband left Stuttgart for Frankfurt and after a layover of 5 hours, onward travel to Dulles Airport in Washingon, D.C. with our cats; Bandit(epileptic) in the cabin and Quincy in baggage.  We decided not to drug Quincy because, although he is a fraidy cat, he is 7 years old and we didn’t want to risk it.

This afternoon I was contacted by Lufthansa Airlines about Quincy who had not been picked up at the baggage claim.  The airline representative told me that United refused to accept Quincy unless the owner personally presented the cat at United check-in.  Of course I was incredulous after all the time we spent on the phone with the United “Pet Safe” people, who neglected to inform us that we must claim the cat and then check it in with United.  My husband, cellphoneless at the airport, had no way of knowing this.  Lufthansa tried repeatedly to page him with no results.

I attempted to call United Airlines at the Frankfurt airport but each time was transferred to the United Airlines Call Center in Houston, Texas.  I spent over 2 hours, closer to 3, on the phone with numerous “representatives” who transferred me around from person to person who were unable to contact a United employee in Frankfurt.  In the end, the last person broke the connection.  That had to be an accident I keep telling myself.

I called Lufthansa and explained to them that the people at United were not helpful and, in fact, were probably not the brightest bulbs in the box.  Long story short, Lufthansa found my husband and told him about Quincy.  Unfortunately, it was too late to check Quincy onto the United flight and my just out of the hospital husband has reclaimed Quincy and is spending the night in Frankfurt to catch a flight at noon tomorrow.  B*****ds!  I hope you see this you incompetents!  Poor, poor Quincy.

Posted in American | Tagged , , , , , , | 45 Comments

Veal and Beans

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Tomorrow a journalist from a local, regional newspaper, L’Yonne Republicaine, will come to interview me about my blog.  This is particularly gratifying because although I’ve known that I have quite a few French followers, my blog is in English and Google Translate is pretty frivolous with most of it’s translations.  I thought we would meet up at La Litteraire for coffee where I could flaunt my celebrity in front of my friends :D  However, he specifically said he wanted pictures of my kitchen.

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These are the unpacked boxes of kitchen equipment that came in from Germany.  As I am on my way to the States until probably next summer, I see no reason to unpack them. Instead, I thought I would take some test pictures to be ready with suggestions of carton-less pictures.

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Here’s a good one.  Herbs with just a hint of window, American refrigerator and red timer clock.  I like it myself :)

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Canisters with hanging tools, toaster, the left side of the stove and the microwave.

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And here you go!  A goodly portion of the stove, almost all of the hood and the stove- picture-blocking island with knives and cutting boards.  You can just see the coats hanging in the entry way. Mah-velous.

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Kitchen sink with giraffe paper towel holder.  Good.  I’m ready now ;)

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Anyway.  I like these canned French beans in the rectangular can.  I like the can and the beans are fairly good quality; a better pork and beans without the pork.

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As children we always liked pork and beans because my mother never just poured them from the can, heated and served them.  She always fixed them up with something; onions, mustard and brown sugar as a side dish or used them as the basis for a savory stew/casserole of some kind.  Today I made a stew-like dish with veal.  You could mound this over rice for bulk if you wanted.

Veal and Beans

2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 onion, thinly sliced

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1 slice fresh ginger, minced

1 mild chilli, seeded

1/2 green bell pepper, diced

1 lb ground veal

1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped

1 tsp fresh oregano, chopped

1 bay leaf

1 tsp piment d’espelette

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 can diced tomatoes

2 cups canned white beans

Grated cheese

Saute the onion, garlic, ginger, chilli and bell pepper in the oil until the onion is wilted.  Add the veal and continue to saute until all pink has disappeared.  Add the thyme, oregano, bay leaf, piment, salt, pepper and tomatoes, then bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes.

Stir in the beans and continue to simmer for another 15 minutes.  Put in serving bowls and sprinkle with grated cheese.

 

 

 

 

 

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

Charolais Steak and Salad

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Whenever I have a Charolais steak I always prepare it as simply as possible; salt, pepper, maybe with onions and or mushrooms.  Good beef doesn’t need much.  Today for lunch I quickly seared this rather thin steak in butter and added a salad for propriety’s sake.  The Tavel Rose was a perfect accompaniment for this simple plate.  Also summer time is Rose season in France :)

Posted in Cooking, Food and Wine, French, Main dishes | Tagged , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Seche a la Creole Haitienne

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Okay, I’m too old to travel.  Because I wanted to cook and post with reasonable pictures, I went out, taking the head of Jade’s tripod with me, and bought another thing that fits on the head of the tripod.  I didn’t try it at the shop because I have a lot of confidence in the owner and if he told me it fit, I was good to go.

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Unfortunately, when I got home the piece would not fit on the head.  Worse, it was the same piece as I had on my camera originally!  So now I had two.  Roger, je te jure! Remember in my first lesson when I didn’t know how to fit the camera on the tripod? Repeat.  After about 45 minutes, I discovered that I had to push a little lever that allows the piece to fit. Holy Mother of God!  I need to live with my husband!  He knows stuff like that.  That’s why I married him :)

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Anyway, I was thinking about lambi or conch that the Haitians make in a spicy Creole sauce.  I knew that I wouldn’t find conch at the ‘monger’s but he did have some lovely seche or cuttlefish and I asked him about cooking time.  His said 15 minutes.  15 minutes?  With conch, you could go to the hairdresser, have a manicure and pedicure, chat with a friend over coffee and still be waiting for it to get tender!

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I did take his advice and he was absolutely right.  I didn’t have a Scotch bonnet which would have made this Creole sauce more authentic, but used instead a long, green chilli for babies, though I did leave the seeds in for a little heat.  Cuttlefish doesn’t have the same taste as conch but it was a good and delicious way to cook it.

Haitian Creole Cuttlefish

2 lbs cuttlefish, cleaned and cut into bite sized pieces

Juice of 1/2 lime

2 tsp salt

2 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp oregano

2tsp thyme

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp tumeric

2 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 shallots, chopped

3-4 large garlic cloves, chopped

1 red bell pepper, vaguely chopped

1 chilli for babies(long, green, mild), vaguely chopped or 1 Scotch bonnet, seeds out, chopped

2 cups dice tomatoes

1 cup water

Mix the cuttlefish with the lime juice and refrigerate.  Mix together the salt, garlic powder, oregano, thyme, pepper and tumeric, then set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet, add the onion, shallots, garlic, bell pepper and chilli, then saute until the onion is just soft.  Add the reserved spice mixture and cook for about 2 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and water, bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes.

Remove the cuttlefish from the refrigerator, drain, then add to the skillet and simmer with the sauce for another 15 minutes.

You can serve this with rice if you want.

 

Posted in Cooking, fish, Food and Wine, Haitian, Main dishes, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Interlude

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Pack out was a nightmare but it’s done.  I wisely went to the vet and got some drugs for Jessie and so she had a very laid back train trip from Stuttgart to Sens.

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I-do-not-understand what happens when I put my camera on automatic and all the pictures come out dark!  I had to “auto fix” with photoshop which is not really satisfying and in this case was unfortunate because I had roquefort mussels and Bavarian ribs with M. Parret, Chantal and Tonio.  I air freighted my tripod to the U.S. and thought I would be able to use Jade’s that’s here in the Sens house but the thing attached to my camera that usually fits onto the tripod is not the right shape and won’t fit Jade’s tripod, so I put my camera on automatic to reduce the blur.  Dark!  So that’s why.  Bloody automatic.  I love cursing in British English :D

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The roquefort mussels were fabulous!  Too bad you can’t really see them.  So fake!  I had to put the brightness on to above 100.  Boo hoo hoo :)

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These fresh garden tomatoes look like something you would find on a puzzle piece.  Jesus, Mary and Joseph!

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These pictures are not Roger Stowell’s fault.  He’s probably going to pretend he didn’t see this post :D  Shaking his head and writing an e-book entitled “Why Rosemary Can’t Learn.”  I give up!

 

 

 

 

Posted in Cooking, fish, Food and Wine, French, Main dishes | Tagged , , , , , , | 18 Comments